Prime pizza & more

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Charles & Gamon, 2 Gamon St, Seddon. Phone: 9995 8868

The box-shaped building on the corner of Gamon and Charles has a colourful history – one that has been discussed on various comment threads here at Consider The Sauce.

It goes something like this: Servo, Balkan restaurant, cafe (The Bowser?), Sobraso, Charles & Gamon and – bringing us right up to date – Charles & Gamon once more. There may be missing stages in that list!

 

 

Visiting to check out the newest iteration, I am thrilled to bits to have it pointed out to me that evidence of the Balkan grill part of the building’s history remains on the brickwork in the form of “Bery’s charcoal grill” signage.

How cool is that?

We’ve driven/walked past a gazillion times in the past couple of decades and never noticed!

Anyone who has passed in the couple of months will likely have noticed that the outdoor garden area remains VERY popular.

Inside, new management has wrought many changes.

While retaining the C&G name, the new look is much brighter and lighter.

We like the way the seating arrangements are so diverse – a big communal tables, several smaller, some armchairs, a few tall tables with stalls.

They say: “Step in and linger a while.”

Disclosure: One partner of the new team running C&G is my accountant – and a top bloke he is, too.

But he knows me quite well  enough to know that I will cut him no slack when trying out the food – even if we aren’t paying.

We are expecting glorified bar food and a pizza list.

What we get is better than that – and sometimes wonderfully so (see menu below).

 

 

We never boil/steam asparagus at home – it always gets the high-heat, flash-fry treatment; and we love it that way.

So we have no hesitation in ordering the charred seasonal greens of asparagus and broccolini with pecorino and lemon zest ($11).

It’s excellent, though I’m told asparagus prices will dictate a replacement ingredient very soon.

 

 

We are a little wary of ordering hummus is such an establishment on account of the fact we eat so much Lebanese and related food elsewhere.

But the C&G version is recommended to us by our server so we take the plunge – and end up delighted.

The C&G hummus ($15) has a seasoning tang that is utterly alluring.

Cumin?

Nope, it’s all about dukkah we are informed.

Topped with walnut crumbs and half a dozen roasted tomatoes, this is a winner.

 

 

From a list of seven pizzas, the margherita ($22) is also recommended to us.

It’s beautiful in its simplicity – fior di latte, basil, cherry tomatoes, love.

We reckon this as good a pizza as you’ll find in the inner west.

 

 

Bennie is more enamoured of the buttermilk chicken sandwich ($20) than I.

And he is, after all, the CTS expert.

He digs the crunchy and juicy chicken, the mustardy dressing and even the iceberg lettuce.

The chips are good enough, though could be bit hotter.

We like that they are festooned with rock salt and chopped parsley.

We’ll be back at the new C&G – particularly to explore in more dept the pizza list.

(Consider The Sauce dined at Charles & Gamon as guests of the management and we did not pay for our meals. We were free to order whatever we wished. Charles & Gamon management neither sought nor was granted any input, oversight or pre-publication access to his story.)

 

 

Filipino surprise

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Enelssie Cafe & Grill, 102 Tenterfield Drive, Burnside Heights. Phone: 0449 775 107

On a heatwave mid-week day, we’ve enjoyed the drive.

But despite having a firm destination in mind, it seems somehow surprising to apparently stumble across Enelssie.

This is most definitely the first CTS review harking from Burnside Heights.

It’s quiet, but we know from numerous Facebook posts that this a popular spot, particularly with the cycling fraternity.

Enelssie?

According to Anthony, the owner: “It came from the root words New Life Cycles NLC – New Life in Aussie = Enelssie. Also As my personal belief that It’s originally New Life In Christ!”

 

 

It’s ostensibly a Filipino restaurant, without being too ardent about it.

There’s no bain marie for starters – everything is cooked fresh.

We enjoy two good meals.

Bennie goes the more orthodox Filipino route with his tapa ($15.50, top photo).

It’s beaut and he loves the plentiful supply of marinated beef cubes.

Alongside are good garlic rice, tomato salad and a small bowl of broth.

And a fried egg – giving further impetus (maybe) to us one day doing a story about all the various dishes we enjoy across the west that involved fried or hardboilded eggs.

 

 

My own fried chicken ($16) is less Filipino in substance – but it has the spirit.

And it’s very, very fine.

The price may seem a little out of whack for (just) two pieces – but these are large. No problem from us about the cost.

Even better, we agree this is the best fried chicken we’ve enjoyed for a long while.

The coating sticks to the meat, which is wonderfully juicy and flavoursome.

There’s something sort-of wonderfully tangy and almost piquant about the coating.

We’re told it includes a proverbial mix of “herbs and spices”.

Maybe it’s the onion powder?

No matter – this is prime fried chook.

Plain rice accompanies the chicken, as does a simple leaf salad and some really fine chicken gravy.

We’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s available at Enselssie – check out its FB page for further enlightenment.

 

Episodic poultry

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Chicken Episode, 522 Macaulay Road, Kensington. Phone: 9593 9929

Chicken Episode lives in premises that previously housed a long-standing Indian eatery in Kensington, right next door to Kensington Food Hall.

A younger sibling for an identically named restaurant in St Kilda, Chicken Episode is a tributary temple to pop culture, Korean style.

There’s what seems like thousands of rubber chicken in here.

 

 

And meme-like humour abounds.

I’m tempted to suggest this would be a cool place to bring bored or easily entertained teens – but some of humour on the table place mats is a little on the raunchy side.

Along with fried chicken and myriad burgers, the menu (see below) features some Korean comfort food such as bibimbap.

We can live with the kooky surroundings, but it’s the food that interests us.

We are a little wary.

That’s because we’re dropping in early in the week, early at lunch hour – not, in our experience, the best of times to interact with deep-fried food.

So how do we go?

Well, part truly excellent and part just so-so.

 

 

Bennie’s supreme chicken burger ($14.87) looks a little on the sad sack side.

He likes it well enough and tells me most of the ingredients – including sweet chilli sauce, melted cheese, tomato, ham, caramelised onions – are of a perfectly acceptable standard.

But he finds the chicken coating to be more of the soft kind found on battered fish, his final verdict being that his burger the kind of thing he’d expect to get at his now former high school.

The chips are excellent.

 

 

Unsurprisingly, he is frankly envious of my lunch.

And so he should be – it’s very, very good.

The solo deal, costing an amazing $14.50, consists of the same excellent chips, four pieces of fried chicken, a side serve of coleslaw AND a can of soft drink.

The chicken pieces are ungreasy and wonderful, the coating crisp and powdered with white pepper.

The coleslaw is fine and just the right size for such a meal deal.

 

 

Unfortunately, the coleslaw includes a tine from a plastic fork.

After this too-crunchy ingredient is pointed out to the staff, we receive an apology.

And that’s good enough for us – we never make too much of an issue out of such things or make a play for having the bill waived and/or a freebie future meal.

It will be interesting to watch how Chicken Episode goes on Macaulay Road.

We’ll happily return for more of that fried chicken.

 

Meal of the week No.51: Cornershop

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The long-time Yarraville fixture that is Cornershop (9/11 Ballarat Street) is one of our locals – but not really one of our regulars.

Yet here we are on a lovely Saturday, dining on the footpath with our pal, Al Fresco.

We’re not close friends with Al, as eating outside while eating out is a rarity for us.

But today it feels just right.

I’m eager for Bennie to try a Cornershop dish I tried a few weeks back.

For some reason he has been showing an increased interest in – and liking for – dal after years of it being a fixture for us both home and out and about.

Maybe it’s been just background noise for him all that time.

But he heartily agrees with me – the Cornershop’s coconut dahl with idlis, poached eggs, lime and curry leaves ($16.50) is extraordinarily good.

The dahl itself – made with yellow split peas, I think – is lusciously creamy thanks to the coconut content.

The fried curry leaves, coriander and red chilli bits add colour and excitement.

We’re not eggy people by any means, so we’re both bemused that the perfect poached eggs are such a winning and – to us – unlikely addition.

The idlis?

We’re used to the near-mushy consistency of steamed idlis.

The Cornershop versions are magnificent – fried, crisp, a tad salty, amazing.

Solid Vietnamese

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Pho Ngon, Shop 11/330 Ballarat Road, Braybrook. Phone: 0426 210 714

Our abode closeness to Yarraville village dictates, to quite a large degree, where and how we do our household shopping.

But we are not loyal in that regard – so are quite happy to shop around, depending on where we’re at or, more frequently, where we’re coming from.

So with some life bureaucracy chores dispensed with in Sunshine, we are curious enough to step inside the Ballarat shopping centre that replaced an unsuccessful hardware/homeware establishment quite a while ago.

A search for “Braybrook shopping centre” turns up the long-time retail/service hub on the corner of Ballarat Road and Ashley Street – so I’m not sure if this new  one further up Ballarat has a name.

But nope, nothing there’s for us in terms of grocery shopping.

Or any other kind of shopping.

Food?

Some fast-food options that don’t exactly leap out at us in terms of enticement.

But wait – there is right here a good Vietnamese restaurant, one with a far more comprehensive menu (see below) than most people may expect.

So we settle in for lunch.

 

 

Bennie enjoys his “bun thit nuong + cha gio” (rice vermicelli with grilled pork and spring rolls, $13)  – it’s a good, solid rendition.

 

 

But my com ga Nha Trang (Nha Trang farm chicken rice, $16) is significantly better – and it’s a surprise to find such a dish at a rather generic suburban shopping centre.

The soup is just warm, quite sweet and flavoursome; the rice is nice.

The chicken is, as I’d hoped for given the “farm” part of the menu listing, more chewy and higher in flavour than typical Vietnamese restaurant chook.

The salady jumble in which my chicken is entwined and the similar salad alongside have plenty crunch and sweet ‘n’ sour flavour contrasts.

There’s places in Footscray and Sunshine I’d expect a zingier version of this rice dish, but this is fine.

If this centre was our local shop stop, we’d be eating at this joint at least once a week.

 

That’s my gel

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Gelati by d’Asporto, 3/11d Murray Street, Yarraville.

As if we aren’t spoiled enough in the inner west for ice-cream and gelati … along comes Gelati by d’Asporto.

Under the auspices, of course, of the namesake pizza/pasta/Italian joy restaurant just around the corner and – also very much part of the same family business – another eatery at Rifle Range shopping centre and the fabulous kiosk at Williamstown Beach.

The new gelati shop is all smiling business and no fuss – just ice delights and a couple of standing/leaning tables to enjoy them.

Given the plethora of eating – and coffee – options in Yarraville village, this streamlined approach makes all sorts of sense.

I make my first visit, as a guest (see full disclosure below), with high expectations that are easily met and even surpassed.

Prices range from $4.80 for a single scoop and upwards – pretty much regulation gelati prices, in other words, but on the excellently cheap side given the quality at hand.

My twin scoop deal for $6.80 strikes me as a fine deal.

The flavour line-up (see below) is agreeably concise.

My first-up selections …
Mascarpone and fig – creamy, heavenly.

And mildly flavoured, as is usual with this ingredient combo.

Bacio – really, really superb.

Largely thanks to the inclusion of wonderfully crunchy hazelnuts.

I pay another visit the next day and go for the choc mint – and it, too, is lovely.

Will we be back?

Yes.

Over and over and over …

Opening times are 2-10pm Mondays-Thursdays and 11am-10pm Fridays-Sundays.

(Consider The Sauce enjoyed Gelati by d’Asporto as a guest of the management and we did not pay for our sweet treat.)

Wass up?

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Wasshoi Sunshine West, 1-9 The Avenue, Sunshine West. Phone: 7020 7966

If driving into these parts of Sunshine West is an unusual occurrence for Team CTS, then …

… heading this way for Japanese food at a restaurant that is open for lunch on a Wednesday is positively surreal.

Wasshoi Sunshine West is tucked into a rather unlovely conglomeration of businesses at the corner of The Avenue and Fitzgerald Road, within earshot of the Ring Road.

Before its arrival, we had been unaware of the sibling business in Prahran and the fame of its founder, Ikuei Arakane, and his role in Iron Chef.

Japanese food?

Well, yes – of a kind.

There’s no sushi, sashimi or chawanmushi here.

There’s not even chopsticks – we are provided wood sporks with which to navigate our lunches.

And the basic menu (see below) features what look like banh mi.

Wendy, the sparkly and very welcoming boss lady, suggests the fare is “Japanese street food”.

Hey, that’ll do us!

Eat-in facilities are of a basic fast-food variety, but perfectly fine.

 

 

Miso soup is advertised in a sign on the counter as costing $3.

But we suspect that just about everyone who comes in during these early times – our lunch takes place on the shop’s fourth day – is getting a complementary cup by doing the social media “like” routine.

In any case, it’s perfect and delicious.

 

 

There’s three don/rice dishes available – beef, chicken and pork.

I go with the pork belly ($15.90).

 

 

Bennie chooses the beef brisket ($15.90).

We enjoy our lunches.

The meat is very good – definitely a step up from what usual expectations may be for this kind of fare in this kind of fast-food setting and location.

Though I reckon the pork has the upper hand in terms of tender and tasty.

The kimchi is OK, but rather bland.

There is one simple change that could lift these meals from merely to good to verging-on-great – ditch the iceberg lettuce and replace it with shredded cabbage!