Greek treats made with love in Kingsville

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Olive Oil & Butter, 196 Somerville Rd, Kingsville. Phone: 9315 1060

There’s an awful lot in the name of this great Greek bakery in Kingsville.

You see, that’s what they use – olive oil and butter.

Oh, of course, there’s other ingredients – but the name nevertheless symbolises a keen dedication to natural products.

No ingredients with numbers rather than names, no premixes … just a righteous determination to make and bake with the simplest and the best in an entirely old-school manner.

This is the kind of place at which the declaration, “Our products have a limited shelf life”, is a proud boast.

Olive Oil & Butter is run by Pelagia, her brother Chris and their mum Martha.

It’s a first restaurant/cafe/bakery outing for the family – and that’s a good thing, as it means the recipes are derived from an inter-generational tradition.

After my lunch is done and paid for (see below), I introduce myself to Pelagia, who is nice enough to set up a display platter of the Greek baking that is available this day. The line-up tends to change, but the prices are mostly in the $4-5 range (less for biscuits).

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 Clockwise from top right:

* Koulouraki – biscuit with vanilla.

* “The best” galaktoboureko – Filo pastry, semolina-based custard, vanilla, syrup with cinnamon and cloves.

* Baklava – roasted almonds and walnuts filling filo pastry with a cinnamon and clove syrup.

* Revani – semolina cake flavoured with lemon and orange sweetened with an orange-zest syrup.

* Another version of koulouraki.

* Paksimadi – a crumbly vegan biscotti flavoured with orange.

As Pelagia explains the ins and outs of the baking before us, we are joined by her mum.

It’s easy to tell from the glint in her eye and the pride in her work that Martha is serious about “olive and oil and butter” and using only the very best ingredients. And no preservatives at all …

I try only a few of the above assortment – they’re delicious.

The rest go home with me – it doesn’t take too long for me to realise my insistence on paying for the lot is going to be rebuffed at every turn, no matter how hard I try or how long I persist.

Olive Oil & Butter does breakfast and lunch, too, though much of what is available in that regard is of non-Greek derivation – pies, muffins, focaccia and so on.

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I do enjoy my pastitsio ($15), though.

It’s a hearty dish that is something of a variation of moussaka, with the good ground beef and tubed pasta melding into the rich bechamel sauce. The accompanying salad is just, fine, too.

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And for dinner, I am also gifted this gorgeous scroll-style spanakopita ($9).

Like the bakalava and its variations (katafi, gianniotiko, saragli), the cheese and spinach scroll is made with filo pastry that is made from scratch in the kitchen.

How good is that?

My two cafe lattes ($3.50) are excellent, BTW!

PS: I will update this post with “tasting notes” as I work my way through my trawl!

The Olive Oil & Butter Facebook page is updated regularly with news and photos of what is available.

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Great burgers – $12 with chips

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Famous Blue Raincoat, 25 Vernon St, South Kingsville. Phone: 9391 8520

“You look familiar – you look like a blogger!”

Ahhh, our cover is blown.

Hardly surprising, given my anonymous moustache and the fact this likely to be our third post on this Kingsville institution.

FWIW, I doubt very much that our splendid burger meals are in any way compromised, good or bad, by the ‘Coat’s knowledge that Consider The Sauce is sitting in the back garden.

This is an impromptu visit – we like that.

There’s Greek salad makings in the fridge at home, but we’ve hit the road … lured by the restaurant Facebook reminder that this is $12 burger night.

On a pleasantly muggy, hazy summer’s night, the back garden is a wonderful place to await our dinners.

We spy a young mum tucking in to a parmagiana as her partner’s steak sits unmolested.

He’s walking their toddler.

He returns; they swap roles.

Been there, done that … many, many times!

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They may have been purchased at special burger-night discount price, but it’s interesting to note that our whole meal deals end in dollar terms where a food truck stand-alone burger begins.

And here we’ve got real cutlery and crockery, and a lovely setting in which to enjoy.

The chips are deeply tanned and very good. And there’s a good-sized serve of them on both our plates.

Between standard but good buns are some greenery, tomato, beetroot, bacon and tomato relish.

All good.

The meat looks less patty and more big, fat meatball.

But they squash down well to serve our burger purposes well.

They taste magnificent – beautifully seasoned and a little bit peppery.

Bennie, happily smiling, raves about our burgers all the way home.

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New Kingsville coffee spot, WeFo momo update …

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What was once Petitou at 206 Somerville Rd is now Project 206.

The place looks a treat, the coffee is good and they have a buy-five-get-one-free loyalty card and wifi.

Food runs, at present, to breakfast regulars, such as eggs and pancakes, and light lunch fare, such as a soup special, frittata and lasagna.

The kids/toy space at the back has given way to more regular seating and a liquor licence is in the works.

Owner Natalie tells me there are plans afoot to see the abandoned servo across the road become a four-level apartment block.

Whatever our collective ambivalence about rampant apartment development, that will surely be an improvement on the current eyesore!

Project 206 is open 10am-3pm Mondays, 9.30am-4.30pm Tuesdays to Fridays and 9am-430pm at weekends. Phone: 90044563.

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Meanwhile, over in Barkly St, Magic Momo Kafe proprietor Ravi tells me his baby is still at least a week away from opening its doors for the first time.

He’s taken a realistic approach to competing with the varied Indian options in the area, so is excited about a menu that covers a number of bases.

He promises a lively cafe vibe with great coffee and a spectacular range of Indian sweeties.

Kingsville Primary School Fete

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Kingsville Primary School, Somerville Rd, Kingsville

What a winning school fair this was – plenty of room to move, well run, heaps of food, a spinning wheel raffle, happy people everywhere.

I had a hot dog and a brilliant coffee, and bought some real-deal homemade coconut ice.

Tandoori Flames

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Tandoori Flames, 15 Vernon St, South Kingsville. Phone: 9078 2769

“So very disappointing, the place seemed to be full of family.”

This line from a recent diner’s comment about a new Yarraville eatery springs immediately to mind while we are enjoying our dinner at Tandoori Flames in South Kingsville.

Look, I know there’s horses for courses when it comes to restaurants, and that some folks like a quiet time.

Others are looking for a romantic vibe.

Others, too, don’t dig kids cluttering up cafes … and others again think flat-screen TVs have no place in any kind of eating establishment at all.

I’m sure it’s possible to have a quiet time at Tandoori Flames and even a romantic dinner, if that’s to your liking.

But based on this Father’s Day evening, you’d probably aim for a night earlier in the week.

By the time we’re halfway through our meal, the place is packed and the staff are very busy.

Even better, a passel of kids – half of them in-house variety, half of them customer offspring – are cavorting merrily all over the place and even playing tag between the tables.

No one minds.

No one cares.

No food is spilt.

Everyone is happy – including us!

And I see just a single admonishment issued to the young man who is the senior member of the group – something along the lines of, “Keep it down a little, eh?”, I presume.

I had earlier asked this character, who was polishing cutlery with his sister, how much he was getting paid.

His reply was instantaneous and emphatic:

“I don’t get paid – this is my restaurant!”

This would be Harnoor, son of Tandoori Flames proprietor Jimmy – and we’ll let them settle the ownership details.

We’re here as Jimmy’s guests (full disclosure below).

We were always going to make it to Tandoori Flames at some point, but his email spurred us into action – yes, we’d love to join the throng for Father’s Day dinner.

Jimmy tells me he and his crew have been at these premises for five years and that previous to that the building housed, variously, a Yugoslav social establishment, a sports club and a gay/lesbian hangout called My Sisters Lounge.

The interior is quite different from what I am expecting.

An irregularly-shaped room, plain brick walls, exposed beams, chandeliers, dancefloor and even a disco ball.

It’s funky and welcoming and we feel right at home.

As we enter, the band is cranking out – much to my surprise – a rowdy version of Cannonball Adderley’s Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.

After that, they throttle back for wide-ranging mix of soul and pop covers that sit right well with the crowd – by the time we leave, the dancefloor is doing good business.

In his email, Jimmy had stated: “I would love to serve you with our speciality items …”

So we take the bold option of leaving our meal in his hands, just mentioning that we’d like to try some stuff from the tandoor oven and a little seafood.

This proves a mistake – but not because the food we are provided is bad or even unenjoyable.

I just wish I’d kept my wits about me and said: “Please, Jimmy, no butter chicken!”

Being only a moderate fan of paneer, chilly paneer lazeez ($14.90) – “cottage cheese cubes battered fried then wok fried with shallots, bell pepper soya sauce and red chilli sauce” – finds only moderate favour with me. I actually prefer the accompanying vegetables more.

But, to my surprise, Bennie really likes the paneer, happily stabbing successive cubes until our next platter arrives.

Tandoori mixed grill ($19.90) is the goods and one of two outright food highlights of our night.

“Seek kebab”, like shish kkofta and nicely chewy but maybe a little on the dry side.

Two succulent lamb cutlets.

And, best of all, chicken tikka and tandoori chicken.

The various bits of chook are outstanding and juicy.

Maybe a little less of the lurid orange of typical tandoori chicken, and a whole lot more herbs and spices and a big flavour whack of lemon.

And all the meats go even better with the onions into which the cooking juices have soaked.

We scarf the lot, no problem.

Butter chicken ($15.50)? This is probably a good version, but it’s simply not my thing – or even of much appeal to Bennie.

Tender chicken, but it’s so rich and so sweet!

(Any ideas why this is THE dish most people order in Indian restaurants?)

Dal makhani ($12.50) is creamily rich, too, but the blend of black lentils is silky and smooth.

After all that richness, prawn malabar ($17.90) comes as a relief and is our other big thumbs-up for the night.

There’s a lot of prawns, every one of which have that “bursty” thing going on that fine prawns always do.

The gravy is just right – coconut-based and laced with mustard seeds and flavoured, too, with curry leaves.

Our meal is completed by one apiece of good garlic ($3) and mint ($3.50) naans.

We’re full and then some – but, naturally, Bennie has no problem finding room for his tall glass of jelly, ice cream and fruit that goes by the title of Tutti Frutti.

Aside from getting a couple of dishes we wouldn’t normally choose – no one’s fault, that, except mine – we’ve had a ball at Tandoori Falmes and really adore the happy family vibes.

There’s Indian music of a more restrained variety on Friday nights and belly dancing on Saturday nights.

And, yes, the place has a couple of wall-mounted flat-screen TVs!

Check out the Tandoori Flames website, including menu, here.

Our meal at Tandoori Flames was provided free of charge by the owner in return for a story on Consider The Sauce. The food we enjoyed was chosen by the management. Tandoori Flames had no editorial control of this post.

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Motorino delivers

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Motorino, 29a Vernon St, South Kingsville. Phone 9399 2121

We’ve let Motorino, Kingsville’s popular and by all accounts very cool pizza ‘n’ pasta place, escape our attentions thus far.

But the arrival in our letterbox of a menu and the vital information the place is doing home deliveries allows scope for a special treat.

The order is …

One large Smashed Sicilian green olive pizza with Motorino pesto, ricotta, bocconcini and chilli ($14).

One Salad Motorino of iceberg lettuce, bocconcini, tomato, cucumber, red onion, lemon, olive oil and Kalamata olives ($11).

The pie is barely lukewarm by the time it’s made the short journey to Yarravile but it matters not – because this is a ripper.

There’s no discernible chilli quotient, but there’s basil leaves along with the advertised ingredients.

The various flavours work really well together, though some may find this blend a bit on the salty side.

This is one of the cheaper and lighter pizzas on the Motorino menu and it’s a clear winner, with enough topping to make a meal yet not to make the base soggy, with crusts nicely crunchy but just as yummo as the rest.

The salad is not of the same high standard.

There’s certainly plenty of it.

And the lettuce, cheese balls, onion, olives, tomato and cumber are all fresh as.

But somehow the end result is less than the sum of its parts, even when doused with accompanying tub of olive oil and drizzled with the contents of the juicy lemon wedge.

Perhaps the plainer, cheaper rocket, olive oil, balsamic and parmesan salad ($9) would be a better choice.

Still, based on this meal it seems little wonder Motorino is so well loved.

And it’s certainly a big step up in class from our usual pizza delivery results. The tangy green olives on the pizza, for instance, belong in a different world from the rancid little black turds of olive found on your basic Aussie pizza.

Could be it’s time for a visit!

There seems to be no minimum order for Motorino home delivery but there is a modest delivery fee of $2.

The Motorino website is here.

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She’s Thai – takeaway

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Friday takeaway dinner from She's Thai.

She’s Thai, 208 Somerville Rd, Kingsville. Phone: 9314 5556

Isn’t it some sort of bureaucratic insanity that sees kids start the new school year on a Thursday or Friday?

In any case, we’ve stumbled across the finish line of another week, including Bennie’s two-day week and my own commuting-and-driving routine.

We’re worn out and the house is out of food.

We’ve already been out on the fang once this week and will do so again some time over the weekend, so all we feel like is some quality sofa time.

It’s the perfect opportunity to take our local Thai joint, only sparingly frequented since our initial story, out for another spin.

Keeping the price down by cooking our own rice, going for two mains and ignoring the temptations of the entree list, we order red curry chicken and – wanting the crunch and zing of a stiry fry – the preow wahn, which is described as “sweet and sour using ‘royal cuisine’ style”.

Takeaway dinner from She's Thai.

Stir fry? Really?

Call it what you want – in our house we’ll call it soup.

Truly, our preow wahn is unlike anything we’ve ever come across before that has been even remotely stir fry.

The jumble of vegetables and pineapple is OK, but the gravy – soup! – is like a close cousin of the Cantonese sweet and sour.

A lame cousin.

Our red chicken curry is better, though fairly minimalist in terms of size.

What seems to be the same vegetable mix joins the chicken pieces is a gravy that separates out into its separate components.

Am I correct in assuming this signifies home-cooking, as opposed supermarket sauces and coconut milk overkill?

Aside from our stir fry being nothing we’d label as such and a disappointingly low level of spice and zing, our dinner goes OK but is still disappointing.

Surprisingly enough, that disappointment does little to dent our faith in the worthiness and integrity of She’s Thai.

Waiting to bat during the next day’s cricket match at Spotswood, Bennie calls it right: “It’d be better if we went there to eat their food!”

Not to mention relying on the staff for advice, making sure of much higher spice levels and more robust flavours, and maybe trying one of the handful of duck dishes.

And then there’s always the sticky and delicious massaman beef curry.

She's Thai - service with a smile!

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