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.