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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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.

Yarraville eats goss: Jamaican eatery

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Inspired by this mind-blowingly interesting job advert, Consider The Sauce has tried phone, email and Facebook message in a bid to nail the details – so far to no avail.

Here’s what we know thus far …

A Jamaican restaurant will soon be opening in Yarraville.

It will be housed in the Gamon Street premises that for many, many years hosted Gravy Train and which are currently undergoing renovations.

The people behind the restaurant are those who run Boss Man Food – see website here and Facebook page here.

With that sort of pedigree, I reckon we’re all fully entitled to hope for something amazing.

How about that for something to look forward to?

 

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Another Gamon Street gem, the good ship Advieh, is staying right where it is.

But in about a month those fine folks will be bringing their wonderful Middle East-inspired food to Yarraville village.

Little Advieh will operate out of a prime spot on Ballarat Street and not too far from the now-permanent park.

Wonderful news, we reckon!

 

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Meanwhile, plans to fill the ground floor space of the old St George’s Theatre with a hospitality industry business appear to be taking time to come to fruition.

Finally trying the local F&C

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under3

 

Under The Sea Fish & Chips, 49 Anderson Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9687 6912

Consider The Sauce has long held a preference for fish and chip joints that offer more than paper-wrapped bundles.

We like our F&C and accoutrements fresh-as and eaten at restaurant-provided seating – even if it is of the most rudimentary kind.

We like it, too, when proper cutlery and crockery are part of the deal.

So we’ve never gotten around to trying our very popular local fish and chippery.

But with Bennie being a happy fish eater these days, he’s several times recent in months declared his preparedness to troop around the corner and bring our dinner home.

So off he goes … and back he comes with a meal I find OK in some regards but disappointing in others.

Low expectations met?

Yes.

 

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The chips are hot but on the dull side for me.

Ordering instructions had been for a small so naturally the medium Bennie gets is excess to our requirements.

The calamari rings are of the reconstituted surimi variety, so are automatically graded “OK”.

Fish of the day is blue grenadier and it’s real good.

What’s more, we receive three generously sized pieces instead of two, so we eat really well.

But the batter of one of them is stuck to the paper and is only messily removed.

It’s been good fare, especially as the whole lot cost something under $20.

But I won’t be in a hurry to return.

 

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And with dinner?

Bickford’s, of course.

We go through at least a bottle of this stuff a week – lemon or lemon barley now that the bitter lemon variety seems permanently unavailable.

But tonight at the IGA we spied a new flavour – apple and cinnamon.

I detect only the faintest of spice undertones but Bennie reckons it’s the best of the lot.

 

Under the Sea on Urbanspoon

Yup! Another new Yarraville joint

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beat9
b Eatery 21 Anderson St, Yarraville. Phone: 362 080

So Yarraville’s long-time burger place has gone.

No surprise, really.

Perhaps it was nudged out of the picture by the arrival of a Grill’d outlet just up the street.

Or perhaps it had simply done its dash.

Whatever the case, a new business is in residence – one we believe has proprietorial links with the previous establishment.

The place has been done out a treat – the ambience speaks of laid-back cool without trying too hard.

The upstairs area remains, but we hunker down in a nice back room.

 

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We suspect, appraising the menu and generally taking in the operation, that while the success of this business is no doubt the paramount aim, such success may lead to other eateries of the same ilk opening up elsewhere.

The staff, we find, do a fine, on-the-ball job for us.

The two-sided menu (see below) covers the breakfast-and-more territory, including some very unusual items.

Sesame-seared ahi tuna nachos, prawn and crab “bang bang” cakes or Italian soda fountain drinks, anyone?

In the interests of blog diversity, Bennie has been banned from ordering the burger.

So he does the next best thing by nominating the steak sandwich (pictured at top).

It does good for him, with the nice slab of meat, good rocket and garlic-lemon aioli dressing all disappearing very quickly.

The chips are unlisted but we’re glad to observe their presence, as it makes the $15.50 steak sanger price tag a good one.

The chips are good though could be hotter.

 

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We share one of the smaller items – a duck rice paper roll ($5).

It’s OK but the quack quotient is on the tardy side, meaning the roll’s filling is mostly vermicelli.

Presentation has trumped eating practicality – the hoisin sauce is prettily drizzled on the roll, the eating of which is thus a very messy business indeed.

 

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For the second time in a week, I go the healthy route with my chicken salad ($16).

It’s a nice thing, beautifully presented and super fresh, especially the finely grated apple, which mixes well with grapes of both kinds, celery and chicken.

It’s like a waldorf salad with bells on – but without the waldorfs.

Ha!

The chook is a bit tasteless and I generally think of my lunch as being on the bland side.

I resist the temptation of requesting salt and/or pepper dispensing implements, but wonder if the rest of the menu evinces such rampant moderation in the seasoning department.

Given the spread of the menu, b Eatery we feel is likely to be a hit with families.

It appears to have been set up with some ingenuity, finding a niche in jam-packed Yarraville by doing what many others are without mirroring the competition in any precise way.

 

B Eatery on Urbanspoon

 

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Gooey in the centre

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toasta3
Toasta. Phone: 0407 331 889

When Bennie and I take one of our regular drives around the inner western “coast” – along the Strand and right through to Altona, or the other way around – we have a tradition that when we sight the bay from anywhere near Williamstown Beach we count out loud the number of ships we see “parked” out there.

We’ve developed the same routine when cruising past the food trucks at Yarraville Gardens, counting off and naming the truck as we pass.

But we don’t stop to eat so often these days – the food trucks are just one of the many options open to us all.

But I am keen to check out the Toasta crew and their sangers.

 

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I admire their ingenuity in finding a niche in a tight truck marketplace.

I wonder if they create great toasted sandwiches within the demanding truck framework.

The answer is: Yes!

They key is really good ingredients.

They use Zeally Bay sourdough, which has just the right structural integrity without being too gnarly.

It toasts splendidly.

 

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I go for the Barry, with cheddar, brisket, dill pickle and smokey BBQ sauce for $12.

While my sandwich appears of only modest proportions, I know after one bite it’ll be eating bigger than it appears.

After four bites, I realise it’s a bargain and wonder if I’ll be able to finish it.

I do, but there’s no room for anything else, so I dig the purity of the Toasta menu that excludes fries and other sides.

The dominant flavour is of very good cheddar with brisket undertones, with quite a lot of dill pickle providing zingy punctuation.

Wonderful!

I like, too, how Toasta dispenses with the usual soft drinks, be they the commercial riff raff or fizz of the more boutique variety.

My lemonade house-mixed soda ($4) is real nice.

Just don’t go thinking a Toasta sandwich is in any way more healthy than the burgers, fries, grills or stuff-on-sticks being served up by their food truck compatriots!

Check out the Toasta website here. And, of course, “like” their FB page to know where they’re at.

 

Toasta on Urbanspoon

 

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Po’ boy in Yarraville

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wov23
Woven Cafe, 175b Stephen Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9973 5926

Since our first foray to Woven, I have returned for a sandwich and coffee.

Today, though, my visit has a more singular focus – I am responding the lure set by the joint’s Facebook page.

Some eateries really work their Facebook pages hard and well; others not so much.

Woven is definitely among the former, posting what seems like several times a day – muffins du jour, specials and often things a lot more whimsical.

 

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So the shrimp po’ boy it is for me.

It makes me happy.

 

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There’s a heap of delightfully well-cooked, tender and tasty prawns that work oh-so-well with the slaw and its dressing and the all-important pickle slices.

Liberally doused with the red of the two hot sauces brought to my table, it all tastes great.

Even in these days of hot-shot $10+ sandwiches, $19 is a steep asking price.

But given the quality of the ingredients and their preparation, and the hand-cut chips on the side, it’s also value for my money, I reckon.

My only quibble is with the bread.

Po’ boys are perennially described as being prepared using baguettes.

But in New Orleans terms what that means is a broad, pliable loaf that makes for an easily wielded two-handed sanger.

This excellent CBD place, for instance, sources bread of just the right kind from a Vietnamese baker.

Woven, by contrast, has used a genuine French-style baguette that is too dense and too narrow.

I don’t mind at all, as the bread is still good and I happily treat my meal as an open sandwich and use cutlery.

I doubt that this particular item will be a regular feature for Woven so a specific bread supplier is hardly warranted.

My cafe latte is excellent.

 

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As I’d approached Woven for my lunch, it struck me what a boon it must be for the “local” locals, situated as it is away from hyper activity around the Anderson and Ballarat street intersection.

So I was surprised to find that on this Sunday lunchtime it was sparingly occupied, though several of the outside tables were taken.

If we lived on this side of the tracks, I’d be here near daily as I dig the place lots!

You can “like” the Woven Facebook page here.

 

Woven Cafe on Urbanspoon