Quick Stop Cafe

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Quick Stop Cafe, 146A Mickeham Rd, Tullamarine. Phone: 9335 3040

A business meeting of sorts is to take me, for the first as far as I’m aware, to Sunbury.

After studying the whereabouts of my destination and the ways of getting there from Yarraville, I resolve to give the ring road and Calder Highway a miss and go for the ease of the $14 toll route instead.

It’s then that I recall a tip-off from Juz, No.1 leaver of Consider The Sauce comments, about a kebab joint just off Mickelham Rd on the way to the airport.

Now there’s a handy lunch option for my return post-meeting travel!

Sadly, the joint is closed – maybe it’s too soon after the Christmas/New Year hullabaloo for a cheap eats establishment to open when situated in an otherwise drab light industrial precinct.

So I go tooling off along Mickelham Rd to see what, if anything, this part of the world offers by way of foodiness.

It’s within only a block or so that I spot Quick Stop Cafe. The size and style of the signage is so similar to that of the unopened place suggested by Juz that my immediate thought is that the business has simply shifted to a site with more potential drive-by customers.

Upon entering, I soon discover that is not the case.

Still, I resolve that – come what may – this will be my luncheon venue.

Quick Stop does a range of takeaway kebabs, some eat-in plates and even some keen looking Turkish-style breakfasts, such as the Menemen Breakfast of “lightly pan-fried pepper, tomato, cheese with egg” for $8.

I order the $12 chicken plate solely on account of the fact I like nicely, deeply tanned look of the chook going around and around behind the counter.

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As I sit back to await my meal, I look around this small and very basic cafe, which I surmise does a good lunch trade for tradies, drivers and the like, and revelers of various kinds and sobriety later at night – all of which, I subsequently discover, is indeed the case.

A handful of the aforementioned tradie types order after me and depart with their takeaway goodies before I lay eyes or teeth on my meal, and I am beginning to feel a little forgotten.

It turns out the slight delay has been caused by the house rice being completed.

And what rice it is – still slightly al dente, nicely salty and studded with heaps of short bits of vermicelli.

It goes real good with the chicken off the spit, which is not as crispy as I have been expecting. It IS delicious, though, and of surprisingly un-oily texture.

Both rice and chook, in turn, are super fine with the tangy, fiery chilli dip and the more mundane cucumber and yogurt number.

All of which goes to show you can never run out of surprises when it comes to getting a good, affordable feed in Melbourne.

I enjoy talking to the staff, including the boss, Amber, before departing in the somewhat sad knowledge that it will surely be a long time before I’m in this neck of the wood again.

Quick Stop Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Deniz Kebab House

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Deniz Kebab House, 829 Ballarat Rd, Deer Park. Phone: 9363 1188

Here’s a Turkish eats place that sells a lot of the sandwiches otherwise known as kebabs, but which deserves to be considered so much more than a kebab shack.

With its homely formica tables, tiled floor, very friendly service and extensive menu, Deniz Kebab House is very much a family-style full-on Turkish restaurant.

Talking with owners Tuncel and Inci is very cool, as it always when the people concerned are so full of enthusiasm and passion for what they are doing.

Everything is made in-house, they proudly tell me.

And that “everything” is a lot – not just the various meats, dips and salads but also all the sweets, bread, pides, boreks, pizzas and more.

My single dolma is good, with tomatoey rice that is so al dente it’s almost crunchy. I like it that way when it comes my way!

There’s three meat genres going around and around on spits – lamb doner, chicken and one called “slice lamb kebab”.

Seizing with glee on a point of difference, I order the latter.

It’s unlike any kebab meat dish I’ve ever experienced – nicely, gently chewy with a distinctive flavour that makes me almost think there’s some kind of cheese been used in its preparation.

I subsequently discover from Tuncel that the lamb is softened with milk and onion and cooked with salt, pepper, chilli, oregano and paprika. 

I’ve requested some of the house chilli dip so get that and none at all of the customary yogurt-based accompaniments for such a meal, but I’m cool with that and up for some heat.

The chilli dip is fiery hot and piquant, and goes great with not just the meat but also the bread, which arrives at my table so hot and fresh it’s steaming.

Dolma, meat plate with dip and salad, can of soft drink and a pide stuffed with lamb and herbs for the next day’s work lunch – and I’ve still got change from $20.

Tuncel tells me the opening of Chef Lagenda a few doors up a few months back is good for business in terms of helping the Deer Park strip foster a reputation for foodiness.

Deniz Kebab House on Urbanspoon

Cafe Global

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Cafe Global, 373 Sydney Rd, Brunswick.

Having satisfied our desire for new, fresh reading material, the Consider The Sauce lads find ourselves kicking around a part of Sydney Rd we didn’t expect to be anywhere near come lunchtime.

We’ve tried Mediterranean Wholesalers, open to the idea of cheapo pizza slices and cannoli, but we find all the tables taken.

So we wander on.

There’s no hurry, I tell Bennie, and this is Melbourne – let’s let the Food Spirits guide us.

And so it is that we contemplate what looks to be – from the outside – just another drab inner-city bakery.

We get a delightful surprise when we step through the door – here’s a grand room done out in rococo style with an emphasis on red and gold, a pizza oven at the far end providing a clue to the premises’ previous incarnation.

He looks at me. I grin. We nod to each other – this is it, this is lunch.

These days this is Turkish territory.

Cafe Global, we are told, has been open about four months and has family connections to another, famous Sydney Rd Turkish establishment.

As such, Cafe Global has the dips ‘n’ kebab landscape covered, but we like the look of the place for home-style food potential.

That’s all a moot point for us, as we’re immediately captivated by the gozleme production process being undertaken just inside the front door.

The pastry is being rolled out using the traditional wooden pole and stuffed with goodies on the one side, the completed parcels being cooked on the other.

There’s four fillings available.

We leave the four-cheese-and-mint and capsicum-eggplant-mushroom-onion-parsley for another day, going with the lamb-parsley and cheese-spinach for $6 a throw.

Our lunch is insanely good.

The pastry is rich and buttery and light. The fillings are flavoursome, their spare lightness and delicacy providing plenty of impact without heaviness.

The service is a bit muddled – we get no bread to go with the avocado dip we ordered. But it tastes like a regulation, if very smooth, guacamole anyway.

And we don’t receive the two stuffed vine leaves we requested.

But this is all to the good, so well fed and well pleased are we with our gozleme - so slim, so cheap, so delicious.

McKebab

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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

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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.

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Amasya Kebab

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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

Golden Grill Turkish Restaurant

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Felafel plate at Golden Grill Turkish Restaurant in Werribee.

Felafel plate at Golden Grill Turkish Restaurant in Werribee.

Golden Grill Turkish Restaurant,  38 Station St, Werribee. Phone: 9741 7101

A dry argument, dry like wine?

Neither, but this is a story of dryness.

Golden Grill in Werribee had been on the radar for a while.

Somehow, I’d picked up the vibe that this was more than just a quickie kebab joint.

But every time, for quite a while there, I was in the vicinity, it was closed.

Today I’m in luck.

A bunch of uniformed chaps are bustling through the fag end of the lunch hour.

The marinated meats in the display at the front look succulent, as do the displayed sweets.

Out the back, Golden Gill becomes a real-deal Turkish eatery.

There’s lovely wooden furniture of a certain age – not antique, but not shiny new either.

There’s travel posters of Turkey – a couple of which I even recognise from them playing a similar role in our beloved Footscray Best Kebab House.

Also adorning the walls are newspaper clippings about the restaurant and photos of staff posing with happy customers.

It’s all good, it’s all familiar and it all augurs well.

So, as you can see, I am most favourably inclined towards Golden Grill.

So what goes wrong?

I order the felafel plate ($15.90).

Before then, however, I indulge in one of the place’s stuffed vine leaves ($2.50).

This is big and hard – making me think that for once it may have been better to have my dolma cigar heated through.

But all is fine once I’m into the eating of it – the tomato-infused rice has that distinctive, familiar tang. It’s delicious!

The felafel plate price is quite high, but I figure the gauge will be in the results.

The felafal balls themselves are large and also quite hard. The flavour is fine. But – oh dear – they are so dry that eating them becomes a jaw-taxing chore.

Perhaps my eggplant dip, which has no smokiness but a nice garlic/lemon thing going on, will help ease the way?

Nope.

Claggy is the word.

If it’s possible for a dip to be dry, then this is dry.

I turn for help to the salad bits and pieces – which include some tabouli.

All is crispy, crunchy and fresh – but unadorned to the point of austerity.

My meal cries out for some moistness – specifically a generous hand with the olive oil and lemon juice.

Maybe next time the gorgeous-looking marinated meats spied on the way in!

Golden Grill Turkish Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Katik

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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

Flemington Kebab House

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301 Racecourse Rd, Flemington. Phone: 9376 2767

This Flemington institution didn’t get a write-up in the whiz-bang new book on Melbourne kebab shops, but it certainly would’ve been a worthy inclusion.

It’s never been at the top-tier of our choices for such food, as there are options closer to home.

As well,  the last time Bennie stuck our noses in the door the prices had crept up, and the previous dad-only visit had left me feeling a little shortchanged in terms of quantity.

So it is with much interest and a little wariness that I enter for a midweek dinner.

The place has had some simple renovations done. It’s homely. Tiles, photos of Turkey – the pics tug at my heart. From what I’ve gathered over the years, Turkey is right at that the top of the list of countries worth visiting for foodie reasons as well as friendly people and drop-dead gorgeous scenery.

As my dinner ritual unfolds, I relax in the knowledge that the previous disappointment can be written of as little more than a blip.

This kebab joint is at the top of its game and my meal is excellent.

A kebab wrap will cost you $9.50 here.

Meal platters range from non-meat for $13 up to mixed grill for $21.

My spread of lamb from the spit, two salads, two dips, rice and bread clocks in at $15.50.

There’s only one size, which is a bit of a blow – my plate could feed dad AND son.

The meat is tender, perhaps not crusty and crunchy enough, but light on the fattiness.

The chilli dip is of a pleasant spiciness, fine and fresh and tangy, and goes fantastic dab by dab with the meat.

The babaghanous lacks the smokiness that tends to come with coarser versions, but its smoothness is full of lemony, garlicky tang.

The rice is good, the salad of lettuce, cabbage, carrot and so on nice and crisp.

The other salad – of red capsicum, leaves, olives and even a couple of cubes of fetta cheese – seems a little excess to requirements.

I envy Flemington residents having this place ready as a groovy go-to option to the many Asian eateries surrounding it.

Flemington Kebab House on Urbanspoon

Footscray Best Kebab House revisited …

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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

Moonee Ponds Kebab House

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Shop 1/19 Homer St, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9372 7569

There are times when Puckle St, Moonee Ponds, and surrounds can seem like a foodie playground rich with potential.

There are others when it conveys to us something of a profound mediocrity, even during a bustling Saturday lunch hour.

The latter is the case for us in this instance, with the joint we had specifically set out to try closed and others surveyed while wandering around offering little by way of inspiration.

Always, though, the Consider The Sauce team is willing to embrace with fervour the splendid concept of the silver lining.

So it is that we finally chow down at a place we had previously passed by on numerous occasions.

If our typical Turkish kebab shop meal doesn’t quite match the lofty heights of our favourite, it does the job, the price is very right and we’ll visit again in a heartbeat if we are in the area and looking for a cheap, tasty feed.

We had already survived the folly of shopping on empty stomachs, filling up on the makings for a big pot of minestrone and the related but different ingredients for an even bigger pot of chicken stock at Fresh On Young.

Unsurprisingly, though, our appetites are humming as we head for lunch.

The fare is very basic at Moonee Ponds Kebab House – only four dips, and the pides seem pricey at $7.

We settle on the lamb-off-the-spit platter with red capsicum and the cacik/yogurt/cucumber dips, with two stuffed vine leaves on the side at 90 cents each.

The vine leaves themselves are somewhat on the chewy side, and a little bitter, too. But the rice innards are excellent and lemony.

The bread is fresh and warm, and the dips lacking character and zing, though perfectly adequate for the job at hand.

The lamb and the salad are top-notch. In fact, at $12 and of a size more than ample to feed the pair of us, the lamb platter is an outright winner, especially given that we know of other such establishments where such is going for $14 and more.

The layered lamb is fresh, not too greasy, a little on the crunchy side and has the lip-smacking, salty tang so essential to this genre of tucker.

The salad – not tabouli – is ultra-fresh and crunchy.

Meat, salad, dips, two stuffed vine leaves and a can of that Coca Cola stuff? The fee of $15.80 is a super dooper bargain, and the service is smilingly friendly.

Heading somewhat aimlessly home, we stop at Crumbs Organic Bakery in Ascot Vale for cafe latte, hot chocolate and a shared and stupendously moist chunk of chocolate brownie, along with three or four hands of Uno, at which Bennie bests his father through his usual means – cheating. (Just kidding!)

Bennie has had school holiday rugby-free Saturday, but we make another stop on the way home to watch some of the Footscray big boys run around. Thankfully, the lad is sufficiently stuffed and has a ball hooning with some of his teammates that we depart knowing the burgers and egg-and-bacon sangers can await blogging coverage on a future game day.

Broadmeadows Station Kebab House

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5/1100 Pascoe Vale Rd, Broadmeadows. Phone: 9309 6626

A $7 bowl of soup worth driving all the way to Broadmeadows?

Well, actually, soup is not on my mind as I enter Broadmeadows Station Kebab House.

I figure it’s more a matter of dips, salads, falafels and stuffed vine leaves.

Upon entering, though, I see a couple of customers intent of bowls a rich-looking broth.

I discover that it’s lamb shank soup.

“That’s what I want!” says I.

I’d gotten the hot tip about this place while quizzing a fellow dad of one of Bennie’s rugby teammates about the eats scene in Broadmeadows. He reckons there’s many a fine place to explore, though in a more diffuse sense than we are used to around the Footscray and Sunshine.

How lucky we are that so many of our favourite eats destinations are crowded together in such glorious villages/precincts!

The Station Kebab House is positioned in a rather bleak setting, part of a large and ugly station set-up with cars whizzing by on Pascoe Vale Rd the only vista.

Inside, however, it’s a nice and homely Turkish restaurant to the rear, presumably a crowded and happy place to be at night, and the takeaway counter at the front.

What appears at first glance to be a light brothy soup is much more – in fact, it’s an elixir of joy!

For buried in the rich, smooth, heavily stock-infused broth are many pieces of impeccably tender and fat-free shank meat. The photo, above, does this masterpiece little justice.

So rich and filling and delicious is my soup that I barely use the lovely warm Turkish bread provided.

Unsurprisingly, too, I struggle with my small size vegetarian meal ($10), though it boasts highlights that match the soup in every way.

The cacik and eggplant dips are good without being sensational, as is the rice. The salad is the familiar mix of green, red and orange goodies; it’s fine.

But the single stuffed vine leaf and the two falafels? Oh my …

The warmed vine leaf is tender and juicy, and has the sort of lemony tang that only the best of its kind do. I subsequently discover from proprietor Ahmet that lemon is just part of the secret – there’s also mint, capsicum, tomato and, of course, rice and olive oil involved.

The falafel capsules are likewise state-of-the-art.

The outer coatings are crispy, the insides warm and fragrant and wonderful.

It’s a long time since I’ve had falafels so fine.

The welcome here is cheerful and welcoming.

I appreciate, too, the willingness of Ahmet and his family to discuss their fare; such is not always the case.

On the strength of their super dooper lamb shank soup, I’m betting the lentil soup is a killer.

Heck, I may even be tempted to tackle the tripe soup. Ahmet tells me they have regular visits by several “Australian” families bent on getting themselves some of it.

Apart from all the usual meats, pizzas, salads and dips, they also serve up hamsi.

These Black Sea little fishes are, I’m told, like anchovies and must be ordered in advance. The photo of them looks like a spread of tapas-style sardines.

So, yes – the drive to Broadmeadows is a small investment when the rewards are so rich.

Aksaray Turkish Kebab House/Stephz Gourmet Deli

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Aksaray Turkish Kebab House

74 Glengala Rd, Sunshine. Phone: 9310 1377

Stephz Gourmet Deli

64 Glengala Rd, Sunshine. Phone: 9364 7488

Having scoped this west Sunshine place out, unhungry, a few nights previously, I hold no great expectations on entering Aksaray for lunch – maybe a nice Turkish kebab plate: meat, salad, rice, dip, bread.

That changes as soon as I walk through the door and am immediately served a sample of a freshly made soup – as is every customer who follows me -  free of charge.

It’s a fantastic vegetable concoction – just carrot, onion, celery and seasonings of pepper, salt, oregano. It’s blended just right – well short of being a creamy soup, leaving some grainy texture that gives it substance. Marvellous!

Turns out this is the start of a major overhaul of the offerings available at Aksaray – an overhaul I suspect will make it far more interesting than just another kebab/dips joint.

In a few weeks time they’ll be unveiling a revolving lineup of soups, casseroles, stews and more home-style Turkish food – and I reckon that’s exciting.

For all that we love the normal restaurant fare of our various Mediterranean eateries, we all know it’s just one aspect of the various cuisines involved – eatery food and home food is different.

Bring it on – I’ll be there with my bib on!

My adana kebab lunch platter doesn’t reach the same heights as the soup, but does the job.

Chewy lamb adana is overshadowed by the strips of doner kebab provided usasked for; nice rice, tabouli that is of my preferred wetness, OK bread, slightly fried.

The star is the cacik – a creamy yogurt dip zingy with garlic and chunky with cucumber.

As I’m enjoying my lunch a steady parade of regulars comes and goes, many leaving with kebab sandwiches to go, many with lovely looking boreks of chicken or lamb, all having sampled the super soup.

The chicken borek ($3) I take home for the night’s dinner is brilliant, the shredded chook stuffing subtlety flavoured with parsley and pepper and the mouthfuls of pleasure enlivened by finely diced  onion, cooked but still a little on the crunchy side..

From there I amble up the road apiece to Stephz Gourmet Deli.

This is classic western suburbs.

Sited in what once was a servo, it’s a mix of continental grocery, Greek bakery and coffee bar – all with a Maltese waitress!


I have a crash-hot $3 latte and a 50c piece of what looks like biscotti, but which is emphatically non-Italian. It’s plain, almost savoury, topped with sesame seeds, is called – as near as Athena, another waitress, can translate – pazematia. Subsequent research reveals that a more precise term may be paximathakia – in any case it goes great with my coffee.

Being too full from lunch to countenance richer sweet goodies, I nevertheless ogle the cake/cookie displays. All the goodies are baked on the premises, with a range of rum balls looking particularly evil and desirable. I settle for a slice of very fine baklava to take home with me.

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Victoria’s Best Kebab House

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8 East Esplanade, St Albans. Phone: 9364 4433

Ambling into the Vietnamese hub of St Albans, I have a persistent mantra pounding in my head: “Lunch, noodles, pho, lunch, noodles, pho …”

Then I am waylaid by a sign.

Given our undying love for Footscray Best Kebab House, the sign is something of a cross between an invitation and a challenge. Irresistible, in either case.

I saunter up the laneway, and enter through the rear of the kebab house.

I order a standard $12 plate of lamb of the spit.

I may have done better to order one of the grilled-to-order meats – shish, say – for the lamb is edible but average, lacking sparkle.

With the meat I get cacick (cuke/yogurt) and eggplant dips, and both are good – again, without making the senses sing. I also ask for an extra dollop of the chilli dip. This is weird – totally lacking any kind of spice kick, it is nevertheless tasty in a smoky way that recalls Mexican or Latin American food. It’s a winner with the meat and the highlight of my lunch.

The accompanying salad – a finely diced mix of red and green capsicum, carrot and cabbage – nice touch, that – is good.

Victoria’s Best Kebab House? I don’t think so … but if it was just around the corner, it’d probably be my second home.

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Footscray Best Kebab House

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93 Nicholson St, Footscray. Phone: 9689 0777

Such a humble exterior, such a humdrum name … but behind both lies what is indisputably one of the landmark hot spots of the Melbourne eating firmament.

In fact, such unabashed fans are we of this establishment that we firmly believe it should be permanently lodged on the same list of Melbourne Sacred Sites that pays homage to the likes of the MCG, Hound Dog’s Bop Shop, Pelligrini’s, Brunetti’s, the Vic Market and so on.

No kidding!

The term kebab, of course, means different things to different people.

For many Australian, kebab is meat (usually lamb, and usually carved from a vertical spit), salad goodies and a garlciky yogurt sauce served in bread – pita or pide.

Indeed, some of the FBKH customers do just that.

(Kebab also means meat on skewers – which make satay sticks technically, if not nominally, kebabs.)

The FBKH has skewers, too – namely sublimely juicy and marinated shish kebabs of the lamb and chicken variety, and the minced, spiced lamb of the adana kebab.

Finally, it’s my understanding that kebab simply means meat – and that’s where the FBKH is at.

As already noted, some customers go for the pide sandwich with the fillings of their choice.

But the savvy, loyal and greatly numbered regulars – and we certainly count ourselves in that happy band – know better, and go for the preposterously fantastic plated meals.

Those regulars are a glorious and fair representation of rainbow Footscray.

There’s Mediterranean types, of course, but the FBKH is also a major hit with the local African community, while it’s fully part of the everyday routine here to see members of the various Asian demographics likewise chowing down.

The regulars place their orders at the front then grab one of the several and prized tables.

Prices have inched up over the years, and these days run from $10 for the small vegetarian to $22 for one-size-only mixed grill.

However, the large plates – except maybe for the ravenously hungered or plain old gluttonous – are fine for sharing, as many folks do. And that puts the FBKH firmly in the cheap eats bracket.

The meats are all superb.

The dips are good, too, but we have two outright favourites.

The beetroot is normally a lurid pink and comes with just the right blend of sweetness and earthiness.

The chilli dip, I find, is a little too spicy to slather on bread like the others – rather, used sparingly it is a crunchy, tangy taste sensation when used as a meat enhancer.

In terms of non-meat fare, the stuffed vine leaves are exceptional, with a firmly packed and tomatoey filling that is best inhaled cold. Combined with the falafels, dips and salads, we often go that route for the vegetarian plate.

The large meal of the day ($14, and featuring the quick and easy option of meat from the spit) was our review meal (4/9/10), with the beetroot dip on this day being an unusually restrained pink.

The lamb and chicken carved off the spit is of the layered variety – not the reconstituted, sausage-like meat also sometimes found in such places.

They’re both good, but the lamb is our favourite – crunchy, salty, crusty. Oh my!

Each plate comes with a cheerful, lemony salad jumble of red cabbage, carrot, lettuce, green onion, while we routinely also request the addition of a portion of the potato salad – oily, but divine!

Along with two dips of your choice is served a basket of  warm, fresh Turkish bread, while the large plates usually are also usually accompanied by a grilled green chilli, grilled large slice of tomato and marvellous rice with slivers of almond threaded through it..

Crockery and cutlery is real.

Service is friendly, but can be on the brisk side – this is only natural, as things can get a little insane in here during the lunch rush.

The FBKH is not open on Sundays, and not for dinner on the remaining days – which is probably just as well, given that the mall in which it is situated can be a mite scary after dark.

The Footscray Best Kebab House – it’s a treasure, and one of those rare places where genius is matched at every step by consistency.

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