Zegov Charcoal Grill, 16 Wood Street, Thomastown. Phone: 9078 6811
Nat “The Nose” Stockley has a super-sleuthing way of finding about new joints that fits right fine with the Consider The Sauce ethos.
So when he tips us to the existence of a new eating emporium – or, even better, asks us to join him in checking out – we invariably respond with alacrity.
In this case, the business in question is a newish Macedonian place way over there in Thomastown.
No problem – a sweet drive on the ring road, particularly with a slew of new music to listen to, is a breeze and seems no more “out there” or onerous than some of our more far-fetched westie exploits.
As I drive, I have visions of perfectly grilled meats and fabulous cabbage salad dancing in my head.
That’s precisely what we get – and we get more besides.
A WHOLE lot more.
As we get comfortable in the typically Euro-appointed eatery, Nat and I are like a couple of giggling schoolboys.
Truth is, we both get an immense rush from finding such out-of-the-way places.
As well, I am delighted to find that Zegov ticks another CTS box – regular readers will know we get a particular kick from finding great food on industrial estates. This isn’t that precisely, but it’s real close.
I’ve had no lunch, so am hungry – my mouth really does water as we peruse our menus, which feature both the expected and the not so much.
We choose a couple of starters and a couple of mains – in the latter case, choosing different platters from the three mixed grills available.
Piroshka ($4 each) look like Chiko Rolls and are filled with a mix of cheese, pickled gherkin, ham and mayo. They’re delicate but, for mine, a little on the bland side given the potential pungency of the fillings.
Makallo ($7) is chargrilled green chillies in oil “for dipping”. This is nice enough, though I could wish for more pronounced spice and flavour.
Sounds a little on the ho-hum side so far, doesn’t it?
Well, hold on – things are about to get very interesting!
Something spurs Tanya and her mum-in-law Lidija to get really serious about having us waddle out of the place.
Whether it be the fact we’re photographing everything that moves (and much that doesn’t) or that we look hungry (it certainly can’t be that we look skinny because we don’t) … out come three more starters we haven’t ordered just for us “to try”!
Nafora ($6) is lightly chargrilled bread with chilli flakes and cheese that we gaily use for dipping in the oil of the above makallo.
Sarma ($16 for two) are right up there with the very best cabbage rolls I’ve had, regardless of derivation.
They’re smaller than is often the case, but so tender and packed with not rice but instead a gloriously hearty beef mince sauce.
Grafce ($7) are baked beans – they’re smooth and hearty, but maybe get a little lost in the multitude of food around us.
Finally we get to our mains – mix char grill 1 for him, mix char grill 2 for me.
Both cost an outrageously cheap $18.50, with the only difference being that Nat gets pork neck pieces and I get lamb chops.
Gosh, they’re fantastic! The only problem is, we’ve already eaten so much we struggle to do our platters justice – I eat only one of my chops, for instance.
But the meats are superb – plain, juicy, expertly cooked and including five “kebapi” and, for variation, a skinny pork snag of sneak-up-on-you spiciness.
And the cabbage salad?
It’s perfection in every way!
Such a simple thing and such a joy, the cabbage is both tender and crunchy, and a little vinegary to boot. As it should be.
It’s pretty much the only thing we both clean our plates of.
We think we’re done – but Tanya and Lidija have other ideas …
Tulumba, a dessert special not listed on the menu and yet another treat offered us “on the house”, is like a cross between churros and eclair.
Coated in clear, sticky syrup, it’s a plain and not over-rich way to cap off a magnificent eating experience.
There’s some food in the west that is similar to that to be had at Zegov, but not THAT much.
So this wonderful place is well worth a drive the ring road makes easy.
And I just know that Bennie will love the $10 burgers that are “served with chips in burger”!
Thanks, Nat – you’re always on the money!