Food on sticks – Afghan Master Kebab for Footscray



Afghan Master Kebab, 131 Nicholson Street, Footscray. Phone: 9396 0201

Team CTS bowls up for the opening party of BigWest an hour after advertised start time and find the whole shebang and everyone involved is pretty much just getting over the rain.

What to do?


So we adjourn to nearby Nicholson Street and the recently opened Afghan Master Kebab, a sister restaurant to the popular eatery of the same name in Sunshine.




Sister Restaurant?

More like identical twins.

The menu line-up (see below) appears to be the same, save for the addition of such stuff as fish and chips.

Mind you, the Footscray edition is done out in perfectly fine and plain cafe style that in no way matches the flamboyant interior found up in Sunshine!




Three of us choose the mix kebab ($13.99) and a delight it is.

Four skewers – two of superbly juicy chicken and one each of the minced kebab kobida lamb and the diced lamb cubes of tikka kebab.

They’re all wonderful.

Elsewhere around town, in restaurants that vary from Greek and Turkish to barbecue, it’s easily possible to pay significantly more for meat that is not so fabulous.

As in Sunshine, acceptable yet largely superfluous salad bits and two dipping sauces accompany.

The chilli and mint number is a doozy while, here, the yogurt dip seems a bit more tangy and has a richer dairy flavour.




Our meals come with heaps of the wonderful Afghan Master Kebab bread – a bit like naan but chewier and just right slathered in the sauces.




After a slightly underwhelming experience with chargrilled chook earlier in the week, it’s a giddy pleasure to inhale the Master Kebab half chicken ($14.99).

A bit pricier … but THIS is charcoal grilled chicken.




On an earlier visit, I’d tried the chicken qorma ($12), one of a handful on non-grill offerings on the menu.

It’s nice enough, mildly seasoned and of generous serve.

But if anything, it serves only to reinforce the notion that food on sticks is the way to go here.




Pub finery in Footscray




Station Hotel, 59 Napier Street, Footscray. Phone: 9687 2913

Just back from a week in Kiwiland and feeling like a lazy weekend feed – so we head to the pub.

But not just any pub.

The Station Hotel in Footscray.

It’s not Bennie’s first visit here but it is for his dad.

In all the years this place has been running, I’ve built up this mental image of it being a swish-o gastro pub of the “special occasion” variety.




So I am delighted to discover that, in the bar area anyway, it’s pretty much the same vibe as any of the local pubs we are known to visit, with prices mostly to match – unless you’re inclined to venture into the upper reaches of the Station’s meaty fare.

Except that here, the food we have is without blemish and very, very good.




It starts with a nice serve of beautifully fresh and crisp bread with olive oil.

We’re asked a little later if we’d like more.

We like that even if our answer is in the negative.




We had a bunch of burgers while on the other side of the ditch so Bennie gets a flat “no” when it comes to the matter of the Station’s version.

Instead, he goes for the pork schnitzel with coleslaw with mustard fruit dressing and beurre noisette and is a very happy chappy ($32).

The slaw is dreamy in its excellence – crisp yet tender and easy eating, something that is not always the slaw case.

The pork rests mostly on a bed of capers but is superb.

It’s thick and crisp and a real-deal meat meal – and significantly more hefty than it appears to be in the above photo.

It’s stuffed with a mix of the same cheese as is crispped on top. Inside it’s gooey and creamy and dances with chopped prosciutto.

Wonderful stuff!




I’m not so ambitious or meat-minded so choose one of the lighter dishes on the menu – penne with spicy Bolognaise, peas and fresh ricotta.

It’s fabulous in every way.

OK, so it’s only constructed on a base of commercial tubed pasta and is not so different, at a fundamental level, from the sort of things we sometimes prepare at home.

But this is peak pasta!

The fine, mildly-seasoned meat sauce has plenty of pop from the peas and creaminess from the ricotta.

But the crowning glory here are the rocket and radicchio leaves, the bitterness of which perfectly complement a perfect dish.

And at $18 for such a big serve, it’s marvellous value.

We leave happy and smiling, only to have the moment soured somewhat by having scored a $91 parking ticket in Hyde Street.

We have no cause for complaint, really, as we have been caught to rights parking in a permit-only zone.

But just why there is a permit-only zone in this part of Footscray, when the nearby flats appear to have ample parking and the town hall is right across the road, is an interesting question.

Given the Station Hotel is a famous eating place and that doubtless most of its customers do not come from the surrounding handful of blocks, we think we are safe in assuming that we are just the latest in a long line of Station customers who have thus been caught out.

Veg Indian home delivered




Krishna Pait Pooja,578 Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 9687 5531

Long before there were double-figure Indian eateries in West Footscray, there was Krishna.

As far as I know and can recall, it was the first.

Certainly, it’s been there as long as we’ve been in the west – a duration I can readily ascertain by referring to Bennie’s age (14)!

As the influx of other Indian eateries into West Footscray gathered momentum, Krishna seemed to be neglected – but it kept on keeping on.

Then, about a year ago now I think, it went all-in vegetarian.

This we applaud – any point of difference beyond those surrounding is a Good Thing.

Though a good few of those newcomers – perhaps even all of them – have South Indian options on their menus so the vegetarian thing perhaps is not so starkly different after all.

As well, the non-meat Krishna menu features such things as soy nuggets and tofu, which we are not much interested in eating in an Indian context.

Or, in the case of the soy nuggets, in any context at all!




Still, we have been to wanting to try meat-free Krishna for a while and the opportunity arises with a rare home delivery on a lazy Saturday night.

What we get, promptly delivered and very reasonably priced, is a good and solid Indian feed with a few bemusing quirks.

The mushroom soup ($5) is not unpleasant but it is quite salty and quite odd tasting – and not particularly of mushrooms.

The raita ($3.50) is a tad too sweet for our tastes but otherwise OK.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, our single naan ($1.50) has steamed in its foil wrapping so is floppy and moist.

The mixed pickles ($1.50) are so pungent with mustard oil we don’t even try them.

Mustard oil is one of those things we haven’t found a way to love, despite the amount of Indian food we eat.

But …




… the dal tadka ($9.95) is fine.

We’ll always order this or an equivalent instead of the creamy richness that is restaurant dal makhani.




One of the joys of Bennie being a co-blogger for five years is the openness he has developed to trying new things.

Quite often, he’s happily prepared to go where his dad demures.

One of things he has grown to like is eggplant – so we’re happy to give baingan bhaji ($9.50) a go.

As it turns out, this as much capsicum, onion and peas as it is eggplant.

And quite oily, too, though not unforgivably so.

But it IS an enjoyable curry of the dry style nevertheless.

Westie eats goss




This unremarkable building, on the corner of Whitehall and Hopkins streets, is in the process of becoming something exciting for Footscray and the western suburbs.

Under the auspices of the same crew that brought us 8bit, it is being transformed into an establishment named Up In Smoke 3011.

Honestly, when I was thinking about writing this story, I blithely assumed I’d be going with something along the lines of “Footscray to get barbecue joint”.

But since then, I’ve had a talk with one of the partners, Shayne, so now know that would not be accurate.

Yes, there will be smoking and barbecue techniques … but what’ll be happening here is something different, innovative and sexy.

“We didn’t want to do traditional American barbecue, as we are in Footscray, Melbourne!,” Shayne says. “And we didn’t want to conform to certain ‘rules’.”

More details – and updates – as they come to hand.

But I can tell you that as well as eat-in there will also be some retail and classy booze going on.

Opening some time in November.




Up in Avondale Heights, Impasto Forno Antico is expanding to take over the old takeaway premises next door.

This is great news, as while the products of this Italian bakery are pure class there hasn’t been much room for customers, including those who want to linger over a coffee.

As co-proprietor Alessio tells me: “On Saturdays, we have queues going out on to the street!”

It’s quite a big space they’re moving into and the wall will be coming down.

They’ll be serving panini, soups and salads.

But the main use for the new and expanded space will be for a gelateria!

When I ask Alessio how much the gelati machinery is costing, he answers: “I’d tell you but you’d want to be sitting down …”

Opening in mid to late November.




Sunshine has a Japanese place.

I hesitate to use the word restaurant or even the word eatery, as Soko is a tiny business in what was the equally tiny Dial A Mr Wong on Hampshire Road.

There is no seating and no eating in unless you want to stand at the window bench.

In the meantime at least, there are some rudimentary tables and chairs outside on artificial grass that I suspect are in place as a temporary measure to compensate for the heavy duty road works going.

So Soko’s main game is undoubtedly takeaway or home deliveries.

I have read some good online reviews.

And, intriguingly, friends speak highly of the lobster sliders they had.

But my $15 tonkotsu ramen (which I confuse with the crumbed tonkatsu – see Art’s comment below) was a bit of a dud – because ramen and takeaway containers don’t really work together and because the noodles and broth were dull.

Could be a hot spot for Sunshine and Albion and locals but I’d advise care.

Meal of the week No.20: Rizq

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It’s been a few months since our review visit to Footscray Bangladeshi eatery Rizq.

But in the meantime, I have noticed – courtesy of the joint’s Facebook page – that things there have been growing, evolving and moving along.

And that the menu has been tweaked with the addition of new dishes (see below).

There’s even a crab curry named after St Martin’s Island!

So I’m very happy to revisit.

The place has new furniture and has been given a bright, white paint job/revamp.




I have in my mind for my dinner one particular dish – memshahebi style mutton leg ($16).

I am reassured when I see two earlier customers doing likewise.

Turns out this is a popular dish here!

The meat isn’t nearly as plentiful as the word “leg” denotes.

It’s more like an over-sized shank – and with the same sweet, robust sheepy flavour in abundance.

The gravy is quite oily but lovely, with a mild spice level and studded with green chillies, cardamoms and cloves.

A spice-dusted fine dice of cucumber, tomato and lettuce provides some crunch.

The two rotis that accompany are marvellous – hot, fresh, buttery, flaky and just right with the sheep meat.

Memo to self: Don’t forget about this intriguing option to the Indian restaurants of West Footscray and elsewhere.

So many more dishes to try …




Bastille Day/Small French Bar




Small French Bar, Shop 3 154 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 9687 8479

Stefan has his liquor licence now – so is able to proclaim happily: “I reckon we are a bar now!”

My understanding that he’ll have his delightful establishment doing dinners on Friday and Saturday nights in addition to the regular breakfast and lunch hours.

When he posts on Facebook details of a special Bastille Day dinner of three courses for $55, Consider The Sauce and friends leap at the opportunity with alacrity.

Our group ends up being of six, so we are allocated the long, tall table and the accompanying stools – about which we care not a jot.

We are very happy to be together and enjoying such a lovely meal, all agreeing that Small French Bar is a wonderful addition to Footscray, its affordable fare and homely vibe fitting right into the “food for the people” ethos that surrounds it.




To start we are served a glass apiece of kir royal and amuse bouche of salmon mousse slathered on baguette and …




… superbly fresh ‘n’ salty oysters.

Oh my!




I confess my exposure to French cooking is extremely limited and that feuillete d’escargots a la Provençale (snails and garlic butter pastry) is my very first exposure to snails as food.

What to think?

Hmmm … not bad, nice flavour, quite chewy.

More like mushies than the oyster facsimile I’d been anticipating.




I share my pastry with a dining companion who has ordered the assiette de charcuterie (cold meat plate).

Ahhh, this is more my go – very nice!




Only one of group orders the non-meat main – ratatouille Nicoise a la buche de chèvre (Mediterranean vegetables stew with melted goats cheese).

He’s happy with his lot and it does look a treat … I’d certainly be happy to eat this.

But … like the rest of us, I’m pretty much ecstatic about the boeuf Bourguignon of beef and ox tail stew in red wine (top photograph).

This has us all “ooohing” and “aaahing”.

It’s fabulous, sweet, rich, hearty and perfect!




Fondant au chocolat (chocolate self-saucing pudding) appears modest of portion but is more substantial than it looks, sublimely gooey and of very intense flavour.




Tarts aux pommes (crunchy apple tart) rounds out the menu options.

The verdict of one who goes this route?


See earlier post here.

Meal of the week No.16: Small French Bar




What a delight it is – upon the occasion of Consider The Sauce’s first visit to Small French Bar – to have lunch in Footscray when the mood is for lightness and avoidance of bowls laden with noodles.

When the desire is not so much for quantities of food as it is for a food experience.

Just think – within a few months, the inner west has been blessed with eateries of the French, Jamaican and Portuguese persuasions.

And the world hasn’t ended and the west still exists pretty much as before.

Small French Bar (3/154 Barkly Street, 9687 8479) is housed in cosy premises in the Royal Hotel building.

The cafe is done out in simple style and there are French tunes on the sound system.

The menu (see below), too, is simple – split as it is into sections for petit dej, frommage, brasserie, snacks charcuterie and patisserie.

Duck confit ($25) is being joined by a rotating cast of French classics such as coq au vin, pot au feu and beef bourguignon.

Daylight hours are the go at the mo’ – but when the place gets its liquor licence in a few weeks, night hours will be introduced.




My goats cheese salad ($15) is simple and magical.

Good greens are dressed with walnut oil and cider vinegar, while the slightly unorthodox inclusion of pine nuts adds lovely taste and texture.

Sitting on top are three slices of fresh baguette slathered with fabulously flavoursome Buche de chevre, both warmed rather than toasted.

Wow – it’s a perfect and wonderful light lunch!




Stefan tells me he took to heart the lively discussions on the Facebook pages of both Inner West Newsboard and Consider The Sauce regarding his use of foie gras.

At first, he bristled with defiant pride based on cultural heritage.

He loves the stuff – and so, too, do his Vietnamese customers.

But putting aside all that – and the questionable ethics of people all around the cafe happy to tuck into budget meals undoubtedly not made with free range or organics chickens – he decided to take it off the menu.

It’s a pragmatic business move – naturally, he wants Small French Cafe to appeal to the widest possible audience.

It’s a decision, too, that will doubtless leave some delighted and others disappointed.