Mexican in Yarraville – it’s open!

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Village Cantina, 30 Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9689 8000

By the time I discover Village Cantina in Ballarat Street is up and running, it’s too late – I’ve already had an at-home dinner!

(Nothing flash – sourdough ciabatta toast topped with tomato slices and sardines …)

So this post is more your newsy story to alert readers to the opening and the subsequent rise village diversity.

We’ll no doubt be taking the menu for a test drive very soon and will write about the food then.

 

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The place is done out in colourful cantina style with some nicely cool art works in place.

They’re busy even just an hour after opening.

The compact menu doesn’t get in the least bit adventurous or weird – here you’ll get grilled corn, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos and churros.

On the other hand, the tortillas are being supplied by El Cielo of Port Melbourne, so the quality should be there.

(See menu below.)

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Out back, there’s a three-table funky garden for chilling out purposes.

For opening hours, check out the Village Cantina Facebook page.

 

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Cafe joy away from the main drags

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wov8
Woven Cafe, 175b Stephen Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9973 5926

It was while scoping out the fit-out progress of Woven that I discovered, courtesy of a friendly local, that Stephen Street was once, many moons ago, actually the main drag of Yarraville.

All that changed, apparently, when the train line went through … and the main trading/retailing action switched to Anderson and Ballarat streets.

Makes sense really, as Stephen Street is a wide boulevard … it’s nice to see some activity returning to an area away from the village proper.

It’s sweet, too, for the four of us troupe off to try out the newly-opened Woven.

 

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Disclosure – Dan, one of the Woven partners, and his family are a long-time CTS buddies and attendees of CTS Feasts.

But as this is an impromptu lunch, not Dan nor anyone else involved knows we’re coming, though we are outed soon after being seated.

Doesn’t matter – as on every other occasion when folks have twigged bloggers are in the house, the food we receive is the same as all the other customers.

So is the fine service.

Woven is a compact space that has been fitted out beautifully.

With its outdoor seating and smartly-chosen location, it’s a hit in the making.

The menu (see below) is tight and right, canvassing breakfast through lunch.

 

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The other two lads opt for the “Bang Up Burger” ($18.50).

Both are really impressed.

Says the Bennie: “The cheese was nice, the salad was dressed, the patty was good, and the bacon and the sauce were good, too. It was all good! It all fitted together!”

The vibe I get from both Bennie and Julian is that this is a very enjoyable, solid burger.

Their meaty handfuls are abetted by “hand-cut twice-cooked chips”.

They’re fine things, indeed.

And with their skins and dimples and imperfections intact, they’re in the same tradition and mindset as the chips we get at this Newport joint.

If this is a trend we say: “Yay!”

 

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I go the salad route with happy results.

The Moroccan chickpea salad with pickled carrots, fennel and tea-soaked currents ($16) comes with chorizo added for an extra $4.

Sometimes chorizo-added dishes – often pasta or salads – can be mean in the sausage department.

That’s certainly not the case here – there’s plenty of it, which is a good thing as it’s a mildly flavoured and seasoned dish and the chorizo adds needed spice and grease.

The carrots are only slightly pickled and I even add some salt.

But it’s all good, crunchy, fresh, wonderful and of very generous size – the chickpeas themselves are a buttery yellow and perfect.

 

 

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The bread for Christine’s “lemon and herb chicken with aioli and rocket sanger” ($10) comes from another of our fave local haunts and my regular morning coffee stop.

The chicken tastes fine to me, and she gets the same chips on the side for an extra $3.

So … $13 all up? That’s a bargain right there!

We go without coffee – though with the other partner, Dave, at the coffee machine helm, I’m betting it’ll be brilliant when I do try it.

We hit the road for home and the other side  of the tracks, stopping by for a sweet, cool treat at yet another local fave – one that is, I’m told, also a supplier to Woven.

Choc orange for him, apple pie for her, lavender and white choc for Bennie and myself …

 

Woven Cafe on Urbanspoon

 

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Southern style in Yarraville

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fat4
Fat Thursdays by Bourbon Street @ The Commerical Hotel, 238 Whitehall St, Yarraville. Phone: 9689 9354

All your food trucks and fancy cafes are good and well, but we have to say we are happy and delighted to discover the Commerclal Hotel is up and running once again.

It’s only open three days a week but that’s a win when compared to the sad sight we observed whenever we drove past what seemed to be the abandoned Hyde Street institution.

Inside, all is as much as we recall – a scruffy, lived-in pub ambiance of a sort so hard to find these days that the Commercial almost comes across as a museum piece.

And there’s food – but only on Thursdays.

It is being provided by an outfit called Bourbon Street, which operates a lunch delivery service of southern American-style goodies to the Melbourne CBD and inner suburbs on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and to Yarraville, Seddon and Footscray on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

 

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We like it that they’ve called their dine-in project at the Commercial Fat Thursday; we’re rather less impressed with it being called a pop-up – a term much over-used and misused.

As ever with this sort of food, I keep my expectations and hopes in check.

In this case there seems good cause, because despite the use of the names Bourbon Street and Fat Thursday, the in-house menu is studded with items not usually associated with the famously non-BBQ city that is New Orleans – “cajun brown rice” (huh?), pulled pork and jerk chicken among them.

Of course, this is Melbourne, this is the west and in the end I’m oh-so-glad I don’t get hung up on stuffy notions of authenticity – for what Bennie and I have is a fine meal indeed.

We order a main apiece and then load up on the sides (see menu below).

 

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We rather regret getting our BBQ beef and jerk chicken with the rice rather than in roll form. The rice is OK but rolls would’ve been more in keeping with our dinner’s flavour.

My beef and his chicken are fine.

But it’s the sides that do it for us.

The prices are very cheap – surely the cheapest for this sort of food in Melbourne.

At places around town that serve similar fare, getting the number of sides we split between us would result in a rather hefty bill for what is meant to be blue-collar food.

No such problem at Fat Thursday – it falls comfortably inside the cheap eats realm.

But there’s nothing cheap about the quality and the serves are of a good size.

 

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 Fried okra – whole, freshly battered and yummy.

 

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Potato salad – very nice.

 

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Corn that is just corn but that fits right well with the rest of our meal.

 

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Coleslaw – very nice.

We also get mac ‘n’ cheese, which tastes good but is a little on the dry side, and jalapeno cornbread, which comes in the form of three small muffins – they’re good, studded with corn kernels and have a delicate spice glow going on.

It’s been a cool hoot to sit in the venue of so many previous happy times – all of them pre-CTS – and eat some pretty good southern-style food without feeling in the slightest bit inhibited by the pricing.

 

Bourbon Street @ the Commercial Hotel on Urbanspoon

Commercial Hotel on Urbanspoon

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Yarraville/Seddon paid parking protest – a super effort

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When news first broke about Maribyrnong council’s intention of instigating paid parking in the villages of Yarraville and Seddon, Consider The Sauce initially assumed a somewhat uncharacteristic half-empty outlook.

OK, I figured, there’ll be some grumbling … but what council wants, council will surely get.

These days, I’m not sure about that … at all.

Truth is, the campaign against paid parking – and the community anger that fuels it – is gaining impressive momentum.

It’s well organised, too, with social media activity, a petition and an online survey.

 

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Today’s protest and march from Yarraville to Seddon was also an impressive display – a lot of people and many, many dogs (far more than covered in the pooch gallery below).

What I reckon were a couple of good points were made during the speechifying.

Namely …

That traders have a legitimate fear that many of their customers will shun paid parking and go where parking does not cost – particularly, though not entirely restricted to, Highpoint and Yarraville Square.

And secondly, if Yarraville and Seddon, then why not West Footscray?

On the rare occasions we have difficulty finding a car space, it’s just as likely to be in West Footscray as anywhere closer to home.

By contrast, the council’s case for paid parking – and I’ve read a lot – seems utterly wishy washy.

 

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Of course, you’ll be unsurprised that have yet to encounter a resident or trader actually in favour of paid parking.

Yet the council, it seems to me, has as yet fallen way sort of being in any way persuasive in demonstrating the desirability or the need for its plans.

We shall see …

In the meantime, and once more donning my half-empty hat, I see a possible outcome being the shelving of the paid parking plans – only for them to be rolled out again a few years down the track.

 

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The bloke on the right appears to have been partaking in the Koolaid …

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Yarraville pub – back to the future

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It’s something of a surreal hoot to stand amid the gutted rubble of the Yarraville boozer as it undergoes a drastic refurbishment.

Consider The Sauce gets it that there is some sadness around about the demise of inner-west old-school blue-collar pubs.

But CTS has no doubt the Yarraville pub has been in need of a new look and a fresh direction for some time.

And talking to Jason (pictured above), spokesman for the new all-westie owners, I rather think there are grounds for optimism.

There will be no pokies and not even pizzas – or “not at this stage”, in terms of the latter.

He says the reopened pub – the mooted date is mid-October – will be “a traditional pub with a twist”.

 

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And it is surely a good sign that the joint will revert to being called the Railway Hotel – vestiges of which remain.

The menu is in the process of being formulated, so everything Jason tells me comes with an “approximately” qualification.

But and just for instance … chicken parma for $21.50, unless you buy one on $15 parma night (Mondays).

There’ll be bar food/tapas.

And there’ll be a Sunday winter roast deal.

As well as an all-new wine list couple, there will a selection of boutique beers, including Two Birds.

 

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Grazing in Yarraville

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tong210
Tong Food & Wine, 13 Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9687 8877

Far sooner than expected – and after noting the multiple changes coming in Yarraville and writing a preview of Tong – we’re seated for a mid-week dinner at the corner location of what was previously The Bank.

Team CTS consisting on this occasion of B and K, C and J.

We’re four folks who are mostly used to eating heaps of food at ridiculously cheap prices, so it takes a little while to switch gears to Tong’s more refined style of “grazing”.

But we do so, having a real nice time spread over a couple of hours.

The place is fullish for a Wednesday night, there’s a buzz going on and the service – with a couple of hiccups – is fine.

We would only advise that anyone with a raging hunger be prepared to choose multiple dishes.

 

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From the “smaller” list (see menu below), mixed tempura vegetables with dipping sauces ($11) is an agreeable, fresh selection of red capsicum, zucchini and cucumber.

The sauces – one that seems to be of the BBQ variety, the other a lemony mayo – are much stickier than you’d find in a Japanese eatery.

 

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Steamed pork buns ($14), too, are different from those you’ll find at various Footscray outlets.

They’re terrific!

With less dough – they’re more like dumplings – there’s scope for the sticky, unctuous and meaty filling to shine.

 

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Julian and Christine enjoy their beef tataki with grilled quail egg and radish salad ($14), though as they point out it would be more accurate to refer to it as a rare beef salad.

 

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Moving on to the “bigger” section of the menu and … even with all the goodwill and generosity of spirit we can muster, Bennie’s crispy spiced lamb ribs leave us collectively bemused.

Forget the asking price of $16 and what that represents per individual rib.

That this mostly unadorned dish is listed as “bigger” rather than “smaller” surely leaves Tong open to unkind cracks about nouvelle cuisine.

Bennie loves them and wolfs the lot down … but there’s a wait of a good 10 minutes between him cleaning his plate and the rest of us receiving our corresponding dishes.

(I was tempted to use the phrase “main courses” right there but realise that may not be appropriate to the Tong philosophy …)

 

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Our friends enjoy their braised tofu with spring onion and crispy noodles ($18) without becoming truly animated about it.

 

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Our table gets two serves of the spicy eggplant sizzling plate ($17) – and good thing that is, as it’s far and away the hit of the night for all of us!

The eggplant flavour is sublime – I wish I could cook eggplant like that.

There’s a few bits of onion and red capsicum in there, the dish has a mild but effective spicy hit and – like  a lot of eggplant dishes – this is quite oily. In a good way …

 

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Moving to dessert, sticky black rice with coconut and pineapple crisp ($14) goes OK with she who has been most looking forward to it.

 

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Predictably, Bennie likes the sweet red bean dumplings ($9) while I remain wholly unmoved by what seems to be a sort of doughy blandness.

Christine points out that they’re quite like something her mum whips up.

 

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The Tong style and ambitions may not be a natural fit for we four, but as we saunter into the night we reflect on a lovely evening with great company and good conversation.

And good – sometimes very good – food.

 

Tong Food & Wine on Urbanspoon

 

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Tong – opening Friday

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Tong Food & Wine, 13a Ballarat Street, Yarraville

See review here.

As a follow-up to our recent Yarraville eats goss story, Consider The Sauce is happy to report the following …

Tong Food & Wine, inhabiting the Ballarat Street premises the formerly housed The Bank, will be open for business from tomorrow night (Friday, August 29).

Co-proprietor Ben gave CTS the scoop on the classy fit-out (above) and the compact and very interesting – and affordably  priced – menu (below).

 

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Tong – as it will most certainly become known – will be open for lunch and dinner from Tuesdays through to Sundays.

From 3pm to 6pm food offerings will be of the bar snack variety.

 

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The old bank vault is the office!