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.

 

Westie eats goss 06/09/18

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With several apartment blocks in the throes of construction, Footscray-on-Marybyrnong will undergo a population boom in coming years.

Truth is, though, the area has had apartment dwellers in their hundreds in residence for many years, so it’s perhaps a little surprising that more businesses haven’t been stepped up to service them.

Maybe some kind of tipping point has been reached?

One outfit looking to take care of these folks is Harry and Larry’s General Store at 4 Yewers Street.

Ambling up for a look-see, cynical me was ruminating along the lines of: “Yeah, yeah – organic cola and not the regular kind; and lots of over-priced ‘gourmet’ products!”

I was wrong.

Some real smart thinking has gone into stocking Harry and Larry’s.

In a modestly sized yet appealing and light-filled space, they’ve stocked an amazingly comprehensive line-up of stuff.

Products run from the everyday to, yes, your more gourmet and specialty lines.

But the general impression I gain is that the prices are very competitive.

For instance, the likes of regular-line tinned tomatoes and cannellini beans seem only a little pricier than barn prices – and less expensive than in some supermarkets I can think of.

 

 

Harry and Larry’s is being run by Victoria Lukacs (left) and Jo Harvey, who plays a role at the adjacent Slice Girls West and Back Alley Sally’s.

 

 

Goodies in-house include fine cheese such as Marlo organic brie and camembert …

 

 

… to myriad hot sauces and condiments.

 

 

There’s a nice mix of cheaper and classier pasta.

 

 

Loo paper and …

 

 

… fur-baby necessities?

Of course!

 

 

Vegan-friendly condoms?

I don’t even know what that means!

 

 

There’s a kitchen shared with Slice Girls West, so the grocery store serves up a range of sandwiches.

 

 

And there’s a nice spot set aside should you wish to consume your sanger on the spot.

 

 

There’s enough fresh fruit and vegetables on hand to meet most needs.

If we lived locally, we’d be shopping here at least a couple of times a week.

As it is, I suspect it’ll become something of a regular shopping haunt anyway …

 

 

In Williamstown, a new place named Porters – on the corner of Nelson Place and and Ann Street – is being fitted out as we speak.

It’s part of the new Waterline Place apartment set-up and you can keep tabs on progress at the joint’s Facebook page.

 

 

Now this is exciting!

On the location of the former fruit/veg/organic deli on Vernon Street in South Kingsville is coming a Middle Eastern restaurant called Dukkah.

 

 

Operating with aplomb at the site of the old Fisher cricket bat “factory” in Kingsville is the appropriately named Willow Wine Cafe (126 Williamstown Road).

 

 

It’s run by the lovely Ellen, who will be a familiar face to many based on her long stint at the Plough Hotel.

 

 

The main dining space cleverly harnesses the old building’s verandah to create a wonderful summery feel.

 

 

At the moment it’s operating until 7pm Tuesday-Sunday, but later closing hours are being negotiated with local residents.

 

 

Is there any tougher strip than Gordon Street in Footscray?

Sadly, Indonesian restaurant Spice Klub has already closed.

Taking its place is Karlaylisi Restaurant, which is serving up Uyghur cuisine.

The menu is very long and features many, many pastry/dumpling dishes, cumin lamb skewers, tongues, house-made noodles, chillis and much more.

We’ll be taking it for a run very soon!

 

One word – cannoli

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Cannoli Bar, 23 Riviera Road, Avondale Heights.

Down an otherwise unremarkable Avondale Heights residential street a wonderful surprise awaits.

A once-was-a-corner shop has been turned into a chic, cheerful – and already very popular – cafe of the Italian variety.

 

 

Savoury offerings appear to be down to these good-looking pizza slices.

 

 

There are a plethora of sweet treats on hand – all, we are informed, baked and/or assembled on the premises.

But the place’s focus is a bit more singular than even that – as its name attests.

 

 

Yes, cannoli – fresh-filled after being ordered.

We try two at $4.50 each – one each of nutella and pistacchio.

I reckon they are beyond awesome.

Though Bennie is less impressed.

The fillings are creamy and a way less solid than, for instance, the cannoli offered at T. Cavallaro & Sons in Footscray.

I love the whole experience – including the fact that they are fragile and more or less explode upon being handled.

Who cares?

Goes with the territory!

Our cafe lattes are every bit as good, with just the right amount of bitterness.

Canoli Bar is open Wednesday to Friday 8am-3pm and Saturday and Sunday 8am-4pm.