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.

 

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.

 

Golden Mile burgers

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Burgies, 226 Old Geelong Road, Hoppers Crossing. Phone: 8742 2792

Burgies in Hopper Crossing is a sibling to one in Campbellfield.

The photos we’ve seen suggest an outdoor and rather rustic operation, so we’re not at all sure how we’re going to go on a sunny Sunday that is also windy and chilly.

 

 

After scoping the place out, we relax … having discovered that while orders are indeed processed outside, right next door is a big, warm and rather inviting dining room, its fittings seemingly niftily constructed from packing pallets.

Cool!

And whatever the meteorological challenges of ordering and dining amid the glorious tack of the Golden Mile, the place is doing very, very brisk business.

This is a popular joint.

The happy staff members are cheerful, chatty and efficient; the wait times about what you’d expect.

We order, pay and settle in for what we hope will be a good burger repast.

The menu and its lowish prices suggest solid and satisfying – and that’s pretty much how it goes for us.

 

 

The chips ($4.50) are orthodox, hot and good.

 

 

My Kefta Burger is definitely the big winner of our meal.

It has lamb patty, cos lettuce, caramelised onions, pickles and “humus sauce” – and it’s beaut, especially given the $9.50 price tag.

 

 

Bennie is less enamoured with his Flaming Burgie ($11) of beef, cheese, cos lettuce, tomato, jalapeno, tomato sauce and chilli salsa.

The parts are of sufficient quality, but he finds the sum to be just average.

He even utters the dread phrase “frozen patty”.

Now, I hasten to add he has no factual detail at hand to back up such a slur, but it does convey something of the meh moments he has with his burger.

 

 

So for him, the highlight of our Burgies sojourn is his caramel biscotti gelato thickshake.

When/if we return, we may well order from the chicken burger list, as a poultry pair we observe being consumed at the next table look pretty darn good and better than either of ours.

Bowled over

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Coracle Cafe Restaurant, 63-65 Anderson Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9315 1411

Yarraville village’s long-standing Chinese restaurant has gone.

Truth is, it went some time ago and Coracle has taken a while to arise at the same location.

The place is beautifully fitted out, mostly in blacks and whites and pale wood, with the big windows letting the light pour in.

In the months leading up to its unveiling, the name alone conveyed little information about what would be the nature of the new place … so the outcome is a bit of a surprise.

Let’s call it, definitely for want of a better phrase, Asian fusion.

Sure, as you’d expect, there’s a nice, tight list of breakfast items on the menu; and there’s brunchy things such as Vietnamese-style poached salad and “Super Green Gyoza”.

There’s banh mi, too.

Yes, $10 is a whack more than you’ll pay for banh mi in Footzcray or St Albans.

But the ones we see being inhaled around us look fabulous.

The more substantial heart of the menu, though, is the line-up of seven Coracle Bowls.

Yes, these are by way of the poke bowl trend – but Coracle’s efforts transcend just about all else we’ve tried.

On the one hand, the Coracle kitchen crew appear to with work the same basic toppings for each bowl offering, with individual tweaks as advertised.

On the other, there are super smarts at work here that kick our meals – three bowls over two visits – up and into the realms of magic.

The bento bowl ($17) is brilliant in every way.

The foundational success of every Coracle bowl very much appears to the prosaic nuttiness of the brown rice bases.

(Though Bennie’s mileage in this regard is not so extensive as that of his father …)

But here, the excellent toppings complete the job by sheer dint of quality and – equally important – by their deft apportioning.

Dressed salmon cubes, kale in sesame oil, two kinds of pickle, tobiko, broad beans, seaweed salad and more – all taste as mighty fine as they look.

Bennie enjoys his Korean bowl ($16.50), with excellent bulgogi beef.

Though he opines that more by way of starker flavour and texture contrast would’ve made him even happier.

The vegan bowl ($16.50) is very good, too, though what are listed as “tempura seasonal vegetables” are quite a long way from crunchy battered.

We are having such a fine Saturday lunch time we go the whole hog with the Coracle brownies ($6).

These don’t look anything special, especially as the melted marshmallows atop are rather unsightly and add nothing at all.

But the eating of what is both moist and chewy is of immense, top-quality choc pleasure.

The brownies are sluiced down with very good cafe lattes ($4).

It’s early days yet, but I strongly suspect Coracle will become one of our regular local haunts.

Vegan cafe shines

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One For The Crow, 9 Commercial Street, Maidstone. Phone: 0420 275 747

One For The Crow is located in a rather sleepy strip of shops – other than a cafe, there’s dance and martial arts operations and a few others more anonymous.

Its neighbourhood – in and around Dobson reserve – is itself rather sleepy.

And certainly not known for commercial activity of any kind.

But the west – inner, outer, inbetweener – is all changing so fast, so why not residential Maidstone for a cafe?

One For The Crow is vegan – though we are very happy to see regular milk available for coffee purposes.

And it is very, very kid-friendly.

It’s a lovely place, with a modest plant nursery going at the front and a handful of outdoor tables.

For all its vegan-ness, our menu (see below) choices are the sort of thing found in cafes all over.

 

 

My friends chooses the Thai curry veg pie ($6).

It is, of course, a Ka Pie – and it goes down a treat.

She likes the pasta-pesto-spinach salad ($5), too.

Though she is firmly of the opinion a sprinkling of crumbled feta would make it even better.

 

 

My waffle dish ($16) is good.

It comes with house-made nutella, maple syrup, caramelised banana and soy ice-cream.

 

 

A most excellent soba noodle bowl ($16) – enjoyed on a previous, reconnaissance visit – rather more reflects One For The Crow’s vegan credentials.

It’s packed with marinated tofu, broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts, spinach, pickled daikon and kimchi, and dressed with a tahini-miso concoction.

Every mouthful is a delight.

 

 

Our coffees are fine, too.

One For The Crow appears to have quickly made itself an indispensable and treasured part of its community.

The locals have every reason to be stoked.

 

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.

Crab burger and hot desserts

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George Jones Eatery, 15 Pascoe Street, Pascoe Vale. Phone: 9304 2917

One of the most pleasurable times of the CTS week is Saturday lunch.

Chores and blogging done, it’s time to hit the road, coffee to go and cool tunes rocking both the car and us.

Such Saturday outings regularly involve travel beyond the bounds of the western suburbs, even given the geographically generous drawing of those boundaries in the world of Consider the Sauce.

And quite often, those Saturday outing involve a romp up Pascoe Vale Road, those outings almost always ending up in Coburg and Sydney Road.

Today, though, and for the first time, we are headed to Pascoe Vale itself.

 

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We’ve been invited to dine at George Jones Eatery (see full disclosure below), and for that we end up being very grateful as without that invite this fine establishment may have escaped our attention for, well, pretty much forever.

George Jones Eatery has been open for about 12 weeks and is already a bona fide hit.

I could be glib and imply that’s because of a lack of dining options in Pascoe Vale.

I’m sure the locals around here are grateful for its presence but the truth is George Jones Eatery would be hit wherever it went.

The room is big and divided up into a variety of sections, some with communal seating.

 

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When we visit we’re told it’s a less-busy-than-usual Saturday yet the place is still hopping – and despite that, the noise levels are fine.

The staff members are many, working hard and very good.

Best of all, from a punter’s point of view, is the menu (see below).

George Jones Eatery is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a separate though not much different list for night-time.

But here’s the thing: The lunch menu – ranging from breakfast with many appealing dishes through to a kids menu, a handful of lunch mains and another handful of burgers (with chips) – features just a single dish priced beyond $20.

That there is right smart pricing – the kind that goes a long way to encouraging repeat visits.

 

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Bennie goes with the soft-shell crab burger with kewpie tartare, coleslaw and citrus dressing ($17.90).

If, somewhat inevitably, he ends up rather wishing he’d plumped for one of the meatier (chook, mushy, cow) burgers, he enjoys his nevertheless.

He should know by now that soft-shell crab – in any guise – is akin to chicken feet: It’s less about the ostensible Crab Prince and more about his courtiers.

Going by the tastes I am offered, this burger and its crab are lovely things, the Asian seasonings coming through strong.

The chips come in a huge serving – more than enough for his dad to eat of them freely – and are excellent.

 

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My seared yellowfin tuna with green beans, “heirloom tomato”, kipfler potato and romesco salsa ($21.90) is a nifty, delicious take on salad nicoise.

The gorgeous fish is barely seared, rimmed with black sesame seeds and served at room temperature.

The salady attendants are very good and all in perfectly complementary proportions.

Best of all, in terms of my own personal preferences, there is a total absence of the usually ubiquitous capers.

 

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We order two desserts, one a special, the other from the regular menu.

Choc tart surprises us – instead of the expected gooey filling cupped in a pastry base we get what seems to us more like a block of fudge.

It has fine, deep chocolate flavour and the raspberry sorbet, salted caramel sauce and honeycomb are beaut.

 

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But banana parfait with salted peanut caramel, chocolate mousse and choc rice crisp ($13) steps up to another level entirely – this is a momentous dessert!

The mousse is mindblowingly intense in terms of chocness and the parfait has a tangy edge that seems almost citrus in nature.

All is rich, sexy and memorable.

(Consider The Sauce dined at George Jones Eatery as guests of the management and we did not pay for our meal. We chose from regular menu and had no restrictions placed upon us in doing so. George Jones Eatery management neither sought nor was granted any input, oversight or pre-publication access to this story.)

 

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Top coffee crew by the lake

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Philocoffee Espresso Bar, 162 Albert Road, South Melbourne. Phone: 0476 141 597

They take their coffee seriously at Philocoffee.

Their regular brew is Five Sense – but on the day I visit, they’re taking Seven Seeds out for a run.

My cafe latte is very, very good.

Located facing Albert Park, Philcoffee is surrounded by both offices and many residents.

They do a good job of taking care of both.

Philcoffee is owned and operated by my former Star Weekly colleague, Karen, and her husband, Chee. They have a decade of cafe-running behind them.

Before I get to my coffee, they ply me with food – far more than I can so I can get a handle on what they do here.

The sandwiches and baguettes I sample are regulation for such a business but at Philocoffee they up the ante with flair and admirable freshness.

They include …

 

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… lemon-thyme chicken sandwich …

 

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… Asian pulled pork wrap. So good is the juicy meat that I rather think it would be better off out and about in a salad – just a matter of asking, I’m sure!

 

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… a lovely, crusty baguette stuffed with pesto chicken, cheese and roast capsicum …

 

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… and a salmon bagel with all the usual. This rocks mostly because the bagel is the real deal – soft and chewy.

Thanks!

Meal of the week No.24: Woven

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Can a shake be a meal?

A case for the affirmative can certainly be with the Green Tea Mega Shake made with pride at Woven.

It’s not on the menu at the Yarraville establishment (175b Stephen Street) so you need to ask.

One of these babies costs $15.

The ingredients?

Hello Gello vanilla ice cream
Nutella
Green tea KitKat
Kenko matcha tea
A doughnut
Milk
Double matcha cream
House matcha soil
Matcha shortbread biscuit

The verdict?

Hmmm, not bad.

I like that it’s not cloyingly sweet.

The green tea thing is definitely interesting.

Definitely an experience worth pursuing by westside foodies.

At least once.

We were tipped to this mega project by Consider The Sauce reader and friend Bazoo.

His supposed partner in crime failed to make it so he “did” the whole thing himself, bringing on a bout of self-flagellating self-loathing that almost tipped him over the edge.

The Green Tea Mega Shake?

It’s a sharing thing.

 

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Newport brunch alternative?

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It’s about 10am at the Newport athletics tracks and the kids are jumping.

They’re also running, leaping, panting and generally having a ball.

 

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It’s the regular little aths meeting.

But as pleasing as this spectacle is, I’m here to check out the catering situation.

It’s great!

Is there better food – or coffee – at a Saturday morning kids sport gathering anywhere else in Melbourne?

I doubt it.

 

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It’s no surprise at all – the food, drinks and coffee here are being happily dispensed by Claudio, Antoinetta and their family – the same crew that runs Pizza d’Asporto and will soon be unveiling Kiosk by d’Asporto at Williamstown.

 

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There’s appropriately healthy little aths tuckers such as Italian “donuts” and bombolone but as well there’s …

 

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… more decadent stuff like fresh fruit salad and freshly squeezed orange juice.

Oh, yeah – and pizza slices.

 

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Best of all are really good-looking panini for $4 and stuffed with the likes of egg and pancetta, ham and cheese, and tuna tomato.

 

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Sadly, I’ve already breakfasted so make do with a lovely apple turnover and an excellent cafe latte – yes, Team Pizza d’Asporto has installed a very good coffee machine.

After strolling around a bit, I decide that (yep) one those paninis and another coffee would go down very nicely.

But by then it’s rush hour as competitors and their parents besiege the kiosk.

Darn.

 

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Meal of the week No.15: Phat Milk

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CTS checks out the new F&C place in Moonee Ponds.

It’s lunch-time packed.

Worse, there is no provision for communal seating or solo diners – pure folly.

Nothing else in the Ponds appeals so I head on down to Phat Milk (208 Mt Alexander Road) – my first visit since a very enjoyable CTS Feast.

Returning here proves to be a masterstroke of luck.

I’ve a hankering for the burger I’m told they’re now doing but Sean tells me the last one is being eaten as we speak.

This, too, proves fortunate for me – as I now dive into on the Middle Eastern aspects of the menu and emerge an outright winner.

Lamb fatteh ($14) is outstanding.

There’s eggplant there in that lamb mince but it’s overwhelmed.

And the dish is on the monochrome side.

But gosh it eats like a dream and I mop every last bit.

Importantly for such a dish, the proportion of minted yogurt and wonderful pita chips to lamb is bang-on perfect.

Phat Milk is such a cool place – a cafe that always has surprising Middle Eastern slants on a menu that appears to be refreshed regularly.

And the coffee is always perfect.

See earlier story here.

Meal of the week No.10: Footscray Milking Station

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Footscray Milking Station has been around for about three years now but never before covered in any way by Consider The Sauce.

We’ve dropped in for coffee or sanger on a few occasions but …

Recently it’s become a regular for me when seeking a nice place to have a quick lunch on one of my mid-week days off, after I have taken care of blogging and associated tasks at home.

I like it – a lot – that there always seems to be ample parking.

The place is always warm and inviting.

And the coffee is grand.

A few weeks back, I had – from the specials board – a fine panini of house-smoked salmon, creamed cheese, rocket and pickled shallots.

That board is always worth checking out – one of these days, I’ll have the soup.

Today I go for the salad bowl ($12).

Normally, roast vegetable salads are no-go territory for me as they invariably number pumpkin among the ingredients.

Not today – so I’m in.

Instead, there’s big, beefy chunks of succulent fennel, chick peas, lots of parsley and even – unadvertised! – pistachio nuts, all of them dressed with a masterful touch.

I mind not in the least the other salad also includes fennel.

In this case, it’s shaved so there’s a very cool contrast with the roast version.

In my second salad, there’s also cucumber, baby tomatoes, rocket, dill and black sesame seeds.

Again, the dressing is amazing –  tangy and with just right amount of moisture to ensure ease of eating without sodden-ness.

It’s a superb, knockout lunch.

A good thing on Nelson Place

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General Food Co, 117 Nelson Place, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 8239

General Food Co is on Nelson Place but not really of it.

It’s down towards the shipyard area of Williamstown and separated from Nelson Place’s hit-and-mostly-miss range of eateries by Thompson Street with its Greek restaurant on the corner.

This is a good thing!

Instead of having a Willy food hub vibe about it, General Food Co has a friendly, we-love-locals thing going on.

 

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The interior is small but cosy; there’s an outside area that must be simply great on nice days and there’s more tables on the footpath.

The service is fine, kids are greeted on a first-name basis and the coffee is outstanding.

The two dishes CTS tries – one smaller, one larger – are lovely to eat and behold, and are cooked and presented with skill.

But they are of modest proportions.

They’re perfectly fine for a light lunch but we advise against bringing a rampant appetite here – or perhaps, if that is the case, heading towards the breakfast list, several selections of which I spy as being more generous.

 

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I’m told the “dakos” in my smashed beetroot dakos ($12.50) is a kind of Greek rusk.

Atop the pleasantly chewy bases is a cool, luscious and tangy mix of beetroot and fetta.

The balsamic reduction seems a little out place and is too sticky.

 

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Lamb keftethes ($19) are three plump, generously sized lamb meatballs, deliciously chewy and well-seasoned, with a fine tzatsiki, pita bread that is both crisp and chewy and good salad components.

Some more yogurt/cucumber and a few more slices of pita would’ve been appreciated.

It is genuine regret that I have included some critical comments in this story – General Food Co is a lovely place and, as already stated, the coffee is fab.

 

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Ka-ching! Would you like a marshmallow with that?

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When Erika encino3tered the CTS guest post contest, she hinted at “degrees of separation” links between she and I but wisely kept the details to herself. Turns out she is a fellow traveller with myself on the journalism/writer road and we have many overlapping professional and personal connections. I truly loved her contest-winning story and the subsequent review of her family’s prize lunch at Woven. And now that we’ve met face-to-face over lunch, I also know she and her husband (yes, the one that interviewed me for a job about a decade ago …) are determined and even forensic about exploring the many wonderful food options right on their Footscray front door step. So I am very happy to announce that Erika will be writing regularly for CTS. We don’t know quite how this is going to shake out yet – but we figure somewhere between once a week and once a month. I am excited about the contrast Erika will provide to my own ramblings and the small children perspective she will bring to CTS proceedings – that’s important now Bennie is a young man! I hope you enjoy her contributions as much as I know I will!

 

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Brother Nancy, 182 Essex Street, West Footscray. Phone: 0439 318 820

By Erika Jonsson

Babycinos – love them or hate them, they are a part of modern parenthood.

When my son Joe was younger I rarely had to pay for a ’cino.

I would drink my coffee and read the paper while Joe made a happy mess of his froth, a milk moustache always adorning his top lip at the end.

Over time, babycinos have become a happy habit for many families like mine – and the prices have gone up accordingly.

I made the mistake of ordering one without asking the price at a popular Footscray coffee stop and was gobsmacked to pay $2.

Since then I always check, and if it’s more than $1 Joe and I share a hot chocolate.

I have a collection of photos from our babycino dates that shows my son growing too quickly from a toddler into a boy.

 

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In July last year, Joe became a big brother to Hugh.

It’s a role he cherishes and we have all settled into life as a family of four pretty well.

As Hugh has grown, Joe and I have found a chance for regular time together again on Thursday mornings at a garden in Maidstone.

One day a couple of months ago I noticed a café in Essex St, West Footscray, and pulled up without notice.

We headed inside Brother Nancy and I asked the price of a babycino.

“They’re free. And they come with a marshmallow.”

Since that day we’ve stopped almost every week for a decaf latte, a babycino and usually a yo-yo.

It’s a beautiful ritual that doesn’t break the bank.

 

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Owner Leigh is passionate about his free babycinos – he has choice words perhaps not fit for publication about cafes that charge a premium for a bit of froth.

When he opened Brother Nancy six months ago, he wanted to create a place that families could visit regularly for restaurant-quality food in their own neighbourhood.

His chef had trialled at Vue de Monde and Atlantic but embraced the chance to create his own menu without limits in an inner-suburban setting.

At the moment nothing on the menu costs more than $16.50, and every dish I’ve seen is full of quality ingredients generously served.

But it’s the ’cinos and the warm service (and Proud Mary coffee) that keep us going back.

This week Hugh joined us for his first babycino.

Joe stole his marshmallow and most of his froth ended up on the floor, but Hugh wore his milk moustache with glee and a prized new memory was created.

Leigh, your café is the first where we’ve been regulars – and that’s not likely to change any time soon.

 

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Lunch surprise in Altona

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Two Bros On Blyth, 51a Blyth Street, Altona. Phone: 9398 8882

Consider The Sauce travels to Altona for a lazy mid-week lunch on the recommendation of a long-time reader who moved to the area a couple of years back.

She tells us she did, at first, miss her former Kensington home and its proximity to considerable eats depth, but she reckons things are looking up in Altona – and points to Two Bros On Blyth as a case in point.

The cafe is smallish, with communal or bench seating on the inner and three communal tables on the outer.

 

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I find the staff and the service to be fine.

The breakfast options are many; the lunch options less so.

I choose from a display-cabinet range of jaffles and baguettes and a single salad, though a keen looking Asian salad is added to the line-up as I depart.

I opt for a baguette of ham, brie and horseradish, wondering how those ingredients will combine and figuring the $14 price tag is about right these days.

So I am surprised and delighted when my lunch arrives beautifully presented on a board with “extras” that include cornichons and a salad.

 

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It’s the salad that lifts my repast way beyond a mere quick lunch and into the realms of something to be savoured rather more.

It’s a lovely mix of rocket, cucumber, fennel and small chick peas, all very well dressed.

I discern little or no sinus-clearing tang from horseradish, but otherwise my baguette is fine, with all the fresh ingredients making their voices heard.

 

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My $3.50 cafe latte is very nice.

I doubt Altona will ever be a first-choice dining option for us, but with the advent of joints such as Two Bros On Blyth, ya never know!

 

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Hopper’s Crossing Italian hideaway

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Domani Pasticceria, Shop 4, 220 Old Geelong Road, Hoppers Crossing. Phone: 8742 7852

Traffic lights have been installed at the corner of Forsyth Road and Old Geelong Road … to the undoubted relief of long-suffering local motorists.

Still, the roads hereabouts are demanding of driver concentration.

Old Geelong Road from Forsyth right down to Hoppers Crossing Station is one of the west’s least lovely boulevards, a kilometre or so of discount furniture stores, hardware establishments, car-fixer-upperers and discount furniture stores.

 

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We’re not being judgmental in saying that – we understand that it’s to this stretch of commercial activity that the many new residents of housing estates come to find affordable stuff for their new homes.

We’ve done so ourselves, albeit to the Good Guys for a new phone and an amusement place for a long-ago birthday party.

But no one is ever going to award this stretch of road a good-looking award.

Still, as ever in the west, interesting things are there to be found by those prepared to have a peek.

One such is Domani Pasticceria.

 

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It’s located behind a drive-through coffee stand and a fresh chicken shop that also does duty as a continental deli.

Parking is ample and, in a neighbourhood where good food and coffee are rather scarce, Domani presents as a calming retreat.

It’s Italian old-school in the way of Cavallaro’s in Footscray.

There’s nothing savoury about Domani – no pizza or pasta or sandwiches of any kind.

I suspect Domani makes most of its income from baking cakes to order for birthdays, weddings and the like.

But when Bennie and I try it out for post-school coffee and treats, it comes up, well, a treat.

 

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We split between us a chocolate mudcake ($2.50) and a chocolate beignet ($3.50).

The mudcake is pretty much a glorified, dense cupcake and just OK.

The beignet is something else … and it’s a good thing we’re sharing.

So engorged is it with chocolate cream that Bennie and I lapse into giggles at the very delicious decadence of it.

Bennie goes the chinotto route while my $3 cafe latte is very fine.

 

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The minimum card purchase is $15 so that’s exactly the amount of biscotti we snag to take home.

They’re terrific and fresh.

 

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CBD holes

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5 & Dime bagel Co., Katherine Place, Melbourne. Phone: 9621 2128

For all that I’ve been living in the west for a decade-plus, an occasional foray into the CBD remains pleasurable – especially when it’s with the primary purpose of having lunch with CTS pal Jacqui, the Urban Ma.

It’s a lovely reminder of a life that was once mine – though I never enjoyed the workplace views that Jacqui does from her 35th floor eyrie!

It’s a lovely, reminder, too, that Melbourne’s CBD is an ever-changing scene of side streets and laneways and small, affordable eateries coming and going.

In this case, jacqui has pinpointed Katherine Place as a suitable location for lunch.

 

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The buildings here are newish, but it appears this little street may be coming to life in an eats sense – there’s an Indian street food place being prepared right next door top our bagel destination.

5 & Dime is a new enterprise that specialises in bagels that are “hand-crafted, boiled and baked using the traditional method”.

The bagels – there are nine varieties available – are terrific; chewy and delicious (see menu below)!

And the prices are very low – this is a beaut place to snag a cheap, sort-of healthy lunch for inhabitants of the CBD as it is towards the Flinders and Spencer end of things.

All the cafe seating is taken, so Jacqui and I quickly and easily arrange an impromptu “catch-up” picnic just outside.

 

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We both order lox with plain cream cheese ($9.50), mine with an onion bagel.

And we share a poppy seed bagel with “green olive and za’atar cream cheese” ($5.50).

The latter is especially yummy and tangy!

See Jacqui’s post here.

Check out the 5 & Dime website here.

 

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Something groovy for WeFo

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Consider The Sauce may have views on the varying food, service and even the social media hubris of West Footscray’s Indian restaurants, but right from the start we’ve considered them a community asset.

So we were surprised to discover – via a comment on our story about new Indian kid on the block Amrutha – that such a welcoming outlook is by no means universal among West Footscray locals.

Still, as much as we love our Indian tucker, we also dig the heck out of diversity – so we’re delighted to see something very exciting happening in one of the neighbourhood’s landmark buildings.

 

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The double-storey building at 572 Barkly Street has been vacant and unused, so far as we are aware, for several years.

Its history includes time spent as an ANZ bank branch and as home for a Serbian Social Services And Support group.

That latter was still active when we were living just around the corner, many years before CTS.

My very strong visual recall is that “social service and support” meant, in this instance, a very blokey spot for coffee and gossip!

That’s the (potted) history.

The future is … Ovest.

The new eatery, at this point scheduled to be unveiled to the eating and coffee-slurping public in February, is the baby of Ben Sisley, his wife Stephanie and Alex and Kate from Seddon’s Sourdough Kitchen.

Ben has a long history in Melbourne’s hospitality industry, including more recently stints food styling in the corporate world and, before that, time with Mr Wolf in St Kilda and, before that, with Madame Joe Joe, also in St Kilda.

 

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Ben tells me Ovest (it means “west” in Italian) will offer food that will be based around the joint’s pizza oven – think pizzas and the likes of seafood and steak dishes using the same cooking apparatus.

Ben talks enticingly, for instance, of whole snapper lightly crusted/dusted with flour, seasoned, pan-fried and then quickly grilled in the pizza oven.

“We  will be tightly focused in terms of opening hours and menu at the start, and then we’ll see where the public takes,” he says.

“This is a great location and we think the area is ready for something like this.

“We see us catering to everyone from people grabbing an after-work drink right through to young families.”

What that means is … no pasta, no breakfast, dinner and maybe lunch on selected days.

Nor will there be entertainment offered – the open kitchen will play that role.

“The food is the entertainment,” Ben says.

And, thanks to a liberal licence being secured, there is the possibility of 1am finishes on Saturdays and Sundays.

“But we won’t be sitting around chewing up money on wages if there’s no customers around,” Ben quips.

Significant renovations are underway on the ground floor of the old bank building.

But in some ways it appears to be almost purpose-built for the likes of Ovest.

The classic ’60s/’70s style bar is cool as!

The area around the entrance will be for more casual, drop-in customers, with the rear area offering dining of a more formal variety.

Read Hilary McNevin’s story in The Age here.

Yup! Another new Yarraville joint

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beat9
b Eatery 21 Anderson St, Yarraville. Phone: 362 080

So Yarraville’s long-time burger place has gone.

No surprise, really.

Perhaps it was nudged out of the picture by the arrival of a Grill’d outlet just up the street.

Or perhaps it had simply done its dash.

Whatever the case, a new business is in residence – one we believe has proprietorial links with the previous establishment.

The place has been done out a treat – the ambience speaks of laid-back cool without trying too hard.

The upstairs area remains, but we hunker down in a nice back room.

 

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We suspect, appraising the menu and generally taking in the operation, that while the success of this business is no doubt the paramount aim, such success may lead to other eateries of the same ilk opening up elsewhere.

The staff, we find, do a fine, on-the-ball job for us.

The two-sided menu (see below) covers the breakfast-and-more territory, including some very unusual items.

Sesame-seared ahi tuna nachos, prawn and crab “bang bang” cakes or Italian soda fountain drinks, anyone?

In the interests of blog diversity, Bennie has been banned from ordering the burger.

So he does the next best thing by nominating the steak sandwich (pictured at top).

It does good for him, with the nice slab of meat, good rocket and garlic-lemon aioli dressing all disappearing very quickly.

The chips are unlisted but we’re glad to observe their presence, as it makes the $15.50 steak sanger price tag a good one.

The chips are good though could be hotter.

 

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We share one of the smaller items – a duck rice paper roll ($5).

It’s OK but the quack quotient is on the tardy side, meaning the roll’s filling is mostly vermicelli.

Presentation has trumped eating practicality – the hoisin sauce is prettily drizzled on the roll, the eating of which is thus a very messy business indeed.

 

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For the second time in a week, I go the healthy route with my chicken salad ($16).

It’s a nice thing, beautifully presented and super fresh, especially the finely grated apple, which mixes well with grapes of both kinds, celery and chicken.

It’s like a waldorf salad with bells on – but without the waldorfs.

Ha!

The chook is a bit tasteless and I generally think of my lunch as being on the bland side.

I resist the temptation of requesting salt and/or pepper dispensing implements, but wonder if the rest of the menu evinces such rampant moderation in the seasoning department.

Given the spread of the menu, b Eatery we feel is likely to be a hit with families.

It appears to have been set up with some ingenuity, finding a niche in jam-packed Yarraville by doing what many others are without mirroring the competition in any precise way.

 

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Newport cafe cool

8 Comments
odd1
Odd Spot Cafe, 302 Melbourne Road, Newport. Phone: 9399 2241

Following a knowledgeable recommendation, we give Odd Spot Cafe a whirl after stocking up nearby on goodies for the general all-round comfort of our new family member.

Odd Spot Cafe is situated amid a strip of shops on Melbourne Road to which we usually pay little interest as we’re usually too intent on going elsewhere when we whiz past, though we’ve also heard that the Thai joint Siam Kitchen is worth checking out.

Odd Spot has a nice fit-out dominated by black and white that speaks of coolness on a hot day.

It presents as an oasis.

We really enjoy our lunch choices and find the service to be grand.

 

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Odd  Spot features a number of dishes and a philosophy and approach that embrace “health food” – the sort of thing that can send the senior member of Team CTS fleeing.

So Bennie’s burger ($16) amply illustrates the “don’t judge a book by its cover” axiom.

It’s all-round fantastic.

He would’ve preferred onions to be cooked and some bacon but he really digs the pronounced pickled cucumber tang.

Is there anything more important – apart from the patty itself – to creating a successful burger?

The crinkle-cut chips are fine.

 

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Kenny, what are you thinking?

Sesame-crusted carrot fritters with “wilted spinach, pesto, hummus and micro herbs” ($16.50)?

Yes, I surprise myself by going all healthy.

Perhaps it’s a the festive season and all that oh-so-rich food we’ve been eating, but it does me fine.

Sure, the carrot pulp of the fritters is coated with sesame seeds rather than crusted or even, it seems, really cooked.

Perhaps I would’ve liked a bready base of some sort.

And the seasoning levels are way below what we’re used to in our mostly multicultural journey.

But right now, here today, this hits the spot.

 

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The Odd Spot cake display cabinet is chockers with great-looking things.

Bennie and I split a “chocolate fondant of goodness” ($4).

It’s a paragon of choc intensity and we love it.

Our cafe latte and hot chocolate are winners.

 

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