Indian blast; not in WeFo!

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dasian2

 

D Asian, 68-82 Hopkins Street, Footscray. Phone: 8354 8387

By the time Bennie and I step through the doors of D Asia, it’s been open about six months.

Obviously, we haven’t been paying enough attention.

Though perhaps in this case, that’s something to do with the fact the restaurant isn’t on Hopkins Street proper, but rather looks out on the carpark and towards Franco Cozzo and Centrelink (into which dread office I most assuredly never wish to step foot again!).

D Asia is a typically warped idiosyncratic CTS experience.

The place is cavernous, complete with dance floor, bandstand and disco ball.

We are the only customers.

The menu is by a long way the longest I’ve ever seen – far too voluminous to photograph and publish here.

No customers, stupendously long menu?

Those are the sorts of things that normally see red flags hoisted.

But after visiting as a pair and then solo, and eating mostly well, I have to confess my curiosity about this abidingly strange and unlikely Indian restaurant remains high.

I will return to check out the many dishes of which I’ve never before heard.

With no pre-planned gameplan, Bennie and I find ourselves going happily all Indo-Chinese and all vegetarian.

 

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The staff do the right thing by us by splitting our single serve of coriander lemon soup ($7.95) into two bowls.

It’s, um, super.

Mildly viscous in the familiar Chinese style, it’s refreshing and tangy, with tiny dice of vegetables providing crunch.

 

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Golden fried potato ($12.95) is OK but is nothing more than battered potato stalks.

There is little or none of the advertised “marinated” factor.

This dish is, in our opinion, way over-priced.

 

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Chilli baby corn is a much better deal at $11.95 – and a much better tasting one as well.

These are terrific flavour bombs, deep-fried and unoily.

There’s more than corn going on here, but it’s those kernals that provide the delightful “pop”.

Very, very yummy, they are.

 

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Gobi manchurian ($10.95) is a good deal wetter than the rendition we’re familiar with from our favourite Indo-Chinese haunt.

It’s pleasant enough but no earth-shaker and is very oily.

 

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As are our vegetable hakka noodles ($11.95), but we’d expect nothing different in a wok-tossed Indian dish.

They are fine, though, with plenty of diced and well-cooked vegetables.

 

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On my follow-up visit, I try another Indo-Chinese dish – cutmet aloo ($4.95), which is described as “boiled potato dressed with Indian spices and served with tamarind chutney”.

Again, this is nice enough but no great shakes.

 

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Then, just for to see what D Asia does with plain, workaday Indian food, I get a serve of mutton curry with roti ($10.95).

The fresh-cooked roti is fine.

The mutton is on the bone, and seems even more fiddly than is usually the case.

This is one of the most oily curries I’ve ever experienced.

And it’s the saltiest curry I can recall eating.

I like it a lot, though, although others’ mileage may vary!

D Asia?

What an enigma!

And I don’t think it’s really possible to be uncharmed by an eatery that has seven kinds of dal.

Or one that serves goat fried rice.

Or one that has 12 different soups on offer, including chicken or mutton suraba.

Or one that has a deep-fried Indo-Chinese dish call botanic vegetable.

Or one that seasons its gongura mutton with rosella leaves.

Or … well, you get the picture!

 

D Asian on Urbanspoon

 

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Bargain Barkly lunches

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barkly25

 

540 On Barkly, 540 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 96872479

It’s taken us a good while to eat at 540 On Barkly since initially covering its impending arrival.

Now that we’re in the house, we’re happy – the long room is a tranquil, nice place to be on a broiling hot day.

One of the walls is adorned with photographs depicting scenes from Footscray’s past.

Some of them have foodie themes.

 

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Can anyone identify where this pic was taken?

 

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Perhaps this one was snapped somewhere around Essex Street?

 

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We keep it simple – and very affordable – by ordering from the list of $12.50 lunch specials regularly posted on the establishment’s Facebook page.

 

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Bennie like his chicken fajitas fine, though as they’re in wrap form they present as a very light meal that seems to disappear in seconds.

Yes, my lad would’ve preferred the burger from the menu proper!

I do much better with my very excellent fish burger (top photo).

The Turkish roll housing it is super fresh.

Fillings are tip-top and just right.

The fish itself – blue granadier – has been simply pan-fried and its taste is delicate yet robust enough for a good flavour hit.

The chips are many, very hot and very nice.

 

540 on Barkly on Urbanspoon

 

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Something groovy for WeFo

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ovest3

 

Consider The Sauce may have views on the varying food, service and even the social media hubris of West Footscray’s Indian restaurants, but right from the start we’ve considered them a community asset.

So we were surprised to discover – via a comment on our story about new Indian kid on the block Amrutha – that such a welcoming outlook is by no means universal among West Footscray locals.

Still, as much as we love our Indian tucker, we also dig the heck out of diversity – so we’re delighted to see something very exciting happening in one of the neighbourhood’s landmark buildings.

 

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The double-storey building at 572 Barkly Street has been vacant and unused, so far as we are aware, for several years.

Its history includes time spent as an ANZ bank branch and as home for a Serbian Social Services And Support group.

That latter was still active when we were living just around the corner, many years before CTS.

My very strong visual recall is that “social service and support” meant, in this instance, a very blokey spot for coffee and gossip!

That’s the (potted) history.

The future is … Ovest.

The new eatery, at this point scheduled to be unveiled to the eating and coffee-slurping public in February, is the baby of Ben Sisley, his wife Stephanie and Alex and Kate from Seddon’s Sourdough Kitchen.

Ben has a long history in Melbourne’s hospitality industry, including more recently stints food styling in the corporate world and, before that, time with Mr Wolf in St Kilda and, before that, with Madame Joe Joe, also in St Kilda.

 

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Ben tells me Ovest (it means “west” in Italian) will offer food that will be based around the joint’s pizza oven – think pizzas and the likes of seafood and steak dishes using the same cooking apparatus.

Ben talks enticingly, for instance, of whole snapper lightly crusted/dusted with flour, seasoned, pan-fried and then quickly grilled in the pizza oven.

“We  will be tightly focused in terms of opening hours and menu at the start, and then we’ll see where the public takes,” he says.

“This is a great location and we think the area is ready for something like this.

“We see us catering to everyone from people grabbing an after-work drink right through to young families.”

What that means is … no pasta, no breakfast, dinner and maybe lunch on selected days.

Nor will there be entertainment offered – the open kitchen will play that role.

“The food is the entertainment,” Ben says.

And, thanks to a liberal licence being secured, there is the possibility of 1am finishes on Saturdays and Sundays.

“But we won’t be sitting around chewing up money on wages if there’s no customers around,” Ben quips.

Significant renovations are underway on the ground floor of the old bank building.

But in some ways it appears to be almost purpose-built for the likes of Ovest.

The classic ’60s/’70s style bar is cool as!

The area around the entrance will be for more casual, drop-in customers, with the rear area offering dining of a more formal variety.

Read Hilary McNevin’s story in The Age here.

New Indian joint in WeFo

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amrutha3
Amrutha Authentic Indian Cuisine, 552 Barkly Street,West Footscray. Phone: 9913 3794

Team Consider The Sauce tonight numbers four for the purposes of checking out the newest addition to West Footscray’s line-up of Indian restaurants.

As the restaurant was being put together behind papered windows, two of us had wondered if the new place would specialise in some way to provide it a point of difference from its many competitors.

The answer is – no.

Amrutha’s menu is long a covers all the expected bases.

Go to the joint’s website here for a looking at the full list, including prices.

 

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The place has scrubbed up a treat – quite a lot of money has been spent.

And the main room is a good deal larger than we were expecting to be the case given the hair salon it replaces.

The furniture and fittings are pure Franco Cozzo.

We admire with interest the breakfast list, which includes all your dosas and a lot more.

But we go a la carte from the body of the menu.

Among our choices are a couple of Indo-Chinese selections …

 

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Gobi manchurian ($7.99) and …

 

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… chicken 65 ($8.99) are enjoyable but wet where we have been expecting dry.

 

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My eyes invariably light up whenever I see a menu that features eggplant, so eggplant curry ($10.99) has been ordered at my instigation.

Again, our expectations come into play – maybe unfairly.

The menu does mention a “rich cashew nut and special sauce”, but this seems to me more of an unbearably creamy spread with eggplant flavour.

It’s something I’d be happy spreading on toast.

But otherwise?

Nah.

 

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Moving right along, we start to get into things more hearty and flavoursome of the kind we have been seeking.

Lamb Madras ($11.99) is very nice, its rich gravy hiding lots of fine meat chunks.

 

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Chicken chettinad ($12.99) is likewise very good, with its gravy of “yogurt sauce with crushed black peppercorn, herbs and spices”.

 

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Palak paneer ($9.99) is a doozy, its silky cheese pieces swimming in a wonderfully almost-smoky gravy.

Another high point for us are the $1.99 naan that avoid photographic scrutiny – sorry!

These are super, and appear to have been made – as one of my tablemates points out –  using “wholemeal flour with all the bran removed”.

The result is like a cross between a regular naan and a roti.

We’ve enjoyed our meal but are left wondering about the wisdom of our choosing, what sort of wonders Amrutha has hiding in its menu – and whether the more snacky or one-person dishes may be the go here.

So I sneak back a few nights later for an early dinner by myself – biryani.

 

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My default choice of chicken is unavailable, so I’m happy to go with the lamb ($11.99).

Even though the lamb almost always used in biryanis – you’ll see it in the markets labelled as “lamb curry” – is often more bone than meat.

No such problem here – the plentiful meat comes easily from the bones and is flavoursome and surprisingly tender.

The rice is somewhat darker than usual, and the fried onions are more than a garnish here – there’s lots of them and they’re fully integrated into the rice.

The biryani picture is completed by a fine gravy that is salty and peanutty and a raita chunky with cubed carrot.

My biryani is very good and fully up there with those available elsewhere in Footscray.

Maybe for me next time the chole bhature ($11.99).

Or perhaps the puri ($8.99), which – according to the in-house printed menu – are served thali-style with a handful of small accompanying bowls of goodness.

 

Amrutha on Urbanspoon

 

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Nuevo flavours hit spot

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nuevo13
Nuevo Latino, 553 Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 0419 589 739

The aroma of new paint tells us Nuevo Latino – in the premises that previously housed the West Footscray video shop – is a fresh enterprise.

But what we see about us conveys a different impression – it’s a fit-out full of bits and pieces, and great vintage furniture, that gives off a happy, relaxed lived-in vibe.

We enjoy our dinner very much.

But the real stars of the night are the staff.

 

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Salvador and Yoko, out front, and Juan and Clarita in the kitchen take care of us in a way that is warm and caring yet never overbearing.

They’re very good and we eventually leave very happy.

And as we walk away, all four of tonight’s Team CTS of four express the hope their new eatery succeeds and prospers.

We try a handful of the tapas and “rations”, and have one each of four of the five mains.

It’s pretty much all good or much better.

 

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Croquettes of bacalao ($3) with what I think is a creamy dill sauce are light, delicate  and tasty.

 

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Yuka chips ($7) with “piquant dipping salsa” are wonderful and unlike anything any of us have eaten previously.

They’re crisp/crunchy on the outer; almost powdery and/or molten on the inner.

 

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Grilled corn kernels ($6) have the “wow” factor, too.

According to the menu (see below), they’re dressed in a chilli lime aioli – but the dish tastes to me like there’s more than that going on.

 

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The papa rellena ($4) – “rock salt baked au gratin potato skins, filled with cheese” – are the single dish we order I find less than memorable.

Nothing bad about them; they simply come and go without leaving an impression.

And now the mains …

 

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The most impressive looking of our mains is carne asada ($21).

The beef strip, threaded on to a wicked-looking dagger/sword, is nice and salty, chewy in a good way and all sorts of wonderful.

It’s not my main so I’m grateful the companion whose it is spares me some nice chunks.

That’s for me next time!

As with all our mains, the accessories – in this case corn tortillas, pico d’gallo and salad – are fine.

 

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“Pupusaw” $16 have that required full-on corn flavour and are gooey with cheese.

They’re served with pickled vegetables and refried beans.

 

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Tamales ($18) are plain but satisfying, also having that corn thing going on.

 

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“Quinoa envoltini” ($28) is a treat of chicken stuffed with spinach, pepitas and quinoa.

It’s mild of flavour but well done and enjoyable.

We have been kind of hoping for desserts along the lines of a flan or creme caramel.

We’re told such is on the way, but we’re happy with our meal and choose to pass on the churros that are available.

After all, the place has been open only a week.

 

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But then Juan presents us with a couple of  complementary cups of blood orange gelati (sorbet?).

They’re terrific – sweet, rich and sourish – and a perfect way to end our dinner.

See another Melbourne blogger’s take on Nuevo Latino here.

 

Nuevo Latino on Urbanspoon

 

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Who wants to join the Greater Footscray Liberation Front?

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bound3

 

The recent post about Buckley Street – a walking tour thereof and commentary upon – drew many comments.

It also unloosened much curiosity and speculation about the Footscray, Middle Footscray, West Footscray, Tottenham, Seddon and Yarraville – and the seemingly flexible borders that separate them.

So this a follow-up post.

I am specially indebted to the sleuthing of CTS pal Juz.

I figure there’s folks around who may have a much more soli handle on this than I – perhaps at the Footscray Historical Society.

But I get a kick out of looking at this stuff anyway.

I hope you do, too!

****

Wow!

The above map from 1870 – trackled down at the State Library – is of what is now Yarraville.

It talks of “very desirable” allotments in Stephen and Sussex streets – in Footscray South!

According to the wikipedia entry on Seddon, “The Original State Bank of Victoria in Charles Street, Seddon used to stamp its Bank Account passbooks as Footscray South Vic”.

However, wikipedia also maintains that “Seddon Post Office opened on 29 September 1908 and closed in 1976. Seddon West Post Office opened in 1924 and remains open”.

 

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The State Bank’s annual report from 1982 lists a Footscray South branch.

At Australian Surname Geneaology, there is reference to labourer Jack Rodney Lane living at 8 Hamilton Street, Footscray South in 1954.

Hamilton Street is, of course, part of modern day Seddon.

 

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On the other hand, in 1955 a Cadbury’s milk bar had struck a deal (above) with signwriting company Lewis & Skinner to “clean off and repaint” the shop’s pelmet. Thanks to Melissa for this one!

This family history site twice lists Pilgrim Street as being in Footscray South.

A final question: Will the headline of this post find the electronic gaze of the spooks focusing on Consider The Sauce?

I kinda hope so.

After all, spies gotta eat as well!

Footscray’s bleakest street?

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buck2

 

It’s a well-known if rarely utilised fact that you’ll always see more walking somewhere than by driving – or even pedaling.

So it is that I park and check out Buckley Street on foot for the first time in at least a decade.

Buckley between Nicholson and Victoria has remaining vestiges of earlier times, decades and uses.

But there’s a reason why it’s such an inhospitable stretch of street, and why there is little or no street life, and why the very little retail or business activity is heavily weighted towards tradies and the like.

That reason is traffic – lots and lots of traffic.

And lots of trucks.

The reason, in turn, for that is that this stretch of Buckley is a gateway, in one direction, to Sunshine, Geelong and Williamstown.

And in the other direction, it’s a gateway to Footscray Road and, less directly, Dynon Road.

All that traffic, and all those people in hurry, makes the intersection of Buckley and Victoria (above) one of the most accident-prone we know of.

Barely a week passes that we don’t see the aftermath of prangs, mostly caused we presume by cars and trucks barreling towards Melbourne having unpleasant interaction with those heading in the other direction and turning right into Victoria to go under the railway line.

Be careful here, folks!

But let’s go for a wander, hey? Down one side of Buckley and up the other?

 

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On the Seddon corner at Victoria, what was for a long time a Vietnamese pool hall is undergoing refurbishment that will see it reopened as a “convenience store”.

 

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The application posted in the window doesn’t generate much optimism that this will be good stuff for Consider The Sauce and its readers!

 

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A little further along, what seems like it was almost certainly a service station many decades ago is now home to West Suburban Taxis.

 

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It was unveiled as such by the then premier in 1995.

Heck, there must have been an election in the wind!

 

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Then comes a block or so of double-storey terrace houses, some done out nicely, some looking rather tatty.

I wonder who lives here.

 

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The business activity among these older properties ranges from electrical …

 

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… to the spiritual.

 

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Moving a bit further towards the CBD and we come across one of the very few newer structures on the street – a block of apartments.

 

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The empty, large block right next door could become home of even more apartments – if a buyer is ever found.

 

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From there, and before we cross Buckley and head back the other way, there’s a bus depot … and then the university.

 

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OK, heading back the way we came, but this time taking in the other side of the road …

The Belgravia Hotel is no more.

And nor is its colourful array of, um, “entertainment”.

This too is destined to be a site for apartments – and going by the sign, those plans do not include use of the existing structures.

 

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Next door, what was once the home of the Hot Shot pool hall and coffee emporium is uninhabited. We never made it in for a game or a taste.

 

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Moving past Paint Spot and across Albert Street …

 

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… what once housed an arts supplies outfit is now home to a recruitment agency …

 

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… while the arts supplies outfit itself has moved a few doors away to a more utilitarian property.

 

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Now we’re moving into spaces and places with which Bennie and I definitely have a shared history.

I once bought him a paint set at West Art Supplies.

And we spent a lot of time at the swimming pool.

It was nothing like the gleaming edifices to be found at Kensignton or Highpoint – rough concrete floors were all the go.

Rough, clammy concrete floors … but the place had a water slide and we liked it.

I presumed this property, too, had fallen into disuse – but I spot a pair of slippers through the frosted windows so walk around the side.

Surprise!

The whole place, including ancillary buildings, is now a Salvos aged-care establishment.

 

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The brick building next door, once home to child-care activities, is these days used by a handful of community service groups.

 

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And one of the rooms is, on the afternoon of my ambulatory inspection, being used for a grungy metal gig!

 

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Moving right along …

What was once a florist/garden/homewares business morphed at some stage, and briefly, into all of the above plus coffee and rudimentary eats.

And now it’s nothing at all.

 

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Next in line is another surprise – what was once a display home, now fallen into ruins and dereliction, has another, older house – also a complete wreck – behind it.

 

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The once-was-a-display-home still has floor plans with “sold” stickers on them!

 

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The cheap meat place is these days called More Meat.

We once shopped there quite regularly, and I know people who still do so.

 

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Moving closer to Victoria, there’s a Japanese bookshop with residence behind … which is right next door to …

 

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… a Chinese medicine place, which is right next door to …

 

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… another shopfront with, rather mysteriously, no signage and matting in the entire window space.

 

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Finally, right on the corner of Buckley and Victoria is the purveyor of all things canvas that seems to have been right there forever.

So is this stretch of Buckley … Footscray? Seddon? Both?

According to Google maps, it is both.

But I have a friend, a decades-long resident of Charles Street, who maintains the Buckley-as-boundary concept is a scam fostered by real estate agents eager to see more properties included in Seddon with a view to higher prices.

According to him, Charles Street was – and still is, in his opinion – the boundary between Footscray and Seddon.