Cool cafe for Braybrook

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The Mist Factory, corner South Road/Duke Street, Braybrook.

There was a quite a buzz going on when Quan Viet opened in 2011 on the South Road shopping strip in Braybrook.

Quite rightly, too, as their Vietnamese tucker was very good.

Sadly, it closed quite some time ago now, replaced in the first instance by a generic-style noodle shop (I had a single, very mediocre meal there) and in the second instance by a new Vietnamese place, the quality of which we have yet to ascertain.

Happily, still on the strip – though currently undergoing renovations – is the home of Gerry’s Pittes.

Our 2012 story on Gerry’s continues to be read regularly, confirming these flatbreads’ cult status!

Now, in good news all-round but especially for Braybrook locals, the South Road shopping strip boasts its very own cool cafe.

 

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I love the fit-out of The Mist Factory – there’s wood and enamelled chairs and stools; the vibe is elegant and simple.

(The name, BTW, comes from the “vape” business run by the same folks, with some of the products available down the back of the cafe.)

Having a hunch The Mist Factory would not be a serious lunch place, I did not soak muesli the previous night so am happy to step out for a rare breakfast engagement.

 

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My breakfast ($12.50, from the handwritten list presented with printed menu – see below) is very nice.

The eggs are expertly scrambled and sprinkled with just right amount of dukkah.

There’s a bunch – so to speak – of lovely spinach under those eggs, while the sourdough toast is fine and the bacon of high quality.

 

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For lunch or other non-breakfast times, there’s a range of filled Turkish rolls, panini, slices and cookies.

My two cafe lattes are good.

One of The Mist Factory crew, Peter, tells me it’s very early days for their cafe and that they consider the present situation pretty much “a soft opening”.

He hopes the place will become something of a late-night hang.

 

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Moonee Ponds eats goss

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moon22

 

More changes are afoot in Moonee Ponds and in and around Puckle Street.

At 19 Pratt, formerly the home of Italian establisment L’Angolo Italiano, a barbecue place called  BBQ Land is being prepared for opening.

 

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Going by the photos and dish titles already adorning the exterior, this seems unlikely to be serving American-style barbecue and will be doing more Aussie-style things over charcoal.

 

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Around the corner in Puckle Street, Greek joint Hellenic Flavours has folded.

 

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Across the street, Just Burgers has also closed – we didn’t get around to trying it!

I’m told the people – or person – behind a well-known and fondly regarded burger operation have/has taken over the premises with a view to opening a deli-style sandwich shop.

Think: Pastrami.

Think: Dill pickles on the side.

 

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In the old-school arcade off Puckle Street that leads through to Young Street, the equally old-school Bruno’s Coffee Lounge has closed down.

 

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Over in Hall Street, Nature’s One is offering what looks like a lovely range of breads and baguettes, along with things such as simple toasties and dips.

 

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And even though it happened a while ago, it would remiss of us not to mention that what was once a branch of Yim Yam in Margaret Street is now a Korean eatery called Hanspoon.

 

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Finally, and even though it has absolutely nothing to do with food, let me record the surprise and utter delight felt when, upon walking through the front area of a Puckle Street homewares/furniture store, I find at the back … the still-recognisable shell of a lovely old-school cinema/theatre.

How cool is that?

Ovest revisited

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ovest35

 

Ovest, 572 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 9687 7766

It’s been a while since Consider The Sauce’s inaugural visit to Ovest so I’m very happy to be taking Bennie for his first visit for Sunday lunch.

The place has quickly established itself as a popular fixture for West Footscray and beyond.

But as it has done so, Ovest has been evolving and growing.

 

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For starters, and no doubt to the grateful hurrahs of many, the boss has “caved in” – according the place’s Facebook page – and now has a “shiny new Wega machine”.

Espresso coffee at Ovest – oh yes!

As well, while Ovest has been open on Sundays for a while, starting this coming week it will be open as well for lunch from Tuesdays through Saturdays, with those days offering a streamlined menu of nine-inch pizzas and a few other goodies (see menu below).

For our Sunday lunch, Bennie and I have no problem with choosing from the regular menu, going pizzas all the way.

 

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The spicy pork on a tomato base with fennel sausage, ham, baby tomatoes, fior di latte, wonderfully crisp pancetta and chillies ($22.50) and …

 

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… the napolitana with olives, fat anchovies, baby tomatoes, mozzarella and basil ($19.50) are brilliant.

Really, these two are – in our experience – as good as pizzas can be.

My cafe latte is pretty good, too!

 

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Full-on Chinese at Highpoint

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Tina’s Noodle Kitchen, Highpoint.

Having checked out the swish new food area at Highpoint by myself, it’s a real pleasure to return with Bennie for another look and taste.

He, too, is impressed by it all.

We immediately note that the Vietnamese operation, Saigon Square, appears to be ready for business.

Sadly, we discover that it’s only open this day for friends and family, while the public opening will be the following day.

So we move on over to Tina’s Noodle Kitchen.

Like me, again, Bennie is knocked out that such adventurous and unadulterated food is being served at a shopping centre, at Highpoint.

It’s a nice place, with lots of tables and an air of spaciousness about it.

There’s a stack of staff members taking care of business and the open kitchen adds to the ambiance.

We take our time to peruse the long and lavishly illustrated menu (see below).

Apart from snacky items at the front and a list of “extras” both vegetable and meat at the rear, the menu appears to be devoted entirely to ingredient-packed soup-noodle combos in a dizzying range of variations, with prices mostly in the $13 to $14 range.

 

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We love our sole dabble from the snack/smaller list – pickled vegetable threads ($3).

But these turn out to be largely unnecessary due to the sizes of our soup-noodle meals.

Beware – these are so big that at a pinch one could serve as a meal for two moderately hungry people.

 

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Bennie chooses the deep-fried pork with pickles ($13.80).

He likes it – with some reservations.

The broth is salty and yummy, while the battered pork goes good though, unsurprisingly, becomes soggy – not necessarily a bad thing – as he progresses.

He slurps the slithery noodles and enjoys the pickles.

He has no time for the handful of quail eggs – he’s never dug them – or the “Canned Luncheon Ham” hidden within.

He may get the terminology wrong, but he sums up his feelings thusly: “Spam doesn’t taste good no matter what it’s in!”

 

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As with Bennie’s bowl, my own spicy stewed beef ($13.80) is a mixture of the familiar and the not so.

The broth is good and towards the more fiery end of the spice spectrum, while the beef is chunky and tasty though quite solid.

For just about every mouthful that is comfortingly familiar another explodes with sheer, exotic strangeness.

I do know that in the process of enjoying this dish I eat at least three varieties of mushrooms or – more accurately, I suspect – fungus for the first time.

My attempts to discover what it is I’m eating – “Is this a mushroom, is this some sort of tofu?” – fail despite a couple of staff members giving it a crack.

They seem disinclined to find someone who can do so.

We enjoy our lunches but perhaps not as much as we may have wished.

I put that down to what I suspect is a mixture of us being pushed somewhat out of our comfort zones – even though we both choose dishes that are, superficially at least, among the least challenging on the menu – and the simple truth that perhaps this food style is not for us.

Nevertheless, we depart full of admiration – and even a little awe – for the fact that such things are being served at Highpoint.

 

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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 a 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.

Hoppers in Werribee

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fab7

 

Fab Delight, Shop 4, 167-179 Shaws Road, Werribee. Phone: 9749 7777

There’s a stack of Indian restaurants in and around Werribee.

There’s now a Dosa Hut branch in Tarneit, we know an Indian place will be opening at Williams landing in coming weeks and there’s a couple of places in Laverton.

But these scarcely seem sufficient to service the rapid upsurge in Indian-based residential living in Wyndham and adjacent suburbs.

And Sri Lankan?

As far as we know, until now the nearest bona fide Sri Lankan eateries have been in Sunshine and, further afield, in Tullamarine, Glenroy and the city.

All of which makes, we reckon, the opening of Fab Delight something of real significance.

Even better, based on our first visit we reckon it’s a gem – a lovely, cheap, family business that serves authentic Sri Lankan food that is very good.

 

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Fab Delight is located in Werribee Village, a smallish shopping centre that continues to serve local needs even as behemoths such as the newly branded Pacific Werribee proliferate in the area.

Werribee Village has a Sim’s, a couple of Chinese places, a butcher, a baker and a pizza maker.

It also has the recently reviewed Carv’n It Up.

We love our mid-week dinner at Fab Delight.

We bypass the snacky stuff, the modest dosa line-up, the hoppers and the koththu and the devilled dishes.

 

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Instead, we get two plain rotis ($1.80 each) and an egg roti ($3).

They’re fine – fresh, hot, flaky, chewy.

 

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We get a single serve of string hoppers (20 pieces for $7.50), served with a chilli sambol.

 

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And, in the curry department, we get a serve of the yellow potato curry ($7.50), which is helpfully provided to us in two serving bowls.

The gravy is more of a soup but still good and the potato chunks are a marvel, with wonderful flavour and texture.

 

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The pork curry ($13) is Bennie’s choice – so adamant is he that my caution about anything to do with pork and curries, especially at these sorts of cheap-eats prices, is swept aside.

His determination is vindicated as this curry is something of stunner.

It’s a dry curry that is largely built around black pepper.

It’s different, it’s yummy!

The pork pieces are as tender as can be expected and very tasty.

Bennie gives an enthusiastic thumbs-up with one hand as he stuff his gob with his other.

Between our curries, and the rotis and string hoppers with which to mop them up, we enjoy a splendid, delicious and very affordable meal.

 

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Highpoint – foodie destination?

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It’s been clear – to us anyway – that Highpoint has for a few years now offered better food than other shopping centres, or at least those in the west or north-west of Melbourne.

This hasn’t made it a food destination for us.

But it has meant that if we’re thereabouts anyway, we’re happy to eat – even if that has meant either chowing down at this dumpling place or this Mexican establishment.

But now it seems Highpoint has stepped it up to another level with the opening of new food court area.

Could be Highpoint has actually become a foodie destination.

Think I’m kidding?

I’m not – even though I know there’s a heap of people who will snort derisively at such a suggestion.

 

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The new food precinct is on the lower level and situated alongside JB Hi-Fi.

The food area is big and spacious.

And, frankly, it looks gorgeous.

There’s lots of space between the tables at the various outlets – and the tables and chairs are heavy on wood and combine well with the non-glary lighting.

There’s a lot of exposed beams and other structural stuff when you look up and a lot of concrete – but the overall effect is one of style rather than industrial overkill.

I really do dig it.

 

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Some of the food outlets are familiar – Dumplings Plus from elsewhere in Highpoint, Roti Road from Footscray.

 

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I presumed that only the Korean chicken place Nene Chicken (“1100 outlets all over South Korea”) would be using dispensable cutlery and containers, as it is the only outlet of a real fast-food variety.

But as you’ll see through Pete’s comment below, that is not the case.

That means all here is about reusable bowls, plates, chopsticks and implements.

Applause – especially after my rant about gross wastage at Highpoint of several years ago.

Joining Nene Chicken, Roti Road and Dumplings Plus is Tina’s Noodle Kitchen – and this is where things get REALLY interesting …

 

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It joins sibling branches in Box Hill and Preston and is under the auspices of the Dainty Sichuan crew.

The menu on the Highpoint branch features dishes that I would never have expected to see featured at a shopping centre anywhere in Australia …

 

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In addition to the above pictured snacky things from the start of the menu, also to be had are such outings as tender pork liver in stock soup, lamb tripes, beer duck with konjac cake (with bones), chilli blood curd combination, spicy pork chitterlings, pork kidney flower with pickles, duck web with pickled chilli and many more.

Wow – how about that?

Is it brave and/or crazy?

Or really smart?

Remember, this is a shopping centre … but maybe it’s all of the above.

 

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But for my mid-week visit I do not feel so adventurous so head for Ajisen Ramen, which joins two branches in the CBD.

The menu is way more than mere ramen – I find it hard to restrain myself to a light lunch when contemplating such a long list of snacks/entrees, noodles, donburi, bentos and lunch sets.

But I nevertheless settle on toroniku ramen ($12) with grilled pork cheek, egg, vegetables.

It’s as good a ramen as could be expected – here or anywhere else.

The broth has deep miso flavour and the meat is gorgeously charry in flavour, though quite fatty.

It’s beaut and the price right.

Melbourne’s western suburbs are growing so fast that whole new suburbs and communities are going up in places where there are no old neighbourhoods for restaurants and cafes to colonise.

Of necessity this means any dine-out food will be found only in shopping centres.

But I’ve long worried that the brutal rent regimes involved mitigate against good food – not just food worth eating, at a pinch, but food worth travelling for.

So this is quite something, I think.

I mean, there’s now Roti Road in Footscray central AND Highpoint … I’m a bit stunned, actually.

The new food space at Highpoint has one outlet still to open – Saigon Square.

 

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