Yarraville’s new foodie pub

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Hyde Street Hotel, 188 Hyde St, Yarraville. Phone: 9689 2163

As Victoria On Hyde and in our now many years in Yarraville, we’ve had close to no use for these premises.

Sure, an occasional quick-stop for beer and/or wine … but the only time I ever stuck my head inside the pub proper, I promptly fled.

Now, though, oh boy!

The place has been re-branded as The Hyde Street Hotel and given a radical makeover – and we’re very happy to be taking it for a whirl on Easter Eve, about a week after it has opened.

There’s a rather spartan public bar where a limited choice of menu items is available at significantly lowers prices than in the dining room.

There’s a couple of cruisey lounge areas.

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And there’s the dining room itself – airy, bright and attractive. It almost has an outdoor feel about.

It has booths, widely separated tables and lots of room.

The menu starters are in the $10 to $20 range and display the most diversity of the kitchen’s output, with influences from Asia and the Middle East.

From there the menu diverts to regular pub fare, including “classics”, mains including roasted lamb rump and “bbq’d” kangaroo loin, pizzas and steaks – including a kilogram rib eye for two at $75.

Overall, the prices seem less than at the Mona Castle and more in line with the Plough.

We are served well by young staff dressed uniformly in hipster black and our meals arrive promptly, the wait time spent checking the place out and frankly ogling with much interest the plates bound for the tables of other families and groups.

We go for a couple of the classics.

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My fish and chips ($26) hit the spot.

The salad is a fine thing for this kind of food in this kind of place – fresh greens and some finely cut cucumber, radish and red onion, all well dressed.

The fish is three medium-size pieces of rockling that are sweetish, delicate and add up to a good feed.

Plate aesthetics have dictated the fish is placed atop my chips, so some of the latter are spoiled by oil seep – but the rest are hot, crisp and hastily consumed.

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By contrast, I feel a little sorry for Bennie in regards to his choice of the wagyu beef burger ($24), which comes with the same chips.

It appears to be a good, unfussy burger but it simply doesn’t seem to provide him much of a dinner experience.

It’s gone in about two minutes and is a messy handful.

It has good melted cheese, some greenery, sauce and mayo, caramelised onions and that’s about it.

No bacon; just sayin’ …

But brevity of eating has, in this case, no bearing on quality.

As we walk home, Bennie spends the first block or so expounding with passion and enthusiasm on his burger … the deliciousness of the meat, the “crisp on the outside and soft inside” chargrilled bun, the whole deal.

To the point of saying bacon may have been of nuisance value only.

“Next time, you’ve just gotta try it, dad!” he proclaims.

An obvious winner …

Hyde Street Hotel on Urbanspoon

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Is there such a thing as too many food trucks?

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The days when the west seemed forgotten or ignored by Melbourne’s developing food truck industry sure seem like a long time ago and a long way away …

Tonight on Somerville Road there were 14 – that’s right, 14 – food truck in operation!

I’ve liked all the truckers I’ve met.

And I like that they like each other.

But I wonder how they can all make a buck in such an intense environment.

Those that I talked to tonight said business was good without being outstanding.

There was certainly a happy vibe in evidence!

And, no, I didn’t partake, having already eaten in Carlton …

Coasting in Yarraville

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Friendly Neighbours Family Day, Beaton Reserve, Yarraville

We know some of our neighbours, one of them very well.

But, like everyone else, we could do better.

So we are happy to embrace the Friendly Neighbours Program, the leaflet of which arrived in our letterbox this week.

Even better, we are happy to check out the local festival being thrown in that spirit at our local park, which we mostly use for one of our favourite past-times.

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We can’t recall there ever being a public event in “our” park before, but we certainly hope this one becomes a regular.

Bennie remarks as we arrive that it’s the most laid-back fest we’ve ever attended – and we’ve been to heaps.

But laid-back has its charms, for sure.

We like the stalls – and we like even more that the stallholders have been charged no fee!

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I especially like talking to Karen, who makes all her hats and caps from recycled materials.

My search for a winter hat is on, but I don’t find quite the right one among her on-hand range.

But I have her details (karenfalting@gmail.com) should I decide a custom-made number is the answer.

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There’s ukeleles …

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… line-dancing …

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… and bluegrass with crowd-sourced percussion.

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We eye food trucks including Dos Diablos and Beatbox Kitchen somewhat warily – after all, our weekend eating-out budget is pretty much shot.

So we are profoundly grateful to the nice folks from the Ethiopian Youth & Parents Association who are offering, at no cost, snacks that do us just right.

They include injera rolled up like roti rolls and including dal, a sort-of bolognese and a spicy cheese-and-green number – all absolutely delicious!

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Dinner delight in Yarraville

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Alpha Bakehouse, 42 Anderson St, Yarraville. Phone: 9687 6111

The weight of opinion would seem to be overwhelming.

It doesn’t take a lot of looking to find accolades for the coffee served at Yarraville stalwart Alpha Bakehouse.

As well, hordes of commuters get their “roadies” here despite there now being two alternatives that are actually closer to the station.

In my city commute days, I did likewise – but always found the coffee mediocre. But as I say, I am in the minority.

More broadly, we have never really warmed to Alpha. The occasional pie, but that’s about it.

Besides, at lunchtime, the place is so very, very busy.

Always.

Again, we are in the minority.

We’ve been aware for a while the place is now open for dinner – and are open-minded enough to give it a go.

What we find and are provided makes us converts.

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The joint’s daytime role as a bakery/cafe/sandwich place remains apparent at night.

But the Alpha crew has otherwise done a fine job of fostering a real restaurant ambiance.

In the long room, there are many small tables, a larger one of the communal variety and a broad bench at the front.

Wowee – all are set with real-deal napkins! We appreciate that.

We lover our pozzie at the front bench. It’s a fine place to await our meals on a balmy Indian summer’s eve as we watch the commuters heading home in an endless parade.

The Alpha’s dinner mains mostly range through the $15 to $25 mark and can be described as being in the family bistro or local pub tradition (see menu below).

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For once, I pull parental rank on Bennie and choose the “Alpha wagyu burger” ($18).

It’s good, with a nice, hefty patty that perhaps – by our usual standards – could use a bit more zing in the seasoning department.

The bun is excellent, and the greenery and tomato are respectively crisp and fresh.

A nice, crisp slice of bacon would have been appreciated, though.

The chunky “hand-cut” chips are beaut, and I even like them dipped in the generic tomato sauce.

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As luck would have it, Bennie’s meal trumps mine – ironic, given his chicken parma ($18) is what I would have ended up with had he been allowed his burger druthers.

As he motors though his dinner, I venture that it is probably the best parma he’s ever had.

He nods in the affirmative.

Based on my sample taste, I reckon it’d be in the vicinity of that category for myself.

It’s really good. And the meat is served mostly beside – rather than on – the chips. Hurrah!

The parma itself is fine, non-reconstituted chook.

Even better, the topping provides a beautifully finessed harmony between cheese, ham, tomato and sage – something that is, in our experience, far from common.

His chips are the same good deal as mine, while his salad is way better than the mere garnish that has attended my own burger plate.

It’s a winner!

Alpha’s dinner offerings are unlikely to become regulars for us, but we love that it’s there – based on our two meals, Alpha is a classy, viable alternative to similar offerings nearby.

And the early-evening service has been attentive and friendly.

Alfa Bakehouse on Urbanspoon

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Yarraville Festival 2014

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We’re a bit ho-hum about this year’s Yarraville Festival.

Well actually, I am.

Bennie’s pumped.

So it’s a good thing I made him knuckle down yesterday by spending a couple of hours on his first high school project. Said project is going to take several more hours today for it to be completed to our mutual satisfaction.

While he’s been doing that, I’ve been doing blog work (with clothes) and house work (without).

By the time we’re just about ready to roll – going our separate ways to the festival for the first time – the pace outside our home has quickened considerably.

The parking in our street is gone and people are walking to the festival from blocks away.

Sauntering the two blocks to the festival is always a strange sensation.

Turn a corner and – blam! – I’m straight into the intensity of crowds, stalls, music, food aromas and, as always, dogs of all shapes and sizes.

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Perhaps because this the first festival to be held on a Sunday – normally a relatively quiet day in the village – this year’s fest seems even more crowded, even more thronged with people and eats commerce.

The food stalls are doing such hot trade that there are queues everywhere.

So I hit a snag – two of them actually.

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The first comes from a stall under the jurisdiction of the Maribyrnong Swifts Football Club – and it’s perfect in its simplicity.

A superb pork sausage – sourced, I am told, from Footscray Market – on a slice of very good white bread has me sighing with pleasure.

It’s the best food I’ve enjoyed at any Yarraville Festival in any year.

Further along Anderson St, in the mad car park, I hit snag No.2.

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This lamb number ($7) comes from Snagga’s Healthy Sausages and is also perfection – a loosely-filled sausage with top-class greenery.

At this point I run into my good pals Pastor Cecil and his wife Jane.

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I hang with them for about half and hour, enjoying some lively conversation that includes the saucy tale of their courtship and eventual marriage in Bundaberg.

And just for the record, I record once more the fact that my favourite clergyman has once again been seen out and about and in public wearing sandals with red socks.

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Moving on, I hook up with three new friends, two of whom happen to be of the junior human variety.

So it’s a pleasure to spend my remaining festival time in their company, experiencing second-hand the day through young eyes.

This includes a thrilling merry-go-round and faint-painting …

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… and even a remarkably placid but assuredly razor-toothed ferret.

Another notable feature of living so close to the village – I can hear the festival’s last hurrah of amplified music as I complete this post.

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Gelati magic

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Hello Gelo, 15 Anderson St Yarraville. Phone: 90785696

As previously and recently noted, Hello Gelo in Yarraville is very much our go-to place for gelati.

Indeed, we love Scott and what he does, dig checking out his new flavours and can barely imagine life without our several-times-a-week visits to his Anderson Street emporium.

So we are excited to invited to witness him whipping up some of his gelati magic.

Scott has been running Hello Gelo here for about 4 1/2 years, having sold his Carlton cafe about three years ago.

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We have questions.

Is there a difference between gelati and ice cream?

The answer appears to be “no” but also a significant “yes”.

As I understand it, ice cream is higher in fat but has more air, while gelati is lower in fat but is a much denser product.

Fat-wise, this would seem to balance out.

But I’m also left in even less doubt that when it comes to ice cream/gelati, you get what you pay for.

Budget-priced supermarket brands cost what they do because of ingredients (“padding”) the details of which you may not want to know.

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As it is, our admiration for Scott and his products grows in leaps and bounds as we watch him in action and hear about how he goes about his work.

The attention to detail and solid determination to use only the best ingredients is fantastic!

Here is a man, for instance, who makes his own hokey pokey using golden syrup, castor sugar and bicarb.

You reckon that’s what you may be getting in your generic brand ice cream?

I don’t think so!

He uses fresh fruit where available, affordable and applicable.

For other flavours, he uses frozen fruit just because the flavour is better or, in the case of the gorgeous-smelling amarena cherrys, a premium imported product simply because it has to be that way.

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When we arrive, he has already prepared the bases of the four flavours he will be making – forest berry sorbet, raspberry ice cream, black cherry yogurt bubblegum.

The bases consist of dextrose, sugar, skim milk powder and natural vegetable gums.

Those bases are then poured into his Corema gelati machine along with full-fat milk and the fruit or flavourings.

For ripple gelatis, such as today’s black cherry yogurt or hokey pokey or anything involving solids such as nuts, Scott deftly uses a spatula to weave the goodies into the gelati as it exits the machine.

The gelati straight of the machine tastes delicious, of course, but has the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.

A couple of hours in Scott’s “shock freezer” fixes that up and then they’re ready to sell.

Scott tells us his most popular flavours are chocolate and salted caramel.

Quantities vary, but last summer found him making 300 litres in a two-day period.

And yes, in summer and on hot days, he sells way more of his dairy-free sorbets or ices.

Hello Gelo on Urbanspoon

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In tune in Yarraville

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Feedback Cafe, 31 Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9689 1955

Bad impressions can linger.

Feedback Cafe has been around for what seems like forever – certainly as long as we’ve been in the west and hanging out in the village, and certainly long before we’d ever heard about food blogs.

Management changed about five years ago but we’ve been slow to re-frequent the place.

We didn’t have what you’d call rotten times at Feedback back then, but a certain charmlessness in both food and service terms meant the place fell into the “prefer others” category.

Following more regular visits in recent times, a beaut lunch Bennie and I enjoy there has us wondering why we haven’t made Feedback Cafe our Yarraville home base all along.

The music really, really helps.

Those recent visits have mostly been made to a soundtrack of greasy, swinging, rocking old-school ’40s and ’50s rhythm and blues.

For our Monday lunch, Bennie and I are serenaded in a different way – by troubadour Michael Hurley.

Hurley is part of a brilliantly crazy musical tribe that also includes the Holy Modal Rounders and Jeffrey Frederick.

Fully embedded in American music traditions, but always standing slightly, hilariously, magically apart, this whacko crew also includes my good Kentucky pal Gary Sisco.

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During our lunch, I Facebook message Sisco to tell him we’re enjoying his mate Hurley while dining and that the music-crazed Feedback crew have even been known to enjoy a Holy Modal Rounders-themed week.

Now THAT’S cool.

Sisco had his own album, Sisco & Pals the End of the Trail, released through the Jeffrey Frederick website a few years back.

The album is still available there, as are heaps of other releases by these folks.

The site is chockers with memorable, incredibly funny hair-raising tales of the tribe’s history by Sisco and others.

And like Sisco, I reckon the 1976 album Have Moicy, featuring Hurley, Frederick and the Rounders, is an outright masterpiece that stands with the very best Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Chuck Berry or any other American genius you can think of has ever come up with.

OK, on with the food!

The feedback lunch menu (below) has a decided American south/south-west slant without getting too precious about it.

That’s a bit like the way the decor and general atmosphere go their own slightly scruffy, comfy lived-in way in a nice contrast to the increasing hipster-sheen of Yarraville and Seddon.

The staff, too, have that slightly scruffy, comfy, lived-in look. (Joke!)

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As I did on my previous visit, Bennie orders the pulled pork po’ boy with slaw and chipotle BBQ sauce ($10).

It’s fresh and crunchy, and he likes it, but hankers for a more robust BBQ flavour.

And he frankly, rudely ogles the popcorn chicken po’ boy a lovely gran is attacking at an adjacent table.

It DOES look real fine!

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My hillbilly chilli of chipotle, stout and puy lentils with corn chips and sour cream ($11) is unlike any chill I’ve ever had.

There’s no red beans, for starters!

But with the sour cream, a lesser amount of cheddar and some salsa, the beautifully cooked lentils make for a satisfying lunch.

The corn chips are the same quality brand we always have around home – that’s a good thing!

After a couple of stupendously fine cafe lattes, I remark to Bennie as we amble up Ballarat Street that my beverages have completely alleviated my back pain.

That’s not true, but they’ve sure made it more bearable!

(PS: I saw the Holy Modal Rounders live on Haight Street, San Francisco, in 1977!)

Feedback Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Messy but good

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Dude Food Man at Yarraville Gardens

We head for Yarraville Gardens in a ridiculously brisk and windy spring twilight without dad doing his sums – figuring that $31 plus change should cover us.

We are forgetting, of course, that food truck food as it’s swept through the suburbs is not necessarily all that cheap.

So our immediately available funds fall a tad short of what’s required for our two burgers, chips and a couple of cans fizz.

This doesn’t faze the Dude Food dudes at all.

In the interests of happy customers, they happily make up the shortfall – and for that generosity we thank them.

But how do their burgers stacks up?

Especially when their goodies are more pricey than the outfit with which we are able to make a direct comparison – Mr Burger?

Darn well, actually.

In this case at least, it’s a matter of getting what we pay for.

Or mostly pay for …

(I have toyed with idea of relegating the close-ups of our sandwiches to the bottom of this story or not using them at all, so unappealing do they make our dinner appear.  Both burgers fall into a category that might usefully be termed “over-dressed”. But they’re here in all their technicolour glory – just rest assured what we enjoy tastes a whole lot better than it looks …)

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Bennie enjoys his pulled pork slider with “48hr cooked pork, crackling, coleslaw, house-made BBQ sauce” ($13), especially the smokey flavour of the sauce.

The coleslaw strikes me as a creamy delight.

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My Dude Burger with “160g Wagyu patty, iceberg, cheddar, tomato, caramelised onion, pickles, American mustard & aioli” ($13) is even better – a real hands-on treat.

The patty is of pronounced beefiness and has great, chewy texture.

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In many ways our chips ($7 with roasted garlic aioli) are the biggest surprise of our chow-down.

These are super-dooper chunky, hot, crisp, perfectly cooked and far and away the best chips we’ve had from a Melbourne food truck.

In truth, and on account of the cold blast of the weather, our meal is something of an eat-and-run excerise.

But on a warm evening and right next door to this or another park, we’ll be happy to return for more.

Best way to find out where Dude Food Man is serving is through his Facebook page.

Dude Food Man on Urbanspoon

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St George’s Theatre – there’s action opposite the station

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Watching Yarraville’s St George apartments get built was a lengthy process.

It went on for years and years … like watching paint grow, it was.

And all along we kept wondering what was to become of the cavernous ballroom/theatre space, the old-school and wonderful facade of which has been retained.

For a long time there was no action at the station … but this week all that changed, with unloading trucks ever-so-slighly messing with our normal school run.

So of course we checked it out …

The chippies on site were a little short on detail but they could tell us that the upstairs or mezzanine area of the space is destined to contain more apartments, while the ground floor will become what they referred to as a “cafe” area that will be built by the owner and then leased.

Whether “cafe” in this instance can mean cafe, restaurant, wine bar, bar, nightclub, live music venue or some mixture of all these we know not.

We’ll watch progress with interest.

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A welcome return

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Yim Yam Thai Laos, 40 Ballarat St, Yarraville. Phone: 9687 8585

So scarifying was our last visit to Yim Yam in Yarraville that it has taken more than five years to return.

On that occasion, on a busy Friday night, the place was uncomfortably cramped and the staff seemed harried to distraction.

At that time, a much younger Bennie was very much unused to spicy food, so we made a point of choosing one dish by adhering to the restaurant’s chilli grading system.

But our “one chilli” choice was so unbearably hot that even I could eat only a few mouthfuls.

When I tried to raise this matter with the staff member who seemed to be in charge, I was blown off with a dismissive wave of the hand.

It was a long time ago – and certainly before the arrival of Consider The Sauce.

But, yes, it has remained in memory a vivid experience for both of us.

Returning for a mid-week dinner, we find much – perhaps even everything – has changed.

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The place has expanded, with a lovely dining room now adjoining the original, smaller eating and kitchen space.

The staff are happy, obliging and on the ball.

With this sense of expansiveness, what might have previously been viewed as an imposition – being seated at the window bench right next to the door – is just fine by us.

We navigate a dauntingly long menu of dishes mostly unfamiliar to use with aplomb, ending up with just the sort of meal we desired, even if our picks are a little on the unadventurous side.

Even better, by going without our usual soft drinks and appetisers of the snacky variety, the bill clocks in at just a tick over $40, which we hold to be excellent value considering the quality of the food.

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Vegetarian pad thai ($12.90) is a fine foundation for our dinner.

It’s quite wet and mildly spiced, yet has a good lemony tang and a profusion of lovely vegetables, sprouts and tofu.

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Vientiane salad ($12.90) is Bennie’s choice and it’s a good one.

This one, too, has a bold lemon quotient, but we pretty much inhale the “white noodles with shredded green papaya, tomato, peanuts and herbs with a lemon flavoured dressing”.

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Our protein hit comes courtesy of guy yang gup jaow mark kham – “marinated grilled chicken with chilli tamarind dip” ($15.90).

It’s good but doesn’t transport us to delight as our previous, vegetable-based choices did.

That’s down to the chicken being a little on the bland side and also being very like the Vietnamese grilled chook we’ve eaten so often.

The sticky tamarind chilli sauce is terrific, though.

If anything, the best part of this dish is scooping up the mess of carrots, coriander, spring onion and peanuts imbued with the chicken/marinade cooking juices.

Tonight’s Yarraville adventure has come about because I’d had quite enough of driving for the day, so somewhere, anywhere in our immediate backyard has been the go.

Walking around Anderson and Ballarat streets leads us to acknowledge just how many Yarraville village eateries we have yet to visit and/or write about, even if quite a few of them fall into the “special occasion” category for us.

Still, it’s been a happy outing in that we’ll be more than glad to return to Yim Yam where previously we have stayed away.

Yim Yam Thai Laos on Urbanspoon

Lovely things in Yarraville

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Invite Me, 66 Anderson St, Yarraville, Phone: 9318 933

At first glance it may seem that Invite Me is much like your typical home and party wares shop.

But it doesn’t take a much more serious look to see there’s something lovely and different going on here.

The in-house stock is relatively small but obviously chosen with care and sublime taste.

Some of the goodies are designed and otherwise created by boss lady Simone herself, but everything in her newish retail concern displays a unity of style and panache that is pleasing to the eye.

The shop has been open for about three months and is the outward manifestation of a successful online operation that has been going for eight years or so.

The shop is housed in a wonderful old Yarraville premises at the less retail-heavy end of Anderson St.

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The old-school rooms suit the merchandise perfectly, especially in cases where Simone’s retro penchant is given free rein.

Simone tells me that among her most popular lines are personalised stationery, cake stands and candy jars that many customers use for desserts.

Opening the shop has been a logical move away from operating out of her home and is already attracting new customers, as well as online regulars from all over the city pleased to have a bricks-and-mortar place to frequent.

The Invite Me website is here and it Facebook page is here.

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Making a toilet call in Yarraville

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Garazi, 107 Gamon St, Yarraville. Phone: 9689 2677

A new breakfast/coffee/lunch place on Gamon Street?

By my count, Garazi makes it six.

But let’s not get all ho-hum about this.

Situated at the less caffeine-crowded Somerville Rd end of Gamon, Garazi seems well placed to prove attractive to locals who may prefer the ease of access compared to, say, the more congested and busy Yarraville village in one direction and Seddon in the other.

The new joint is an adjunct of the longstanding wedding car business that shares the property, while the cafe itself was formerly a wedding photo business.

Owner Tony, who has run the various businesses here since 1984, tells me the cafe space has had quite a lot of work, time and money put into it.

It’ a big, roomy and bright space, despite the overall blackish colour scheme. And it’s pleasingly uncold when I visit.

There’s an automotive theme going on here, but it’s not excessive.

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Apart from some wall trappings and a great-looking “sofa and two chairs” obviously extracted from a motorised vehicle, at the moment there’s an old-school Mini in the house as well as a chassis and engine of what I at first take to be some from sort of truck.

No so, says Tony – they’re actually from a 1948 Jag, the body of which sits next door, in a corner with the many gleaming Rollers looking on.

A novel twist is the entrance to the loos – through a vintage telephone box!

The menu is well thought out, with a lot of options and the line between breakfast and lunch fodder rather blurred.

“White bean mash, field mushroom with fennel salad and capers” ($14.50), for instance, is listed with the eggy dishes but sounds like a fine light winter lunch to me.

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Instead, I go for the “beaut napoli meatball baguette with swiss cheese” ($13.50).

It IS beaut, too, a nice chewy loaf over-stuffed with three plump and flavoursome meatballs, lots of gooey cheese and an excellent tomato sauce.

It’s hands on and messy – and that’s a compliment. Some fresh rocket wouldn’t go amiss, but it’s easy to admire my lunch’s singular focus.

My cafe latte ($3.50) is a fine thing.

Some of the sweeties and pastries are imported, unlike the luscious-looking blueberry, banana and chocolate pudding that will sadly have to await another day for a CTS outing.

Garazi on Urbanspoon

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The art of biscuit making in Yarraville

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Miss Biscuit, Yarraville.

Miss Biscuit is Julia.

And Julia is Miss Biscuit.

But the Yarraville baker is a whole lot more – her day gig is as a speech pathologist and she’s mum, along with her husband, to kids aged 13 and nine.

Yet there’s no doubt she’s loving the “other” role she is forging for herself as creator of beautiful, intricately decorated biscuits.

What started as a hobby became a business in November last year.

“As I gave them to people, they started asking, ‘Can I buy some?’ – and I’ve just been taking it from there,” she says.

The timelines between family life, making batches of dough and the icing of biscuits tend to be on the cramped side, but Julia is enjoying every challenge her new gig is throwing her way – even if the business if far from being, as yet, a prolific money generator.

“I love it,” she proclaims with enthusiasm. “I love making and icing the biscuits, dealing with customers – all of it.”

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On the day Consider The Sauce visits, Julia is not icing any of her creations, but you can see plenty more of her incredible handiwork at the Miss Biscuit website or Facebook page.

In the local area, her biscuits are stocked by Cup & Bean on Wembley Avenue and Providorable in Williamstown.

The football jumper biscuits will be on sale at Flemington market on Sunday, May 26.

There’s little profit, Julia says, in wholesale, so that’s mainly a matter of exposure. Most of her sales come from online.

Unsurprisingly, much of those are sales are generated by kids’ activities or parties, but she has also supplied goodies for anniversaries and weddings.

The biscuit bases are created from a simple dough of butter, flour, vanilla, eggs and baking powder.

The dough aspect of her 200 or so biscuits a week is cheap and quick – it’s the icing process that’s more pricey and time-consuming.

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She uses standard food colourings in her icing, having found the more “natural” products simply don’t have the vividness required.

She says it’s not an issue for almost all of her customers.

Incredibly, given the intricacy of her biscuit designs and aside from some skill as a gardener, Julia makes no great claims to being the “creative sort”.

“I can’t draw a circle!” she says with a laugh.

She does use a projector to help with some of her designs.

Meanwhile, you can bet Bennie and I will be springing some cash to try Julia’s forthcoming Jake and Finn Adventure Time biscuits!

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Lady Moustache

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Lady Moustache, 84 Gamon St, Yarraville. Phone: 9396 1916

We were sparing frequenters of the coffee/brekky/lunch place that preceded Lady Moustache.

Things have changed a lot, so it’s interesting to have a look at this lovely old Yarraville building in the knowledge it has become an eatery of quite a different kind, one that includes some serious evening-time foodiness.

The double-story building is a beauty, but the new crew have left the interior pretty much as it was, near as we can tell. Even some of the furniture looks familiar,

A nice bar area has been installed, though, leaving the rest of the dining area a little limited. There’s long stools at both windows but on this wintry mid-week night it seems every other seat is taken or soon to be.

In this context, the place has the really nice vibe of an intimate, inviting neighbourhood favourite, an impression aided by lovely staff already getting on top of a new place with new routines and new customers.

We’re told there’s a Colombian connection involved Lady Moustache, and that shows in about half the breakfast menu and all the evening fare, which is presented as a sort-of South American tapas list.

As well, there’s empanadas from one of our North Sunshine favourites, South American sweets and tortillas and the like.

We toss restraint out the window in ordering five dishes and are thrilled with what we eat and what we pay for it – if we’d gone without drinks (Napoleone pear cider for me, bottle of that Coca Cola stuff for him, both $4.50), our meal would have clocked in at a very fine $37.

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“Patatas with house made sauces” ($7.50) are basically very good potato wedges – though I feel a few of them are a little undercooked – with a nice, thick and unsweet tomato sauce.

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Three into two won’t go!

If there are arguments at Lady Moustache, we suspect they’ll be over these divine chicken drumettes ($6.50) served with the same tomato sauce as the spuds and a creamy, apricot-coloured mayo number.

This time Bennie gets two of the superbly deep fried and utterly ungreasy gems!

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Papusa are two in number, modestly sized but totally tasty.

They’re quite crisp on the outside, stuffed with shredded pork and topped with the as-advertised tomato sauce and also roast red capsicum.

The accompanying cabbage-and-carrot mix – described as curtido – is disappointingly dull, but maybe that’s because we eat so many similar serves in varying eastern European and Asian joints that have so much zing.

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Quesadilla and dips (left, $7.50) is an oddball – to us – winner.

The cheesy corn sandwich triangles are sublime, but it feels a little strange to us to be smothering them with the good olive, fetta and cashew dip, and the even better and more sexy lime, bean and coriander number.

What the hey – it works!

Peruvian swordfish ceviche (right, $7) is good but I find the marinade a little bitter where I am expecting tangy and/or sour.

The nice salad that comes with it has walnuts, almonds, greens, olives and mandarin.

With Advieh just up the road, Gamon St seems to be taking on a rather suave cosmopolitan vibe – and we couldn’t be happier!

Lady Moustache on Urbanspoon

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Food truck mayhem in the west …

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Mr Burger, Somerville Rd, Yarraville. Phone: 0312 345 67

What’s this?

Looks like a food truck shootout in Somerville Rd.

Although having no plans to eat anywhere except at home, I’d noted courtesy of Where The Truck at that Beat Box Kitchen had plans to be at Yarraville Park in the evening.

Then about 6.30pm, I discover via a Facebook post by White Guy Cooks Thai, that they, Dos Diablos AND Mr Burger are all planning to set up shop there, too.

That’s too much fun to miss out on, so off I go.

It IS a festive scene that greets me at the park.

There’s three trucks up and running – no sign of Beat Box Kitchen.

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I figure this is a foretaste of how the west-loving food trucks are going to go in winter.

There’s about 50 or so people milling about. Some are deciding on what they’re going to eat. Others are waiting for their orders.

There’s families, cyclists, toddlers and dogs.

Just about everyone, except the cyclists, is suitably rugged up.

Some people are, um, “eating in”. Other are grabbing their goodies and heading back to their cars and, presumably, home.

The interests of journalism, food blogging and spreading myself around a bit dictate that I opt for Mr Burger, having already tried the other two trucks present.

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My food takes about 10 minutes to get prepared. The Mr Burger crew is working hard.

I like the way my side and sandwich are served in the same cardboard box.

A small serve of chips is a fine deal at $3 – they’re plentiful, fresh, hot, crunchy and plain. None of your sea salt ‘n’ rosemary here.

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My basic Mr Burger – beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, mustard, mayo and tomato sauce for $9 – is wrapped in both paper and foil.

It appears both modest in size and like a sodden, mushy mess.

But it tastes great and is adequate size-wise!

The meat has a nicely char-like exterior, the lettuce is crisp, the tomato fresh and the dressings just right.

I wonder, though, how such a burger would handle even the briefest of drives home.

I’m halfway through my meal when the Beat Box Kitchen vehicle turns up. It’s up and running with surprising speed.

Maybe next time.

Mr Burger on Urbanspoon

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Yarraville goss …

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Heard from two sources today … news that a Yarraville retailer is to be replaced by a bakery/patisserie producing, no doubt among many other things, “artisan bread”.

I don’t want to name or publish a picture of the current business concerned as it is still very much in operation and there are no signs in its windows announcing closure plans.

But … it’s interesting to think about.

Businesses selling bread and/or baked goods in Yarraville central: Alfa Bakehouse, Hausfrau, Plump, IGA, Village Store, Baker’s Delight, Heather Dell.

There are others at Yarraville Square and further afield in Seddon.

I have no knowledge of whether this new business will serve eat-in food or beverages. But if it does, the overlap with existing businesses will be that much greater.

So … I don’t know about you guys, but this all seems a bit mad to me …

Meals on wheels? Still rolling!

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Two years after our earlier story, I’m delighted to report that our very own “vegetable man” continues to do the rounds.

Today he brings me a choice of tomatoes, about three different kinds of peppers and spuds (he pronounces them “po-taht-oes”).

His name is Boris, he’s Macedonian but when he came to Australia he was from what was then known as Yugoslavia.

He travels from his farm near Daylesford every couple of weeks, visiting by turn Yarraville and Moonee Ponds.

He tells me his door-to-door vegetable biz is a marginal proposition at best, with fuel costs being a significant factor.

But he seems to profit from his business in a non-monetary way.

I know we do!

Today I grab a bag of sweet peppers and superbly irregularly shaped tomatoes – not the sort of thing you see in supermarkets!

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Gumbo Kitchen in Yarraville

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gumbo21

We’ve been slow to getting around to hitting this crew since they joined the influx of food trucks into the west – so tonight’s the night.

A previous encounter in Brunswick had been of an acceptable nature, although I did find the roast beef debris po boy sandwich somewhat on the dull side and not really “as advertised”.

So this time around I have no problem sidestepping the allure of the various po boys such as soft shell crab and shrimp and heading straight for the gumbo.

I’ve experienced some pitiful excuses for gumbo in my time in Melbourne – so I’m delighted to report this is not one of them.

In fact, it’s the best gumbo I’ve had in Australia that I have not cooked myself.

And, the clincher, it’s not some fancy seafood gumbo.

This is the king of gumbos – chicken and sausage.

Nor is there file or okra involved. The chicken is not fried first, as is the case in some of the more extravagant recipes or flash New Orleans restaurants.

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No, this chicken and sausage gumbo ($12) is plain old home-style cooking – the sort of gumbo you might find in any neighbourhood joint or bar in New Orleans.

Best of all, this is not a stew – this is a runny soup, which is as it should be.

There’s a dark roux and stock base, there’s the trinity of celery, capsicum and onion. And, my server Michael tells me, there’s your basic gumbo seasoning such as cayenne, oregano and thyme. And no doubt a few more.

It’s got that great, distinctive gumbo flavour and a nice spice hit.

There’s more than enough chicken chunks and sausage discs. The price seems reasonable enough given the quality of the gumbo.

Although you wouldn’t want to get thinking about the pho available just up the road or the $3 tacos being dispensed at the Reverence Hotel.

Bennie’s been at me for months that he wants to try gumbo, but I simply haven’t gotten around to it.

Next time he raises the subject, and presuming I remain uninspired to do the job myself, I’ll be more than happy to haul him along to the Gumbo Kitchen and say: “THAT’S gumbo!”

Gumbo Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Yarraville Festival 2013

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Yarraville Festival, Yarraville, February 16, 2013

It’s hot and getting hotter.

Maybe that’s why every other stall on Anderson St and surrounds seems to be very big on hats.

There’s a lot of friendly and familiar faces and food around, such as the lovely ladies at St Nicholas Orthodox frying up their loving batches of syrupy dough goodness.

One new wrinkle is the freshly shucked oyster being offered at the pub for $1.50 a pop.

Sadly, I’m done food-wise by the time I notice them.

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From the stall being manned by the staff of Kawa-Sake at the river end of Andrson St, I grab a good chicken yakitori skewer and really, really good mini Japanese pancake.

Nearby are three poorly distributed stalls serving up paella, two of them being run by local businsses.

But I get a $10 serve from the one providing their rice in cardboard containers, having already been dismayed somewhat by the amount of plastic being used and discarded at the festival.

I scoot back to the Kawa-Sake stall to eat it, being granted permission to grab a small table and stool in the shade.

Thanks, Lucy!

My paella is nice, with a tang and plenty of seafood, chorizo and chicken, and it’s a much bigger serve than it appears.

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In leafy shade near the train station, I stop for nice natter with Ross and Breda at their Garden Honey stand.

We’re not honey eaters in our home, but I think it an intriguing hoot that these folks are producing salable quantities of bee juice … in Kensington.

So expect a story on how they do it some time soon right here at Consider The Sauce.

At one of the Ballarat St stages, there’s a whole lotta love for a group called Mother.

This virtually all-chick aggregation with a token bloke does classic ’70s rock.

Just a covers band, you say?

Well, yes … but this lot stomps it out with such passionate glee that for a while there they make me and many others true believers.

Loud, crunchy and swaggering, their music is just the right distance below the pain threshold in terms of volume.

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There’s a handful of paunchy, black T-shirted fans down front getting RIGHT into it.

During a certain Led Zeppelin song, these air guitar cats do the famous guitar solo note perfect.

Check this band out if you see them playing near you – they’re hot!

Let it rock!

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White Guy Cooks Thai photo shoot

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white21

White Guy Cooks Thai photo shoot, Yarraville Station

Previous posts here and here.

This was just around the corner and about a block away, so I thought I’d pop down just for a look-see – so no big-deal post here.

The shoot was for the RMIT MBA alumni newsletter.

Had me a prawn slider – it was beaut!

However, I stand firm in my affection for these guys – the vibe is great, the food is neat and, I believe, reasonably priced.

As Ms Baklover has pointed out, it’s a fun alternative.

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