Fish, chips, excellence

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Batterbing, 60 Douglas Parade, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 1227

Batterbing is located in a Douglas Parade premises that has been home to fish and chips for a long, long time.

Decades, I’m guessing.

Can any Williamstown readers tell us?

In any case, these days – under its newish name – it’s being run by John McMonagle, whose work we loved so much at Dough! in Newport.

His Williamstown location is superior – it’s handily placed for more drop-in and foot traffic.

And that’s great – it means more people can enjoy the super work being done by John and his team.

The place remains very much an old-school fish and chip shop, with rudimentary dine-in facilities – a bench and stools inside, a few tables and chairs on the footpath outside.

But none of that matters.

Here be made – and happily consumed – what are, in our opinions and experience, the best fish and chips in the western suburbs.

(Matched mind, you, by Ebi in Essex Street, Footscray – very different style, equally fine outcome.)

The Batterbing art starts with chips.

Here the potatoes are hand-cut and tumbled – and are wonderful.

Real spuds make for hip chips.

I go with my never-fail arrangement carried over from the Dough! days – now officially called Combo for 1 ($15, top photograph).

Those chips, a handful of tender calamari rings and a nice chunk of juicy, delicious and expertly deep-fried blue grenadier.

So very fine!

Unlike Dough!, there are no pizzas at Batterbing.

But there are burgers – so we take one of them for a run, too.

The Lil Jerry Seinfeld – is there some in-joke I’m missing? – is a doozy.

Crisp and deeply tanned deep-fried chicken thigh is joined in burger harmony by just the right amount of slaw and mayo in a purple bun.

Like all the Batterbing burgers, it comes with a side of those chips – and that makes the $13 entry fee a dead-set bargain.

Regular burgers, too

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Upsize Burger Bar, 2/234 Barkly Street, Footscray.

Consider The Sauce – leastwise, the senior partner thereof – has no truck with burger towers.

Well, no truck with the eating of them.

But I confess to being intrigued by these burger equivalents of skyscrapers.

Which is just as well, because my Facebook feed regularly features photos of such things.

But, nope – if it cannot be grasped in two eager hands, and/or requires a knife and fork, not interested in eating.

Though I suspect, if Bennie was given free rein, he’d be right into exploring what seems little more than macho posturing to me.

In that regard, I accept I am in some sort of minority and that there is widespread interest in, and fandom of, this particular burger cult.

Upzsize Burger Bar is catering to it with panache, with many sorts of flamboyant arrangements – including using donuts  and mac-n-cheese as buns!

 

 

The in-house photos illustrate some of the more conservative options available.

On the place’s FB page are to be found many spectacular examples of high-rise burger architecture.

The Barkly Street joint is something of a temporary exercise.

It’s open on Friday, Saturdays and Sundays – and only for three more weekends (making its last day Sunday, November 25).

We are happy to explore Upsize to the extent of their regular burgers – and we enjoy doing so.

 

 

My Basic B ($14) is a good, solid, workmanlike burger.

It has two beef patties, American cheese, “FCM sauce” and pickles – and goes down fine.

 

 

Bennie chooses the chicken equivalent for the same price.

He likes it.

The chicken is crisp and the slaw delivered in appropriate amount.

We both much enjoy that the pickle slices are so plentiful that they constitute a strong flavour component, as opposed to the usual mere whiff.

 

 

The regular order of beer-battered fries is very generous for $5.

They’re good.

But remind me that a CTS story on this particular genre of chip will be the go come my Christmas break.

Where do they come from?

How much beer – if any – is actually involved?

And are they actually re-constituted spud – and thus the potato equivalent of chicken nuggets?

 

Highpoint’s new food champ

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Farang Thai BBQ, Highpoint, Maribyrnong. Phone: 0478 959 182

Heading to Highpoint, we have no previous experience with the food truck iteration of Farang.

I warn Bennie – and in the process, myself – to keep expectations in check.

A food truck setting up a pop-up operation at a shopping centre?

My scepticism is not just about the quality of the food, but also concerns serving sizes.

We are HUNGRY.

We shall see.

Farang is set up in shipping containers outside at the Rosamond Road side of Highpoint.

It’s well done. There’s the kitchen/servery, some outdoor tables and a cosy indoor area with a bench and seating.

My doubts are given a swift kick towards optimism with a view of the gleaming kitchen.

I mean, how often do you see a fat mortar and pestle in such a place?

 

 

We both order Farang’s meal-for-one box set for $15, myself with house-made northern Thai sausage, papaya salad, relish (nam prik noom), sticky rice and (as a sort-of garish) the health food known as crispy pork cracklings.

And – just like that (sound of fingers snapping) – there go all my all low expectations.

This is some serious Thai tucker.

The serve size is excellent for the price ($15).

The papaya salad is wet, crunchy, delicious and studded with peanuts.

The sausages?

Oh my.

Amazing – they explode with flavour from lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and more.

 

 

Bennie’s similar Farang box deal come with grilled pork shoulder (moo yong) with nam jim jaow dipping sauce.

He, too, loves his meal – though, IMO, the meat is merely very good, as opposed to my superb sausages.

 

 

Our box deals have been sufficiently generous and fine to assuage our hearty appetites, but in the interests of a broader blog story, we order Farang’s grilled corn ($6).

We have been short-changed elsewhere when ordering variations of this dish.

But here we’re happy.

The corn is juicy and comes with a coating of salted coconut milk and, according to the menu, sweet chilli jam.

There’s precious little evidence of the latter, but we both nod approvingly as we gnaw.

Bring on the dental floss.

Farang Thai BBQ will, we’re told, be at Highpoint until March – after which other arrangements may kick in.

It is open until 9pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; until 6pm on the other days.

 

Meal of the week No.46: Sankranti

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Ultra, mega low restaurant prices, we all know, inevitably mean someone is being ripped off.

But when those prices are seemingly offered only for a special, brief time in a bid to signal some new offering or opening hours tweak – well, we are happy to respond.

Especially when it’s one of our two favourite western suburbs Indian eateries that is doing the seducing!

(You’ll have to read our 2018 wrap in a month or so to find out the name of the other!)

With the arrival of warmer weather and daylight saving, Sankranti Australia (250 Barkly Street, Footscray) is throwing open its doors on Mondays.

And to get the word out, it’s offering three dishes at very, very low prices.

My understanding is that this low-cost trio will be available for at least one more Monday – beyond that, you’ll need to check with the restaurant.

Mysore bonda ($5.95, top photograph) are described to us as dumplings.

 

 

But they seem more to us like savoury doughhnuts – and is there anything better than deep-fried dough?

They are fresh, unoily, pliant to the point of sponginess, yummy and served with the same condiments that accompany dosas.

 

 

Andra kodi vepudu ($6.95) is simple dish of pan-fried on-the-bone chicken pieces in a bright red, tangy sauce.

 

 

Our chicken biryani ($6.95) lacks the standard hard-boiled egg half.

But at these prices, we’re hardly going to complain!

And with two chicken chunks immersed in the rice and good gravy and runny, onion-laced thin raita on the side, it’s just fine.

Beaut meal for two; $20.

Thanks!

Cool local cafe? You can’t do better …

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Willow Wine Cafe, 126 Williamstown Road, Kingsville.

Our regular martial arts routine has been dispensed with on account of a niggling health issue.

And if we’re not exactly licking our wounds after a tough week, we are not in the mood for the sort of galavanting around the west that is our usual Saturday staple.

So we’re very happy to be walking to lunch.

But there’s a wrinkle – instead of ambling towards Yarraville village, we are headed in the opposite direction.

Willow Wine Cafe has been set up in what was once the Fisher cricket bat “factory”, the place’s flanelled history still proudly worn on its side-street mural.

This is very familiar territory for Bennie, as he was once – when much younger – outfitted here with custom-made bat and pads.

The half-hearted innings that was his cricketing career ended long ago!

 

 

The place, with its dining area looking out on to Williamstown Road’s passing parade, has been done out in a really lovely, bright and relaxing way.

 

 

We take up pews at the window bench and proceed to enjoy a terrific lunch.

 

 

I earnestly warn Bennie against ordering the pulled pork sanger ($15), given the rank and serial disappointments he has, um, enjoyed in that regard in the past.

He proceeds anyway – proving, in the process, his father’s gloomy outlook to be comprehensively unwarranted.

Between the covers of his milk bun are generous serves of superbly tasty pork and most excellent aioli slaw, with pickled jalapenos and potato chips on the side.

 

 

My toastie special appears, at first blush, to be less worthy of the $14 price tag.

But the proof is in the eating.

And I know after just a few mouthfuls that this could be used as a template for the perfect toasted sandwich, with bread still softish yet sporting a top-notch crisp exterior.

Inside are Salt Kitchen mortadella, burratine and radicchio.

The cheese is oh-so-rich, melted and stretchy.

 

 

Our matching 5 Senses cafe lattes ($4) are just right.

A marvellous, mixed-up Footscray feed

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Time To Eat, 123 Nicholson Street, Footscray. Phone: 0405 526 729

For as long as I can remember, 123 Nicholson Street has been occupied by a chicken shop.

Has it ever been anything else?

In any case, these days it is something to behold.

Time To eat is run by husband-and-wife team Harera and Lageal Amea.

He boasts Lebanese heritage; she, Indian background.

Backgrounds of their staff members range through Lebanese, Nepalese and Fijiian.

On my visits here I have noted an equally diverse customers base that mirrors many of the eateries in the area, including those of the three ostensibly Turkish kebab houses.

The UN ain’t got nuthin’ on us!

 

 

The Time To Eat salad display features the expected gloopy coleslaw and seafood extender offering (familiar from chicken shops everywhere) – but also tabouli and a Greek salad.

 

 

Another cabinet boasts a handsome range of Lebanese-style pizzas and pies.

I take a spicy potato and a lamb pie home with me; they’re excellent.

At the front of the shop are Lebanese sweets.

 

 

The chicken here come in varieties such as lemon and herb and tandoori.

My half chook, tabouli and chips costs a top-notch $16 with a can of soft drink.

In truth, there is only the faintest whiff of tandoori flavour about my chicken, but it’s still pretty good – as is the tabouli.

I see my chips being doused with some sort of chicken salt variant, missing by a millisecond the opportunity to get them with plain salt.

But even that doesn’t phase, such a nice time am I having.

Otherwise the chips are hot and crisp.

 

Uyghur cuisine is grand

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Karlaylisi Restaurant, 4/203 Ballarat Road, Footscray. Phone: 0413 955 515

Don’t let the Ballarat Road address mislead – Karlaylisi is situated on Gordon Street.

In fact, it occupies the exact same premises as the sadly short-lived Spice Klub and its Indonesian offerings.

Karlaylisi delivers Uyghur cuisine – the food of the Uughurs, who live mostly in China’s Xinjiang province.

Check out this SBS story for background on the people and their food.

There’s oodles to like about Karlaylisi.

Indeed, it could be tossed up as the perfect template for the perfect CTS eating house.

The menu is long, stuffed with dumplings, hand-made noodles, soups, cold dishes and kebabs.

And lots and lots of lamb dishes.

Some items are certainly for larger and planned groups – the roasted whole lamb ($350, $180), for instance.

Or even the lamb casserole with steamed wrap bread ($60).

Yet despite the ambitions inherent in the menu and that this appears to be a one-man show, we found our food to be fresh, hot and delivered to our table with admirable speed and wide smiles.

An early highlight – actually, THE highlight – are the lamb skewers ($2 each, minimum of five).

These feature bigger chunks of meat than we’ve had elsewhere.

They’re more tender, too, and a little less seasoned with salt and cumin.

There’s some fat, but it all tastes way more than good.

Siyi qanalgan lagman ($14.50) is a homely and nicely plain mix of lamb and vegetables on a mound of noodles.

You could pitch this to picky kids as a spag bol variant, no problems.

From the dumpling/pastry list come tugra ($13), lamb dumplings.

Once again rather plain, they nevertheless go fine.

Aqqik korulgan chop ($14.50) is a much sexier (i.e. oilier and with some chilli heat) noodle dish with lamb, garlic chives and sesame oil.

Kala til kormisi ($14) is stir-fried beef tongue.

I expected to this to have a more pronounced chargrill or wok hei aspect.

Instead, the meat is quite silky and very tender.

The overtly meaty vibe of our menu choices is ameliorated by the complementary salad presented to us.

Laohusai ($13) is a delight, zingy and fresh with loud voices of garlic and vinegar coming through.

We will return to Karlaylisi – there’s so much to explore!