Kurt’s place

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Be Quick boss Kurt Schwier is enthusiastic about Dietz range of organic, Fairtrade teas.

Be Quick Bargains, 465 Ballarat Road, Sunshine. Phone: 9312 7244

There has been a discount grocery on the corner of Ballarat Road and Leonard Street in Sunshine for a long time.

In fact, it was suggested by a reader as a worthy of a story right back at the start of CTS – closing on 10 years ago.

I didn’t follow-up then.

But now I’m in the place – and happily confess that’s because it’s been run for the past year or so by long-time CTS pal and fellow hardcore music nut Kurt Schwier.

Kurt’s background in the biz shows – I am impressed by the foodie-friendly nature of his line-up and, of course, the prices.

 

 

Use-by dates?

Well, they’re part of this sort of set-up.

Kurt tells me he his straight-up and honest with his customers about individual products being offered here.

My understanding is that for some products, those dates are vital.

For others they are less so – and for many, they are effectively meaningless.

 

For years, CTS HQ has been going through a pack of these every week or so. I wish we’d been paying this price all that time!

 

Kurt tells me his customers come from a wide catchment.

Sunshine locally, of course, but also from the likes of Caroline Springs, Taylors Lakes and Deer Park.

And among them come a wide range of folks with various European backgrounds, as well as many with roots in the Philippines.

 

Kurt knows his booze.

 

One of the first things Kurt did when taking over the business was install a suitable sounds system.

Of course!

He confesses the music is mainly for the enjoyment of he and his staff – but customers are free to enjoy it fully, too.

The volume is far from obtrusive, though the strains of good, funky sounds are always thereabouts.

 

 

The most impressive thing in Be Quick for the CTS foodie sensibilities?

This array of pickles and the like – almost all of which are regularly stocked items.

 

 

Though I’m told these sloths are also good, steady sellers.

I leave Be Quick with quite some booty – mainly cookies and so on – for which I have paid $15.

 

Sweetness!

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Theo’s Greek Cakes, 11 Fosters Road, Keilor Park. Phone: 0434 099 450

We are delighted to herald the arrival of new Greek baking emporium on the smallish shopping strip on Fosters Road in Keilor Park.

Theo’s has all your sweet Greek dreams covered at great prices.

Parking is no problem.

And it’s simply a cool place to be.

 

 

We suspect most customers treat it as a shop, taking their goodies home.

But for eating-in purposes, the place is set up in simple cafe style.

 

 

Theo’s is very much about the sweeter side of life, but there are limited savoury options available.

We love our slices of spanakopita ($6).

Rich and flavoursome in a home-style way, they eat bigger than they look.

And at a place in which we would’ve been unsurprised about being presented with plastic plates and implements, we are very happy to have our lunch accompanied by real-deal unplastic gear, along with water.

 

 

For dessert, Bennie opts for this profiterol creation ($5).

He enjoys it, but perhaps not as much as he’d been hoping – likely because the chocolate is not the dark, more bitter kind he likes these days.

He plainly envies my politiko ($5, top photo).

And in that he’s right on the money – as this is superb.

It’s bit like a heftier Greek version of tiramisu, the base of syrupy semolina cake topped by a layer of cream and plenty of powdered coffee.

It is wonderful – and so healthy, too!

Our $4 cafe lattes are a fine foil for all this sweet heaven.

As an added bonus, a delicious trek to Theo’s can become a one-stop outing that includes, a few doors away, Frank’s Supermarket, a happy business a bit like a scaled-down version of Altona Fresh or Mediterranean Wholesalers in Brunswick.

Though, sadly, it is closed during our Sunday visit.

Theo’s joins the D’s Souvlaki is building a whole new food vibe at Keilor Park.

Long may they both prosper and the trend continue.

 

Expanded taverna

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Olive Oil & Butter, 196 Somerville Road, Kingsville. Phone: 9315 1060

Before there was Eleni’s, Meat The Greek or Brother Hood, there was Olive Oil & Butter.

Yes, the renaissance of Greek eateries in Yarraville and nearby suburbs was spearheaded by this Somerville Road institution.

We’ve done two stories on it, but they’re getting old now.

And in the meantime, Olive Oil & Butter has become a regular for us, but mostly for takeaway coffee and treats.

Eating in?

Not so much.

Time for another look?

Yes.

Because we feel like it for a post-kung fu Saturday hoot and lunch.

And because it’s worth recording that Olive Oil & Butter has expanded considerably, the dining area stretching down the back to an outdoor area.

These days it’s got a lovely feel of a real-deal Greek eatery with happy bustle all about.

Of course, this is Melbourne, so coffee and breakfast are front, centre and popular.

But the menu (see below) also features a nice round-up of rustic Greek dishes for lunch.

It’s for them we’re in the house.

 

 

Bennie opts for the open souvlaki ($23).

All present and accounted for as per the menu – two fine skewers of lamb, herbed pita bread, chips, tzatziki, tomato and onions.

He loves; he clean it all up.

I suspect he’s probably making unkind comparisons of the price-to-quantity ratio kind with his beloved Brother Hood in Seddon.

Buddy, that’s unfair – this is a sit-down restaurant situation and you’ve just had a lovely feed.

I get, as recommended by our wait person, the fasolakia lathera ($22, top photo).

Oh boy, this is so wonderful – green beans slow cooked in tomato, onion, garlic (and, I’m sure) a heap of olive oil.

Again, I can hear naysayers proclaiming: “What – $22 for a plate of overcooked beans?”

Ah, but there’s so much more here than that – this is rich and complex, the lemon potatoes and olives fit right in and it’s an ample serve for an all-veg dish.

So delighted am I, that I have another look at the menu and take note of the other home-style meal available here – spanakorizo, moussaka, yemista, fakes – for future consumption.

It’s these sorts of dishes that are the heart of Olive Oil & Butter.

We spy only one seafood dish on the menu, for instance, and the lavish mixed grills you’ll find at other Greek eateries are absent.

But, for me at least, that makes the place all the more appealing.

 

 

All of the above AND the outstanding sweet treats, many of them syrup-drenched, and …

 

 

… the equally terrific spanokopita, tiropita, kreatopita and bougatsa and …

 

 

… and a nice line in Greek groceries make this a Very Cool Place.

And the staff are always on-the-ball and smiling.

See earlier stories here and here.

 

Gordon Street Bakery

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Gordon Street Bakery, 63 Gordon Street, Footscray.

Much excitement has attended the arrival of a French bakery in Gordon Street, Footscray.

Several readers have contacted CTS to express their pleasure and curiosity.

For them and everyone else, we have good news – but we would also counsel patience.

The place is up and running – and baking.

But while it is done out in bright cafe style, the arrival of a coffee machine is a couple of weeks away.

 

 

The bakery is the work of Wilhelm Isaac (above), who tells me he’ll be providing simple in-house fare such as ham-and-cheese croissants and filled baguettes.

 

 

In the meantime, there’s goodies to go.

The baguette I take home is a ripper – crunchy, chewy, superb.

The kind of thing, in other words, that elevates the simple fillings I use – cheese, roast red capsicum, rocket, tomato – well into sublime.

OK, it IS Red Leicester I use – but that’s what is in the fridge.

And it isn’t it great to see Gordon Street Bakery join Karlaylissi in injecting some cool life into this dreary precinct?

Gordon Street Bakery is open 7am-5pm, Tuesday to Saturday.

 

Mid-East treats in South Kingsville

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Dukkah, 23 Vernon Street, South Kingsville. Phone: 9399 3737

Dukkah is a bright new arrival on Vernon Street.

The long dining room has been done up a treat.

 

 

It’s casual and elegant, spacious and warm.

There’s a lot of old, gorgeous wood in use.

At the bar in the form of doors (above) …

 

 

… and even rulers for the outdoor seating.

 

 

Bennie and I choose the easy option of getting stuck into the share platter, which sells for $48 for two people.

It starts with three dips, all with clear and concise flavours – and all offering something different from most Mid-East eats emporiums.

Lemon turmeric hummus with Egyptian dukkah, fel-fel (chargrilled capsicum cream cheese with sweet paprika, walnuts and chives) and beet labneh (caramelised beetroot and yoghurt with black sesame seeds) come with good toasted bread that runs out just before we’ve slurped the last of the dips.

But as Bennie quips, more bread and we’d be stuff before the mains arrive.

 

 

And the mains?

Oh my golly gosh – they are splendid!

Two fat, exemplary cigars of lamb kofta – dense, perfect and with just the right mild level of ME-style seasoning.

Two skewers of chicken shish tawook with capsicum and red onion.

The chook chunks look sufficiently and worrying large to promise dryness, but such is emphatically not the case.

In other words, superb.

Out meaty skewers are accompanied by very nice quinoa tabouli and rice pilaf in exactly the right proportions.

As we gleefully devour all, father and son banter a bit about the merits of our meal – and its price.

Bennie reckons $48 is a bit steep, with the sort of deal he gets at his beloved Footscray Best Kebab House colouring his views profoundly.

I beg, very much, to differ.

Dukkah is a quite different sort of place and the quality – especially of the meats – is above that of the majority of kebab shops.

And the combined regular cost of our dishes from the menu would be $54.

 

 

No such quibbling is possible with the Dukkah desserts – and we try both.

Om ali – puff pastry pudding with coconut, cinnamon milk, hazelnut and sultanas served in a tagine – is the Egyptian version of bread-and-butter.

It’s wonderful, rich, quite heavy.

This beauty – which could easily serve two – clocks in at a very cheap $12.

Kunafa (layers of shredded angel hair pastry, mango and cream topped with pistachio dust and rose petals, top photo) is lighter, a good deal more playful – and just as tasty.

It, too, is priced keenly at $11.

The days when Vernon Street was a regular haunt for us – remember Famous Blue Raincoat? – seem long ago now.

As a food destination, the street faded for a while there, with the introduction of one-way traffic undoubtedly altering the neighbourhood’s dynamics and probably the viability of some business.

But perhaps Dukkah is joining other local businesses in creating something of renaissance here.

We’d like that.

Check out the Dukkah website – including menu – here.

 

Meal of the week No.48: Somali Star

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It’s always a nifty pleasure to visit the Footscray Hub arcade – a key component of what makes Footscray central such a cracking place to be.

But today we have another motive.

We’d heard that Somali Star was for sale – or perhaps even under new management?

So we’re here to find out what the go is.

Well, it turns out all is much the same.

The lovely Johara is still running the joint.

She tells me she was considering selling up for a while, but has since dug in for the long haul.

That means Somali Star remains a happy place that is very popular with the locals, especially those seeking the world famous sambusas.

For eating in, there is an appealing mix of Somalian and Ethiopian fare.

 

 

There being no pasta immediately on hand, Bennie is thwarted in his ambition to have such like with “beef curry”.

So he joins me in having a simple meal of “tips” with injera ($15).

The “tips” are wetter, and more tomato-based, than we normally get in this neighbourhood, but we still enjoy our lunches very much.

Somali Star is on Uber, though last orders are taken at 6.30pm when the arcade closes.

 

Westie eats goss 19/12/18

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The former home of once-loved, now-gone Michael The Deli at 50 Leeds Street, Footscray, is getting a revamp and a new life.

 

 

According to the building permit notification in the window, the new business here will be “a cafe during the day” and “a bistro during evening hours specialising in European cuisine”.

How intriguing!

 

 

In Stephen Street, Yarraville, the old takeaway shop at No.127 (opposite Yarraville Village Animal Hospital) is getting a makeover that definitely suggests “cafe”.

I am reliably informed this will be a second cafe for the owners of the popular and classy Kodama Coffee in Williamstown.

I wonder what’s become of the shark?

 

 

On Vernon Street in Kingsville, Dukkah has opened – though I’m told they won’t be running at full strength until a week or so into the new year.

 

 

The menu has the expected Middle-Eastern content, but also some touches of North African/Moroccan that have us even keener to try.

Review/story coming!

Get updates here.

 

 

At Central West in Braybrook, the ongoing saga of the fresh produce space will see an outlet of the Sacca’s chain “opening soon”.

 

 

In Moonee Ponds, the former home of the Ripples F&C joint – subject of the first ever CTS story – is being remade.

 

 

It will be taken over by Gourmet Kitchen Cooking School, which has been living a few doors away for years.

 

 

Right next door, Kingyo Izakaya has opened.

Run by the same folks who captain I Dream Of Sushi, also on Margaret Street, I’m told it’ll be more along the lines of grills/Japanese “tapas”.

 

 

Also in Moonee Ponds, the Pratt Street place once home to a Chinese eatery and (before that) a branch of China Bar, is now Dee Dee Thai Cuisine.

 

 

What looks like it may be a temple of mediocrity surprises Bennie and I when we drop in for lunch.

Choosing from the $15 lunch deal menu (which includes a can of soft drink), we are delighted by the sticky, rich panang beef curry with rice and …

 

 

… the papaya salad with Dee Dee wings.

Fresh, good, cheap.