Lebanese heaven

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Tanoor Breakfast House, 1/69 Forsyth Road, Hoppers Crossing. Phone: 8360 3468

As the less established parts of Point Cook, Tarneit, Truganina and Williams Landing have become more so in recent years, a number of eating houses have opened in response to a demand for Indian food.

That has not been the case for those desiring Middle Eastern and/or the food of the eastern Mediterranean – until now.

Tanoor Breakfast House – don’t worry, it does lunch, too! – is here to make our day and maybe even our year.

It doesn’t serve full-blown Lebanese food as found at Riviera at Edgewater.

Instead, it serves (see menu below) a wonderful range of pizzas and pies (man’oush and man’oush calzone) right through to a Lebanese Big Breakfast and a Turkish Big Breakfast.

Best of all, for our tastes and wants and needs, it serves a wonderful line-up – under the heading Traditional Breakfast – of dips and the like served with accompaniments and house-made bread.

Oh yes!

This is the kind of thing for which CTS routinely travels to upper Sydney Road.

Now Tanoor Breakfast House has rendered those sometimes tedious and stressful traffic-light drives to Coburg superfluous – and we couldn’t be happier.

“Hummus b Lahme” comes with three components:

These still-warm and fresh-as housemade breads.

The full suite of salady and tart accessories – pickled turnip, cucumber and chillis; green olives; fresh mint, tomato and onion.

And – oh, the glory of it! – a generous bowl of smooth, fresh hummus, in the middle of which sits an equally generous serve of lamb mince studded with toasted pine nuts.

It all works and tastes like a dream, the sourness of the pickles complementing perfectly the sweetish sheep meat.

The pine nuts – with their unmistakable yet subtle flavour and characteristic soggy crunch – are the icing on the cake.

This is simply fabulous food.

It costs $10.

Which is frankly ridiculous, as it is tantamount to a light meal that could easily serve two.

The falafel plate ($12), with a slightly different configuration of bits and pieces, is just as good.

Just the turshi (pickled turnip) in terms of pickles.

And, this time, a wonderful wet-and-lemony tabouli and small bowl of tahini to join the hummus, bread and tomato.

The half a dozen falafel orbs are superbly fried, of mild flavour and quite delicate.

Our takeaway coffees are great.

Tanoor is open seven days a week from 6am to 3pm.

Meal of the week No.41: Victoria Hotel

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The announcement that the Victoria Hotel was introducing a Tuesday curry night claimed our attention.

And to be honest, we’re not sure why – with so many very affordable and often excellent curry options close to the refurbished pub (43 Victoria Street, phone 8320 0315).

Nat and I surmised that it might have been because we had such a fine time during our initial visit to the Middle Footscray establishment.

That visit’s favourable impression having since been reinforced by favourable feedback from friends and readers who had visited the place.

As well, based again on our enjoyment of the food previously, maybe the pub’s curry operation – hopefully – would provide something above and beyond the offerings of the local curry shops.

Whatever – we’re up for it!

So how do we go?

Pretty good, actually.

We’re offered two curry packages – paneer and peas makhani or kadai chicken.

We both go chook.

The curry meal deals cost $18 and come with a good-size bowl of chicken curry, rice, a fistful of papadums and red onion slaw.

Kadai, also known as karahi, is a simple curry made with many of the expected spices and capsicum.

Ours is mild and quite tangy.

We like that the boneless chicken has seemingly been chargrilled before being wed to the gravy.

The rice and papadums are fine.

The red onion slaw?

A bit disappointing.

We have been looking forward to an alternative to the frequently served (elsewhere) hard nobs of commercial mango pickle.

Our red onion mix is OK, but I would’ve loved a bit more tartness and zing.

Putting aside the likes of dosas, biryanis and thalis, if you ordered the components of our meal for dinner just about anywhere in West Footscray, it’d cost the same $18 or more.

Greek delights in the autumn sun

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Xenia Food Store, 202 Lygon Street, East Brunswick. Phone: 9191 7206

Outside the western suburbs, I can’t think of a foodie strip that is closer to the CTS heart than Lygon Street.

No, no – not the Lygon Street adjoining the Melbourne CBD.

We walk a fair whack of that thoroughfare every week while on kung fu duty.

Very, very rarely to we feel the urge to linger for eats purposes.

And, no, not the Lygon Street that runs north there past Melbourne Cemetery.

But the Lygon that narrows as it enters East Brunswick?

Oh, yes!

That be home, after all, to such previously covered delights as Teta Mona, Mankoush and Moroccan Deli-cacy – even if the latter is apparently entering times of change and new management.

 

 

So we are very happy to accept an invitation (see full disclosure below) to dine at Xenia Food Store, the luscious and intriguing FB pics of which we have been noticing with lust ever since it opened.

Those pictures have me primed for down home, home-style food of the kind not often found in restaurants.

So, as we take our seats at an outdoor table in the blazing Saturday sun, I am surprised by the menu’s listing of such familiar fare as saganaki, chicken skewers and lamb pitta.

But there is much else and our lunch desires this Saturday are simple.

 

 

So we go with the meze platter for two ($32) and are delighted.

Toasted pita bread, of course.

Two dips – a dill-perfumed tzatziki and a chunky eggplant number.

A couple of good stuffed vine leaves.

Fetta cheese.

Loukaniko – pork sausage.

Pickled octopus that is all the more enjoyable thanks to its chewiness.

Best of all – two koupes, more widely known as kibbeh.

They’re fantastic deep-fried torpedoes of bulghur wheat encasing a juicy mix of lamb, onion and seasonings.

 

 

Desserts?

Yes.

It’s overshadowed by the house-made halva ice-cream ($8.5).

This combo of vanilla ice-cream and crushed choc halva sounds like it could be a mishmash, but the outcome is divine in the way it combines both flavour strands.

Our cafe lattes are excellent.

See the Xenia Food Store website here.

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

 

Sanger champs

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Butcher 128, 128 Roberts Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9318 0975

Yarraville is a big suburb.

For several reasons, much focus falls on the maze-like collection of streets in and around Anderson and Ballarat.

But Yarraville stretches a long way towards Geelong – well, to Cemetery Road anyway.

And certainly to Roberts Road, where Butcher 128 is located.

Perhaps its far-flung location is why it’s been off our radar for so long.

Even now, it’s pure happenstance that takes Bennie and I there for a quick Sunday meal.

Much of the previous tenant’s infrastructure has been kept in place – hence the name – and combined with contemporary cafe gear.

There’s a beaut covered outdoor area and play space down the back.

It’s busy in the brunch/lunch peak hour, but the staff are smiling and efficient.

One side of the menu (see below) is mostly dedicated to breakfast fare; we mine the other.

Bennie’s The Meat Hook ($15.50, top photo) is superb.

Right from the first bite, he’s nodding in enthusiastic acclamation of its braised pork belly, BBQ, Sriracha mayo and cabbage/herb slaw.

My The Baron ($14) is just as good.

The house-made salted beef, tender and thinly sliced, is about an inch thick.

It’s joined by cabbage slaw, Swiss cheese, pickle and house mustard sauce.

The bread is the just the right light, perfectly toasted, to house it all.

There surely can be no matter better argument for positing “mere” sandwiches as bona fide meals than our 10/10 pair.

So impressed by the sandwich department, I return a few days later for a bowl dish from the breakfast side of things.

XO crab ($18) has egg noodles, a fried egg, crispy shallots, house XO sauce and a soft shell crab.

It’s a modest serve and a light meal.

And it’s very dry, though the sauce flavour is happily present.

Best of all is the soft shell crab – easily the best I have had.

Well, in Melbourne anyway.

It’s crisp and sweet, and thus a far cry from the drab specimens that have helped make us un-enamoured of this particular specialty.

Our coffees, over both visits, are crazy good.

The Kimchi Guru

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“Kimchi” by Jackson Pollock, West Footscray, 2018.

 

If there’s one thing that exceeds in enjoyment the fabulous food we eat doing Consider The Sauce, it’s all the many wonderful people we meet in the process.

One of them is Justin Mansfield, a fine bloke and a long-time reader and supporter of CTS who has become a good lunch buddy and all-round pal.

He is also a man with very sour tastes.

We have happily taken delivery of jars from three different batches of his amazing pickled cucumbers.

So when the opportunity arises for me to take up an otherwise empty place in one of his kimchi classes, I grab it.

Even though I’m not a kimchi fan!

I figure Justin’s kimchi is bound to be superior to that served in most Korean places.

Besides, like it or not, I am interested in the story and the process.

(See below for details of a forthcoming class.)

 

 

The crew that gathers at West Footscray House is an interesting and happy one, with about half its members CTS readers.

Justin runs a great class.

He covers just enough of the history and background without getting bogged down in detail.

Just as interesting is his advice on the sourcing of ingredients and the tale behind his journey to becoming a self-confessed “kimchi nerd”.

 

 

Over two and a half enjoyable hours, he takes us from a pile of womboks …

 

 

… to the finished product.

 

 

Along the way, we learn about the necessity of sourcing the right dry ingredients such as salt …

 

 

… and chilli flakes, as well as the other vegetables.

 

 

After that, it’s just a matter of salting …

 

 

… mixing …

 

 

… blending …

 

 

… tossing …

 

 

… and bottling.

It was a hoot!

I learned a lot and now have two bottles of prime kimchi to experiment with at home.

For Justin’s kimchi class on July 15, go here.

 

Meal of the week No.40: Jazeera Cafe

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We’ve been aware of Jazeera Cafe (16 Paisley Street, Footscray) for a long time, but simply haven’t gotten around to visiting until now.

No doubt because we’ve established such a happy groove in going to Racecourse Road, Flemington, when we desire Somalian food.

Which is often.

However, recently CTS friend Juz has given Jazeera a couple of goes – and his feedback has been heartening.

So here we are.

I suspect there may be a menu available here … but our ordering is reduced to admirable, happy simplicity.

“Can we get some dinner here tonight?”

“What sort of food do you want?”

“Somalian food!”

“OK!”

And with that – and a big smile – our server disappears into the kitchen.

That’s fine by us.

We understand that on a low-key week night, we’re going to get what’s actually in the kitchen – or nothing at all.

As it turns, what we are provided is what we would’ve ordered anyway – soup, lamb, rice.

 

 

The soup is thicker than we’ve become used to elsewhere – more like a cream soup or a chowder.

It’s fine, but doesn’t have the zesty, lemony tang we love so much.

 

 

Our rice platter is most excellent.

It could be described as “lamb three ways” – there’s a stew, a sort-of Somalian bolognese atop the spaghetti and a big, meaty piece of braised/baked sheep meat.

Bennie has already eaten elsewhere this night, so our $15 meal does fine for both of us.

And as ever, it’s the fabulous, fragrant rice that crowns our dining as top notch.

 

A whole lot of good

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Eka Wholefoods Cafe, 129 Buckley Street, Seddon. Phone: 0412 485 132

At Consider The Sauce HQ, we figure if we ever went completely meat-free, our diet would be based mostly around the foods of the Mediterranean – African, European, Middle-Eastern.

Your actual “vegetarian food”?

Not so much.

Yes, we are cynical about such stuff.

Some of that is down to probably unfair baggage and previous bad experiences, including some with vego slop right here in the west.

Why have any truck with such food when the various national cuisines deliver meat-free food so effortlessly and with such delicious panache?

No doubt that’s why we’ve gone so long without trying Eka Wholefoods.

And why, after ordering, we are a mix of anticipation and crossed fingers.

We need not have had any fears, as what we lunch on is very fine.

 

 

The joint is the expected mix of one half wholefoods of many kinds and one half gorgeous cafe, a tranquil space in which we enjoy stopping for a while.

 

 

Bennie loves his bao tempeh sliders ($12.9).

The crispy but seemingly rather salty tempeh dances with organic kimchi, house-made peri-peri sauce, grilled shitake mushrooms and caramelised onion.

This pretty food goes down a treat.

 

 

My soba noodle salad ($16.50) is even better.

Joining the organic noodles are cherry tomatoes, chopped toasted almonds, black sesame seeds, cinnamon-crusted organic tofu and a sesame-lemon dressing.

This salad is expertly done and a pleasure to consume.

We depart without trying the good-looking range of sweet treats but with some brown rice and tamari in hand.

It’s been wonderful to have our skepticism so wonderfully rendered daft.

Check out the Eka website here.