Tasty on the Hudson

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Hudsons Road Wine & Beer, 2/88 Hudson Road, Spotswood. Phone: 9131 1069

Hudsons Road Beer & Wine has been open just a week or so, but is already a big hit on that strip.

And so it should – it’s a very cool place where the passion for the produce speaks very eloquently.

The accent is on small producers and quality all the way.

 

 

The fit-out, including furniture from neighbouring Quazi Design, is sleek and welcoming.

Partners Alistair Smith (a long-time reader and supporter of CTS) and Leigh Boin stock about 200 beers and 150 wines.

The deli section is compact and the hand-picked philosophy no less evident.

 

 

My lunch, for instance, is a simple and superb platter that costs me $16 and is matched with a glass of La guardianese fiano from Italy.

On my board is an amazing, fine-sliced Mr Canubi capocollo of dry cured pork neck, free range from the western plains.

Also in attendance are a wedge of Challerhocker (Swiss) cheese, ciabatta from Candied Bakery across the road, a gooey quince paste and some fresh pear slices.

The deluxe board for $45 shapes up as a very enticing lunch for two that Bennie and I will try soon.

Alistair and Leigh will continue to fine-tune their business hours, but as it stands they are noon-11pm Monday-Friday, 10am-11pm Saturday and 10am-9pm Sunday.

 

Shiny grill time

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DeGrill, Sunshine Marketplace, Sunshine. Phone: 0402 189 860

A small, single-frame cartoon in the Sunday Age a few years back always makes me chuckle when I think of it.

Two blokes are surveying the Sunshine Marketplace shopping centre.

One says to the other: “Wow – this really is the United Nations of bogans!”

I like it because it’s bloody funny.

But I also like it because I like it that Sunshine Marketplace is like that.

We may live in Yarraville, hit the new fried chicken place in WeFo as soon doing so is viable and even frequent hipster places in Footscray proper … but we love all the west and its people and food.

Which is why CTS loves venturing to not only Sunshine, but also Werribee, Deer Park and beyond – and will continue to eat and review and tell stories from well beyond the ribbon that is the inner west.

 

 

So we applaud the opening of DeGrill at Sunshine Marketplace.

It’s a bold and adventurous move – it is situated, after all, right opposite Maccas and right next door to the cinemas.

I could say that DeGrill is aiming for the same sort of focus as Grill’d or Nando’s – but that would be doing DeGrill a disservice.

Because the menu is significantly more broad than such a comparison might imply.

I suspect the menu may have to be tweaked over time to find out what really works in this particular setting.

But over two visits, CTS and friends enjoy some good food and good service at (mostly) good prices.

The style is classy fast food and proper cutlery and crockery are in use, as are fine salt and pepper grinders.

 

 

There are three hot dog options on the menu, two featuring kransky or chorizo.

But the classic ($7.50) is constructed using a standard frankfurter.

So all is regulation here, but its recipient is pleased enough.

 

 

“Crispy” chicken ($9.50) has the wow factor aplenty.

The serve consists of three superbly cooked wings anointed with a tangy sauce.

Very good!

Especially when served with …

 

 

… a side of mash and gravy ($6).

This a rarity is Melbourne in general, let alone in a Sunshine shopping centre.

It’s OK, we all like it – but it’s not spectacular.

 

 

The menu’s “between the buns” section lists nothing that could be described as a beef burger, but based on our table’s orders of the cheese steak ($9, above) and …

 

 

… the only marginally different philly cheese ($9.50), this may be the way to go here.

Both are keenly priced and boast good ingredients and dressings.

The steak is thicker than routinely found in steak sandwiches and, best of all, is so well cooked that biting through for a mouthful is done with ease and without the whole sandwich falling apart.

Big thumbs up for that!

 

 

Under the heading “from the grill”, DeGrill offers dishes such as a flat iron steak ($17 and $26) and chicken ($16 for half, $29 for full).

These and others may fulfill the implied promise of more hefty meals.

Sadly, the beef short ribs ($16) do not.

It’s common knowledge ribs are expensive to secure and are inevitably at the upper end price-wise wherever they appear.

It’s common knowledge, too, the beef ribs can be fatty.

But these are very fatty indeed, and the three segments amount to not much more than a brief meal of not many more mouthfuls.

As well, as per the eatery’s name, these rib bits are grilled and not smoked, as you’d generally find at the numerous barbecue-style places across the city.

The coleslaw ($4.50) lacks crunch – maybe because its main component is savoy cabbage?

It’s under-done in the seasoning/flavour department, too, though some quick work with the salt and pepper grinders soon fixes that up.

 

 

CTS is over the mega shake thing – too often they seem to involve poor quality ingredients and unjustifiably high prices.

This DeGrill brownie shake ($9) defies both factors – good price, nice shake.

We wish DeGrill well.

Maye its arrival will inspire others to hang out their shingle in the same locale.

Thanks to Annie and Ali for helping us with this story!

Check out the DeGrill website – including full menu – here.

Is karma real?

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Ah, Sims … our supermarket of choice.

Right outside this West Footscray institution can be an interesting place, too.

There’s racks for bikes; often enough, these are also used for tethering interesting dogs while their owners are inside shopping.

There’s always interesting people, too, coming and going.

We’re well used to running into friends and readers right here.

But in all our years shopping at Sims, I have never experienced an event as surreal as that of this week.

Pulling in for a typical mid-week, post-work top up of cat food and a few others bits and pieces, I amble towards the ATM to make a withdrawal.

Shockingly, as I get there I find a fistful of $50 notes hanging out of it.

Now, I confess to being guilty of having, in the past, absendmindedly left money – $50 one time, $100 on another – at ATMs.

But this is a first – finding “free” money at a money machine.

And in considerable quantity.

I deftly grab the cash and stuff it in my pocket, before going about the business of my own transaction.

And all the while I’m wondering about just how to handle this …

After all, I suspect that for whoever left this money here, this will constitute a cataclysmic event.

I know it would be for me!

I glance over my shoulder, seeing an old bloke shuffling with his shopping across the road to his car.

Maybe it’s him?

As I continue to ponder this dilemma, all the while going through the process of my own (much more modest) withdrawal, a young bloke comes out of the supermarket, approaches me and the ATM and asks:

“Did you find $400 here?”

Reply I: “Stand back a bit, mate, while I finish my business.”

Once done, I stroll a few paces away, followed by my new friend.

He tries a variation on his theme:

“Was there $400 there?”

I reach into my pocket, pull out the money – and count it.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven – sure enough, I have eight $50 dollar notes.

I hand it over to the young man, saying:

“Mate, this sure as hell is your lucky day”

He mumbles some not particularly gracious thanks and heads straight back into Sims.

I follow him, so see him head straight into the bottle shop.

Hell, that’s precisely what I’d do, too!

So my ethical conundrum has been short-circuited by the arrival of the money’s rightful owner.

I’m not quite sure how I would’ve handled it had the bloke not arrived.

The Sims staff subsequently tell me they’re well used to customers leaving all sorts of stuff in the aisles – including sums of money a lot bigger than $400.

In any case, IF there is any such thing as karma, I fully expect that when I go to check on my modest Powerball quick pick, the machine will cheerfully emit that tinkly winner’s tune.

Just kidding – I don’t believe in karma, and particularly not any tit-for-tat variety that sways lottery tickets!

The Consider The Sauce 2016 wrap

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Vietnamese in our hood

It’s not like we were consciously hanging out for Vietnamese food in Yarraville – perhaps because we have become so used to travelling to Footscray, Sunshine or St Albans, and thoroughly enjoying doing so.

But the arrival of Friend or Pho and Hoa Sen has had a profound effect on our lives.

Its the scratch we didn’t even know needed scratching!

Going by the numbers of people we see in these two different yet complementary places, we are not along in enjoying them.

 

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Vietnamese elsewhere

But we have also loved the trip to Avondale Heights, knowing our destination is Bao & Pot Cafe.

This wonderful Military Road establishment does a fine line in Vietnamese staples – including a sinus-clearing bun bo hue (spicy beef noodle soup).

But here you’ll also find the fabulous turmeric brioche lemongrass beef burger pictured above.

 

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Seriously sexy Asian BBQ

We loved Vietnamese of a different kind at Phi Phi 2 in St Albans.

Here they proudly serve table-top cooking with roots in Korea and flavours fully redolent of Vietnam.

Delicious in every way!

 

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Speaking of burgers …

If you were to gauge the state of the burger in our western suburbs going solely by coverage in Melbourne’s food media – be they grand, print, digital and/or vacuous – you’d think there’s nothing much going on save for one particularly famous Footscray joint.

We know better.

A whole lot better.

Because we enjoyed very excellent meals at Gemelli in Point Cook, Burger Business in Footscray and Burgernomics in Braybrook.

 

 

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Latin Foods & Wines

The move by Marco and Maria from humble digs in Sunshine North to a flash, new and much larger premises in Deer Park was in many ways THE western suburbs food story of 2016.

We love what they’re doing, with all our favourite sandwiches and more still available but joined by a much wider range of eating options, including parrillada, South American-style barbecue.

This happy event was covered in various stories, including this one and this one.

 

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Pizza d’Asporto comes to Yarraville

Equally exciting was the opening in Yarraville of a branch of Pizza d’Asporto.

Doubtless we’ll still feel like venturing to the cool Williamstown mothership, but now we have these folk just a few blocks away!

We were thrilled to attend the pre-opening party and have been back for mighty pasta dishes.

We are unsurprised Pizza d’Asporto has been an immediate hit.

 

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The real soul food of Melbourne

In the past few years, CTS has eaten – and mostly enjoyed – a lot of food in Melbourne that is promoted as being American-style barbecue.

Sometimes, this stuff is also billed as being “soul food”.

We love those favours, the meats, the sides.

But like everyone else, we pay for the, um, privilege.

We reckon it’s all a bit of a trendy con.

So let’s re-brand what “soul food” can and should be.

“Soul food” should be what local folks eat.

It should be cheap as.

In Melbourne’s west, what we consider to be dinkum soul food comes in many guises – including Vietnamese and Indian.

But it’s Somalian fare we most think of in this context.

There’s still a bunch of Somalian places for still to check out on Racecourse Road in Flemington, but we truly love the food at Deli Afro Restaurant.

OMG – the soup!

We also love hitting Somali Star Cafe in the Footscray Hub arcade for equally fine food, with Ethiopian and crash-hot sambusas also available.

 

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A very cool night in Footscray

Our other African highlight for the year came courtesy of fabulous Ethiopian food at Selam Authentic African Restaurant & Bar on Nicholson Street as we hosted our buddy Mietta and various of her family members on their annual pre-Chistmas night out.

We loved showing off a part of our world and really enjoyed the company!

 

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A Newport classic

Is Searz our favourite cafe?

Could be.

We do know that we’ve loved fronting up a few times to check out the Friday night specials, revelling in amazing food at superb prices.

And when we visit Searz, we just know that we’ll be indulging in BOTH the alluring blackboard desserts!

 

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Indian sweets of a different kind

Despite our very deep love for Indian food, that nation’s sweets have mostly been found by us to be way too cloyingly rich.

You can get those full-on delights, such as barfi, at Kumar’s Sweets in Derrimut.

But our whole mindset about Indian sweets has been transformed for the marvellously delicious yet less rich treats they produce based mostly on nuts and dried fruits.

 

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Beyond the western suburbs

How much to we love a drive to Brunswick East?

Very, very much when Middle Eastern/Mediterranean food is on the menu.

We’re happy to pay Teta Mona, Mankoushe and Moroccan Deli-cacy the ultimate accolade of wishing they were in the western suburbs.

 

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Non-food event of the year

Grand final day!

Latin Foods & Wines evening

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Latin Foods & Wines, 809 Ballarat Road, Deer Park. Phone: 8358 5503

Western suburbs food is ALWAYS exciting for Consider The Sauce.

But we reckon there’s nothing that’s been more exciting than the move of Latin Foods & Wines (aka La Morenita) from rather pokey digs in Sunshine to much bigger premises in Deer Park.

The business has grown, there’s a definite buzz and the eat-in options have expanded to include not just the empanadas and dynamite sandwiches still available but also proper, plated meals.

We’ve tried a number of those latter offerings and are so delighted with the whole new deal we are happy to put an extra 10 minutes drive time to get to Deer Park.

 

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A big part of the expanded business is the parrillada – South American barbecue.

It’s been running for a few months – mainly at the weekends.

But this Friday night sees its official launch and a test run for Latin Foods & Wines as a regulation restaurant operation.

I’ve been only too happy to organise a media/blogger table for the occasion; no “consultancy” fee has been paid – this has been just for the fun of it.

We get the same $50 set sample menu on offer to general customers, though in our case the food is complementary.

 

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We start with a trio of fine cocktail empanadas with various fillings.

I am familiar with the style of the two on the left through multiple eatings at LF&W, but the corn-crusted on one on the right – in the Colombian style, I’m told, and filled with mash ‘n’ meat – makes a nice contrast.

 

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Unannounced on the menu are cheesy bread items called pan de bono with mayonesa de ajo.

 

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Next up are (from left) …

Ceviche – in the Chillean style, I’m told, and made from very finely shredded hake; very lemony.

Causa limefia – mashed spud stuffed with chicken and topped with a slice of hardboiled egg.

Anticucho – from the barbecue, two beef cubes on a stick, with a slice of chorizo between them.

 

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It’s worth noting that South American-style barbecue meats are quite different from the US-style that has become so trendy in Melbourne in recent years.

The meat is served mostly unadorned and is, by contrast, well cooked.

But still delicious!

I had rather feared that we’d be served full-on platters of meats from the regular barbecue line-up – on top of all the other components of our set/sample menu.

That’s not the case – instead we get nice sample chunks of costillar (cumin-scented pork), pamplona (rolled chicken stuffed with cheese and ham) and parrillada lamd (scented with rosemary).

A good tomato and onion salad accompanies.

The fully appropriate sample-size portions mean we have plenty of room for desserts …

 

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… which are fabulous and, for several of us, the unexpected highlight of our evening.

Tangy pineapple gelato tipped with a wonderful chewy, caramelised cube of fresh pineapple.

Tres leche – house specialty take on the sponge layer cake popular in various forms throughout South America.

Merengue lucuma – a spectacular mix of merengue and chocolate on a biscuit base.

The when and how of the various components of the Latin Foods & Wines’ line-up – sandwiches/burgers, more substantial plates, barbecue – is far from settled, so I suggest you phone beforehand to make sure what you’re interested in will be available.

I’ve loved not just the food but also the opportunity to rub shoulders – and swap goss – with friends new and old.

 

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Among the former have been Cassandra from Hungry Cookie and Maggie from They Call Me Maggie.

 

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Also on hand have been Susan from the lovely FB page Point Cook Dining and her friend, Saba.

 

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The old pals sharing our table have included Jacqui, The Urban Ma, and hubby Wes.

Sorry, Nat Stockley and Jackie – can’t include a pic of you two as I didn’t nail a usable one!

Consider The Sauce and friends dined at Latin Foods & Wines as guests of management. We did not pay for our food.

Westie barbers No.5: Coffee with your cut?

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AXE Barbers and Baristas, Shop 1/1 Foundry Road, Sunshine: Phone: 0414 427 769

Being a cheapskate, I normally avoid hairdressers or barbershops with a chic look – polished cement floors, like that – as they’re usually ridiculously over-priced for my minimal, buzz-cut needs.

But at new Sunshine outfit AXE Barbers and Baristas I do good.

And I get a fine cafe latte, to boot!

Mind you, “Axe” seems like a rather threatening name for a barbershop …

 

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… but that changes when I meet barista Engin (left) and barber Xavia, and learn that the name is made up of their initials and that of a third partner, Allan, who I don’t meet.

Xavia provides me with an expert buzz-cut for a price not far removed from those charged by the St Albans and Footscray Vietnamese hairdressers I usually use.

 

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These blokes will do well, I reckon.

There’s not a lot by way of service businesses at the Gold Leaf end of Hampshire Road, but there is new apartment activity representing potential customers.

There’s parking close by at both Hampshire Crescent and Sunshine Plaza.

Check out the AXE website here for hours and prices.

 

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Westie eats goss 30/9/16

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Village Cantina in Ballarat Street, Yarraville, is for sale.

The agent’s listing points out that buyers will have the opportunity “to continue current cuisine or redevelop into a hipster cafĂ©”.

 

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A few doors along, and also on Ballarat Street, Naked Egg (in the premises formerly filled by Hausfrau) is now doing dinners, the menu featuring a line-up of solid, old-school Italian dishes at good prices.

 

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At the other end of Ballarat Street in the village, Friend or Pho will soon be licensed.

 

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On Barkly Street in Footscray, right next to Ames, will soon be an bar/emporium of the craft beer variety.

It’ll be called Bar Josephine.

 

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Also on Barkly, right next to Nando’s, the big, new Indian place Sankranti has furniture in the house – but it still looks like a lot of work is to be done.

Nonetheless, one of the chefs told me they’re planning on an October 10 opening.

 

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Big is definitely not better in the world of CTS, of course, but I am looking forward to taking this place – and its massive menu – for a spin.

 

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On Nicholson Street in Footscray, Cafe D’Afrique is a coffee/food stalwart of the African scene.

It is closed for renovations – we’ll be very interested to see what eventuates.

 

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Across the road, at the entrance to the Footscray Hub, Kulan Eatery has opened.

 

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It is a halal place that is offering a line-up of Footscray-themed burgers.

CTS soon try!

 

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At Harrington Square in Altona, Waffee is closed for renovations.

The spot next to the Maltese cakey establishment Borg’s will soon be an ice-cream shop – though CTS has been unable to discover, yet, if it is going to be gelati or regular ice-cream, or whether it will be house-made or of the more commercial and/or brought in variety.

Also opening at Harrington Square, in the premises formerly occupied by Altona Curry House, is Birdcage Altona Cafe.