East African Restaurant, 28 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 0434 518 867
What a pleasure it is to welcome a new place to one of our favourite eats strips, Racecourse Road in Flemington.
Mind you, the premises that house East African Restaurant have hosted some sort of hospitality industry activity as long as I can remember.
But that activity always seemed to be of the coffee house/social club/meeting point of the blokey kind that is a staple of all sort of multicultural communities across the west … so we never paid it much interest.
Then, a few weeks back, new signage went up that strongly seemed to indicate the place was making a more concerted effort at getting its food out to a broader public.
Issa (pictured at top) has owned the business for about a year and is indeed setting out to win more customers.
The place is charming in its ethnic cafe simplicity of trestle tables and relaxed vibe.
During my time there, a number of regulars come and go … all of them, save a pale-skinned mum and son, are African gents, some wearing various degrees of traditional attire and some wearing taxi driver garb; there’s a few kids in among the mix, too!
I suspect Issa may be working on a menu proper, but in the meantime I like it a lot that there is none and that the boss man comes to my table to run down the food line-up for me verbally.
Who needs menus?
After quizzing Issa a bit about such things as soup, I tell him I will have whatever is the most popular.
This turns out to be an excellent move – what I get is not only very good but reassuringly familiar.
What Issa calls “mixed food” ($12) he also calls “federation” … ah, yes the same federation as found at Ascot Vale’s Safari just up the road apiece, and every bit as good.
It’s all there and in good, delicious nick …
Tangy broth/soup that in this case has a touch of the curry powder about it.
Wonderful stock-cooked rice.
(As with the many previous times I have eaten this food, it seems like the soup and the incredible rice are the standards by which the meal should be judged.)
Heaps of dry-sauced spaghetti.
The pan-fried lamb with onion is actually rather wet, making it a bit like a stew – and that’s good, too!
The two lamb chops appear to be on the small side and as if they may be a bit tough. They’re not, and as for size … well, I fail to complete my meal anyway, so large is it, so they’re fine.
I could have done with a bit more the sautéed veg, but it’s been a great feed, indeed.
Halfway through my lunch, however, I realise something is missing … and am duly presented with a cup of chilli sauce.
It looks like hot stuff, so I dab it on my meat and rice rather sparingly.
It’s a wise move.
Issa tells me a broader range of food, including injera-based meals, is available during the week.
I plan on trying some of them soon.