Rib and curry sensations

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Santorini, 1 Parker Street, Williamstown. Phone: 9399 8520
podatpid, 638 Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 0404 904 900

Never order ribs from a non-specialist barbecue joint.

This is the emphatic lesson rammed home to Consider The Sauce through tedious confrontations with mediocrity.

Or worse.

But in the case of Santorini, we figure this is a rule worth ignoring.

Observing on FB the ingenuity and passion with which the whole Santorini crew is confronting the virus brouhaha is truly heartening.

That includes free delivery – yes, even as far as Yarraville – and specials events such as “souvlaki night”, free donut nights and more.

So order ribs, we do.

What we get is simply sensational.

Great lemon potatoes and heaps of them.

Greek coleslaw, and heaps of that, too, with just enough onion to add a little bite and quite a lot of feta, which crumbles into the dressing.

What a magic mix!

Given the superb accompaniments, and the fair asking price of $25 per person, we’d be quite unfazed to get a single big beef rib each.

Unfazed, but disappointed.

But no!

We get two of the beefy blighters each.

And – you guessed it!  – they, too, are very, very excellent.

And tender.

And delicious.

To order from Santorini online, go here.

 

 

Another of our faves, podatpid on Barkly Street in West Footscray, is also having lots of fun and satisfaction in keeping on trucking.

The cafe is selling a select range of top-notch grocery items, including bread.

And pick-up/take-home meals.

After having two encounters with it, we’ve become particularly fond of their pork-and-pineappple curry.

A really big serve for two cost us a fine $22.

It’s not so hefty in the pineapple department – it being outweighed by sweet potato.

Now that’s something that normally have both of us wrinkling up our noses in disgust because of its similarity to pumpkin.

But here, mixed in with the rich brown (and mild) curry gravy, it’s fab.

And our curry boasts a really good amount of tender pork chunks.

 

 

This particular meals ends with a sweet treat from yet another of faves – Olive Oil & Butter on Somerville Road.

Baklava for two – with yogurt. Greek, of course.

Hunkering down at home like everyone else, we’ve actually been cooking/eating healthily and affordably to a quite amazing extent.

So it’s been good to enjoy such great food from outside.

Even if we’ve not been sitting inside.

 

Naked and hungry

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Naked Egg, 32A Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9396 0309
Panjali Banana Leaf Malaysian Restaurant, 3/10 Sun Crescent, Sunshine. Phone: 9193 1740

We’ve been hearing the talk – that Yarraville cafe Naked Egg has been doing fab takeaway meals.

So we check them out.

And the outcome is outstanding.

Some takeaway meals don’t suit us as we don’t have a microwave oven.

So I get two serves of chicken cacciatore at $18 each.

Actually, with its sausage and beans involvement, it’s more a cassoulet.

But let’s not split hairs, eh?

 

 

Bennie has somehow become the tightwad of the family, so gets a bit sniffy about the asking price of $18 a serve.

I beg to differ.

Adamantly.

Our “stew” is gloriously rich and delicious, with seeming multitudes of chicken bits, sausage and vegetables, all in a rich, thick sauce of profound delectableness.

Expert cooking going on here, methinks.

In a restaurant setting – oh, those were the days and hopefully will be again – I’d expect to pay in the mid-$20s or even more.

So this strikes me as very good pricing. I expect any decrease in price would inevitably mean a drop in quality.

The side serve of spuds and sauerkraurt is OK, but no match for the main event stew.

In a word: Fabulous!

 

 

For another take-home meal, we venture a bit up the road – to Panjali in Sunshine.

This time, I’ve phoned in our order beforehand and the whole procedure is sweet and swish, our food (mostly) awaiting when I turn up.

We get two murtabaks – one lamb ($12.90) and one chicken ($11.90).

It may be thought in some quarters that anything involving flatbreads purchased for later heating up is a recipe for ugh.

But we know from previous experience that is not the case with murtabaks.

Panjali murtabaks, anyway.

 

 

Our Saturday night meal is, well, orgasmic.

Perhaps we’ve been missing a certain level of spice and oil and funkiness?

Anyone else in that bag?

In any case, our Panjali meal of murtabak has us both ooh-ing and ahh-ing an sporting happy grins.

Not only do the murtabaks re-heat very well, but the accompanying gravies – one beef curry and one dal and vegetables – are wonderful.

 

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.

 

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.

Much more than cannoli

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Cannoli Bar, 23 Riviera Road, Avondale Heights. Phone: 93377049

In the months since CTS first wrote about Cannoli Bar, the place has become wildly famous.

A great big bunch of media coverage has ensued, but I’d like to think it’s the sheer outstanding quality of what is on offer that is the main driver of all this feverish fandom.

Since then, too, Cannoli Bar has expanded its fare.

There’s a much longer range of cannoli available, many of them of a colourful and creative bent.

And that expansion means lunch.

 

 

Lunch options include really good-looking pizza slices.

And a couple of daily pasta selections.

I decide against the cannelloni with beef, opting instead for the eggplant parmigiana ($18, top photo).

Oh my, my, my – this is heaven.

It arrives in a very hot bowl, its contents still bubbling.

It’s a glorious mix of eggplant, the top bits nicely crunchy, tomato and cheese.

Perfect.

My lunch is wonderfully enhanced by a parade of hardcore blues classics – Albert King’s Born Under A Bad Sign, Bobby Bland’s Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City, Sonny Boy William’s Help Me and more.

Thank you very, very much.

 

 

My wonderful lunch is completed by biscotto cherry ($2) and cafe latte – both equally fine.

I had originally intended this outing to be the basis of a story about panettone – more precisely the merits of the cheap, mass-produced ones we get from the supermarket compared to more rustic renditions.

 

 

But all that seems a bit redundant in light of the fact that I grab the very last of Cannoili Bar’s pistachio amaretto panettone ($25) and that the eight remaining choc chip versions will likely be gone by the time you read this.

 

 

Back home, Bennie and I soon discover that all panettones are most definitely not the same.

Yes, the pistachio crust is super.

But it’s the “cake” itself that truly wows us.

It’s chewy, much more fibrous than the cheapo versions we’re familiar with, delicious.

We won’t be casual about this one.

No hacking off a slice at a mere whim.

This is something to be savoured.

Cannoli Bar is open Wednesdays through Saturdays.

If you can make it, I suggest week-day visits, as I suspect this place gets crazy busy at the weekends.

There is something ridiculously fine about tootling down a rather ordinary suburban street, headed for this very cool Italian establishment.

 

A fine fit for Footscray

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Roman’s Original, 50 Leeds Street, Footscray.

We’re quite the salt fiends here at Consider The Sauce HQ.

This is not a boast – it’s a simply statement of fact.

Something a bit “meh” about one of our many home-made soups or stews?

Not enough salt!

And, hardly a surprise, we eat out quite a lot so are well used to salty restaurant food.

So it IS a surprise to have too much salt be a problem for us at Roman’s Original – and not just concerning one dish, but both we order.

 

 

Bennie’s first comment, upon trying his fried chicken sandwich ($15) is: “Wow – this is like really flash KFC!”

That’s a compliment!

But then: “It’s way too salty, though!”

Yeah right, I figure, suspecting he’s playing a bit too much the food critic.

But then he proceeds to pick the flour-based coating from his chook and enjoy the rest of his meal.

I try a couple of bits of the discarded coating.

He’s right.

It IS too salty. By a lot.

 

 

I hope there’ll be no such problems with my fish sandwich ($16), featuring a good-size piece of ling.

My sandwich is dressed and prepared the same way, so far as I can tell, as Bennie’s chicken effort – some herby mayo, lettuce, an ineffectual cheese slice, pickles.

It’s a terrific meal, a real nice handful with the crispy fish a treat.

But hold on …

Yes, my fish coating – panko crumbs this time – is ALSO way too salty.

And, as above, for us that’s saying quite a lot.

What is going on here?

I’m told, when we’re finished our meal and paying up, that today there have been some new arrangements in the kitchen.

We feel assured this is a one-off happening.

And that makes us happy.

Because we like Roman’s Original.

A lot.

We love the whole vibe, from the way bits, pieces and walls from the old deli have been retained in this place’s minimal-yet-elegant fit-out right through to the funky music.

And we love that this bar/eatery fits right into Leeds Street in particular and Footscray central in general.

Just like that – sound of fingers snapping – it looks a part of the furniture.

 

 

And, naturally enough, we also dig the equally minimalist menu – there’s no printed versions; just this simple list parked on the wall behind the order/pay counter.

 

 

We get two servings from the dishes listed under “sides”.

The pickles consist mostly of al dente carrots rounds with a mildly sour yet very intriguing flavour. They’re a bargain at $2.

The potato salad is even more of a steal – the $7 serve is pretty damn big, so much so we don’t finish it.

Our salad is divine – a mayo-rich extravaganza that is perfect in every way.

Despite the salty hiccups, we are eager to return to Roman’s Original.

 

Goodness gracious!

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Karomi, 15/1 Duncans Road, Werribee.

Karomi is a cute cafe just of Watton Street in Werribee’s CBD.

Here you can get a range of sandwiches, toasties and sweet treats (see menu below).

 

 

But there is no doubt that the main action at Karomi – and the desire of 99 per cent of the place’s patrons – concerns the wonderful Greek doughnuts mostly known as loukoumades.

Here they’re called lokma – and you can have them, if that is your thing, with a variety of toppings such as M&Ms, Oreo and Kit Kat.

Nah.

Bennie and I go for the classic ($10 for 10).

We love them – golden orbs with crisp exteriors and hot, airy interiors.

They are swimming is syrup imbued with crushed/chopped pistachios.

Our cafe latte and iced coffee are just right, too.

 

 

 

Bougatsa boogie

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Fig & Walnut, 11-13 Bellairs Avenue, Seddon. Phone: 9687 2665

Fig & Walnut is one of our locals, one of our regulars.

But, a little sadly, that regularity is mostly confined to grabbing Saturday morning coffee on the way to our kung fu rendezvous in Carlton.

Today, though, there’s no class scheduled, so we sleep in a bit and resolve to hit Fig & Walnut for lunch.

Actually, it’s not lunch so much we’re desiring – our outing is more centred around the bougatsa that is invariably displayed on the front counter when we’re getting our takeaways.

But those in-and-out visits are never the right time for this sweet business, so we’ve resolved to fix that.

 

 

With custard on our minds, we ignore the menu and go for what we figure will be lighter items from the display cabinet.

Bennie’s sausage roll ($9.90) looks solitary and humble, but is beaut and then some – a really top, meaty effort and a bigger meal than it appears.

He is nevertheless envious of my bacon and egg pie ($9.90).

Normally he is not interested in anything that smacks of hard-boiled egg.

But this chunky slice is sensational – just like mum’s!

Except that in this case the bacon is layered through in fabulous quarter-inch slices.

(No photos of this item – I took a bunch, but they’re all blurry. Bad food blogger!)

 

 

As well, we’re presented with a complementary dish – chilli scram ($19.50).

Yes, they know we write about food and stuff.

This is an intriguing outing with a cake-like mound of egg scramble topped by fried enokis, miso mascarpone, pickled chilli and more.

There’s a whiff of ginger in there.

Very good!

After a savoury segment more hefty than we’d planned, we maybe should’ve been less gung ho about the bougatsa.

But, no, we order two slices ($7.90) with top-notch coffees to match.

What can I say?

This is sweet treat heaven – but not too sweet; rather demure in that regard, actually.

And the slices are BIG – half of each goes home with us to be lazily consumed over the next couple of days.

 

Cafe high point

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Rustica, Highpoint.

The existence of a branch of famous Fitzroy cafe/bakery Rustica at Highpoint came as a complete surprise to us.

But, asked to meet friends there, we are eager to try.

Highpoint Rustica is located well away from all the other centre’s food outlets and courts, in the newer, swisher part of the centre.

It’s easy to forget it’s in a shopping centre – and that’s a fine and no doubt deliberate thing.

There’s indoor and outdoor seating – well, sort-of outdoor!

The staff do an admirable job and the pricing is thereabouts in comparison with other western suburbs cafes presenting food of similar quality and sophistication.

 

 

The not so good first.

My slow-roasted garlic and rosemary lamb baguette ($19) looks the part with its greens, pomegranate, pickled onion and garlic labneh.

But it is dull, lacking the zing the ingredients so strongly suggest.

The best bit is the side serve of potato salad.

 

 

In some ways, the menu disturbs with its long-winded and extravagant lists of ingredients for many dishes.

The dish called Smashed Peas ($20), for instance, stacks up thusly: Beetroot cured salmon, snow pea tendrils, radish, zucchini noodles, puffed wild rice, goats whip, beetroot hummus and poached egg on quinoa-soy-linseed toast.

Tendrils?

Ha!

But this is a winner and I love every mouthful, wiping the plate clean.

To my cynicism-fuelled surprise, ALL the ingredients/flavours fit just right.

The egg is superbly done.

The fish is mild of flavour but very good.

The greens and salad bits are of prime freshness.

I’d order this again without hesitation.

 

 

The Spiced Chickpea Falafels ($19.50) are equally fine.

The good falafels are fat and a little dry.

But that’s no problem at all when they’re keeping company with roasted zaatar carrots and cauliflower, pickled red cabbage, pomegranate, more of the beetroot hummus stuff and grilled ciabatta with zaatar seasoning.

It’s a colourful jumble of joy, full of crunch and taste tingles.

The coffee here is excellent.

And I’m told by one who knows that the likes of their almond croissants and cronuts are to live for.

 

Vietnamese Seddon

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Miss An’am, 86a Charles Street, Seddon. Phone: 9048 4283

Consider The Sauce drives Charles and Victoria streets in Seddon so often that there is always the chance we’re taking them for granted.

The same holds true for CTS and other western suburbs roads and streets.

An informal business meeting is profound proof of us not seeing the forest for the trees.

Miss An’am had been blithely considered by us, if at all, as just another inner-west cafe.

But as soon as I walk through the door, I know I am way wrong.

Sure, Miss An’am IS an inner-west cafe – and the coffee is great.

But the perfumed air tells me immediately there is something else going on here.

I smell Vietnam – Vietnamese food and Vietnamese cooking.

Unmistakable.

 

 

Sure enough, the menu (see below) tells a tasty tale.

Along with some regular cafe fare, it lists banh mi, coleslaw and paper rolls.

 

 

But me and Bennie make a beeline for the two dishes on the specials list – though we suspect they are pretty much permanent fixtures.

For him, “authentic Vietnamese beef bourguignon” ($15).

This is, of course, the familiar bo kho.

And a good rendition it is, too, tender carrots chunks matched by plentiful beef cubes in a thinnish broth topped by coriander, the lot aided and abetted by baguette slices.

 

 

For me, pho ga ($16).

This is unusual in that the bean sprouts have already been added – and it looks a little light on.

Not so!

It’s a beaut version of another Vietnamese staple and more substantial than it appears.

The shredded chicken is delicious and plentiful.

The “with Miss An’am recipe” aspect?

Well, that just may be the significant black pepper inclusion and a broth that has a pronounced lemongrass tang, both of which add a welcome a refreshing twist.

Miss An’am is a cosy, cheerful place, with a lovely back dining garden and happy staff.

Vietnamese tucker AND great coffee – this here is a winner and no doubt a cherished “local” for regulars.

 

Outlook: Very sunny

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Cafe Sunshine & SalamaTea, 21 Dickson Street, Sunshine. Phone: 0491 605 775

CTS observed yesterday, on the Cafe Sunshine Facebook page, a very nice looking falafel plate being spruiked.

A dish that wasn’t on the menu when we visited at the weekend.

And the dishes enjoyed on two previous solo visits by CTS senior are no longer on the current menu (see below), either.

Cafe Sunshine & SalamaTea is a newish operation right in the heart of Sunshine.

If they’re still finding their feet, some menu tinkering is for sure in order.

Even better, I suspect new and surprising dishes will continue to pop up here with regularity, depending on the whims and passions of whoever is in the kitchen and what is available from the joint’s suppliers.

This will suit anyone prepared to go with the freewheeling flow of the place.

Perhaps not so much those who expect a menu to be a menu and that’s that.

That would very much be their loss – for the food here is rather wonderful, provides a distinct point of difference in Sunshine and is ultra-affordable.

As well, the place is also very much about providing employment and more for refugees and asylum seekers. See Star Weekly story here.

The simple fare is largely of Persian nature, with eggs the big players, in a warm and welcoming cafe.

And I’m told evening meals are in the soon-come category.

 

 

Bennie likes his Persian breakfast ($13) very much – including the tahini dip flavoured with honey.

This is a surprise to his father, as it tastes just like the halva he generally sneers at.

Also included are fig jam, butter and a concoction of walnut and sheep feta.

All this is teamed with Afghan flat bread sourced from the Afghan bakery that has opened up just around the corner on Hampshire Road.

 

 

I share the same basket of bread – more is happily supplied upon request – with my Persian omelette ($15).

This is simple and sensational – eggs and feta sent into the dizzy heights by the plethora of fresh mint and other herbs on the side.

The vegan baklava (top photo, $3) does show the absence of butter – it’s drier than regular baklava – but is still enjoyable, as are our $3.50 cafe lattes.

 

 

Enjoyed by me on previous visits were a tangy noodle soup utilising a variety of pulses and …

 

 

… Persian scrambled eggs with feta and herbs.

Yes – a very, very close relative of my weekend omelette!

 

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.

 

Yarraville cafe scene does a new block

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Boma Coffee, 127 Stephen Street, Yarraville.

The long-standing old fish and chip shop, opposite the vet where we take Boris, is no more.

In its place has arisen a swish-yet-welcoming cafe.

Boma Coffee, a sister outfit for Kodama Coffee in Williamstown, has quickly made itself right at home – just as a heap of happy customers are doing likewise in their new local.

 

 

The interior is compact and comfortable; and there are outside tables, too.

The menu (see below) is succinct – breakfast various ways plus a handful of heftier brunch/lunch items.

The latter all clock in at about $18.

I know that will be a beef with some people.

But we are by now used to paying that sort of money for this sort of food – at Bruger in Barkly Street, for example.

And, as I happily discover, the Boma Coffee food is excellent and worth every cent; and the serves are generous.

The beef burger ($18, top photo) looks like an austere outing given all the multi-layer architecture-inspired versions going around.

But simple is good – and this burger is very good.

Its has an Angus beef patty of chewy, tasty delight, along with cheese, tomato, lettuce, ketchup and mustard.

Importantly, the dill pickle atop is crunchy and sour.

The waffle fries are OK.

But.

Honestly, waffle fries appear to be a new gimmick.

I just wish people would stop.

Give me spuds – or something closely approximating them – every time.

Still, this a fine burger that delivers deep pleasure through simplicity and great ingredients.

 

 

Super foods?

Well, we can’t really get with that concept, either.

To us, super food is something that tastes bloody fantastic.

But the Boma Coffee superfood salad ($18) wins me over with similar elan.

I might expect Bennie “Salad Boy” Weir to be a fan of this.

Except it has kale.

Indeed, my salad does sport a vibe that is perilously close to ernest.

I keep on glancing at my feet, expecting to find myself wearing sandals. With socks.

As well, the salad’s ingredient are all finely chopped, finding themselves just a few degrees short of being a smoothie.

But the kale (yes!), quinoa, roasted corn, black turtle beans, tomato, avocado, toasted almonds and salted ricotta, all with a tangy japapeno and lime dressing, go down an absolute lip-smacking treat.

My bowl is empty and shiny when I finish the lot.

 

 

As you’d expect at a cafe that has the word “coffee” in its name, my cafe latte ($4) is terrific and has me gaily chirruping like a spink in spring.

Boma Coffee is on a for-sure winner in terms of location.

Suitably removed from the congestion of Ballarat and Anderson streets, and with a good distance to Woven (in one direction) and Fig and Walnut (in the other).

 

Winter Warrmer Fundraiser

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Katerina says: “Roll up, roll up!”

Winter Warmer Fundraiser, Fig & Walnut, 11 Bellairs Avenue, Seddon.

TO BOOK FOR THIS EVENT, GO HERE.

Great food, lovely people and a splendid good cause.

Yes, Consider The Sauce is happy to throw its lot in with another westie fundraiser.

And once again, the recipient of all these good vibes will be Climate for Change.

In some ways, this is a reprise of a similar event organised by Vera Xanthis of Fig & Walnut and CTS a little under a year ago.

That event – you can see the wrap here if you’re interested – was a winner.

But the flash new Winter Warmer Fundraiser promises to be even more fun.

And delicious.

In this case, Vera and Katerina are doing the heavy lifting.

Me? All I have to do is hoist up a blog post and help drum up some publicity and ticket sales for a party being billed as “a night of climate-friendly food, mulled wined and community building”.

Even better, Vera will be providing the food and its preparation at no charge.

And the cool crew at Fig & Walnut will be donating their time on the night.

That means every cent raised will go to Climate for Change to help it continue its important work – you know, stuff like saving the planet.

Here’s what Vera and the Fig & Walnut team will be serving up:

  • Grazing table on arrival
  • Choice of two soups
  • Spanish paella (sustainable seafood or vegan)
  • Choice of two desserts
  • Complementary Glass mulled wine

The night’s speakers will be Colleen Hartland and Climate for Change founder and CEO Katerina Gaita.

Tickets cost $55 plus service fee.

See you there?

TO BOOK FOR THIS EVENT, GO HERE.

To find the event Facebook page, go here.

For more information about Climate for Change, go here.

If you can’t make it to the fundraiser, but you’d like to support the good folk at Climate for Change who are working hard to make sure we get the action we need from government on climate change, them please support their annual crowdfunder. They need to raise $180k by June 7. Every bit counts. Go here to donate.

 

Pantry entry

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Ammas Pantry, 33 Parker Street, Footscray. Phone: 0439 902 384

Meet Deanne Thiedeman, on the left, and Beth Lavelle.

Ammas Pantry is their first foray into the hospitality industry, having taken over the premises on the corner of Parker and Hyde following the closing of relatively short-lived predeccesor.

They met when their two Sri Lankan-background sons attended, and became pals, at the kinder opposite their new cafe.

As you’d expect, that kinder and the next-door school play a fairly big part in the life, and prospective prosperity, of Ammas Pantry – but there’s lots here for a broader audience, too.

So while there’s the muffins and sandwiches and coffee you’d expect of an establishment right opposite two education institutions, Ammas is also delivering fine lunch-time meals that are delicious, affordable and of just the right heft for a daytime feed.

As I find out to my pleasure and satisfaction during two lunch visits.

Both my meals are built around brown rice, something that would cause Bennie to get a tad sniffy – but which I enjoy, especially when two differing sets of Asian flavours are so adeptly harnessed.

 

 

This fine, mild chicken curry, for instance, at $15.50.

It’s handily accompanied by that brown rice, a veg-studded dal, chutney, raita, a Sri-Lankan-style dry coconut jumble and a papadum

It’s excellent.

It makes me happy.

 

 

Same deal with this identically priced lunch bowl of brown rice, pickled ginger, carrot, cucumber, radish, avocado, wasabi, mayo and smoked salmon.

At first glance, this appears to be considerably more strident in terms of earnest brown rice-iness.

But there is just the right amount of seasoning and lubrication to make the whole thing sing – and not seem like a wholesome chore.

Deanne and Beth tell me the line-up will be tweaked as we move into winter.

Meals such as the two above will remain, but will be joined by some things of the “comfort food” variety.

 

Cafe imagination

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Bruger, 487 Barkly Street, Footscray.

Our post-kung fu Saturday routine usually runs along the lines spicy Vietnamese, Indian or African food.

But today we try something a little different – Bruger, which is located just down Barkly from Sims and 504 Receptions.

It’s a sister cafe to the nearby West 48 in Essex Street – but it has quite a different feel.

 

 

The long room is all about high stools and heaps of wood and stone.

It’s classy – and perhaps more like a bar than a cafe.

We take note of the breakfast options and then ignore them.

But the sparks of imagination that show in our lunch meals are in evidence, too, on the breakfast list.

Sambal chilli eggs for, example.

Or – more hearty – polish sausage with fried egg, gruyere, gherkin relish and kewpie mayo.

 

 

Bennie enjoys his daily special of eight-hour pork belly on a soba and papaya salad with nam jim dressing ($18.50).

He makes special mention of the shredded pork – “very soft”, says he.

In addition to the listed ingredients, there’s a stack of bean sprouts and peanuts and a nifty slab of crackling.

Salad Boy invariably gives papaya salad and related dishes serious consideration when we’re out and about elsewhere, so that’s why he orders this at Bruger.

But while it pleases, it’s fair to record that this cafe outing is notably muted in terms of the sort tang, zing, sourness, heat and bite he expects and welcomes at various Thai or Vietnamese places.

Still good, though!

My brisket rice bowl ($18, top photo) is something of a masterpiece.

The ingredients – pilaf rice, brisket, coriander chutney, pine nuts and cumin “hommus” – are familiar.

Yet here they are teamed in a magical way, the contrasting flavours bouncing off each other with tasty glee.

Often, when pine nuts are listed, they end up constituting little more than a garnish.

Here they play a plentiful and significant role.

The brisket is superb – high on smoky flavour, yet distributed through the rice in small pieces.

Want to grab some of that great barbecue vibe without going full carnivore?

Right here, with this dish, is your solution.

I know there’s those who’ll question the prices.

But they’re very fair for food of such good quality and the serves are suitably filling for not-too-heavy lunchtime fare.

 

Happy times at Burger Heights

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Woven, 175b Stephen Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9973 5926

In the past year or so, Bennie and I have enjoyed some good/OK burgers.

But, we confess, it’s difficult to recall any that have had us pumped up with unbridled enthusiasm, burger lust and fired-up determination to return to the scene of the crime with haste.

Perhaps we have become dulled by average products written about with what will serve the informational needs of our readers in mind, rather than our own immediate burger gratification?

So today, after the regular Saturday kung fu outing, we are trying an experiment – going somewhere we like and admire.

Somewhere we trust to turn on a truly great burger for us.

Woven has made a happy home of the area on Stephen Street and a good distance from the throngs of the village.

Previous posts concerning this fine establishment are these days so long in the tooth, I’m not even going to bother posting links.

Woven has not, however, become a regular haunt for us, save for occasional road coffees.

But we do keep an eye out for its specials on Facebook – and it’s one of them that is our mission today.

We are not disappointed.

Our matching double chipotle cheeseburgers come with two Black Angus beef patties, double American cheese, double bacon and chipotle/lime slaw in milk buns.

Dear readers, do not blanche at the admission fee of $25 – they are worth every cent.

All is terrific, even if the cheese is overwhelmed by a bevy of surrounding and strong flavours.

The slaw has just right amount of spice kick.

And our burgers come with twice-cooked, hand-cut chips included.

Now THAT’S a burger.

Yes.

We’re told the Woven burger specials list burgers change on a pretty much fortnightly basis, though a more orthodox burger is a menu fixture.

 

Buckley’s enhance

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Rocco’s Deli, 93 Buckley Street, Seddon.

It’s opening day at Rocco’s Deli in Seddon.

Post-kung fu, all we’re after is a look-see.

Lunch?

Maybe.

Upon arrival, though, we find the new operation in fully open mode, so we are delighted to settle in for a while.

Not just for lunch and sweets, but also for a big serve of opening buzz we share with the staff and numerous locals coming and going to have a gander.

This Seddon branch of the famous Rocco’s Deli in upper Yarraville is an adjunct of Lay Low Bar with which it shares the building.

 

 

Since our initial story about Lay Low, we have watched on with admiration as the place and its makers have put in a lot of hard work to successfully establish their business.

Along the way, they have demonstrated a level of smarts, savvy and wisdom in terms of self-generated community engagement that should be the envy of many.

There have been cocktail classes, a busy and cheerful social media presence, a pop-up stall at the Willy beer and cider festival, a food tie-in with the adjacent Brother Hood Yiros and Grill and more.

Lay Low’s Colin tells us the Rocco’s opening is all a part of that – and, more directly, the desire to have food available on Sundays when the Brother Hood goodies are unavailable.

So … the sourcing of grazing boxes from Rocco’s in Yarraville has quick-smart led to the establishment of Rocco’s in Seddon.

Remarkably, Colin also tells us the fit-out and set-up has come together in a matter of days – rather the usual months and/or years.

 

 

Food offerings are simple, cheap, sublime.

My sandwich is an Italian dream of singing flavours delivered by high-quality ingredients – hot salami, ham, provlone, roast red capsicum, pesto, split green olives.

It’s superb – and at $8.50 is a great contrast to some of the lame $15 sandwiches going around, and could even be said to inhabit the same pricing planet as banh mi.

 

 

Bennie goes a slightly different route involving prosciutto and sun-dried tomato.

Rocco’s Seddon is being described as a “spritz bar and deli” and as you’d expect – given the Lay Low breeding – there is some great booze on hand.

But we stick with bubbles of the soda water and ginger beer variety.

 

 

Dessert?

We snaffle the day’s last jam doughnut ($2.50) and a sensational ricotta cannoli ($3.90), both house-produced and the latter having a much smoother texture than the grainier vibe with which we are familiar from other ricotta fillings.

We’re assured that next time we visit to eat such treats, there will be coffee to accompany.

We admire Lay Low and the Seddon branch of Rocco’s.

And we love the way they are helping bring on a welcome transformation of what Consider The Sauce referred to in 2014 as “Footscray’s bleakest street”.

 

Cool local cafe? You can’t do better …

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Willow Wine Cafe, 126 Williamstown Road, Kingsville.

Our regular martial arts routine has been dispensed with on account of a niggling health issue.

And if we’re not exactly licking our wounds after a tough week, we are not in the mood for the sort of galavanting around the west that is our usual Saturday staple.

So we’re very happy to be walking to lunch.

But there’s a wrinkle – instead of ambling towards Yarraville village, we are headed in the opposite direction.

Willow Wine Cafe has been set up in what was once the Fisher cricket bat “factory”, the place’s flanelled history still proudly worn on its side-street mural.

This is very familiar territory for Bennie, as he was once – when much younger – outfitted here with custom-made bat and pads.

The half-hearted innings that was his cricketing career ended long ago!

 

 

The place, with its dining area looking out on to Williamstown Road’s passing parade, has been done out in a really lovely, bright and relaxing way.

 

 

We take up pews at the window bench and proceed to enjoy a terrific lunch.

 

 

I earnestly warn Bennie against ordering the pulled pork sanger ($15), given the rank and serial disappointments he has, um, enjoyed in that regard in the past.

He proceeds anyway – proving, in the process, his father’s gloomy outlook to be comprehensively unwarranted.

Between the covers of his milk bun are generous serves of superbly tasty pork and most excellent aioli slaw, with pickled jalapenos and potato chips on the side.

 

 

My toastie special appears, at first blush, to be less worthy of the $14 price tag.

But the proof is in the eating.

And I know after just a few mouthfuls that this could be used as a template for the perfect toasted sandwich, with bread still softish yet sporting a top-notch crisp exterior.

Inside are Salt Kitchen mortadella, burratine and radicchio.

The cheese is oh-so-rich, melted and stretchy.

 

 

Our matching 5 Senses cafe lattes ($4) are just right.

Vic Market deli underwhelms

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Pickett’s Deli & Rotisserie, 507 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. Phone: 9328 3213

We’ve checked out a North Melbourne pub long on our radar with a view to Sunday roast lunches.

But we’ve found the place barely open and looking and feeling rather morose.

And there’s no Sunday roast – so scratch that idea!

So we move on, ending up at Vic Market and deciding to give the corner deli/rotisserie a go.

It’s replaced a bakery/cafe that had been in place for as long as I can remember.

 

 

Pickett’s is done out in cool cafe style with lots of dark wood. It’s a lovely room with a cosmopolitan vibe.

I go for the half Bannockburn chicken with chips and gravy (top photograph).

The good stuff:

The bird meat is ALL delicious.

And ALL tender in a way rarely attained by most charcoal chicken shops.

The not so good:

My chicken is barely lukewarm and closing in on cold.

The good, thin gravy is even cooler.

Likewise with chips that are limp, tired and way over-salted – and that comes from someone who generally likes some chips with his salt.

Based solely on the bird quality, the price tag of $21 – well above that asked by your local chicken shop – seems reasonable.

But given the overall lack of heat, it becomes less so.

And surely for that sort of price, cracking hot chips are to expected.

 

 

Bennie’s sandwich of barbecue lamb ribs on ciabatta with herb and celery salad, rosemary crumb ($16) works well – it’s a refreshing combination of flavours.

Though he doesn’t get the expected smoky tang of American-style barbecue he is expecting.

It’s almost seems like the meat has been cooked in the Chinese barbecue fashion.

 

 

We share a small serve of one of the salads.

Marinated cucumbers, mint pesto, puffed barley and house made milk curd is fine and zesty and the serve is generous for $7.

Given its superb location, Pickett’s will doubtless continue to do well.

But we’re hardly going to change our Vic Market routine from borek and bratwurst.