Crab burger and hot desserts

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George Jones Eatery, 15 Pascoe Street, Pascoe Vale. Phone: 9304 2917

One of the most pleasurable times of the CTS week is Saturday lunch.

Chores and blogging done, it’s time to hit the road, coffee to go and cool tunes rocking both the car and us.

Such Saturday outings regularly involve travel beyond the bounds of the western suburbs, even given the geographically generous drawing of those boundaries in the world of Consider the Sauce.

And quite often, those Saturday outing involve a romp up Pascoe Vale Road, those outings almost always ending up in Coburg and Sydney Road.

Today, though, and for the first time, we are headed to Pascoe Vale itself.

 

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We’ve been invited to dine at George Jones Eatery (see full disclosure below), and for that we end up being very grateful as without that invite this fine establishment may have escaped our attention for, well, pretty much forever.

George Jones Eatery has been open for about 12 weeks and is already a bona fide hit.

I could be glib and imply that’s because of a lack of dining options in Pascoe Vale.

I’m sure the locals around here are grateful for its presence but the truth is George Jones Eatery would be hit wherever it went.

The room is big and divided up into a variety of sections, some with communal seating.

 

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When we visit we’re told it’s a less-busy-than-usual Saturday yet the place is still hopping – and despite that, the noise levels are fine.

The staff members are many, working hard and very good.

Best of all, from a punter’s point of view, is the menu (see below).

George Jones Eatery is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a separate though not much different list for night-time.

But here’s the thing: The lunch menu – ranging from breakfast with many appealing dishes through to a kids menu, a handful of lunch mains and another handful of burgers (with chips) – features just a single dish priced beyond $20.

That there is right smart pricing – the kind that goes a long way to encouraging repeat visits.

 

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Bennie goes with the soft-shell crab burger with kewpie tartare, coleslaw and citrus dressing ($17.90).

If, somewhat inevitably, he ends up rather wishing he’d plumped for one of the meatier (chook, mushy, cow) burgers, he enjoys his nevertheless.

He should know by now that soft-shell crab – in any guise – is akin to chicken feet: It’s less about the ostensible Crab Prince and more about his courtiers.

Going by the tastes I am offered, this burger and its crab are lovely things, the Asian seasonings coming through strong.

The chips come in a huge serving – more than enough for his dad to eat of them freely – and are excellent.

 

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My seared yellowfin tuna with green beans, “heirloom tomato”, kipfler potato and romesco salsa ($21.90) is a nifty, delicious take on salad nicoise.

The gorgeous fish is barely seared, rimmed with black sesame seeds and served at room temperature.

The salady attendants are very good and all in perfectly complementary proportions.

Best of all, in terms of my own personal preferences, there is a total absence of the usually ubiquitous capers.

 

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We order two desserts, one a special, the other from the regular menu.

Choc tart surprises us – instead of the expected gooey filling cupped in a pastry base we get what seems to us more like a block of fudge.

It has fine, deep chocolate flavour and the raspberry sorbet, salted caramel sauce and honeycomb are beaut.

 

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But banana parfait with salted peanut caramel, chocolate mousse and choc rice crisp ($13) steps up to another level entirely – this is a momentous dessert!

The mousse is mindblowingly intense in terms of chocness and the parfait has a tangy edge that seems almost citrus in nature.

All is rich, sexy and memorable.

(Consider The Sauce dined at George Jones Eatery as guests of the management and we did not pay for our meal. We chose from regular menu and had no restrictions placed upon us in doing so. George Jones Eatery management neither sought nor was granted any input, oversight or pre-publication access to this story.)

 

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Top coffee crew by the lake

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Philocoffee Espresso Bar, 162 Albert Road, South Melbourne. Phone: 0476 141 597

They take their coffee seriously at Philocoffee.

Their regular brew is Five Sense – but on the day I visit, they’re taking Seven Seeds out for a run.

My cafe latte is very, very good.

Located facing Albert Park, Philcoffee is surrounded by both offices and many residents.

They do a good job of taking care of both.

Philcoffee is owned and operated by my former Star Weekly colleague, Karen, and her husband, Chee. They have a decade of cafe-running behind them.

Before I get to my coffee, they ply me with food – far more than I can so I can get a handle on what they do here.

The sandwiches and baguettes I sample are regulation for such a business but at Philocoffee they up the ante with flair and admirable freshness.

They include …

 

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… lemon-thyme chicken sandwich …

 

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… Asian pulled pork wrap. So good is the juicy meat that I rather think it would be better off out and about in a salad – just a matter of asking, I’m sure!

 

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… a lovely, crusty baguette stuffed with pesto chicken, cheese and roast capsicum …

 

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… and a salmon bagel with all the usual. This rocks mostly because the bagel is the real deal – soft and chewy.

Thanks!

Point Cook burgers ace it

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gem8

 

Gemelli Cafe Grill, Shop 123, 22-30 Wallace Avenue, Point Cook. Phone: 9369 7602

Consider The Sauce has addressed Melbourne’s fixation with burgers a couple of times in recent months.

We’ve even been known to mutter about “burger burnout”.

So what do we do?

We eat more of them!

This is not a burden when the ones we try are so very, very good.

And it’s a special pleasure when we find them at places that are simply not part of the developing burger scene as such.

 

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First, a few weeks back, there was the fabulous burger ‘n’ chips combo at Searz in Newport.

Tonight it’s twin Gemelli Burgers at a newish cafe/grill in Point Cook.

Gemelli has been open a few weeks and is already a big hit with locals.

And so it should be!

It’s located in a commercial precinct on the opposite side of the freeway from Williams Landing station.

So new is the neighbourhood that there is building activity going on aplenty.

But for locals, and the overwhelming majority of them around here are young families, there’s not a lot about in terms of food so Gemelli surely seems like a gift.

So much so that perhaps we are chancing our arms a little by hoping to simply waltz in for a mid-week dinner.

But all is good as we wait just a few minutes for a table to be cleared.

 

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Among the various comments I have seen from (mostly very happy) customers have been a few noting a certain skittishness as the young floor staff get comfortable with their roles.

We talk with a few of them and find they’re all locals and that for most of them these are their first serious jobs.

We find them all cheerful and capable and the service top-notch.

As you’d expect, the dining space has a “family restaurant” feel – and if there is a bit of shopping centre food court vibe going on as well, it is soon forgotten as we get to grips with our dinner.

 

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A large serve of “Italian herb and parmesan” fries ($6.50) is not particularly cheesy but the chips are fine, hot and tasty. A small bowl of aioli is provided upon request.

 

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We both choose, from a line-up numbering six, the top-of-the-line Gemmelli Burger ($14), which is described as “2 homemade beef patty, 2 X cheese, Berkshire bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, relish, burger sauce”.

The verdict?

Bloody awesome!

The meat is, well, very meaty and a chewy delight.

The bacon is crisp and its flavour permeates the whole burger – such is not always the case.

The pickles, too, assert their presence and all the other protagonists are deftly put together to create perfectly balanced burgers.

As with the Searz burger, this is a 9/10 effort.

I prefer Gemelli, Bennie prefers Searz.

Everyone’s a winner!

We’re out of there for just over $42 including two soft drinks.

See the Gemelli Facebook page here and its website here.

 

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Corralling the drinks so Bennie doesn’t finish them off before our food arrives.

Beaut bento, better burger

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Searz Caffi, 39 Challis Street, Newport. Phone: 9399 2393

The Challis Street shops in Newport – off Mason Street – are the sort of strip we’ve been driving by for years just for a look every now and then to see if there’s anything cooking.

On Challis Street, there never has been.

And now there is.

Searz is a very fine local cafe.

It serves (see menu below) standard-range cafe breakfasts and mains such as a caesar salad, a burrito bowl and fish ‘n’ chips.

But running through the mains and the smaller (“tapas”) dishes are Japanese/Korean influences.

We find our meals of two visits, the service and timing, the whole experience to be absolutely top notch.

 

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The bento special no doubt changes periodically.

This version has fish three different ways – teriyaki salmon, battered cod with wasabi mayo and grilled gemfish with Korean chilli sauce.

They are all delicious and beautifully cooked.

There’s about half a dozen different kind of pickle, some of which I love, some of which I could do without.

The house-made zucchini pickles are very fine.

The bento mix is completed by good salad and rice.

This bento, given the quality of the seafood involved, would be right at home in a bona fide Japanese restaurant.

And the price, $18, is grand.

 

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Bennie’s bibimbap $16) is a doozy, too.

He loves the finely cooked beef and mushrooms, the salady bits, egg, enokis and more.

Unlike so many versions of this dish, this one has enough fluid action going on that it is a well-lubricated “sweet and spicy” treat right to the bottom of the bowl.

 

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But however fine his bibimbap, Bennie is openly envious of my “1010 burger” ($15) – and so he should be.

Despite the burger burn-out factor of the past year or so, this strikes us as being a superb.

It’s a 9/10 burger and chips combo that scrubs up much better than many of those to be had at more storied burger joints around Melbourne.

There’s more of those zucchini pickles in there.

And there’s “Searz aiolio”, tomato relish and the usual, standard salad accessories.

The meat patty is thick, juicy and screaming with beefy flavour.

Gosh, it’s fantastic.

The chips are hot, fresh and very plentiful.

Searz is a prime example of everything a neighbourhood cafe should be.

And the food, what we have enjoyed of it, rocks.

 

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Roll up for jaffles? I’ll be in that!

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Little Garden Cafe, 407 Mount Alexander Road, Ascot Vale. Phone: 0410 922 242

Down behind a Mount Alexander Road florist is a cool, green space just right for a chilled-out lunch on a sunny Saturday.

It’s retro central – in the form of armchairs, sofas and more.

And retro, too, in the form of the kitchen and serving area, for which purposes a vintage caravan has been pressed into service.

 

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Given the tight space situation, it’s no surprise the food line-up is equally tight and also light (see menu below).

That’s fine by us – on the way here we mused over possibilities such as Somalian, Chinese BBQ meats and dumplings but the truth is we’re just not THAT hungry.

 

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There’s goldfish in the house; we see two.

We’re told six.

 

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Our jaffles arrive looking pretty as a picture.

 

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Bennie adores his Doori Time! ($8.50) with its chicken and cheese swimmingly soaked in a delicious, piquant and dark sauce. It’s unclear if the shredded chook has spent any time in a tandoori oven but it matters not.

This jaffle comes with a pot of raita – nice touch, that.

 

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My Brekkie Time ($8.50) is good, too, though doesn’t have quite the same sort of flavour hit.

The ham is indeed cut thickly and it works fine with the egg and sauce.

 

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Our matching $3.80 cafe lattes are spot on.

It’s worth signing up to the Little garden Cafe Facebook page, wherein specials such as a Beefy Slaw sanger of “succulent bbq pulled beef, creamy housemade slaw, mozzarella cheese, toasted on organic sourdough” are regularly listed.

 

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Gelati fantasia in Kensington

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gel9

 

1565, 3 Gower Street, Kensington. Phone: 9376 1965

Tootling to Kensington to do a story on Kensington’s new gelati joint for The Age – see story here – I am envisaging little more than the profound pleasures of trying some excellent Italian ice-cold creaminess, meeting the people involved, writing about both and then maybe creating a subsequent post for CTS.

An enjoyable, satisfying day’s work, in other words, for a western suburbs food blogger.

I get all that in spades – and more.

 

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For what I discover is that the crew behind 1565 – brothers Adriano, Alfred and Alessio Acquaro and their mum, Joy – have strong family ties to Pizza d’Asporto and Kiosk by d’Asporto in Williamstown and Impasto Forno Antico in Avondale Heights.

Indeed, the canoli and the like that abet the 1565 gelati and coffee here are supplied by the latter establishment.

How wonderful to discover yet more of the connections and depth of food culture traditions that weave and wander across the west in all sorts of ways!

 

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1565, just off the commercial strip of Macaulay Road, is done in simple, elegant style.

It is named after year gelati was apparently “invented” in Florence.

If, on that basis, you’d expect an approach to gelati that is strong on tradition, you’d be spot on.

 

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But while staying within those parameters, the 1565 crew are doing marvellous things in terms of flavour diversity.

Sure, there’s vanilla, pistachio and coffee.

But there’s also booze in the form of rum and raisin, Prosecco and the sweet liqueur of No.43.

Then there’s poached fig, watermelon and mint, panettone.

 

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I enjoy a wonderful scoop apiece of ricotta and miele (honey) and Nutella with rum baba.

Like orange and fennel, that latter of my two is imbued with textures beyond creamy.

Bennie is equally delighted with his double-banger cone of poached fig and coffee.

1565 is open from noon until late seven days a week.

 

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For all of our 15 years in the west, five of them as food bloggers, we have frequently observed that the Macaulay Road strip looks like it should be a food and drink star.

But it’s never been that.

Under-achiever is a phrase that comes to mind.

Perhaps the arrival of 1565,  joining the cool Korean of Frying Colours up the road and with a new Italian place soon to be unveiled, heralds an upturn in Macaulay Road’s eats situation.

 

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Nimble with the sangers

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Jack B. Nimble, 132 Mitchell Street, Maribyrnong. Phone: 9317 9792

The Mitchell Avenue shops are tucked away and no doubt of little interest to the traffic hordes scooting by on Ballarat Road and Churchill Avenue.

But there is quite a lot of residential in the area, including a bunch of students.

So it figures that cafe could and should do well on the strip, joining Los Latinos, a Vietnamese place and a South American bakery.

Jack B. Nimble is that cafe, replacing a long disused bakery.

 

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Jack is all done out in light wood and is a sweet place for lunch.

The longish breakfast list (see menu below) features all sorts of imaginative line-ups starring such ingredients as house-smoked fish, grilled asparagus, white pudding and cauliflour.

The lunch roll-out is much briefer – just a daily salad, two sandwiches and a pasta as on the blackboard.

So … we each choose one of the sandwiches at a fine $10 each.

A side of the salad can be had with sanger for $4.

We’re tempted as the mixed grain number on display looks fine – but the presence of pumpkin makes it a non-starter for us.

 

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Bennie’s roast beef with caramelised onions, sacmorza (a cow milk cheese) and tomato relish is a good one.

The beef is rare and the cheese is gooey.

 

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But my number with fish cakes, kale, cucumber and tartare is way better.

This is a superb sandwich.

It looks of modest proportions but has quite a hefty feel.

All the ingredients – including crisp-crumbed, delicately seasoned fish cakes and creamy tartare – sing in harmony.

Yes, even including the chewy kale.

 

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From the baked finery on the front counter, we choose to share an apple, nectarine and apricot muffin ($4).

It, too, is superb – more in your decadent cake department, moist and delicious.

Very good coffees round out a lovely lunch.

 

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