Food, drink, Keilor Park

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Consider The Sauce has celebrated in recent weeks the arrival of nifty food option at its place of regular employment, the Star Weekly newspaper office in Keilor Park.

But now things have gone from edging towards sublime to outright sublimely ridiculous.

The new arrivals, providing tasty options to those who live and work in the area, include The D’s Souvlaki and Theo’s Greek Cakes.

But where those two food outlets are walking distance from my office, 5 NY Bite And Brew will be right across the road, under a minute’s walk and on the corner of Keilor Park Drive and Thompson Road in the new industrial estate there.

Now on any ordinary day, if you said to me that a New York-themed bar heavy on dude food was simply not my thing, you’d be dead right.

But being shown around by the instigator of this enterprise, Steve Raftellis, I am won over by his drive and enthusiasm.

Steve is bringing his experience with similar outfits to bear with spectacular vision.

It’s fair to say that these fit-out photos will bear hardly any resemblance to the finished venue when it is opened some time in August, so ambitious are his plans for deocr and artwork.

Steve reckon he’s on to a good thing – and that includes the location.

He wants to serve the greater west and even right up to Sunbury and Ballarat, access is easy and parking will be a breeze.

It’s a gamble surely, as all new businesses are, but Steve already has about 20 function bookings for December.

As he says, there’s a lot of sports clubs and other organisations around here.

It will be open 11am-midnight, seven days a week – with longer weekend hours on the agenda.

 

 

The ground floor of 5 NY Bite And Brew will feature a dining area with regular seating, a long bar backing on to the kitchen, booths …

 

 

… and a “VIP area”.

 

 

The stairs leading to the rooftop alfresco area will be done out in New York subway style.

 

 

And up on the roof, there will be more booths, a “rain forest” of plants and a bar constructed out of a shipping container.

There will be live music up here – and Steve assures me it will not be of the lame cover version variety.

Drinks and food?

I’m told there will be 100 US craft beers, 49 by American-style cocktails and 10 mega shakes.

CTS has been shown a provisional menu.

Here’s just some of the items included:

Pork belly “thingies”
Empanadas
Lobster mac n cheese
Buffalo wings
Loaded fries including curds and gravy
Coney Island and chilli dogs
Half a dozen burgers
Crispy chicken with velvet waffles and maple syrup
Beef and baby back ribs
Lobster roll

Bennie’s eyes lit up when saw that lot!

Steve tells me almost items will be priced from $5 to $25.

 

Bar won

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Littlefoot, 223 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 9396 1282

What an ornament to Foostcray Littlefoot has become.

Was it the first bar to set up shop in Footscray central?

I think it was.

In the years since, it has been joined by a bunch of others – and they all appear to have something of their own to contribute to the local scene.

But Littlefoot continues to set a high standard – not only in food and drink, but also through deep immersion in the community through live music (beyond covers), a plethora of DJs and all sorts of “special” events.

As well, Littlefoot continues to carry a kitchen, unlike most of its neighbouring bar fellows. The Cheeky Pint, a few doors away, also cooks.

We are happy to accept an invitation to take the new winter menu for a run (see full disclosure below).

On this night, Team CTS consists of myself, Bennie, Justin and Will.

We eat well and deeply, coming away happy and satisfied.

Some of the tucker is right there in bar food mode – the sort of things you’d be happy to get a bite of if you were imbibing at Littlefoot anyway.

But some things we think are on another, higher level – making Littlefoot a food destination in its own right.

 

 

The charcuterie board ($25) is a good starter for us – tonight we are hungry lads.

It’s mix of  sour, salty, oily and chewy would also be an ideal light meal for two.

 

 

The DIY taco board ($18) is a hit – the undoubted highlight that elicts admirational comments all round.

The fours fish pieces – snapper – are superbly crumbed and deep-fried, holding together beaut even under the strain of taco construction. The flesh is both firmish and delicate.

Of the bits and pieces, it’s the red cabbage that adds tangy contrast. It’s is joined by guacamole, jalapenos, lime and swathes of fresh coriander.

This is a bargain – and zooms into Great Dishes of the West reckoning.

 

 

Just as expertly fried are the mac ‘n’ cheese croquettes ($12) – this is glorious stodge. Could’ve done with a bit more seasoning, IMO.

 

 

My friends seem a little less enamoured of our two burgers than I.

Perhaps we’re all a little burgered out?

But I reckon they’re both good, solid efforts.

The burgers are available in three modes – Littlefoot, Wild West and Bulldogs.

The beef burger ($20) comes in Bulldog garb of cheese, pickles, red onion, pickle, lettuce and “special burger sauce”.

This handy handful is accompanied by good chips.

 

 

If anything, our jackfruit burger ($20) is more noteworthy for the simple reason it offers an alternative to lentil patties and the like.

It’s done out in Wild West style – and that means a zingy combo of jalapenos, sriracha, caramelised onions, mustard, cheese, tomato and lettuce.

 

 

Another flavour hit – of the snacky variety – is provided by the lip-smackingly good edamame ($7) with garlic and black pepper.

Beer food supreme.

 

 

Unfortunately, amid this avalanche of food, the nachos ($14) and the fries loaded with pulled pork and slaw ($16, not pictured) get a bit lost.

Perhaps at another time with liquid redreshment in hand?

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

 

Brewhouse feeds us good

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Two Birds Brewing, 136 Hall Street, Spotswood. Phone: 9762 0000

It’s taken us ages to check out Two Birds Brewing.

As soon as we amble through the doors of this Spotswood brew emporium, we regret that has been the case as we take to the place with alacrity.

There’s a bar/servery at the front and an attendant and cosy drinking/eating area.

 

 

A nice, happy mid-week buzz is going on and there’s quite a good crowd.

It’s warm, but also busy and way too dark for comfortable photography.

So we are very happy to keep on marching through to the brewery proper, which has another area with tables, chairs – and heating.

 

 

It’s all very cavernous and industrial, but we love it – what a place to enjoy a meal and a drink!

CTS doesn’t normally do booze, but this being a brewery it would seem somewhat inappropriate to go without, so I have a very nice schooner of the Two Birds Taco ale, while Bennie is happy to go with his usual Coke stuff.

We are very interested to see how the food will shape up, having checked out the menu before we departed home.

On the one hand, we are delighted to see a list that is so deeply into hipster food of the American style yet unlike anything else we’ve seen in Melbourne.

On the other, we wonder if this will be bar food that is really snack food – we fret, just a little, that we will spend a packet yet nevertheless leave without feeling fully satisfied.

There prove to be so no such problems for us at Two Birds – we enjoy a fine meal and consider the pricing just right.

 

 

House-made pickles ($8) are superb.

Carrot, green beans, celery, zucchini, onion – here is a wonderful fantasia of colours and textures, with each of the vegetables evincing different flavours.

Croquettes ($10 for four, top photograph) present as gorgeous-looking crisp orbs – we can’t wait to grab them.

Their promise is fully realised – inside each of them is lipsmackingly good and gooey mix of macaroni, cheese and pimento, all with just the right level of spice heat.

 

 

We move on to the “bigs” portion of the menu …

By this time we are happy and relaxed in the sure knowledge that the Two Birds experience will leave us well fed.

The one remaining issue to be resolved surrounds what was always going to be Bennie’s main choice – the smoked pork hot dog.

As Bennie himself puts it: “How good can a hot dog be for $17?”

With its fine sausage and dressings of bacon, paprika mustard and ketchup, it hits nice heights in terms of flavour and eating pleasure.

Bennie enjoys the heck out of it, but he does make unfavourable comparisons to the $5 versions to be had at the Wiener Wednesdays at Littlefoot in Footscray.

I tell him that’s harsh and very much a case of comparing apples and oranges.

As he wraps up his meal and licks his fingers, he ponders this.

“I’d happily pay $12 for that,” he says.

Fair call, I reckon.

The kipfler potato salad that accompanies his hot dog is very fine.

 

 

The only problem with my chicken schnitzel “on brioche” is that there is, so far as I can tell, nothing even remotely “schnitzel” about it.

Instead, this a regal, sooper dooper chicken burger that makes me very, very happy.

Around a nice slab of chook are, according to the menu, nothing more than “special sauce, American cheese and lettuce”, yet the flavour impact is way greater than that suggests.

With a lovely dob of that same potato salad, I enjoy my meal and consider it good value for $17.

Check out the Two Birds Brewing website – including menu – here.

 

Meal of the week No.37: Littlefoot

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We missed the first few weeks of Littlefoot’s Wiener Wednesdays.

But now we’re in the house and eager to see how it all stacks up.

The big question: Will one apiece of the $5 hot dogs suffice – or will we need two to do?

We love how Littlefoot (223 Barkly Street, Footscray) has become such a cool part of the inner-west furniture and we love hanging there.

And we dig their hot dogs.

The core of the matter is pretty much your standard frankfurter – but they’re fine.

But it’s the deft mix of ketchup, mustard and onions – all slathered on chargrilled soft rolls – that make them winners.

 

 

Saving us ordering more, we get a large of serve of the Littlefoot chips ($8).

Oh boy – these knock us out!

They are crispy tremendous – the best we’ve had in quite a while.

They’re seasoned, we’re told, with a mix of paprika, parsley, taragon and a little cumin.

Gosh.

Cop that, chicken salt!

Couple of hot dogs, fantastic chips, Cokes – all the major food groups covered; we’re happy!