Cafe high point

3 Comments

 

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

Leave a comment

 

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

2 Comments

 

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!

1 Comment

 

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

1 Comment

 

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

Leave a comment

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

7 Comments

 

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.