Macedonian magnificence

6 Comments

zeg3

Zegov Charcoal Grill, 16 Wood Street, Thomastown. Phone:  9078 6811

Nat “The Nose” Stockley has a super-sleuthing way of finding about new joints that fits right fine with the Consider The Sauce ethos.

So when he tips us to the existence of a new eating emporium – or, even better, asks us to join him in checking out – we invariably respond with alacrity.

In this case, the business in question is a newish Macedonian place way over there in Thomastown.

No problem – a sweet drive on the ring road, particularly with a slew of new music to listen to, is a breeze and seems no more “out there” or onerous than some of our more far-fetched westie exploits.

As I drive, I have visions of perfectly grilled meats and fabulous cabbage salad dancing in my head.

That’s precisely what we get – and we get more besides.

A WHOLE lot more.

zeg9

As we get comfortable in the typically Euro-appointed eatery, Nat and I are like a couple of giggling schoolboys.

Truth is, we both get an immense rush from finding such out-of-the-way places.

As well, I am delighted to find that Zegov ticks another CTS box – regular readers will know we get a particular kick from finding great food on industrial estates. This isn’t that precisely, but it’s real close.

I’ve had no lunch, so am hungry – my mouth really does water as we peruse our menus, which feature both the expected and the not so much.

We choose a couple of starters and a couple of mains – in the latter case, choosing different platters from the three mixed grills available.

zeg5

Piroshka ($4 each) look like Chiko Rolls and are filled with a mix of cheese, pickled gherkin, ham and mayo. They’re delicate but, for mine, a little on the bland side given the potential pungency of the fillings.

zeg7

Makallo ($7) is chargrilled green chillies in oil “for dipping”. This is nice enough, though I could wish for more pronounced spice and flavour.

Sounds a little on the ho-hum side so far, doesn’t it?

Well, hold on – things are about to get very interesting!

Something spurs Tanya and her mum-in-law Lidija to get really serious about having us waddle out of the place.

Whether it be the fact we’re photographing everything that moves (and much that doesn’t) or that we look hungry (it certainly can’t be that we look skinny because we don’t) … out come three more starters we haven’t ordered just for us “to try”!

Wow!

zeg4

Nafora ($6) is lightly chargrilled bread with chilli flakes and cheese that we gaily use for dipping in the oil of the above makallo.

zeg6

Sarma ($16 for two) are right up there with the very best cabbage rolls I’ve had, regardless of derivation.

They’re smaller than is often the case, but so tender and packed with not rice but instead a gloriously hearty beef mince sauce.

zeg10

Grafce ($7) are baked beans – they’re smooth and hearty, but maybe get a little lost in the multitude of food around us.

zeg8

Finally we get to our mains – mix char grill 1 for him, mix char grill 2 for me.

Both cost an outrageously cheap $18.50, with the only difference being that Nat gets pork neck pieces and I get lamb chops.

Gosh, they’re fantastic! The only problem is, we’ve already eaten so much we struggle to do our platters justice – I eat only one of my chops, for instance.

But the meats are superb – plain, juicy, expertly cooked and including five “kebapi” and, for variation, a skinny pork snag of sneak-up-on-you spiciness.

And the cabbage salad?

It’s perfection in every way!

Such a simple thing and such a joy, the cabbage is both tender and crunchy, and a little vinegary to boot. As it should be.

It’s pretty much the only thing we both clean our plates of.

We think we’re done – but Tanya and Lidija have other ideas …

zeg12

Tulumba, a dessert special not listed on the menu and yet another treat offered us “on the house”, is like a cross between churros and eclair.

Coated in clear, sticky syrup, it’s a plain and not over-rich way to cap off a magnificent eating experience.

There’s some food in the west that is similar to that to be had at Zegov, but not THAT much.

So this wonderful place is well worth a drive the ring road makes easy.

And I just know that Bennie will love the $10 burgers that are “served with chips in burger”!

Thanks, Nat – you’re always on the money!

Zegov Charcoal Grill on Urbanspoon

zeg1

zeg11

zeg2

A bleak night in Brunswick

8 Comments

rezah28

Rezah Afghan Kebab, 595 Sydney Rd, Brunswick. Phone: 9387 3730

It’s a very odd few hours that end in sheer delight.

Good pal Nat Stockley and I have fronted for the launch of a new food truck, one that excites us both.

As he points out, whenever we tee up a foodie excursion, neither of us arrive at the appointed location early – but we are ALWAYS on time.

In this case, that is bad timing indeed.

The scene in a Brunswick back street is bleak.

It’s pissing down with rain and the dub music issuing forth from the venue is doing strange, unpleasant things to my internal organs.

Now look, I’m someone who has always fully embraced volume as a music asset – but this is just no good and no fun.

About three-quarters of an hour after the announced starting time, and with food seemingly no closer to appearing, we give it up and head for Sydney Road.

Our first stop, a perennially popular Lebanese joint, is chockers like I’ve never see it before – and will require a 15-minute wait for a table. If we’re lucky …

So we amble on up the Sydney Road hill and settle on Rezah.

rezah21

I’ve been here before, so know what I’m getting into. Nat has his reservations, but is soon won over.

We have a really, really fine meal in a restaurant that has now climbed onto the list of Melbourne places I most warmly regard.

Perhaps the love that unfolds is because of my previous visit. Or, more likely, the folks who run this joint are just extremely lovely people.

rezah22

Whatever … I soon start a dialogue with Firoz.

Firoz tells me the restaurant has been running for nine years and that he and wife Aasiah have lived in Australia for 16.

I’m even invited into the kitchen to see our dinner being prepared – so cool!

Nat and I, being of robust hungriness, go for the mixed kebab set menu that’ll cost us $20 each.

It’s terrific!

rezah23

The rudiments of our feast are the same as on my previous visit …

Wonderfully vinegary pickles of carrot, onion, cauliflower and even a plump, round chilli.

A minty chilli dip of only mild hotness and a stiff, tasty yogurt dip.

Chewy, hot Afghan naan – so different from the Indian variety.

rezah26

Our chicken one way and lamb two are fab, especially the lamb and chicken pieces – tender and extremely tasty, with that charcoal thing really going on.

The minced lamb sausage is nicely chewy but I find it a bit bitter in the garlic manner.

rezah29

The rice, festooned with currants and carrot strands, is every bit as good as that we love eating at this Westies winner.

It’s made, Firoz tells me, with stock made from long-simmered lamb bones and spices including two kinds of cardamom, cinnamon and cumin, as well as salt and pepper.

rezah25

In a testament to what kind of restaurant this is, Aasiah provides us with a complementary serve of aushak.

The green onion dumplings, smothered in yogurt and a pulse stew of some sort, are wonderful.

As we are wrapping things up, smiling Firoz several times places his hands over his heart to demonstrate his appreciation of our enjoyment of his family’s food and cooking.

He does so again when he makes clear his desire that we not pay for our dinner.

With gentle determination, we eventually persuade him that there’s no way we’re going to allow that to happen.

After a shaky start to our evening, Nat and I have had a fine old time.

And I even got to hear previously unheard – by me – details of my friend’s sordid rock ‘n’ roll past.

What do you reckon?

Would it be completely out of order for Consider The Sauce to arrange a CTS Feast in such a non-western suburb of Melbourne?

Rezah Afghan Kebab on Urbanspoon

rezah24

Post-midnight Braybrook kebab

7 Comments

keb1

Tasty Toasted Kebabs @ Fun Galore, 234 Ballarat Road, Braybrook

Funny, eh, how almost all the palaver about Melbourne’s food trucks seem to imply they’re some cool, NEW thing,

That’s simply not the case – vehicular food delivery systems go way back in Australia, I’m guessing as far back as the horse-drawn variety as opposed to those mounted on internal combustion or steam engine vehicles.

And then there’s Mr Whippy and the kebab shacks that are festooned across the city.

Perhaps in the case of the latter it’s a matter of out of time, out of mind – the kebab shacks don’t come into their own until after midnight.

They’re far from our usual routine, but we’re on hols so the rule book is out the window.

keb5

Our sleep requirements have expanded to fit the extra time available, and – perversely – late nights are perfectly acceptable.

After his father has done with televised sport for the night, Bennie has glommed on to a screening of the 1955 flick The Tender Trap.

We don’t from whence does the lad’s penchant for vintage comics, cars, clothes, movies and so on come.

Sure, his dad and his mum are so inclined, but it hasn’t been forced down his throat.

Yet he’d happily prefer Louis Armstrong over the latest teeny bopper any day, and can equally happily disappear into old-school song-and-dance movies.

So I’m happy to let him suck up an hour or so of creepily sexist Frank Sinatra sparring with husband-chasing Debbie Reynolds – and even rise from the sofa for the occasion when he calls my bluff and quickly proffers an eager “Yes!” to the suggestion of a post-midnight snack.

Then off we go …

We reject one Ballarat Road, ahem, establishment on the grounds it looks rather forlorn and lacks even the most rudimentary seating, ahem, facilities.

keb2

And thus we front at Fun Galore and the kebab shack run by a friendly fellow named Abdul.

He’s been tending this particular patch for six years and runs other shacks on Sydney Road and Flinders Street.

In those six years, he tells us, there have been only a couple of instances of rowdy, drunken or abusive behaviour.

“People are looking for something good to eat so are nearly always polite and friendly,” he says.

That’s certainly the case on the night we visit, with about 20 or so customers coming and going in the 20 minutes we’re hanging around.

These folks keep mostly to themselves.

What surprises somewhat is that in being outright Caucasian, Bennie and I are in a small minority, with most punters being of Asian persuasion, including the Sub-Continental variety, with some representation from Pacific and African parts of the world.

Why should this surprise? This is the western suburbs, this is Braybrook – what the hell did I expect?

keb4

Our chicken kebabs cost $8 and are tasty.

Thankfully, Abdul uses Lebanese-style pita bread, so our snacks are without the significantly greater weightiness that would come with Greek-style pita or Turkish bread.

Our kebabs have been toasted so the bread is quite pleasingly crisp, yet the salad bits inside retain their crispness.

The chicken meat, for mine, gets lost among its fellow ingredients, including plenty of garlic and chilli sauces.

But perhaps that’s no bad thing.

Then it’s home and bed for us.

Tasty Toasted Kebabs on Urbanspoon

keb3

The Greekgrill

2 Comments

thegreek1

The Greekgrill, 43 Civic Parade, Altona. Phone: 9398 5335

Getting in early seems to have become something of a Consider The Sauce habit of late.

When I ask the staff at The Greekgrill how long they’ve been open, they say since about midday!

Yep, it’s opening day.

That would explain why we haven’t noticed this establishment before.

It’s smack bang in the middle of a small shopping strip that has previously been of little interest to us, save for hitting the ATM of the correct flavour before heading to adventures elsewhere in Altona and environs.

The Greekgrill delivers a variety of options – yes, you can order a burger or kebab wrap or charcoal chicken here.

But what intrigues me are the more substantial and traditional Greek offerings.

And especially at attractively low prices. (As previously noted, we love Greek restaurant food, but that style loses out when the prices are steep compared to more affordable options.)

How about a plate of chicken or lamb gyros with “chips, salad, warm pita bread and tzatziki” for $16.90?

Or “char grilled baby snapper served with lemon and herb scented rice and salad” for $17?

Mixed grill for two goes for $36 and the seafood platter for two costs $42.

I entered seriously contemplating some of these heftier items, but while ascertaining if the taramosalata is house-made – the answer is “yes”, but it’s not on today – I switch paths and figure a light meal is just the ticket for this early evening chow down.

My mixed mezze plate (top photo) is beaut – particularly at $14.

The dips, eaten with warmed and lightly toasted pita bread, are super – an apricot-coloured spicy fetta number with a swell and very cheesy chilli kick, a plain cucumber and yogurt combo, a garlicky eggplant delight, and a beetroot blend that is less sweet than most of its kind but packed with that earthy beetroot flavour.

Elsewhere on my plate are two kinds of olives, kalamata and stuffed green jobs, a few cubes of rather ummemorable fetta and some roasted red capsicum.

I’ve been given a few extras over and above the menu description – perhaps because it’s opening day and they’re looking to impress or perhaps because of the interest I’ve shown.

Small red peppers stuffed with a creamy blend of fetta and ricotta also have a nice chilli hit, while the marinated octopus is chewy but nice enough.

A serve of “dolmadakia” (“vine leaves stuffed with herb rice”) costs $6.50, but I’ve snagged a couple at 50 cents apiece. They’re plain but good.

Judging by the number of locals dropping in to grab menus, it seems The Greekgrill will prove a winner.

The Greekgrill on Urbanspoon

thegreek6

thegreek7

thegreek5

Rezah

4 Comments

Rezah, 595 Sydney Rd, Brunswick. Phone: 9387 3730

Meet my new favourite things.

They’re aushak, they’re Afghani dumplings and they’re incredible.

I’ve ordered a half serve of them ($15), instead of one of the $20+ kebab mains, so I can get a taste of other bits of the menu at this lovely Afghani restaurant.

It’s a tactic to which I often resort when eating by myself, one that can often go wrong and worse.

But tonight I feel like a bleeding genius of ordering.

Encased in silky pillow casings, each of the dumplings is stuffed with splendidly vivid green sliced spring onion.

The distinctive bitter flavour of the onions goes absolutely divinely with the slightly sweet, slightly but just rightly chilli glow of the meat sauce and the minted yogurt around the fringes.

I can’t remember the last time I deliberately slowed my eating to linger over every mouthful.

But by the time I’m down to my last dumpling, it’s stone cold.

Yes, that good.

Accompanying my meal is a serve of toorshi ($3.50), described as “pickled vegetables in vinegar”.

These watery pickles, too, are just plain fantastic – mouth-puckering sour, there’s onion, cabbage, potato, chilli, cauliflower, cucumber, all of it soft to the point of mushiness but so fine.

Watery, sour and excellent, too, is the dip/chutney of “fresh tomato, coriander, garlic, fresh crushed green hot pepper” ($3.50) I order, which is joined by a regulation mint/yogurt raita, which I haven’t.

The aushak sauces, the dips and the pickles are all gleefully mopped up by nicely chewy fresh flat bread, which is like a cross between the Turkish and Lebanese varieties.

Rezah is decorated with Afghani artwork and photos, the service has been lovely and the food delivery as prompt as can be expected.

Frankly, I’m drooling at the thought of returning.

There’s plenty of meat on the menu (see below), including familiars such as tandoori chicken and various biryanis.

But there’s some points of difference, too, such as asheh lubia – homemade noodles with red kidney bean sauce and yogurt.  Sounds pricey at $25, but you never know …

Rezah Afghan Kebab on Urbanspoon

Danny’s @ 525

2 Comments

Danny’s @ 52, 525 Glenhuntly Rd, Elsternwick. Phone: 9530 005

Before I meet our pal Nat at Danny’s, I have time to live.

About an hour and a half of it.

I spend it happily wandering … back along Warrigal Rd, along North Rd, zigging here, zagging there, along the Carnegie retail area and finally taking in the upper reaches of Glenhuntly Rd, which I have never before laid eyes on.

Even after parking, I have time so take in the sights of the Danny’s neighbourhood.

Of course, the whole way I am rubbernecking and on the lookout for foodiness.

There’s a lot of it about.

Naturally, all this browsing – and, in some cases, stopping, parking and getting out for a better look at some promising eats places – has sharpened up my appetite.

I’m hungry and ready for lunch.

Over lunch, I’m unsurprised to find that several of the food places I’ve spied on my journey have been covered by Nat at Urbanspoon. This is his stomping ground, after all.

We’ve arranged to meet at Danny’s for lunch as a natural extension of our mutual interest in Middle Eastern food, with CTS having this year gleefully travelling to Coburg and Brunswick, as well as various parts of the west, in a joyful search of discovery.

Here, then, is a grand chance to sample some Middle Eastern food from the “other” side of town.

Despite the area being known as a Jewish enclave, it’s not Jewish food I am expecting.

I’m expecting Middle Eastern food of the Israeli variety.

And so it proves to be.

We order the Mega Falafel Plate for $15.50.

We order, too, the Mixed Grill for $30.

This seems like over-ordering of the highest order, but we acquit ourselves well and do so without getting too full.

The falafel plate is a thing of deliciousness.

The falafel balls themselves – 14 of them – are small, fresh, grease-free and crispy on the outside. Inside they’re delicate, green and with great flavour.

They go great the hummus.

The salady bits make a perfect foil.

They include marinated cauliflower, pickled cucumbers and pickled onion, the pinkness of which makes it a sure thing it has been produced using the same method as turshi.

Also on board are coarsely chopped coleslaw and a happy jumble of tomato, cucumber, capsicum and the like called Israeli Salad.

The meat plate is good, too, but doesn’t quite hit the same high spots for me.

The meat is as juicy an tender as you’d expect, but some of the sauces are bit too heavy and sticky for my taste. For me, this is generally good-to-very-good rather than “wow!”

The exceptions are the two cigar-shaped kebab sausages, one lamb and one chicken, that have a lovely lightness of flavour and texture.

The chicken one, especially, is a winner, reminding of a weisswurst snag – except, of course, it’s not porky!

Danny’s is an ace place. The service, staff and their welcome are genuinely warm and friendly.

There’s lots more to explore – I’d love to get my choppers around something like the whole grilled snapper with the sort of sides and accompaniments available here.

Thanks to very much to Nat for the suggestion and the company!

Danny's @ 525 on Urbanspoon

McKebab

5 Comments

McKebab, 49 Gordon St, Footscray. Phone: 9317 9132

It’s not precisely, literally a hole in the wall, but McKebab has that sort of vibe about it.

This tiny kebab shop is situated next door to a convenience store, with both of them sitting on the ground floor of what is otherwise as a spectacularly ugly building.

Across the street is the pokies pub known as the Powell. Across Ballarat Rd, but still on Gordon St, is a foodie strip – a fish and chip shop, pizza place, Korean noodle hang, a couple of Indian eateries – that seems forever to be waiting for that magic spark.

It seems that often in the west, and no doubt elsewhere, businesses and their operators must make do with situations, locations and premises that are presented to them, that are affordable.

In this case, we suspect that what presents as a simple kebab joint has the capacity and knowledge to present more home-style cooking of the Turkish/Iraqi family that runs it.

We wish them well if that is the case.

Certainly we enjoy our brief visit and the friendly service we receive.

As we take one of the two tiny interior tables, we strike up a conversation with two blokes at the other who turn out to be senior players for the same rugby club for which Bennie plays. Like him, they too have enjoyed success earlier in the day.

It is the home-style dish that draws our eyes and impresses the most.

Well, impresses me the most anyway.

As we’re returning from a friend’s birthday party in Hoppers Crossing, Bennie is already quite full of party pies, sausage rolls, saveloys and chips, and would prefer to be at the burger place up the road anyway.

Later in the week, buddy!

We order “green beans, rice and salad” ($9.90), with the main protagonist turning out to be fasolea.

This is a fantastic, tangy dish of green beans tomato, capsicum, what is described to me as an “Arabic herb”, onion, garlic, salt and pepper.

The beans are, of course, very tender, but I find the whole thing delicious.

The tabouli is a tad too dry and onion-y for us, but the rice is fine.

The house-made turshi – pickled turnip – is fantastic, salty, bitter and crunchy.

We order as well four felafel balls, which are freshly made and good, with an inwardly greenish hue and a smooth, ungranulated texture.

The hummus that accompanies is smooth and mild of flavour and the bread – housemade, too – is like a cross between Lebanese pita and Turkish bread.

No doubt because of their location – students above, boozer across the road – the McKebab folks face heavy demand for your typical kebab options.

But we hope they hang in there with some more home-style fare.

Roxy Kebab Cafe

Leave a comment

Roxy Kebab Cafe, 801C Ballarat Rd, Deer Park. Phone: 8390 1007

Roxy Kebabs – doesn’t sound too flash, does it?

But as with so much else about western suburbs eating, looks are deceptive.

This Turkish establishment was noted down for close-to-immediate investigations after being spied while perusing the Deer Park shopping strip as part of Consider The Sauce’s visit to the new Chef Lagenda.

Seeing a bunch of fellows slurping up lamb shank soup has that sort of effect upon us.

School is out early for the start of the holiday break, so up the road we head, having a strong hunch the place will rise above its daggy name and humble exterior.

That it does.

Roxy Kebab Cafe is a small operation but all the expected goodies seem present and they’re doing wildfire trade on this Friday lunchtime.

Looks are deceptive, too, with the lamb shank soup, one of three – there’s also lentil and tripe varieties available.

The small serve ($6), with fresh Turkish bread, would do nicely as a light meal.

The opaque surface hides heaps of marvellously tender globs of shank meat and the broth flavour is strong.

Our soup is also rather fatty, so a hefty squeeze of the lemon segment provided is definitely required.

To make up the rest of our $20 lunch we go with the small meal of the day ($13), with both lamb and chicken from the spit, chilli and hummus dips and salad.

There’s no rice but it’s a goodly sized serve nevertheless.

In order of impressiveness …

The salad is beaut – a crispy, fresh concoction of lettuce, green, onions, cabbage, carrot, parsley and – quite probably – more.

It may seem odd to rate salady bits as prime in a visit to a kebab joint, but for us these sorts of places are as much about the trimmings and condiments as they are about the carnivorous aspects.

The chilli dip is tangy and crunchy and fab – and it’s of only mild disposition, meaning we can (just about) slather it on the bread like a normal dip.

The lamb is tasty and tender. The chicken is a bit bland for me, but then I generally find it’s always so.

The hummus is fresh, creamy and smooth but seems almost shockingly devoid of flavour.

Still, all up this has been a most satisfactory kebab shop lunch.

Stepping outside, we step right next door for a fun visit to Hollywood Costumes.

Even though it’s clear we’re not in there as paying customers, the staff could not be more friendly and welcoming.

Bennie checks out the long rank of Superhero Costumes with an expert eye, though we also note with approval the presence of Ghostbusters and Spongebob garb.

We make a diversion on the way back to the car for a stupendously generous $2.90 cup of berry gelati and a cafe latte and hot chocolate at Pane e Latte, just behind the shopping strip, thus rounding out a most excellent Deer Park adventure.

Roxy Kebabs on Urbanspoon

Amasya Kebab

2 Comments

Amasya Kebab, 134 Nicholson St, Footscray. Phone: 9687 7032

So enamoured have we been with Footscray Best Kebab House that it has taken more than a decade for me to take its competition, Amasya Kebab, around the block for a spin.

It proves to be a good move on a day when I feel like a change from habitual patterns and routines.

Amasya may still stand in the shadow of its near-neighbour just up the road apiece, but it’s swell to know there’s a handy alternative nearby for when the crowds at FBKH are too intense.

Amasya is shiny, white and bright – but nevertheless welcoming and a nice place to stop for a while.

It has much in common with FBKH – a lunchtime crowd that encompasses the widely diverse hues and style habits of Rainbow Footscray, the happy buzz of being a family-run business and the Turkish travel posters among them.

As well, the menus are pretty much interchangeable, and there seems to be only minor differences in the pricing.

My small meal of the day ($12), lamb only, does indeed look on the modest side.

But it fills me up plenty and the quality is there.

There’s no rice, but that’s more than compensated for by the large serving of lamb.

This is not crispy, crunchy, salty as I dig it, seeming to have come from a part of the spit recently carved for another customer. It’s still fine, though, being tender and tasty.

The salad bits and leaves with a lemony dressing are good but without much distinction.

The yogurt/cucumber dip is stiffer than normal but does the job.

The chilli dip is the big hit – it’s every bit as good in terms of lip-smacking tang and crunchy delight as that found up the road.

Excellent!

The bread is fresh, warm and typically wonderful.

We have tried the Amasya pies before – and they’re recommended, seeming to have more filling and less bread than those found in other Turkish places.

Amasya Kebab on Urbanspoon

Katik

3 Comments

Chicken on skewer at Katik.

Katik, 349 Barry Rd, Campbellfield. Phone: 9357 9997

Katik is Plan B.

Plan A had been another establishment of Middle Eastern flavour a few kilometres away.

Our companion for our dinner adventure, Nat, had checked on the hours so we thought we were fine.

As it turned out, yes the place was open … but with only a limited menu to offer us.

That particular joint – that particular lunchtime joint – will have to await another day.

A hasty three-way conference sees us whizzing up to Barry Rd and to the strip recently visited by Consider The Sauce for a visit to Layla’s Restaurant.

Nat is a regular visitor to Consider The Sauce, a serial contributor to Urbanspoon and a devoted food hound – and we are delighted to make his acquaintance and enjoy his company.

Katik is a popular place in this neck of the woods, but we find the booth-style tables free as we enter and quickly set about choosing our meal.

Katik serves straight-up Turkish kebab shop fare, with perhaps a more restricted menu than we are accustomed to – three dips, some pies and a range of meats, either skewered or from the rotating machines.

Iskender kebab at Katik.

We order three plates – chicken skewer, adana kebab and iskender kebab – which proves to be just right for the three of us.

Perhaps it could be argued that serves are a mite on the modest size, but they are all just a notch under $10 and we certainly don’t leave hungry.

The chicken – oh yes! – has heaps of that charcoal grill flavour, but the meat is a little on the dry side.

The iskender kebab – sliced lamb doner kebab meat placed on a bed of Turkish bread and topped with tomato and yogurt – starts real fine but seems to become less appetising as our meal progresses.

Adana kebab at Katik.

The adana kebab – a single length of spiced, minced lamb extracted from a flat skewer – is lovely, with just the right kind of chewiness.

The flattish bread we enjoy, especially those pieces into which meat juices have seeped.

The carrot dip is just OK, the humus a good deal better in terms of flavour and the salad additions lacking appeal.

We have a good dinner, but I have a suspicion that Katik is a victim of it own success, with hectic turnover leading to a lack of finesse.

Which makes us all the more grateful to have Footscray Best Kebab House and Flemington Kebab House in our own backyard, especially when it comes to salad components and dips with real zing and presentation generally.

Katik Turkish Take Away on Urbanspoon

Gerry’s Pittes

32 Comments

133 South Rd, Braybrook. Phone: 9311 9383

Exchanging dough for baked dough at Gerry’s Pittes – “First & best in Australia since 1969″ – is an odd experience even by the sometimes quirky standards of the western suburbs.

I’ve been alerted to Gerry’s and the wisdom of investing in some of his bread, by Consider The Sauce friend Rich, who wrote:

Ever done fresh Gerry’s Pittas from the factory/shop front in South Road, Braybrook? Just down from that Viet place (Quan Viet) you covered a little while back. $7ish for a fresh bag of 20! Awesome for pizzas and brilliant with a lil’ butter and pan fried for a minute, a tiny squeeze of lemon goes well too. They’re open early till about 3 or so during the week … I know its a lot but thing is you can freeze ‘em and they still come up well after 20 secs in the micro. They freeze well for me … but @ $7 for a bag of 20 … and the fact they have made me salivate in a ridiculous manner for many years – it’s worth the gamble.

Suzy, another Consider The Sauce buddy, chimed in, too:

You should check out Gerry’s Pitas in the same strip. Ring the bell to buy direct best Greek pitas going.

So here I am, standing in front of a plain, unwindowed shopfront in Braybrook.

I do as the signage instructs me and depress the busted-up bell.

A minute or so later the door is opened by a flour-dusted bloke who utters a few words in Greek to me then inquires in English what it is I want.

“I want some pita bread.”

“How many?”

“How do you do them?”

“Bag of 20 for $7.”

“OK.”

The doors closes, preventing me from inhaling any more the of delicious baking aroma coming from inside or trying to get peek of the operation, leaving me somewhat bemused.

Have I ever gazed upon a flour-stained footpath before?

I don’t think so.

Gerry's Pittes has a unique approach to its retail endeavours.

 

A few minutes later, the bloke is back.

He takes my money, gives me my bread and makes change.

Surely, since this operation has been in operation since 1969, this guy is too young to be Gerry?

I ask him.

“No – I’m the supervisor,” he says before briskly consenting to having his photo taken and closing the door once more.

This transaction has been singularly lacking the sort of warmth I value so much, but that’s kind of neat in its own way.

If or when you ever have a late-night kebab from one of the kebab shacks/caravans, I reckon there’s a pretty good chance this is where its wrapping will have come from.

But saying that seems like doing these breads something of a disservice.

The freshness is the thing.

My breads are still warm when I get them home a few hours later, and when opened the bag emits a tantalising reminder of the previously enjoyed bakery aroma.

It’s a lot heavier than Lebanese-style pita. Eating one straight out of the bag is quite a lot like eating ordinary bread.

This is certainly value for money, with half of them going straight into the freezer.

I like Rich’s idea of giving them the frypan treatment. That’ll go sensationally well with the Greek salads that are among our favourite meals.

And with quite a hefty density, I can see them standing in for the supermarket rotis, parathas and naans we’ve been seriously unimpressed by whenever we’ve tried them.

One’ll get a test run with tonight’s dal.

And I know Bennie will love them a whole lot more for school lunches than the breads and rolls that have been our routine to this point in time.

Footscray Best Kebab House revisited …

17 Comments

93 Nicholson St, Footscray. Phone: 9689 0777

When considering the pros and cons of running a food blog, it’s tempting to simply state: “It’s all good!”

And certainly, in terms of both expectations and unexpected delights and surprises, getting Consider The Sauce up and running has been an overwhelmingly enjoyable and satisfying experience.

But if there is one, albeit minor, downside it is this: Revisiting old and muchly favoured regulars, as well as new discoveries and finds that deserve to become so, has become just that little bit more difficult.

The pressure is on for the next blog post!

Through it all, however, we have retained Footscray Best Kebab House as a regular haunt, so highly do we dig the food – and even though it was covered in one of our very early pieces

In this case, fronting up is an especially enjoyable proposition as we are being joined by Ms Baklover of Footscray Food Blog fame and her girls, all of for whom this is a debut visit to FBKB.

We are a tad early, so being sans either my usual book or newspaper, it’s supremely pleasurable to just sit for a quiet moment. I contemplate a lazy, relaxing day ahead with my son. I consider the changeless surrounds of Footscray Best Kebab House. Like other institutions around the city – Pellegrini’s is an oft-quoted example – the prices have crept up but all else is just as it ever was.

Or so it seems. It may be a trick of the mind, but it’s one I’m happy to go along with.

As ever, the bread is fresh and warm, with some of the pieces having a nice crustiness to them. It’s a nice pacifier, too, for young children restless with food on their minds.

Bennie and I start with a couple of stuffed vine leaves, cold thanks. In the end, I end up eating both, Bennie being far too distracted by the juicy meats, dips and salads to come. The dolmades are good, but not as memorable as some I recall from previous visits.

We feel like something a little different from our usual instant-gratification trip of chicken and lamb from the spit, so go for the large adana kebab meal to share ($13.50).

It’s all present and accounted for:

Superb rice on to and into which the meat juices and dips seep.

A crunchy, lemony and ultra-fresh salad of finely diced bits and pieces that Ms Baklover suspects is sprinkled with sumac. I’m not sure about that. It’s the same topping we’ve always had here. Maybe it’s the Turkish equivalent?

A small serve, by request, of the reliably oily and delicious potato salad.

Dips in the form of cacik (cucumber and yogurt) and chilli dip. There’s two other kebab joints within a few minutes walk who do their own chilli dips, as does the very good Flemo kebab establishment. But none of them come even slightly close to this masterpiece of crunch and tang.

The only disappointment – and it’s only a slight one – is the adana kebab meat. It’s just as we like our kebab meaty bits – crusty, a little chewy, a little salty, but – in this case – a little too much on the dry side.

We earlier demurred in regards to the large shish kebab meal on the basis of price – it’s up to $17.50 these days.

That turns out to be a mistake. Ms Baklover orders it for her and her kids, and we’re jealous.

It’s just the right size for one big mouth and three little ones. Let me try that another way … It’s just the right size for mum and her three girls.

Ms Baklover seems to share our high esteem for the chilli dip and just loves the big and luxuriously tender chunks of marinated lamb and chicken.

The girls partake of all, sometimes in the face of maternal determination that it be so, but in the end show a marked preference for … the wonderful Turkish bread.

In terms of our eating-out habits, this food seems just below the top-of-the-class leaner, cleaner range of Viet options in terms of nutrition and healthiness. And the damage for Bennie and I – two stuffed vine leaves, two soft drinks, large meat/dips/salad/rice meal – is an excellent $20.

We adjourn for a somewhat chaotic but nevertheless enjoyable coffee and baklava at Babylon just down the road.

Footscray Best Kebab House – long may it reign as one of our very favourite places!

And thanks to the Baklovers for the company!

Footscray Best Kebab House on Urbanspoon

Photograph: BENNIE WEIR