Searz Caffi, 39 Challis Street, Newport. Phone: 9399 2393
The Challis Street shops in Newport – off Mason Street – are the sort of strip we’ve been driving by for years just for a look every now and then to see if there’s anything cooking.
On Challis Street, there never has been.
And now there is.
Searz is a very fine local cafe.
It serves (see menu below) standard-range cafe breakfasts and mains such as a caesar salad, a burrito bowl and fish ‘n’ chips.
But running through the mains and the smaller (“tapas”) dishes are Japanese/Korean influences.
We find our meals of two visits, the service and timing, the whole experience to be absolutely top notch.
The bento special no doubt changes periodically.
This version has fish three different ways – teriyaki salmon, battered cod with wasabi mayo and grilled gemfish with Korean chilli sauce.
They are all delicious and beautifully cooked.
There’s about half a dozen different kind of pickle, some of which I love, some of which I could do without.
The house-made zucchini pickles are very fine.
The bento mix is completed by good salad and rice.
This bento, given the quality of the seafood involved, would be right at home in a bona fide Japanese restaurant.
And the price, $18, is grand.
Bennie’s bibimbap $16) is a doozy, too.
He loves the finely cooked beef and mushrooms, the salady bits, egg, enokis and more.
Unlike so many versions of this dish, this one has enough fluid action going on that it is a well-lubricated “sweet and spicy” treat right to the bottom of the bowl.
But however fine his bibimbap, Bennie is openly envious of my “1010 burger” ($15) – and so he should be.
Despite the burger burn-out factor of the past year or so, this strikes us as being a superb.
It’s a 9/10 burger and chips combo that scrubs up much better than many of those to be had at more storied burger joints around Melbourne.
There’s more of those zucchini pickles in there.
And there’s “Searz aiolio”, tomato relish and the usual, standard salad accessories.
The meat patty is thick, juicy and screaming with beefy flavour.
Gosh, it’s fantastic.
The chips are hot, fresh and very plentiful.
Searz is a prime example of everything a neighbourhood cafe should be.
And the food, what we have enjoyed of it, rocks.