93 Nicholson St, Footscray. Phone: 9689 0777
Such a humble exterior, such a humdrum name … but behind both lies what is indisputably one of the landmark hot spots of the Melbourne eating firmament.
In fact, such unabashed fans are we of this establishment that we firmly believe it should be permanently lodged on the same list of Melbourne Sacred Sites that pays homage to the likes of the MCG, Hound Dog’s Bop Shop, Pelligrini’s, Brunetti’s, the Vic Market and so on.
The term kebab, of course, means different things to different people.
For many Australian, kebab is meat (usually lamb, and usually carved from a vertical spit), salad goodies and a garlciky yogurt sauce served in bread – pita or pide.
Indeed, some of the FBKH customers do just that.
(Kebab also means meat on skewers – which make satay sticks technically, if not nominally, kebabs.)
The FBKH has skewers, too – namely sublimely juicy and marinated shish kebabs of the lamb and chicken variety, and the minced, spiced lamb of the adana kebab.
Finally, it’s my understanding that kebab simply means meat – and that’s where the FBKH is at.
As already noted, some customers go for the pide sandwich with the fillings of their choice.
But the savvy, loyal and greatly numbered regulars – and we certainly count ourselves in that happy band – know better, and go for the preposterously fantastic plated meals.
Those regulars are a glorious and fair representation of rainbow Footscray.
There’s Mediterranean types, of course, but the FBKH is also a major hit with the local African community, while it’s fully part of the everyday routine here to see members of the various Asian demographics likewise chowing down.
The regulars place their orders at the front then grab one of the several and prized tables.
Prices have inched up over the years, and these days run from $10 for the small vegetarian to $22 for one-size-only mixed grill.
However, the large plates – except maybe for the ravenously hungered or plain old gluttonous – are fine for sharing, as many folks do. And that puts the FBKH firmly in the cheap eats bracket.
The meats are all superb.
The dips are good, too, but we have two outright favourites.
The beetroot is normally a lurid pink and comes with just the right blend of sweetness and earthiness.
The chilli dip, I find, is a little too spicy to slather on bread like the others – rather, used sparingly it is a crunchy, tangy taste sensation when used as a meat enhancer.
In terms of non-meat fare, the stuffed vine leaves are exceptional, with a firmly packed and tomatoey filling that is best inhaled cold. Combined with the falafels, dips and salads, we often go that route for the vegetarian plate.
The large meal of the day ($14, and featuring the quick and easy option of meat from the spit) was our review meal (4/9/10), with the beetroot dip on this day being an unusually restrained pink.
The lamb and chicken carved off the spit is of the layered variety – not the reconstituted, sausage-like meat also sometimes found in such places.
They’re both good, but the lamb is our favourite – crunchy, salty, crusty. Oh my!
Each plate comes with a cheerful, lemony salad jumble of red cabbage, carrot, lettuce, green onion, while we routinely also request the addition of a portion of the potato salad – oily, but divine!
Along with two dips of your choice is served a basket of warm, fresh Turkish bread, while the large plates usually are also usually accompanied by a grilled green chilli, grilled large slice of tomato and marvellous rice with slivers of almond threaded through it..
Crockery and cutlery is real.
Service is friendly, but can be on the brisk side – this is only natural, as things can get a little insane in here during the lunch rush.
The FBKH is not open on Sundays, and not for dinner on the remaining days – which is probably just as well, given that the mall in which it is situated can be a mite scary after dark.
The Footscray Best Kebab House – it’s a treasure, and one of those rare places where genius is matched at every step by consistency.