West Welcome Wagon party – auction goodies

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The Brother Nancy team gives a cheery thumbs-up to being part of the fun!

 

There’s about a week and half until the West Welcome Wagon/Santorini/CTS Greek fundraising feast in Williamstown.

We have about 10 tickets left – if you’re thinking about attending, and we really, really want you to, I suggest you get your skates on.

For booking information, go here.

In the meantime, a couple of generous businesses have donated goodies for a simple, two-pronged auction on the night I hope will raise even more moolah for West Welcome Wagon.

Brother Nancy in West Footscray – see Erika’s story here and mine here – has donated lunch for two to the value of $50.

We reckon that should see a pair of you right for a cool drink, a main meal and a hot drink.

 

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As well, Maria and Marco of La Morenita/Latin Foods & Wines have donated a lovely half-dozen bottle of primo South American wine.

Tomato rice in Footscray

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Thien An, 32 Irving Street, Footscray. Phone: 9687 0398

Bennie’s dining desires are frequently over-ridden by more pressing imperatives in terms of Consider The Sauce.

He always takes this with good grace and a sense of adventure.

This Saturday, however, with his chores satisfactorily and even cheerfully done, I agree to humour his oft-stated plea: “I want tomato rice!”

Off we go, navigating the twists and turns that take us to the top of the Footscray market building.

We take in the amazing views and then head to Thien An.

In its previous carnation, across the road in much smaller premises in a row of now-demolished shopfronts, we once were regulars.

I ask Bennie if remembers those visits.

Nope.

There’s two kinds of tomato rice, we discover – the regular and one on the “Chef Recommended” list (see below).

 

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He goes for the latter ($11), which is a bit of twist on the usual, featuring beef ribs instead of cubed beef.

It’s a very good example of his heart’s desire.

The meat comes away from the bones easily and is a little bit more chewy than the typical melt-in-your-mouth beef served with tomato rice.

The rice is fine, there’s seasoned salt and those yummy, lightly pickled vegetables such as cabbage and carrot.

It’s a winner.

 

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My own rice vermicelli with grilled pork northern style ($13) is good, too, though not as explosively so as a similar dish served at Xuan Banh Cuon in Sunshine.

This one has no dipping sauce accompanying and the mix of pork slices and meatballs are bathing in a sort of broth/soup.

Still, with the assistance of much greenery – including regular mint – it does go down a treat.

Thien An is, it appears, still a good, reliable in Footscray institution – and certainly has one of one of the lovelier dining rooms around here when it comes to Vietnamese eateries.

 

Click to add a blog post for Thien An on Zomato

 

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Littlefoot tastes great

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Littlefoot, 223 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 9396 1282

Consider The Sauce’s gaze was largely elsewhere as Littlefoot was coming together

So it was long after it opened that a happy bunch of CTS regulars hit it after going Indo-Chinese up the road apiece.

We were there only briefly, for post-dinner drinkies and dessert.

But one of those desserts – a foundation menu listing – was so brilliant we vowed to return to take the whole menu for a spin.

In the meantime, yours truly was at Littlefoot for the Letters To The West event that was part of the Emerging Writers Festival.

And a fine night it was, too, with me playing catch-up in terms of just what a very cool additional piece is Littlefoot in the Footscray/inner west scene/jigsaw puzzle.

So it is that the following week the exact same crew of six plus two more great CTS pals front up for a mid-week dinner.

 

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It’s been a chillingly cold day so Littlefoot is almost empty when we arrive.

Thankfully, a more cheery bar vibe evolves as our meal progresses.

The round front table is ours for the night and proves precisely right for the eight of us.

I’d been a little concerned about effective photography but the light proves OK.

Littlefoot really is a fine place to spend time with friends and conversation – with or without food.

I’d thought that with a table of eight we’d pretty much try everything on offer food-wise.

As one of our party enthusiastically quipped when Littlefoot plans were afoot: “Eat everything!!!”

But as it turns out, our collective eyes are drawn to specific menu items at the expense of others, though we try quite a bit.

It’s all good, better than good or really good.

 

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Yep – pork rind chips ($3.50) look just like the trash food that comes from convenience store plastic bags; but they taste way better.

Perhaps it’s for the best that our single bowl provides each of just a nibble or two before we move on to things more robust and (ostensibly) healthy!

 

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Fried chicken spare ribs ($10) with crunchy crumbs and wasabi mayo are terrific.

The coating really is crunchy, but also grease-free.

The ribs are suitably meaty and flavoursome and the wasabi mayo a true delight as a foil.

 

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The chips with beer cheese ($12.50) are fine but it seems I’m the only one unwowed by the beer cheese dip.

I don’t find it to be a bad taste – it simply doesn’t turn me on.

(Going by this wikipedia entry, that I don’t find beer cheese a winner seems surprising – no matter; in this matter, at Littlefoot, I am a minority of one amid a table of eight …)

 

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Several serves of both versions of banh “mini” ($5.50) –  teriyaki tofu and BBQ braised beef – are ordered.

They’re as fresh and tasty as could be desired.

One devil’s advocate wag points out that they are both smaller and more expensive than the regular banh mi to be had just a block away at Nhu Lan and other outlets.

To which my immediate thought is: “Meh … this is a bar …”

 

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Slow-cooked kangaroo on Ethiopian bean ful, topped with hemp seed dukkah ($18) is another outright winner and good value for money given the generous size of the portions.

The photograph here shows the big chunks of roo meat broken up – very tender and toothsome!

The bean mix is a cool blend that reminds me of chilli con carne.

That’s fine by me – Littlefoot’s aim is to embrace and celebrate the surrounding food cultures, not replicate them; best to leave notions of authenticity at the door.

Rolls of injera and excellent greenery complete a fine dish.

I suspect that when it comes to a “main course” concept at Littlefoot, this roo dish is it – there is only one item that costs more, the $25 tasting board.

 

 

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We are presented a duck pizza by the management, an on-the-house gesture that is appreciated.

By this time we’re all getting fullish so it’s just right that there’s a pizza slice each to appreciate.

It’s good, the meaty duck complemented by nice crunchy things.

 

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Dessert time!

And once more, we inhale enjoy the injera and hazelnut chocolate pinwheels with creamy coconut dipping sauce ($9.50) had on our earlier visit.

What a superb and utterly delicious piece of imagination is this, perfectly encapsulating the Littlefoot food philosophy.

The sourness of the injera does a sexy tango with the sweetness of the hazelnut/chocolate, this time even more ooozy and plentiful, all of it lubricated by the coconut sauce.

Totally Yum.

Sign up to the Littlefoot Facebook page, which is regularly updated with forthcoming events, musical and otherwise.

 

Click to add a blog post for Littlefoot on Zomato

 

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Hair? Yes. BBQ? No.

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Meet Lina.

She’ll do you a do or a haircut with a smile and skill.

Lina’s Hair Salon is at 1/7 Kinnear Street, Footscray.

 

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What Lina cannot do is provide with you with a lunch or a dinner – or even a snack – of barbecue.

Which is quite at odds with a recent listing on Urbanspoon.

Whatever the origins of this mystery, Lina is being a good sport about.

She is, however, fielding phone calls from barbecue fans wishing to book tables.

But at least I know where to go to get my next haircut!

 

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Meal of the week No.12: Brother Nancy

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Brother Nancy escaped my radar right up to and past Erika’s marshmallow story.

Lately, though, it has become for me a very good road coffee alternative to my usual haunts – I love it that parking is such a breeze.

Today is just right for a Brother Nancy lunch.

I’ve been driving around somewhat aimlessly – to Sunshine and back, for gosh sake – without fixing on an eats decision.

You know what?

I realise that while driving I had been far from idle – I’ve actually been working on a blog post.

Really.

I suspect I’m far, far from alone in being a writer who, by the time I front the keyboard, has the whole story virtually complete “in my head”.

Including punctuation.

Anyway, now it’s time for lunch.

I love the Brother Nancy space and vibe.

And I love the menu – with its Francophile outlook, it has really strong and laudable points of difference with all other inner-west cafes.

My crisp polenta chick pea and warm vegetable salad ($13) is a pearler that eats every bit as good as it looks.

The chick peas are superb in their tomatoey sauce.

The plump polenta patty is crisp only on the exterior – inside it’s delicate, steaming and wonderfully homely.

All the bits and pieces are good, too, including peeled baby tomatoes!

Though the shaved fennel adds nothing by way of flavour.

 

 

West Footscray and the winds of change

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It seems unlikely at this point that the possibility of about 200 apartments going up on the site of what is currently 501 Receptions will generate the same kind of uproar that greeted the developmental threat to the Dancing Dog building.

Still, doing a story about those plans has seen me engage in a number of interesting conversations about urban living and planning.

No one I’ve talked to is opposed to development – but that support usually comes with a proviso that new buildings be of high quality and intelligently designed.

There’s the rub …

One intensely interested West Footscray local also brought into focus for me the fact that the 501 Receptions proposal is just one of many changes taking place within a very small area.

I had been at least subliminally aware of most of them, unaware of others – but taken as a whole, they certainly signal a neighbourhood in transition.

What is driving these changes?

Is the demand really there for so many apartments and townhouses – or is there always an element of guesswork in such investments?

I wonder, too, if there is a cadre of long-time landlords and property owners who have been passive investors for decades but who are suddenly feeling the inclination to cash in.

If so, why?

On Barkly Street – between 501 Receptions and Dosa Hut/Dosa Corner, and amid much commercial activity of various kinds – there is a surprisingly high number of residential properties.

I wonder what their future is in a time of neighbourhood flux.

 

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Likewise, how secure is the future for the old Barkly Street churches?

 

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Opposite 540 On Barkly stands what can accurately be called a paddock.

It bears a “for lease” sign.

 

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Further along, and opposite Ovest, is another vacant lot, this one not so big and without signage.

 

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There’s another paddock on the corner of Clive and Russell streets, behind Dosa Corner.

What was once a funky ’60s-style church is now definitely earmarked for apartments, I’m told.

 

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Further along, opoosite West Footscray Vet Clinic, stood for many decades a neighbourhood mechanic.

I’m told that one minute a few weeks back it was there and about 30 later it was gone, the land destined for … apartments and/or townhouses.

According to the vet clinic folks, “people who have been bringing their animals to us for years had been taking their cars there for years”.

 

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Back in the village, the two shops between Dosa Hut and the paint shop are to become townhouses, six of the eight already sold, according to the sign.

 

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According to a post on the Barkly Village Facebook page, the defaced property next to the laundrette is all set to become an amusement parlour – “primary use seems to be for billiards and games machines”.

 

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Also in the village, GM Manchester is adorned with “closing down” signs.

 

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The short-lived Akshaya Indian street food enterprise is giving way to a WeFo branch of Biryani House.

When I have a peek, they look like they’re just about ready to roll …

Meal of the week No.11: Saudagar

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Saudagar has been a Footscray fixture for years.

I’ve had their cholle bhatura and tried some of their sweets.

But it’s never appealed as an obvious or attractive place in which to obtain a nice, cheap feed of Indian tucker.

 

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So I am delighted – thrilled even! – to discover the place has been spruced up a bit with some new furniture and a much more welcoming look that says, “Come and eat here!”

Aside from the sweets, the prices – AFAIK – are the cheapest in the inner west: Vegetarian main courses all about $8, meat mains about $10, chicken biryanai $9.

 

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I enjoy a vegetarian thali priced at $8.

Unbuttered naan – and that’s fine by me.

Excellent, uncreamy daal that has a nice hit of ginger and appears to be made of aduki beans.

Malai kofta – wonderfully delicate and toothsome potato and cheese balls in a creamy cashew nut sauce.

Fluffy rice, pickles, onion slices.

I love my Saudagar lunch but I’m not about to tell you that it’s exceptional in any way – and that’s a profound testament to just how rich we are in the west of terrific Indian food.

 

Saudagar Sweet Shop & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

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