Vintage cool and a cool burger

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marsh7

 

Vintage Loft, 99A Main Street, Bacchus Marsh
Little Lucky Cafe, 3 Grant Street, Bacchus Marsh. Phone: 0400 695 787

A road trip to the Ballan area has been enjoyable but ends in disappointment in terms of getting a story up for Consider The Sauce.

So now I’m stuck.

Do I race for home and hit, for lunch, any one of several places on the CTS wishlist?

Or do I cast around where I’m at and see what can I find – or perhaps even stumble upon?

Then I remember … there is something of much interest to check out in nearby Bacchus Marsh.

 

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Not exactly food, perhaps, but what the hey …

The woman I am seeking is named Daisy.

I have met Daisy before – maybe even a couple of times.

But it was a bloody long time ago and the memory is little more than a tantalising blur. It was, I’m guessing, about 25 years ago.

Certainly, I cannot recall the precise circumstances.

But I DO know it involved Daisy’s dad, Keith.

Keith Glass was and is a lovely man, one with a long and colourful history in the Australian music scene – and, these days, very much beyond Australia. No need to go into the details here.*

Keith and I have never been close mates but we have been something more than mere acquaintances over the years.

A few years after the encounter(s) at which I met his daughter, Keith started reviewing country and related music for the Sunday Herald Sun when – quite preposterously – I was the entertainment boss there and in a position to arrange such things.

Keith did a great job during what was something of a purple patch for both of us – but, yep, all that was a bloody long time ago now.

And it seems like it.

Both our lives have changed – a lot.

For myself … well, regular readers know what that’s all about.

Keith?

Well he now lives in Mobile, Alabama, where his zest and passion for music remain undiminished – so much so that he’s running a gung-ho operation called … yup, Mobile Records.

 

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So – sorry about the longwindedness! – that’s how I find myself climbing steep metal stairs to the floor above a chicken shop and a pizza joint in downtown Bacchus Marsh and entering Vintage Loft.

Keith and I stay in touch – if that’s the right term – through the magic of the internet, and Facebook in particular … so that’s how I came to know about Daisy’s new enterprise.

 

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Daisy, naturally, doesn’t recall me – nor I her, really.

But it doesn’t matter.

I like checking out the pop culture riches of the business she has started with two other locals.

 

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I like getting the back story of her journey from Windsor to Bacchus Marsh and family life.

And, of course, we discuss her father – perhaps his ears were burning?

Whatever … if you’re in the area, and especially if you’re retro-minded, CTS very much recommends a visit to Vintage Loft.

 

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But what of lunch, what of food?

To be honest, the options in Bacchus Marsh look mighty threadbare.

 

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But after we’ve taken the obligatory selfie to dispatch to Alabama, Daisy and her local knowledge come to the rescue.

She sends me just a few metres and just around the corner to a lovely place called Little Lucky Cafe, which is housed in an old cottage.

Thanks, Daisy – no way I would’ve found this place without you!

 

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Of course, I warm immediately to an establishment that has such great floorboards …

The menu (see below) covers a range of breakfast and lunch options – and according to in-house signage, they do dinner on Fridays, too.

 

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I go the cheese burger ($16) served with “rustic fries” and feel like a winner.

It’s a no-fuss straightahead cheese burger that is very fine.

The fries are superb.

*Hair (cast member), Boys Next Door/Birthday Party (manager), Missing Link Records (proprietor), Deep South Records (proprietor), Onie J Holy (alter ego), High In The Saddle (RRR), recording artiste.

 

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Top-notch burgers in Kensington

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ed22

 

Mr Ed, 285 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9376 6444

“Cafe By Day, Burger Bar By Night” – that’s Mr Ed in Kensignton.

Having checked it out in the former regard – see here – it’s become a sometime coffee spot for me, and perhaps I’ll grab one of their terrific pies or sweeties.

Tonight we’re in the house to check out the burgers.

The previous night, Bennie I had perused the menu – see the Mr Ed website here.

Having looked at the varied ingredients and the prices, Bennie wondered aloud if the Mr Ed burgers would offer sufficient eating.

And well he might …

The prices range from $14.50 to $17.50.

Among the ingredients listed for the nine burgers are pickled zucchini, Hereford beef, bourbon bacon jam, confit baby tomatoes, tomatillo salsa and shredded kale.

Ooohhh – sounds fancy!

But will we get a good feed or dainty, boutique burgers gone in a mouthful?

Actually, at another time and on another visit I might choose to compile a meal just from the very alluring list of sides.

How about rainbow slaw, purple congo/kipfler/bullhorn pepper fry-up or merlot pickled onion rings?

Ahh, but not tonight – on with the burgers!

 

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Bennie goes the Buddha burger of minute eye fillet, soft egg, kassler, oven dried tomatoes, crumbled aged cheddar, house relish, roasted garlic aioli ($16).

He loves it – a lot.

It’s proves to be a very messy proposition but that’s fine, of course.

He loves the way all the varied, high-falutin’ ingredients – including “the nicer than normal ham” and the runny egg – combine.

This burger maven rates it a very solid 8.5 or even 9.

Yes, that good.

Only glitch – and it’s only a very minor one – is he’s unused to having your real, actual meat in such a meal.

He’s (very) used to hamburger patties, whereas this is in effect a steak sanger and he grapples, but only very momentarily, with the eating skills required.

I go the Wagyu beef burger with pickled zucchini, raclette, baby leaves, house relish and mustard mayonnaise ($14.50, top photo) – and it, too, is a doozy.

The beef patty is about an inch thick, well seasoned and delicious, and the dressings and zucchini noodles are wonderful.

 

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For sides, we get a small serve of the home-made fat chips ($4).

My heart sinks a little when I spy what appear to be wedges but … wedge-shaped they may be, but our chips are fabulous.

Once-boiled and once-fried, they have tender, hot innards that veritably scream: “Potato!”

 

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We complete our meal with a mixed pickle plate of jalapenos, carrot, cucumber and cornichons ($5.50).

We both love pickles so we both love this.

The jalapenos are somewhat out of place but the cornichons hit the spot and the carrot and cucumber are true delights that are pickled somewhat in the sweet, delicate Japanese style.

We’ve enjoyed and admired the Mr Ed take on burgers.

We’ve received burgers that don’t see us waddling out of the place having completely stuffed ourselves.

But we consider the quality of the ingredients and cooking and the resultant flavours well worth the money we have paid.

We recommend the Mr Ed burgers to anyone who has become a bit jaded with 8bit and the like.

The service has been fine, Mr Ed is a fine place to spend an hour so and we reckon their burger endeavours deserve greater patronage than the handful of occupied tables we’ve observed this Friday night.

Altona cafe scores

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pit5

 

PitStop Cafe, 300-330 Millers Road, Altona North. Phone: 9391 1775

Bennie and I wait about 10 minutes for a burgers and chips.

Here’s the thing – this wait is undoubtedly a Good Thing.

Because …

PitStop Cafe is situated in anew industrial-strength shopping precinct – nearby and adjacent are an Aldi, a Bunnings, Officeworks and a JB Hi-Fi.

It’s the kind of place, in other words, you’d expect wait time for a burger to be counted in seconds rather than minutes because said burgers would be lined up, wrapped and with lettuce wilting, in a bain marie.

Yuck!

That this not the case at PitStop – that our food is prepared from scratch with skill and devotion – is born out by the look and taste of our meals.

 

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The chicken schnitzel burger ($9.50) is beaut.

The chook is crisp on the outer, moist and tasty on the inner.

The coleslaw does the job and the bun is fresh.

The cheese seems a little unnecessary.

 

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The basic beef burger ($8.50) with bacon ($1.50) looks an absolute treat.

All is fresh and good.

But here’s another thing – the produce and presentation really does deserve better than the meat that comes with it.

It’s not bad, exactly, but it does have that sausage meat look, texture and flavour that is part of the deal in a typical fast-food Aussie-style burger – the kinds of things, in fact, that are seen regularly lined up in bain maries.

A step up in quality and commensurate lift in price would see, I’m pretty sure, PitStop Cafe match it with such fine burger establishments as Zigzag or 8Bit.

We share the burgers to great delight and get a small $3.50 serve of beer-battered chips with each.

The chips are so plentiful that a single serve would’ve easily sufficed.

They’re hot and fine – though I reckon they’re over-seasoned with chicken salt.

Bennie disagrees.

 

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After our meal, I get talking to boss lady Allison who knows exactly where I’m at in terms of the beef burger meat.

Her business is new, growing and evolving and she’s keen on going for a sort-of two-tier approach,

For the Monday-to-Friday tradie business, such meat is what is expected and demanded.

And for that trade, and Allison, $10 seems to be some sort of uncrossable barrier.

At weekends, though, she is keen to up the vibe with ingredients of greater quality.

She reckons she can pull of the feat of catering to both the tradies and the foodies.

I reckon she’s right – and the good-looking, eggy breakfast dishes we see around us seem to confirm.

Allison is keen on sourcing goodies from westie sources and to that end is proud to offer Sunshine dimmies and Ka Pies, those ones we love and which have become a regular part of our home dinner routine.

We wish her well and will hopefully check back soon.

There’s no reason PitStop can not rise above the sort of greasy spoon industrial precinct places that abound around my Keilor/Tullamartine office location and become a foodie destination in its own right.

 

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Edgewater eats goss

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edge2

 

Oh dear – it’s gone!

Lakehouse has closed.

And once more what seems like it could be, should be one of the jewels of western suburbs eating has that forlorn, vacated vibe.

The place has been stripped bare of furnishings and fittings.

 

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The “for lease” sign that speaks of a “wonderful waterfront hospitality opportunity” calls for expressions of interest by April 22.

April just past or 2016?

We strongly suspect the former.

 

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About three-quarters of the way up the hill, a branch of St Burgs looks about ready to roll.

It’s situated in a new apartment block and in one of eight ground-floor retail spaces, only one other of which is on its way to being occupied – by a laundrette.

The easy availability of flash burgers ‘n’ things will no doubt be both an exciting blessing and a bit of too much of a good thing for the local residents, of which there are many.

For the rest of us, access will not be easy – there’s no parking at all on adjacent streets.

The nearest is at the Edgewater shopping precinct further up the hill or down on the flat.

This place gives me the schnitz

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Schnitz, Highpoint.

Oh dear – there go our lunch plans.

We’re dropping off some garments for alteration at Highpoint.

I know there’s places to get this work done that aren’t at Highpoint but I’ll be darned if I can recall where they are.

So here we are.

The wait time is an hour – and the idea of leaving and then returning to the shopping centre has no appeal at all.

So we better make the most of Highpoint time, as best we’re able.

Sox top-up from Harris Scarfe.

Routine eye furniture maintenance and screw-tightening at Specsavers.

Lunch.

We’re faced with the same choices as ever; some we even like but none appeal muchly today.

So we try one of the newer places, Schnitz, which is situated on the lower level and not far from the cinemas.

It may specialise in schnitzels and parmas but the vibe is all cheerful franchise fast-food, and the lineup of wraps, rolls and plates fits right in with that.

 

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Bennie goes for the No.4 – American Dream – in roll form with a schnitzel with regular crumbs ($11.50), with the combo deal ($5.50) adding a small chips and a small fizzy drink.

Even while I’m still photographing my own meal, he’s enthusing: “The chips are really good, dad!”

He reckons his filled roll is good, with a nice chunk of nicely cooked chook, but he would’ve preferred the roll to be better toasted.

 

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I get the same chips with my schnitzel and coleslaw ($14.50 all up).

I disagree, very much so, on the chips front.

Look, I can handle some chicken salt.

BUT NOT THIS MUCH.

This is chicken salt overkill and renders my chips inedible.

My plain and modestly proportioned schnitzel is rather good, with lovely crumbs and surprisingly tasty and juicy meat.

The coleslaw is fantastic, especially for a fast-food joint in a shopping centre.

Context is everything, I guess.

It’s finely chopped winner, fresh and not dressed to the point of gloopiness.

There are worse places to tuck in at Highpoint; but there’s better ones, too.

Our vote for the best remains with Dumplings Plus and Guzman y Gomez.

 

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Old-school WeFo

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cons4

 

Con’s Fish And Chips, 577 Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 9689 280

Bennie and I had good fish and chips from Con’s many moons ago but haven’t explored the place further since then.

This time, I’ve been nudged through the door by Col and the very excellent Barkly Village Facebook page he runs – he’s raved about the Con’s burgers several times, arousing my interest.

Truth is, we’d looked elsewhere largely based on our preference to eat in and sit down whenever possible, no matter what kind of food is at hand.

So I’m delighted to find, in what is a basic take-away operation, a small table and chairs for my comfort and enjoyment.

Long tells me she and Hung have run the joint for about 11 years but that they still see the eponymous Con from time to time.

 

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Did I say old-school?

How can you tell?

 

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I’m super impressed that Long provides me a half serve of the minimum serve of chips for $2.

They, too, look old-school but are fine, hot and enjoyable.

Predictably, even a half serve is way too big.

 

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My “one with the lot minus egg” ($7) is a two-hands job that is demolished quickly – it’s a typically enjoyable, um, old-school burger.

In the way of such places, the patty has been smashed flat.

I don’t have any problem with that – tradition is tradition, after all.

But next time, I’ll request an extra patty.

These folks are so friendly and obliging, I’m sure that will not present any problem!

 

Con's Fish and Chips on Urbanspoon

 

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Burgers? Best in show

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zig6

 

Zigzag Burgers ‘n’ Salads, Showgrounds Village, 320 Epsom Road, Flemington. Phone: 9372 5948

We’ve never felt any affinity for the showgrounds shopping precinct – the very honourary Lebanese fare of Saj aside.

Even last week, upon spying a new fast-food outlet, my eyes and mind slid by with barely a hint of interest.

Perhaps its was the somewhat conflicted description of “Burgers ‘n’ Salads”.

But then a regular reader and burger fan – Hi Lauren! – broadly hinted she’d love the CTS verdict before taking the plunge herself.

And then, when doing some research, I noted some very positive reviews at Urbanspoon and on the joint’s Facebook page.

Hmmm, this was starting to look more promising by the minute.

So much so that a report from our burger guru of choice, Nat Stockley, that he’d heard mixed comments about the place in no way deterred a happy, hungry CTS Team of four fronting up for Sunday lunch.

Our verdict?

Oh, yes – this is a winner!

Everything we had was good or excellent.

Our multi-facted order arrived within minutes but the food showed no signs of hasty preparation.

And the pricing (see menu below) is excellent.

 

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Bennie went the brisket bacon deluxe ($9.90) and he liked it plenty.

He reported the brisket was less like the BBQ versions we’ve been indulging in mightily in recent months and more like the brisket “you get in pho”.

But it all worked good for him, and that included the dressing/sauce and salad components.

As part of a combo deal, he also got a serve of the “house cut chips”, another order of which we got to share.

They were tasty but not crisp – not that it mattered.

 

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Our table also ordered a serve apiece of the popcorn chicken (above) and the popcorn prawns – both priced at $8.50.

The serves looked small but were big enough to ensure that all four of us got a good taste of both.

They were both excellent – crisp, unoily and tasty, with dipping sauces (chilli garlic mayo and Thai lime chilli) providing nice contrasts.

 

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The recipient of the chicken burger ($9.50) was happy with his lot while also reporting that the thin chicken breast, grilled not crumbed, was a little on the dry side.

No matter – as with all our burgers, the whole in terms of construction, presentation, balance and ingredients made such a criticism very muted indeed.

 

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I reckon I did best of all of us with my beef bacon deluxe ($9.90).

Again, all was in harmony.

This was a damn fine burger for $10 – one could easily pay another $5 and more around town for such a fine sandwich.

 

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And the salad portion of Zigzag?

Well, obviously we were in no mood for any such thing.

But the salad display actually looked very interesting and varied.

This could be a winner for Zigzag, as several customers were going salad instead of burgers when we were in the house, and the food options – especially quick, cheap and healthy ones – are not thick on the ground around here.

We had a super lunch, and on that basis we vote unanimously that Zigzag is a new, small western suburbs business that is doing good.

And for those who care, there’s not an ounce of hipster to be seen – and as little likelihood of queues.

Check out the Zigzag website here, though the menu there is not as detailed as the one below.

 

Zigzag Burgers n' Salads on Urbanspoon

 

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