Ethiopian in upper Barkly

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GeBeta Cafe and Restaurant, 1/578 Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 0432 523 921

The word GeBeta, Tamrat Achamyeleh tells us, is about Ethiopian food.

Not just the platters on which the stews and pan-fried goodies are served, nor the injera with which they are accompanied or the gathered hungry folks.

Nay, it is all of the above – a sort of “let’s all eat together” statement of purpose.

We’re totally down with that, especially when it comes to trying a brand new Ethiopian eatery in West Footscray.

That’s right – West Foostcray, rather than the more typically Ethio/African precincts of the singularly named Footscray near the other end of Barkly Street.

After sampling the GeBeta food, we reckon the locals around here will love supporting this colourful addition to their eating palette, one that is otherwise tilted towards Indian food – though not quite as much as is sometimes claimed.

GeBeta is being run by Tamrat Achamyeleh and Tiruzer Ahunem, whose food we enjoyed on many occasions at Ras Dashen on Nicholson Street.

We admire their smarts in moving up the road where there is much less competition of the Ethiopian variety.

None, actually.

The menu – see it at the place’s website here – features a line-up of reliable Ethiopian regulars.

We are in a meaty mood so share a lovely spread of doro w’et – “the national dish of Ethiopia” – and kh’ey tibs at $15 each.

The doro w’et is rich, oily and all delicious, its single chicken drumstick and hard-boiled egg quite sufficient in terms of heft.

The kh’ey tibs is light on the menu-nominated “berbere infused curry”, but is still very good, the just-cooked onions adding welcome crunch and texture.

All is abetted by a nice salad studded with green chilli slices.

GeBeta serves injera made with teff at the weekends, but the regular hybrid version at other times.

Tamrat tells us they hope in the future to have on the menu the beef bone soup we loved at their Footscray establishment.

At the moment, the restaurant is a cash-only proposition.

Steak sanger heaven

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For Heaven’s Steaks, 1463-1465 Centre Road, Clayton. Phone: 95436403

Consider The Sauce dined at For Heaven’s Steaks a few years back with Nat Stockley.

So enjoyable was the occasion that, more recently, I was somewhat flummoxed by the realisation it had not been recorded – with story and photographs – right here.

But the delicious memory has lingered, fanning a determination to get Bennie there some time to eat such wonderfulness for himself.

The drawback?

Clayton is long way to go for a steak sandwich.

Rather, it seems like a long way to go for a steak sandwich.

Truth is, it’s not much further than the treks we regularly undertake all over the west.

But in our own stomping ground, with almost all byways and highways agreeably familiar to us, drives to Werribee or Truganina or Deer Park seem no more taxing than a jaunt around the corner to the local shops.

Doing battle with the bridge, Kingsway and the Princes Highway is a whole nuther matter.

But the day arrives when Bennie, unimpressed with the westie Sunday lunch options offered, says: “Let’s go!”

It’s an adventure!

The traffic is as gnarly and stressful as expected, so it’s a relief to pull up at the venue and, once more, meet Nat – and get right down to business.

 

 

For Heaven’s Steaks is very much your old-school eatery of the Italian kind.

In terms of ambience, it reminds me of the Embassy Taxi cafe on Spencer Street in the city – that is, rather charmless in a charming way.

But who cares?

We’re here for the food – and the food at For Heaven’s Steaks is of Everestian standards.

 

 

The wall-mounted menu behind the serving counter lists various options, including tuna and cold cuts.

But I’m guessing more than 90 per cent of customers order one of the steak sandwich options – with good reason.

As detailed at the bottom of the menu, all come with “roasted peppers, lettuce, tomato, cheese, egg and salami”.

Truth be told, the salami – a thin offering – is mostly lost amid such a robust line-up of flavours.

As well, we all get chillis as an extra.

 

 

My dining companions go with the Italian Classic Double ($16, above) with steak and sausage.

For me, the Italian Double ($15) with sausage (top photo).

All is superb!

Nat comments with zeal how great it is to enjoy a steak sandwich in which the steak is of such good quality and so well cooked that it is a breeze to eat without the kind of chewing and tugging that leads to whole deal disintegrating.

Much of that is also down to the baguette-style rolls used.

If they’re not sourced from a Vietnamese bakery, they certainly seem like they have been.

The sausage is presented in sanger-friendly patty form yet boasts texture and seasoning that is profoundly Italian.

The fried eggs are perfect and the cheese is stretchy.

Worth the drive to Clayton?

Oh, yes!

Meal of the week No.47: DaLat Hill Sunshine

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Perusing Sunshine Plaza on a casual walk-through, one might conclude it’s doing it tough.

There are a lot of premises without tenants.

The supermarket has become a Dimmeys.

The fresh produce/market Big Fields has become the otherwise identical Vicfields

And the deli next door has closed.

But …

There still exists here a community vibe of the sort that struggles to gain a foothold at the bigger shopping centre across the road and others of its kind.

The tables and chairs outside the aforementioned deli, for instance, seem to remain a friendly gathering place.

And Sunshine Plaza management continue to fight the good fight with regular FB updates on centre affairs.

Another crew that’s injecting life at the plaza is the one behind DaLat Hill Sunshine, which occupies one of the premises fronting Hampshire Road.

 

 

Despite its Vietnamese name, there’s no rice paper rolls or pho here.

Instead, they are going their own sweet way, developing a niche based around steak, along with regular cafe fare (see menu below).

Here you can get T-bone, ribeye, scotch fillet and the like at fair prices.

But the place’s big drawcard, one designed to get new customers through the door yet also remain an always available “special”, is the Special Rump Steak for $10.

We are a little surprised to be asked how we want our meat cooked, as we figure the $10 steak will be of the ultra-thin variety sometimes served as part of Vietnamese steak-and-eggs and for which precise cooking instructions are pretty much irrelevant.

So … medium rare for us both.

How good can a $10 steak be?

The answer, at DaLat Hill Sunshine, is … just fine.

Sure, you’ll not be chowing down here on prime, big-bucks beef, but our steaks are enjoyable nonetheless.

And they’re nicely sized for our Saturday lunch, steak not normally being something we would otherwise ever consider ordering for anything other than an evening meal.

And then, only very rarely.

Haha!

But what makes our meals more than just adequately satisfying – and propels them into realms of bargain pleasure – is the care taken with the accompaniments and the presentation.

The mashed potato is very, very good.

The asparagus spears are both cooked through and crisp.

The thin gravy is fine for meat dipping.

And even the rosemary garnish does its part by imbuing all with a just the right amount of perfume.

The service is fine and smiling – as are the Vietnamese iced coffees with which we depart.

 

Fish, chips, excellence

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Batterbing, 60 Douglas Parade, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 1227

Batterbing is located in a Douglas Parade premises that has been home to fish and chips for a long, long time.

Decades, I’m guessing.

Can any Williamstown readers tell us?

In any case, these days – under its newish name – it’s being run by John McMonagle, whose work we loved so much at Dough! in Newport.

His Williamstown location is superior – it’s handily placed for more drop-in and foot traffic.

And that’s great – it means more people can enjoy the super work being done by John and his team.

The place remains very much an old-school fish and chip shop, with rudimentary dine-in facilities – a bench and stools inside, a few tables and chairs on the footpath outside.

But none of that matters.

Here be made – and happily consumed – what are, in our opinions and experience, the best fish and chips in the western suburbs.

(Matched mind, you, by Ebi in Essex Street, Footscray – very different style, equally fine outcome.)

The Batterbing art starts with chips.

Here the potatoes are hand-cut and tumbled – and are wonderful.

Real spuds make for hip chips.

I go with my never-fail arrangement carried over from the Dough! days – now officially called Combo for 1 ($15, top photograph).

Those chips, a handful of tender calamari rings and a nice chunk of juicy, delicious and expertly deep-fried blue grenadier.

So very fine!

Unlike Dough!, there are no pizzas at Batterbing.

But there are burgers – so we take one of them for a run, too.

The Lil Jerry Seinfeld – is there some in-joke I’m missing? – is a doozy.

Crisp and deeply tanned deep-fried chicken thigh is joined in burger harmony by just the right amount of slaw and mayo in a purple bun.

Like all the Batterbing burgers, it comes with a side of those chips – and that makes the $13 entry fee a dead-set bargain.

Regular burgers, too

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Upsize Burger Bar, 2/234 Barkly Street, Footscray.

Consider The Sauce – leastwise, the senior partner thereof – has no truck with burger towers.

Well, no truck with the eating of them.

But I confess to being intrigued by these burger equivalents of skyscrapers.

Which is just as well, because my Facebook feed regularly features photos of such things.

But, nope – if it cannot be grasped in two eager hands, and/or requires a knife and fork, not interested in eating.

Though I suspect, if Bennie was given free rein, he’d be right into exploring what seems little more than macho posturing to me.

In that regard, I accept I am in some sort of minority and that there is widespread interest in, and fandom of, this particular burger cult.

Upzsize Burger Bar is catering to it with panache, with many sorts of flamboyant arrangements – including using donuts  and mac-n-cheese as buns!

 

 

The in-house photos illustrate some of the more conservative options available.

On the place’s FB page are to be found many spectacular examples of high-rise burger architecture.

The Barkly Street joint is something of a temporary exercise.

It’s open on Friday, Saturdays and Sundays – and only for three more weekends (making its last day Sunday, November 25).

We are happy to explore Upsize to the extent of their regular burgers – and we enjoy doing so.

 

 

My Basic B ($14) is a good, solid, workmanlike burger.

It has two beef patties, American cheese, “FCM sauce” and pickles – and goes down fine.

 

 

Bennie chooses the chicken equivalent for the same price.

He likes it.

The chicken is crisp and the slaw delivered in appropriate amount.

We both much enjoy that the pickle slices are so plentiful that they constitute a strong flavour component, as opposed to the usual mere whiff.

 

 

The regular order of beer-battered fries is very generous for $5.

They’re good.

But remind me that a CTS story on this particular genre of chip will be the go come my Christmas break.

Where do they come from?

How much beer – if any – is actually involved?

And are they actually re-constituted spud – and thus the potato equivalent of chicken nuggets?

 

Highpoint’s new food champ

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Farang Thai BBQ, Highpoint, Maribyrnong. Phone: 0478 959 182

Heading to Highpoint, we have no previous experience with the food truck iteration of Farang.

I warn Bennie – and in the process, myself – to keep expectations in check.

A food truck setting up a pop-up operation at a shopping centre?

My scepticism is not just about the quality of the food, but also concerns serving sizes.

We are HUNGRY.

We shall see.

Farang is set up in shipping containers outside at the Rosamond Road side of Highpoint.

It’s well done. There’s the kitchen/servery, some outdoor tables and a cosy indoor area with a bench and seating.

My doubts are given a swift kick towards optimism with a view of the gleaming kitchen.

I mean, how often do you see a fat mortar and pestle in such a place?

 

 

We both order Farang’s meal-for-one box set for $15, myself with house-made northern Thai sausage, papaya salad, relish (nam prik noom), sticky rice and (as a sort-of garish) the health food known as crispy pork cracklings.

And – just like that (sound of fingers snapping) – there go all my all low expectations.

This is some serious Thai tucker.

The serve size is excellent for the price ($15).

The papaya salad is wet, crunchy, delicious and studded with peanuts.

The sausages?

Oh my.

Amazing – they explode with flavour from lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and more.

 

 

Bennie’s similar Farang box deal come with grilled pork shoulder (moo yong) with nam jim jaow dipping sauce.

He, too, loves his meal – though, IMO, the meat is merely very good, as opposed to my superb sausages.

 

 

Our box deals have been sufficiently generous and fine to assuage our hearty appetites, but in the interests of a broader blog story, we order Farang’s grilled corn ($6).

We have been short-changed elsewhere when ordering variations of this dish.

But here we’re happy.

The corn is juicy and comes with a coating of salted coconut milk and, according to the menu, sweet chilli jam.

There’s precious little evidence of the latter, but we both nod approvingly as we gnaw.

Bring on the dental floss.

Farang Thai BBQ will, we’re told, be at Highpoint until March – after which other arrangements may kick in.

It is open until 9pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; until 6pm on the other days.

 

Meal of the week No.46: Sankranti

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Ultra, mega low restaurant prices, we all know, inevitably mean someone is being ripped off.

But when those prices are seemingly offered only for a special, brief time in a bid to signal some new offering or opening hours tweak – well, we are happy to respond.

Especially when it’s one of our two favourite western suburbs Indian eateries that is doing the seducing!

(You’ll have to read our 2018 wrap in a month or so to find out the name of the other!)

With the arrival of warmer weather and daylight saving, Sankranti Australia (250 Barkly Street, Footscray) is throwing open its doors on Mondays.

And to get the word out, it’s offering three dishes at very, very low prices.

My understanding is that this low-cost trio will be available for at least one more Monday – beyond that, you’ll need to check with the restaurant.

Mysore bonda ($5.95, top photograph) are described to us as dumplings.

 

 

But they seem more to us like savoury doughhnuts – and is there anything better than deep-fried dough?

They are fresh, unoily, pliant to the point of sponginess, yummy and served with the same condiments that accompany dosas.

 

 

Andra kodi vepudu ($6.95) is simple dish of pan-fried on-the-bone chicken pieces in a bright red, tangy sauce.

 

 

Our chicken biryani ($6.95) lacks the standard hard-boiled egg half.

But at these prices, we’re hardly going to complain!

And with two chicken chunks immersed in the rice and good gravy and runny, onion-laced thin raita on the side, it’s just fine.

Beaut meal for two; $20.

Thanks!