Waterfront City, Docklands.

Melbourne’s Docklands has copped some pretty strident criticism over the years, but on a nice summer’s day it can seem like a fine place to be – and maybe even a cool place to live.

Certainly, it appeals as somewhere between the CBD living that one of us still misses and the westie wonders that have become such a big part of our lives.

But food? That’s a different curry of fish completely.

Before we depart for the two-wheeled jaunt down Footscray Rd, I check out some of the places likely to provide tasty fare at Docklands. The prices scare me.

Bhoj, Mecca Bah,Yum Cha Dragon, Man Mo and more – we’d love to love you, but you’ll have to wait for a special occasion.

Wending our way towards the non-circulating Big Wheel – what a debacle! – we come face to face with the drab, mediocre side of the area.

Away from the undeniably attractive waterfront and its swish multi-million yots are dozens and dozens of clothing stores of no allure whatsoever.

And so we end up – again – in the food court area  surrounding the non-operative wheel.

I’ve read stories about how the traders here have been devastated by the wheel farce, so have some sympathy. But I have sympathy, too, for the many young families seeking something tasty and affordable as the heat increases.

There’s franchises and chains like RFC and a bunch more, an interesting looking burger bar and even a Chilli Paddi outlet. But mediocrity seems as prevalent as it does in the retail therapy sector.

Last time we were here the meal we, ahem, “enjoyed” was so bad I prefer not to reveal its ethnicity.

This time we settle on the Turkish of Kebabbque. I try to rustle up some enthusiasm for the vegetarian platter for a touch over $15, but Bennie’s adamant – donner kebab with chilli sauce it will be. Going with the flow, I order the falafel equivalent, with a 600ml Pepsi putting our meal at $21.30.

Our wraps come in a surprising form – the meat/falafel, their salady buddies and sauce are wrapped in the flat bread, which is then sealed and heated. The result looks and handles something like a burrito. On the downside, the salad quotient can’t help but be a bit wilted; on the plus side, it makes for tidy and unmessy eating. Pretty cool!

Bennie’s lamb meal – fully packed with that traditional, unmistakeable flavour of a million kebab joints – is clearly superior to my forgettable chick pea patties.

Our meal is OK, but I suspect we’d have been better off with the $12 noodles or laksa at Chilli Paddi – if a few dollars lighter.

There may be various reasons for visiting Docklands – Lord knows we feel some kind of weird attraction ourselves – but great cheap eats is definitely not among them. If you’re up for some card-bashing, well fine …

Despite sitting under a transparent awning, we gain little or no protection from the sun while eating our lunch, so we are done well by its completion.

It’s a pleasure to head up the river where the greenery and water lends a coolness to the day. For the first time ever, we take Dynon Rd home. Despite the cars, barbed wire and industrial scenery, it turns out to be a surprisingly shady, leafy bicycle thoroughfare.

We stop at Happy River Cafe at the Footscray Community Arts Centre for an excellent $3.30 latte and a pricey but fine $5 caramel milkshake. We used to visit the various setups on these premises quite a lot – as we used to frequent cafes in general … in the days before places where English, even when spoken very well, is a second or even third language came to dominate our outings.

But scoping out a neighbouring table’s $19 lamb cutlets with cous cous and $13.50 ploughman’s lunch with envy, we figure a return visit is on the cards.

At Happy River Cafe (above); Bennie checks out some tree limbs (below).

4 thoughts on “Kebabbque

  1. Love the pics, love your T-shirts. Your articles are funny, jaunty and always inspiring. This is my favourite food blog, even though I don’t live in your area. Thanks for providing yet another bright spot in my day. By the way, I’d love you to find a cheap and great Italian pasta place to review some time. A lot of pasta in Melbourne is over-sauced and boring. What are your suggestions?


    • Thanks for the love, Caron! Over-sauced pasta seems to be an Australian commonality – at joints high and low. We even do it at home. I’m only guessing, mind you, as I’ve never been to Italy, so am basing my assumptions on what I’ve read/seen/eaten here and in the US. Maybe it’s because we’re so much more affluent, so don’t have to make the sauce go so far. Italy’s not a biggie out where we live, though there’s an interesting place near Vic Market I’ve been meaning to check out. As website master, I reserve the right to re-define the term “western suburbs” whenever and however it suits me … stay tuned! (We make long pasta with garlic, parsley, anchovies, chilli flakes, VOO that is, I’m guessing, pretty close to Italian dinky di!)


  2. Hi Kenny, talking of Italian, we just had pizza last Tuesday at Gusto, a new place at the Ashley St end of the Barkly St, West Footscray strip. In a word… Great! Thinnish crust, interesting toppings, and well made. The owners are very friendly and since the place has only been open less than 2 weeks they were doing the right thing and making everyone feel right at home.

    They are only open for dinner now and just doing pizza and a few entrees/sides, plus about 4 desserts. However the owner said they are expanding the menu soon to include pasta (and possibly other stuff). Also will be opening during the day with a cafe-style menu. Liquor licence coming soon too but they are BYO now.

    We were impressed. Worth a look a reckon 🙂


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