Jamaica in Yarraville: Review

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OK, Roderick – you’ve for sure taken care of us tonight; now we need some sugar!

 

Bax Food Co, 83 Gamon Street, Yarraville. Phone: 0402 751 108

How wonderful is it that a Jamaican restaurant is up running in Yarraville?

“Very” is the conclusion of our table of five after a spectacular mid-week dinner.

There’s enough of us to try – and share – just about everything on the menu.

It’s all good or better.

And much of it is very, very good indeed.

CTS has a long, pre-blog relationship with these Gamon Street premises – oft times Bennie and I used Gravy Train as a regular breakfast spot, those breakfasts being mostly made up of just toast and hot beverages.

Somehow along the way, Gravy Train seemed to get overtaken by foodie developments in Yarraville village, Seddon and several points in between.

So fronting here, to a refurbished location, to join my four dining companions has something of an air of circles turning and regeneration.

 

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The makeover, both inside and out, is substantial but also very colourful and funky rustic.

It fits the casual, happy vibe of the place to a tee.

We found the service to be very fine and the wait times for our choices shorter, if anything, than we might have expected.

 

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Cassava chips ($7) are plain of flavour but a crisp delight nonetheless.

 

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Ackee, saltfish and mushroom patties with tomato love apple sauce ($10) are like delicate treats something like curry puffs with a taste like mum’s homemade fish pie.

 

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Jerk roast corn with coconut jerk may ($6) is a wild, different and delicious contrast to plainer versions of roasted corn.

Yum factor: High.

 

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In a meal of many highlights, perhaps the most giddy, moan-inducing reactions come with dishes that mirror and even best many of those we’ve enjoyed in recent months at various BBQ joints around town.

These smokey BBQ pork ribs ($13), for instance, are immense in every way – spicy, charred, OMG.

 

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Likewise with the jerk Picapeppa hot wings ($9).

These are even spicier than the ribs, a little more piquant and every bit as awesome.

 

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Goat curry ($24) has wonderfully tender, fall-off-the-bone meat and is gorgeous.

 

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Our curry is served with roti bread (also available as a side, $4) unlike anything roti we’ve tried before.

It’s almost-crisp and spongey but does the mopping-up job expected of any kind of roti just fine.

 

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Oxtail stew with butter bean and carrots ($25) has sweet meat easily exctracted from gnarly bones and is another winner.

With its star anise, you know what this reminds me of?

Vietnamese beef stew!

Only two of our party had any depth of experience with Jamaican food before our meal, but I had a strong intuition that the Bax fare would be somehow familiar in any case, perhaps based on my familiarity with New Orleans and South Louisiana food.

Such turns out to be very much the case.

The Bax goodies can sit comfortably alongside other westie options such as  Vietnamese and African – right at home but strikingly different.

As chef Roderick points out, such is always going to be the case as creole food (using the word in it its most universal sense) the world over often draws on shared traditions.

As regards to pricing, the oxtail stew and the goat curry are substantial, bigger than they appear in the photographs, are sharing material for up to four (with other dishes alongside) and  quite good value.

 

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Rice ‘n’ peas ($6) is a Jamaican staple that is nice enough but gets a bit lost amid the richness of what surrounds it.

 

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Sadly, the same can be said of our fried snapper with pickled condiments and salad ($28).

The fish is beautifully cooked but arrives at our table last of our mains and at a point where we’re just about full to the ears, its plainness overwhelmed by the spiciness that has preceded.

Full, maybe, but still able to find room for shared desserts …

 

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Dark Shadows ($10) is an intriguing mix of condensed milk and grapefruit – it’s tangy and smooth.

 

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But sweet potato pudding ($12) is more our go – it’s like a very dense, rich bread and butter pudding-meets-caramel slice.

 

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Rum and raisin ice-cream ($5) is brought-in but nevertheless very good – it has, as several of my companions note, an unusually high level of “rumminess”.

In her review on Fill Up On Bread – see here – Mairead comments that perhaps Bax has gone a little overboard with the bax (box) concept in the form of too much cardboard, especially given the prices.

To tell you the truth, we have been so busy eating and enjoying we didn’t notice.

Bax Food Co, it seems clear to me, is sure to be a successful ornament to the local eats scene.

Very highly recommended!

 

Bax Food Co on Urbanspoon

 

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Lunch surprise in Altona

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Two Bros On Blyth, 51a Blyth Street, Altona. Phone: 9398 8882

Consider The Sauce travels to Altona for a lazy mid-week lunch on the recommendation of a long-time reader who moved to the area a couple of years back.

She tells us she did, at first, miss her former Kensington home and its proximity to considerable eats depth, but she reckons things are looking up in Altona – and points to Two Bros On Blyth as a case in point.

The cafe is smallish, with communal or bench seating on the inner and three communal tables on the outer.

 

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I find the staff and the service to be fine.

The breakfast options are many; the lunch options less so.

I choose from a display-cabinet range of jaffles and baguettes and a single salad, though a keen looking Asian salad is added to the line-up as I depart.

I opt for a baguette of ham, brie and horseradish, wondering how those ingredients will combine and figuring the $14 price tag is about right these days.

So I am surprised and delighted when my lunch arrives beautifully presented on a board with “extras” that include cornichons and a salad.

 

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It’s the salad that lifts my repast way beyond a mere quick lunch and into the realms of something to be savoured rather more.

It’s a lovely mix of rocket, cucumber, fennel and small chick peas, all very well dressed.

I discern little or no sinus-clearing tang from horseradish, but otherwise my baguette is fine, with all the fresh ingredients making their voices heard.

 

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My $3.50 cafe latte is very nice.

I doubt Altona will ever be a first-choice dining option for us, but with the advent of joints such as Two Bros On Blyth, ya never know!

 

Two Bros on Blyth on Urbanspoon

 

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Burgers? Best in show

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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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Sunshine eats goss

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Joining Afghan Master Kebab in offering Afghani food in Sunshine will soon be two new enterprises.

Shaheen will be situated in the 231 Hampshire Road, location of the relatively short-lived Home Town Sudanese restaurant.

Afghan Star will be up the road apiece, sandwiched between Cash Stop and Thuan An.

At the time of CTS visiting, both place were in the process of major renovations, though as there was no one around to quiz we’ll just have to wait to see what these businesses will offer.

CTS will, of course, monitor and – in due course – eat.

 

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Around the corner on Station Place … CTS was saddened to see the perfectly lovely Indian eatery Maurya close down quite some time ago.

Its homespun, simple and affordable food was a contrast to the Indian eateries in West Footscray and we loved it for that very reason.

But it turns out my conclusion – that the place had gone under – was wrong.

Instead, it was a kitchen fire that forced the (temporary) closure.

So, yes, Maurya is back – “same food, same people”.

Yay!

I’m excited about getting back there with the extended Team CTS in tow …

 

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Meanwhile, back on Hampshire Road – number 197 to be precise – a second restaurant has opened bearing the same name, and being run by the same folks, as the that of the first African eatery in Sunshine, Walia Ibex in Clarke Street.

CTS was in post-breakfast mode when I dropped in but the room looks inviting – but no more so than the enticing perfumes of Ethiopian cooking emanating from the kitchen!

Hopper’s Crossing Italian hideaway

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Domani Pasticceria, Shop 4, 220 Old Geelong Road, Hoppers Crossing. Phone: 8742 7852

Traffic lights have been installed at the corner of Forsyth Road and Old Geelong Road … to the undoubted relief of long-suffering local motorists.

Still, the roads hereabouts are demanding of driver concentration.

Old Geelong Road from Forsyth right down to Hoppers Crossing Station is one of the west’s least lovely boulevards, a kilometre or so of discount furniture stores, hardware establishments, car-fixer-upperers and discount furniture stores.

 

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We’re not being judgmental in saying that – we understand that it’s to this stretch of commercial activity that the many new residents of housing estates come to find affordable stuff for their new homes.

We’ve done so ourselves, albeit to the Good Guys for a new phone and an amusement place for a long-ago birthday party.

But no one is ever going to award this stretch of road a good-looking award.

Still, as ever in the west, interesting things are there to be found by those prepared to have a peek.

One such is Domani Pasticceria.

 

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It’s located behind a drive-through coffee stand and a fresh chicken shop that also does duty as a continental deli.

Parking is ample and, in a neighbourhood where good food and coffee are rather scarce, Domani presents as a calming retreat.

It’s Italian old-school in the way of Cavallaro’s in Footscray.

There’s nothing savoury about Domani – no pizza or pasta or sandwiches of any kind.

I suspect Domani makes most of its income from baking cakes to order for birthdays, weddings and the like.

But when Bennie and I try it out for post-school coffee and treats, it comes up, well, a treat.

 

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We split between us a chocolate mudcake ($2.50) and a chocolate beignet ($3.50).

The mudcake is pretty much a glorified, dense cupcake and just OK.

The beignet is something else … and it’s a good thing we’re sharing.

So engorged is it with chocolate cream that Bennie and I lapse into giggles at the very delicious decadence of it.

Bennie goes the chinotto route while my $3 cafe latte is very fine.

 

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The minimum card purchase is $15 so that’s exactly the amount of biscotti we snag to take home.

They’re terrific and fresh.

 

Domani Pasticceria on Urbanspoon

 

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CTS Feast No.11: The Wrap

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Photograph: MARKETA SILHAR

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CTS Feast No.11: Pizza d’Asporto, Rifle Range Shopping Centre, 71 Kororoit Creek Road. Phone: 9397 2033. Sunday, February 15.

Pizza d’Asporto serves simple, wonderfully delicious and fresh Italian food.

It does so in a casual setting with loads of warmth, friendliness and charm.

All those attributes were in abundant evidence when Consider The Sauce and a dozen or so hungry friends descended on Williamstown for the 11th CTS Feast.

 

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There was glorious antipasto, so good I’m sure I wasn’t alone in thinking this was the best you’d find in Melbourne, anywhere at any price.

 

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There were salads such as the insalata di rucola with rocket, pear, parmesan and rustic bread crumbs still just-right crunchy after being imbued with olive oil.

There were two pasta dishes – a fabulous pork-laden ragu and orecchiette with pork sausage and broccolini.

There were family-picked backyard tomatoes.

 

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And there were pizzas – lots of fabulous pizzas.

 

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This was a small gathering by comparison with some of the CTS Feasts of 2014.

All those in attendance had been to one or more previous celebrations – or arrived with someone who had!

 

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The exceptions were my very good pals, fellow blogger Caron and her hubby Gordon – so a big thanks to them for driving all the way from Berwick.

 

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“D’Asporto” means takeaway in Italian, and that indicates just what the original aim of this establishment was – to provide affordable, excellent Italian food for locals.

Then a bench and stools were added for the waiting comfort of customers, then more benches and more stools – and now there are even outdoor tables, at which most Feast attndees got down to their gleeful eating business.

So, you see, in some ways Pizza d’Asporto is not meant to be operating as a bona fide “restaurant” at all – but we’d not change a thing about what Claudio and Antoinetta have going here.

 

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With this story, the more formal, professional aspect of the CTS relationship with Pizza d’Asporto comes to an end – and now we’re very much looking forward to being just another couple of hungry, happy customers dropping in on friends.

Check out the Pizza d’Asporto website here.

Sweet treats courtesy of Pizza d’Asporto’s “sister” business, Impasto Forno Antico in Avondale Heights!

 

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Jamaica in Yarraville: Update

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Bax Food Co, 83 Gamon Street, Yarraville. Phone: 0402 751 108

SEE REVIEW HERE.

Since our initial story reporting the exciting news that a Jamaican restaurant is soon to open in Yarraville, Consider The Sauce has made contact with two of the three partners involved, and enjoyed some cordial conversations with Dalton and Roderick about their plans.

Unfortunately, efforts to synchronise all three partners and myself to be in the same place at the same time for a photograph were bettered by busy schedules all round.

Oh well – it’s time for an update anyway, especially as opening night is almost upon us!

Here’s the details …

The restaurant will be known as Bax Food Co and will operate out of the former home Gravy Train at 83 Gamon Street.

Opening night will be this coming Friday, February 20, on which night there will be 6pm and 8pm sittings.

Bookings can be made via roderick@bossmanfood.com.au 0402 751 108.

The “bax” part of their name comes from a casual style of eating in Jamaica whereby instead of sit-down meals, customers get a “bax” (box) full of goodies.

Bax Food Co will, of course, serve their food this way, too, though Roderick assures me some of the sides will be presented regular style on regular plates!

At the time of going to press, the menu was still being completed … but Roderick did number off several dishes that will be available:

Jerk chicken.

Oxtail stew.

Goat curry.

Salted cod.

Rice ‘n’ peas.

BBQ ribs.

Casava chips.

Spicy jerk roast corn with coconut jerk mayo.

Fish will be in the form of whole snapper, which will be the top-priced item at about $30.