Burger doubleheader

1 Comment

 

Slider Diner, 82 Charles Street, Seddon.
Fugu Fish Bar, 11 Wests Road, Maribyrnong. Phone: 7015 8733

In handful of months, Consider The Sauce will turn nine.

Much has changed in that time for western suburbs food talk.

A few westie-oriented blogs have come and gone, while the coverage in the MSM and other media outlets based on the other side of the Maribyrnong remains haphazard and selective.

Yet it seems to me the tempo of ongoing discussions about western suburbs food has actually increased.

I attribute that to the enthusiastic embrace of a plethora of community Facebook pages right across the west.

It’s a regular thing to see posts and photos of new places opening (and closing) and long threads of comments responding to recommendations for pizzas or coffee or vegan tucker – and much more.

For that reason, I long ago realised that aspiring to cover everything that is happening – and being eaten – across the west is the stuff of nervous breakdown.

So we go our merry way – and enjoy immensely, and participate in, the broader conversations.

For instance, very few of the bars that have bloomed in the inner west in the past few years have received coverage here.

And it’s for that reason that Slider Diner was not really on our radar.

Just another burger joint, hey?

But visit it we do when our Seddon eating destination of choice turns out to be closed.

That’s a fine outcome, for we enjoy Slider Diner.

 

 

Located in the premises formerly occupied by Ajitoya, the place is done out in nice and bright retro diner style.

And the slider angle?

Well, that seems to be all about the availability of half-size burgers in a menu (see below) dedicated to classy fast food – with a few twists along the way.

Usually, half portions cost significantly more than half the full price.

So Slider Diner deserves much kudos for the fact its “sliders” cost precisely half of their full-portion equivalents – and they’re generous to boot!

This means an individual customer can enjoy some diversity without paying a price in terms of quantity or money.

 

 

Bennie is well pleased with slider cheeseburger ($7) and kim cheezy ($7) with crunchy fried chicken, kim chi slaw, smoked cheddar and gochujang sauce (Korean red chilli sauce).

My fish burger ($15, top photo, not available in half size) is damn fine.

The deep-fried rockling fillet, juicy and flavoursome and meltingly tender, is accompanied by lemon dill mayo, lettuce and just the right quantity of finely sliced pickled onion.

 

 

We are utterly incapable of ordering the likes of burgers or gyros without also summoning chips.

But all we want is a taste, really.

So we wish more places would offer said chips in appropriately sized – and priced – portions.

Slider Diner does just that for $5.50 – though these are just OK.

Will we return to Slider Diner?

Yes – quite possibly to build a meal out of sides such as chicken wings, popcorn chicken, Tex-Mex corn cob, truffled mac n cheese and pulled pork doughnuts.

 

 

“Dad, your patty looks like it’s a frozen one!”

Such is Bennie’s gloomy visual assessment of my wagyu burger at Fugu Fish Bar.

A fresh-faced fish and burger joint, Fugu is located at the nexus of Hampstead and Wests roads, a few blocks from Highpoint and in a long-standing small shopping precinct that houses another dedicated burger joint.

This is an area undergoing rapid change as more and more people move in.

We both “combo” our meals for $3 extra, so my burger deal clocks in at $17 with the addition of coleslaw.

My burger is better than indicated by Bennie’s scorn – but it’s acceptable without being memorable.

The coleslaw is outstanding.

 

 

Bennie is happy with his southern chicken burger ($15 with chips), even though it appears a little crumpled.

The chips are OK. Just.

 

 

On an earlier, reconnaissance visit, I enjoyed my blue grenadier with chips and coleslaw, the latter again superb.

The little things count!

In this case, I was not offered a combo set-up so my lunch costs more through the addition of $6 worth of salad on top of the $12 for the classic fish/chip deal.

The fish was bigger than it looked at first glance and good eating, though the batter was a bit doughy.

Fugu has been recommended to us by friends/readers, so we are disappointed to be a little underwhelmed overall.

If we lived in the area, we’d be regulars, for sure – in the process, getting to know the menu and what really sings.

 

 

Fish, chips, excellence

110 Comments

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.

Old-school fish and chips

3 Comments

 

The Little Chippy, Sanctuary Lakes Shopping Centre, Point Cook. Phone: 7379 7065

Is there a word for what happens when restaurants tart up old-school food?

Hipsterised, yuppified, gentrified – like that, but meant specifically for food?

I enjoy eating in pleasant surroundings, but the CTS ethos holds that our dining experiences are about the food and the people who make it, with daylight between them and the likes of decor, ambience and on-trend.

But there is one of our fave kinds of food where the opposite is true.

We love new-school fish and chips.

We like the crisp, shiny places; we like the effort that is made with salads and the like; we love that often there is a variety of fish and other seafood available, matched by different methods of having it cooked.

And we absolutely love that such places tend to operate as restaurants proper – and that means tables, chairs, and crockery and cutlery of the non-plastic variety.

We have no interest in revisiting the “good old days” of fish and chips.

But for some people, that does hold appeal.

And a sub-set of such people involves those for whom old-school fish and chips ideally have a particularly British bent.

The Little Chippy could’ve been created for them.

 

 

It’s old-school from the ground up.

Mind you, half the menu (see below) is dedicated to burgers and the like.

But the other half of the food list tells the story.

No potato cakes or dimmies here.

But there is curry sauce and mushy peas and battered sausages.

The place is done out in minimalist takeaway style, with in-house eating restricted to pozzies available at the window bench and its tall stools.

Oddly, the servery and prep area is obstructed from customer view.

I’m not sure what that’s about – we all love watching our food prepared; it almost seems like part of the admission price.

But I’m definitely up for giving it a go!

And if that’s the case, I am may as well go whole hog.

So I order the North Atlantic cod with chips ($16), with a tub of Little Chippy’s coleslaw ($3) on the side.

It’s been a long time since I settled in for a fish-and-chip feed wrapped in paper!

 

 

I like the chips – there’s plenty of them and they’re defiantly old-fashioned and a long ways from shoestring fries and beer-battered chips.

The fish?

Well, it’s a mixed bag.

I can tell just by looking at it that there are going to be problems.

I’m right – sure enough, as soon as I try to pick it up, it falls apart into several different pieces, with some of them losing their batter in the process.

I’m unsure if this is a characteristic of this particular fish species, or if it’s something to do with the fact that as an import, it’s presumably been frozen.

Whatever its cause, it’s not something I want to see in my fried fish and detracts from my enjoyment.

The fish, however, is very nice indeed – mild of flavour, well cooked and with just the right amount of al dente meatiness.

 

 

The surprise of my meal is the coleslaw.

What looks like a regulation version of the gloopy and over-dressed takeaway joint salads found the length and breadth of the land turns out to be superb – fresh, crunchy, a little on the lovely salty side and a bargain at $3.

I can understand the attraction Brit-style F&C has for some people.

But we’ll be sticking to new-school.

 

They’re off – new Flemo burger joint

1 Comment

 

Straight Six, 336 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9376 2333

Based on its proximity to Flemington racecourse, this flashy new burger joint – on the corner of Racecourse Road and Pin Oak Crescent, and right opposite the Doutta Galla pub – has enthusiastically embraced a theme based around horse racing.

Yep, from the name and onwards, it’s all very horsey.

There’s garish, internal neon signs proclaiming “feeling lucky?” and “burgers so good you’d put your house on”.

The burgers themselves sport the names of famous steeds of the past.

And the staff are all wearing T-shirts telling you they’re stewards – just in case you miss the drift.

It all seems a bit, well, lame to me – but then, I’m in no way a fan of horse racing.

 

 

The lack of subtlety doesn’t stop with the repeated racing motifs – the place is, generally speaking, bright and loud, the music overbearingly so.

But, hey, I’m probably not in the focus demographic for such a place.

It’s been open a little more than a week and has been busy the whole time, Uber bags by the dozen heading out the door from day one.

They’ve even had to hang up the “sold out” sign on occasion.

We do the burgers and sides routine with happy results.

There are some unexpected options on the menu (see below) we may take up on a future visit – fish and chips, for instance, or chicken ribs, loaded fries and a chicken/waffle/bacon offering.

 

 

The Phar Lap ($11) is one step up from the basic cheeseburger (the Saintly, $8).

Phar Lap tastes fine with its 120g patty, cheese, Straight Six sauce, pickles, onion, lettuce and tomato.

But it’s made for those of medium appetite only – it’s gone in a flash.

If you’re wanting something with more heft, go for …

 

 

… the Think Big ($14).

Oh yes, this is more like it.

The double 100g patties, double cheese, excellent bacon, spicy Straight Six sauce, jalapenos and onion combine to create a beaut burger.

It eats bigger than my photo indicates!

 

 

A small serve of beer-battered onion rings is generous for the $4 asking price.

They’re well cooked, but oh-so-very-decadently rich and more like beer-battered batter than onion rings!

Good, though, if that’s your thing.

 

 

The chips, small serve for $4, are also a fine deal.

They’re very good.

Perhaps it’s all about – or much about – timing and location.

And perhaps pizzazz, too.

A year or so ago, a burger enterprise arose further along Racecourse Road, folding quietly after a few months having made no impression whatsoever.

Straight Six, by comparison, has been an instant hit.

I may not dig the racing theme, but we have enjoyed our burgers and sides a lot.

 

That’s not coleslaw!

Leave a comment

hunky1

 

Hunky Dory, 28 Pratt Street, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9326 0350

CTS had been wanting to try the new Moonee Valley branch of the Hunky Dory chain right from day one, but has been thwarted by its popularity and a lack of communal seating.

The latter, in particular, seems foolish in a high-turnover swish fast-food place.

But, finally and during a very busy Friday lunch hour, I grab one of the small for-two tables and settle in.

The plates – platters is more accurate – I see whizzing about me are massive and laden with way more than simple fish and chips.

Indeed, F&C seems a minority – mostly it appears to be all about salads, grilled seafood and heaps of molluscs.

So how do I go with my CTS benchmark order of F&C, chips, coleslaw?

Not so good …

Chips – excellent; I eat each and every one.

Fish of the day (blue grenadier) – the batter is not crisp, it is leathery. The fish itself, however, is beautiful, moist yet firm, delicious.

Coleslaw – oh dear.

I ordered this with profound misgivings as all I saw in the display cabinet was a pile of chopped cabbage. Assured that what would be on my plate would be dressed, I took the plunge – so to speak.

And, yes, it is dressed – with quite a tasty mayo concoction.

But it’s a dribble that in no way dresses or is adequate for the masses of veg on my plate.

Often F&C places, and chicken shops, serve coleslaw that has so much mayo that it’s more like a broth with some cabbage in it.

This one goes in precisely the other direction.

Chopped cabbage and coleslaw are not interchangeable terms or concepts.

Mind you, the price for my lunch – $13.50 under the guise of the Hunky Dory “grilled fish pack” – is ace and significantly below what would be the combined prices of the three components.

It’s just one meal and I’m happy to believe/hope that I simply had a bad day.

Meanwhile, this Fairfax story has what seems to be the latest update on Hunky Dory, its fish-labelling practices and state of fish imports in general.

 

hunky2

Fishy delights

3 Comments

blu5

 

Serenity Blu, Shop 4/29-35 Lake St, Caroline Springs. Phone: 8390 1700

A few days after eating at Serenity Blu, a friend asked what there was to write about a fish and chip shop.

Turns out she was not familiar with the new-school F&C joints that have come on the scene in the past decade or so – somewhat in tandem with the similar burger places.

For her, fish and chips meant wrapped in paper and always takeaway.

The places we like, by contrast and featured many times here on Consider The Sauce, are quite different.

So what do we seek or want from flash F&C places?

We want a nice, bright, clean setting.

We expect to eat in-house.

We want cooks/chefs who look like they know what they are about – if they’re dressed smartly, so much the better.

 

blu6

 

We like seeing a nice line-up of at least a couple of good salads.

We most definitely expect to use real cutlery to eat food that is on real plates (or, in the case of Serenity Blu, boards).

We want to see a good range of seafood available, both grilled and fried.

Most of all, we’ve come to expect to be able to get fish, chips and salad, well presented, for under $20 – that is, at least $10 less than the same meal would cost in a restaurant proper or pub.

Serenity Blu, a new operation in Caroline Springs housed in what was formerly Ocean’s D’Lish, scores well on all those counts.

 

blu8

 

Though we’re equally happy to see they are enough grounded in F&C tradition to offer potato cakes and chips with gravy!

My mid-week lunch companion is Conan of the Yo India Food Truck, a Caroline Springs local.

As we talk shop and other matters of mutual interest, we enjoy a very nice lunch.

 

blu4

 

Conan chooses the grilled salmon with chips and salad ($17.50).

The fish is well cooked through but still very good.

 

blu3

 

My flathead fillet with chips and salad ($16.50) is every bit as fine.

The fish is well battered and cooked, and of a good size.

In both our cases, the chips are good but fall short of great.

My coleslaw – the serve is smaller, by my choice, than would’ve normally been provided – is fresh and lovely.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is Conan’s quinoa/melon/grape salad.

Normally, I’d be suspicious of anything so redolent of hipster wellness, but this really does taste wonderful.

 

blu1

 

Serenity Blu is the baby of Aydin.

That’s her in the middle, with nephew Tarkan on the left and son Yakup on the right.

Tarkan has previously worked at Nobu and that sort of breeding shows in the food preparation and presentation at Serenity Blu.

****

Perhaps I should keep a closer eye on Caroline Springs.

In some spare time I had before meeting Conan, I spied restaurants of the Japanese and Malaysian varieties that I did not know were there.

Then, in the shopping centre proper, I ran into Jacqui The Urban Ma and her kids.

Finally, as I entered Serenity Blu itself, I met Natalie Galea Ahmet.

Natalie runs Garden of Eden Photography, and through that has somewhat accidentally fallen into doing social media work for eatries she has shot – including this one!

It was through contact she made with a Star Weekly colleague that I learned about this new F&C place.

I love how connections work.

 

blu9

blu10

Photo: Garden of Eden Photography

blu7

blu2

App zap brings fish and chips

4 Comments

log1

 

Consider The Sauce is skeptical about apps.

Sure, since belatedly joining the smart-phone world, I make daily use of a variety – gmail, wordpress, ColorNote, the ABC, my credit union.

But when it comes to our zeal for exploring the world and new things in it, apps – it mostly seems – are all about limiting choices and discoveries.

After all, apps are a closed world – you are limited to what the app creators/owners have included.

And then, of course, there’s the familiar joke – an app is someone wanting to sell you something.

However, we have been won over by Menulog.

Really, this app and the attendant service are beaut.

And we offer that endorsement freely and with no support or inducements from the company.

(A few years back, Menulog did try repeatedly to get me involved in doing promo work for them. The approaches were painfully inept:

“I am a major fan of your writing and thought you would appreciate if I send you a few ideas that might help you grow your audience:

1. Partner with other bloggers (I can give you some contacts if you want).

  1. Run a competition (do you need free prizes? Just let me know).
  1. Use infographics in your posts …
  1. Give back to the community: review your local restaurant and help them to promote their name (I can organize a free meal from them for you).
  1. Have you thought about having a guest post on your blog? Menulog can send some really fun editorial content and stats e.g. Top 5 takeaway meals in your city or even Top takeaway orders to cure a hangover.”)

So we have come to appreciate Menulog all on our own.

We’ve found the service and its cost and processes pretty much faultless.

OK, once – a few weeks ago – the delivery guy failed to include a can of soft drink.

But that’s it.

Getting food delivered is not something of which we’re REALLY big fans of – we much prefer getting out and about; meeting the people who make the food we love makes it taste so much better.

But sometimes it is just the ticket.

Inner-west favourites we’ve used Menulog on so far are Kitchen Samrat, Mishra’s Kitchen, Kenny’s Yum Cha House, Rizq Bangladeshi Cuisine, Motorino and Krishna Pait Pooja.

For this lazy Friday night, we’re taking a Menulog punt with one of our favourite westie fish and chip places – Dough! in Newport.

We’re usually rather fastidious about always wanting to eat F&C we’re they’re made – so we’re a little nervy about what sort of nick our meal will be in by the time it arrives.

 

log2

 

Our fears turn out to be completely unfounded – our food has, it appears, gone straight from the deep-fyers into a car and thence driven straight from Newport to Yarraville.

Everything is hot and fresh.

Two two big, handsome slabs of battered fish are wonderful.

Two serves of BBQ corn at $1.20 each turns our to be three slivers – they’re fine and juicy but it’s not clear how BBQ-ing has been going on with them.

The chips?

Those legendary rough-cut, warts-and-all chips?

“Wow – these chips are so great!” quips Bennie.

These are terrific fish and chips – and our meal has turned out to be much the same price (and better) as if we’d walked around the corner to Anderson Street.

With a $5 delivery fee and a 10 per cent discount for a first-time order, the total is $25.61.

Forgetting about the corn and getting a small serve of chips (which would’ve been ample) would get that price down to a very splendid $21.15.

Ordering a home-delivered meal from Dough! has also seen us not left to deal with the plastic containers that go with all other delivered food, save for pizza.

Another potential downfall?

I wonder if the delivery drivers, in general, are caught up in the same onerous work/pay/conditions situation as convenience store workers and Myer cleaners.

I’m very interested in some reader feedback on this.

Do you use Menulog?

Or another service?

If so, what have been your westside winners?

What – if any – have been the disasters?

Meal of the week No.6: Ebi

5 Comments

f&c

 

The dinner hour for CTS and, we suspect, many other bloggers and foodies is somewhere between 6pm and 7pm.

For some, this is the legacy of having – or having had – very young children.

Perhaps “available light” has something to do with it.

I’ve even heard of bloggers who only do lunch for that very reason!

But a big part of it for us is … we’re hungry for food, hungry for adventure.

So 8pm seems way too late, especially on a work/school night.

The Mediterranean post-sietsa 9pm or later?

Unimaginable!

Early evening dining also means missing rush hour and always getting a seat.

In the case of tiny Ebi in West Footcray, that latter point is no small thing.

Entering by myself and taking a seat at the bar, I go through the usual routine … look at the display cabinet, consult the blackboard menu, peruse the regular menu, before saying …

“I’ll have fish and chips thanks, John – large!”

John: “How did I know you were going to say that?!”

Me: “Hmmpf! You must have other regulars who always order the same thing?”

The genial, chrome-domed Ebi host the proceeds to count off a long list of regulars with whom he is on first-name terms and their invariable choices – “fish three ways”, vegetable balls, udon, bento and so it goes.

Everyone gets their own groove on at Ebi …

Old-school WeFo

2 Comments
cons4

 

Con’s Fish And Chips, 577 Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 9689 280

Bennie and I had good fish and chips from Con’s many moons ago but haven’t explored the place further since then.

This time, I’ve been nudged through the door by Col and the very excellent Barkly Village Facebook page he runs – he’s raved about the Con’s burgers several times, arousing my interest.

Truth is, we’d looked elsewhere largely based on our preference to eat in and sit down whenever possible, no matter what kind of food is at hand.

So I’m delighted to find, in what is a basic take-away operation, a small table and chairs for my comfort and enjoyment.

Long tells me she and Hung have run the joint for about 11 years but that they still see the eponymous Con from time to time.

 

cons1

 

Did I say old-school?

How can you tell?

 

cons2

 

I’m super impressed that Long provides me a half serve of the minimum serve of chips for $2.

They, too, look old-school but are fine, hot and enjoyable.

Predictably, even a half serve is way too big.

 

cons3

 

My “one with the lot minus egg” ($7) is a two-hands job that is demolished quickly – it’s a typically enjoyable, um, old-school burger.

In the way of such places, the patty has been smashed flat.

I don’t have any problem with that – tradition is tradition, after all.

But next time, I’ll request an extra patty.

These folks are so friendly and obliging, I’m sure that will not present any problem!

 

cons5

Meal of the week No.1

Leave a comment

dough21

 

CTS has become quite besotted with the fish and chips served up by Dough! in Blackshaws Road, Newport.

They’re quite different in vibe and personality from those created by our other fave F&C joint – but no less excellent.

The chips are tumbler-peeled, hand-cut and all-terrific.

The fish, in this case a nice piece of blue grenadier, is always beautifully cooked although it does usually fall apart in my hands.

I don’t care, so good is it!

The calamari, too, is always tender and tasty – and it’s the real thing.

See earlier story here.

The BeeeasT of Tarneit

2 Comments
beeeast2

 

BeeeasT Burgers, 1 Alexandra Avenue, Tarneit. Phone: 9974 6971

It’s difficult to imagine a more whitebread upbringing than school life in particular and life in general than that experienced by CTS in the ’60s and ’70s.

There were occasional exotic influences and people – though not much in the way of exotic food – but by and large Maori people and culture in particular were something that happened in textbooks, the North Island or the All Blacks.

A later career move that found me living, and surfing, in Gisborne and, before and after, in Wellington brought a more homogenous New Zealand to my life.

Still, the Melbourne move when it came was made at least in part because of the desire not to simply slip into a Kiwi sub-culture in, say, Sydney or Brisbane.

I love my Kiwi brothers and sisters, whatever their genre, but I have no desire to be surrounded by them at the expense of all else.

But after almost 15 years in the west, there has been a change.

It started – or, rather, I started to notice it – at Bennie’s primary school, where one of his best pals was a young Maori lad.

It continued with the thoroughly Kiwi-infused vibe of the Footscray Bulldogs Rugby Union Club, for which Bennie played for a couple of seasons.

In more recent times, I have enjoyed monitoring the ups and downs of the Altona Roosters Rugby League Club, though I have yet to make it to a game.

As well, I am enjoying observing through Facebook the beaut work of Victoria Maori Wardens and their efforts to keep Maori and Islander youngsters from getting into big trouble. I will make it a point to meet them one day.

I even diary-marked a couple of Waitangi Day functions this year – one in Elsternwick, one in Altona – but sadly missed both.

Maori may not flow in my blood but it resides in my soul, and is capable of surprising me with the force and profundity with which it sometimes surfaces.

 

beeeast1

 

All these things are but a reflection of the fact the Maori and Islander population of Melbourne’s west has increased dramatically in the past decade or so, drawn like so many of us from around the world by housing prices but also, these days, no doubt by a sense of community as well.

Honey knows all about it.

She and her family live in Point Cook, but Honey travels to Manor Lakes p-12 College for her regular gig as assistant principal.

Assistant principal of a western suburbs school of 1800 or so kids?

Oh yes, she knows very well the changing face of the west in general and its Maori/Islander face in particular.

Incredibly, Honey has another job – she is a co-owner and co-proprietor of BeeeasT Burgers in Tarneit.

And the BeeasT itself, which shares a small business precinct with the likes of branches of Briyani House and International Foods, is testament to the growing Maori/Islander community in the west.

The business has been up and running since November yet in that time it has amassed a staggering 9000-plus Facebook likes.

 

beeeast3

 

So it is with an easy smile that I front up for a chat and a feed.

In truth, aside from sweet potato chips on the menu (see below) and L&P in the fridge, there’s nowt that is particularly Kiwi about the fare here.

But there is no mistaking the nature of the management or the joint’s customers.

Many of the burgers listed are more complex and grandiose than fit my immediate needs, so I go for the Fair Dinkum ($10) – minus the pineapple.

All Beeeast burgers come with chips.

Those chips appear a tad nondescript but are really excellent and hot.

Similarly, my burger looks modest but goes down a treat.

It’s like a cross between an Aussie-style corner store burger and Grill’d, mostly because the very good patty has a real beefiness about it.

 

beeeast4

Finally trying the local F&C

2 Comments

under3

 

Under The Sea Fish & Chips, 49 Anderson Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9687 6912

Consider The Sauce has long held a preference for fish and chip joints that offer more than paper-wrapped bundles.

We like our F&C and accoutrements fresh-as and eaten at restaurant-provided seating – even if it is of the most rudimentary kind.

We like it, too, when proper cutlery and crockery are part of the deal.

So we’ve never gotten around to trying our very popular local fish and chippery.

But with Bennie being a happy fish eater these days, he’s several times recent in months declared his preparedness to troop around the corner and bring our dinner home.

So off he goes … and back he comes with a meal I find OK in some regards but disappointing in others.

Low expectations met?

Yes.

 

under1

 

The chips are hot but on the dull side for me.

Ordering instructions had been for a small so naturally the medium Bennie gets is excess to our requirements.

The calamari rings are of the reconstituted surimi variety, so are automatically graded “OK”.

Fish of the day is blue grenadier and it’s real good.

What’s more, we receive three generously sized pieces instead of two, so we eat really well.

But the batter of one of them is stuck to the paper and is only messily removed.

It’s been good fare, especially as the whole lot cost something under $20.

But I won’t be in a hurry to return.

 

under2

 

And with dinner?

Bickford’s, of course.

We go through at least a bottle of this stuff a week – lemon or lemon barley now that the bitter lemon variety seems permanently unavailable.

But tonight at the IGA we spied a new flavour – apple and cinnamon.

I detect only the faintest of spice undertones but Bennie reckons it’s the best of the lot.

Fabulous and fancy @ Ebi

6 Comments
ebix1
Ebi Fine Food, 18A Essex St, Footscray. Phone: 9689 3300

Consider The Sauce loves Ebi; we adore the place, its charming host, the perfect fish and chips and bentos.

But $120 for a tricked-up degustation men?

Not exactly regular fare for CTS, as regular readers will understand.

How to justify such extravagance?

Birthday prezzie?

A few days out, but what the hey …

Tax return treat?

Having only just got all the required documentation in the one room, I haven’t even really started on this year’s effort yet …

Celebratory outing based on good results in the “scary medical tests” department?

Truth is, tonight’s Ebi event – the first of its kind – is simply too tempting to pass up.

I’m tingling with excitement at seeing John spread his wings with the sort of ritzy food, time – and labour-intensive sauces, and superior and refined ingredients of the kind that rarely come my way.

And I’m looking forward to sharing the experience with what I assume will be a small audience of Ebi regulars/fans and doing so with some classy beer, sake and wine on hand … though I suspect the booze may be wasted on a wine prol such as myself.

I’m expecting food that displays strong influences from both Japan and France – and maybe even Italy.

And so it largely proves to be …

Sharing the bar stools with me are Jake and Kim, on one side, with Daniel and Tom on the other.

 

ebix5

 

The table for two behind us is soon filled, to my happy delight, with CTS pals Justin and Sasha!

Wonderful!

And so it begins …

This is no ordinary degustation bash. For starters, the price is way less than those sought for most of the famed and storied options available elsewhere.

There’s the same paper serviettes as ever.

And John himself acts not just as chef but also waiter, maitre’d, busboy and dishwasher.

Frankly, I’d not be comfortable with a more formal arrangement.

 

ebix2

 

Spherified edamame with sea salt crystals is as out-there as tonight’s fare is to get – John even uses the word “Bulli” in relation to it. It’s a gorgeous, slippery, crunchy mouthful with pronounced edamame flavour served with Koshihikari Echigo rice beer.

 

ebix3

 

Anchovy and parmesan straws are rich, buttery and crumbly, the anchovies supplying just the right kind of salty flavour explosion.

 

ebix4

 

Seared Hokkaido scallops with soy wasabi butter are such a hit – for good reason – that John quickly whips up another round for us!

 

ebix7

 

Grilled, salted salmon belly is profoundly exquisite and served with Osakazuki Junmai Ginjo Sake.

 

ebix10

 

Lobster? CTS? Blimey!

Butter-poached crayfish is a dream, served with a yuzu kosho sauce that exhibits just the right kind of tartness to match the seafood’s sweetness.

John describes the sauce as made with a fruit that is a mix of lemon, lime and orange blended with salt and chilli.

This is served with a just-right Borgo Bello Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 2012.

 

ebix8

 

We’re about to move into significantly more robust and richer territory …

 

ebix12

 

Duck and porcini kamameshi comes with blackcurrant jus.

Kamameshi turns out to be a sort-of Japanese version of the universal rice dish and is very much like risotto – it’s wonderful, too, as is the juicy duck.

(Served with Wynns Coonawarra Shiraz 1998.)

 

ebix13

 

Ahhh – the best of all!

Wagyu fillet with roast marrow, shallot and herb tartlet comes also with roast beetroot and organic kale.

It’s all terrific, the beef ultra-succulent and the tart pastry so very rich.

Served with Wynns Coonawarra black label Cabernet sauvignon 1997.

 

ebix15

 

And to finish …

Ginger and ume bombe with “plum” ice-cream, sponge and meringue – just my kind of grown-up, not-too-sweet dessert; served with lovely Osakazuki Umeshu (“plum liquor”).

So … has it been worth it?

Yes.

I’ve loved the food, the company, the conversation and the liquid accompaniments.

It’s been a beaut experience!

But we’ll still be loving those bentos and fish and chips …

And, yes, there may be more such events at Ebi.

See earlier stories here and here.

 

ebix14

ebix16

ebix9

ebix6

When imperfect chips are perfect

Leave a comment
dough2
Dough!, 115 Blackshaws Road, Newport. Phone: 9939 157

Can you remember the first time you consumed a beer-battered chip?

Blowed if I can … I think it may’ve been at a Grill’d outlet.

Since then, of course, beer-battered chips have become ubiquitous.

There’s a very good reason for that – at their best, they are sinfully delicious.

But here’s an interesting wrinkle – John at Dough! reckons that most outfits that serve beer-battered chips are actually serving brought-in products made with re-constituted potato.

In this scenario, your beer-battered chip would seem to bear a similar relationship to a spud that a nugget does to a chook.

I have no reason to doubt John’s assertion, though a quick online search didn’t turn up much.

But it makes sense, doesn’t it?

In any case, at John’s Newport pizza and fish ‘n’ chip emporium, he’s for sure taking another tack.

His chips are peeled – in a tumbler – and cut right there on the premises.

The result is a stark contrast to the crisp and puffy beer-battered chip.

John’s chips are quite easily identifiable as coming from real spuds – there’s dimples and imperfections and a profound degree of spudness.

This is my kind of nostalgia!

 

dough1

 

With my wonderful chips ($5 and worth every cent), I get blue grenadier ($6.50) and three calamari rings ($2).

Both are lightly battered.

The fish falls apart as I eat it, but I don’t mind. It’s rather delicate and beautifully cooked.

The rings, too, are tender and tasty.

John tells me his business is growing.

He’s in a good spot here – there’s not a lot around by way of good food, though Motorino and Famous Blue Raincoat are a few blocks away.

Still, he must balance what he’d like to do and what is best for the business in terms of satisfying customer demand.

He plans in the next few months, for instance, to start using real ham instead of the processed “pizza ham” variety.

And hooray for that!

But still, on John’s pizza lineup – split between about dozen each of “traditional” and “gourmet” – punters can choose Aussie-style pies heaving with the usual toppings .

Or they can single out more spare offerings in the Italian manner.

 

dough6

 

On a subsequent visit with Bennie and Che, for instance, Che’s small meat lovers ($9.50) has the aforementioned “pizza ham”, along with salami, chicken and bbq sauce.

It’s definitely Che’s go!

 

dough4

 

Bennie’s puttanesca ($10) is more continental in terms of its toppings but their quantity is Aussie-style all the way.

He nods with appreciation after a few bites but towards the end of his meal tires somewhat of the saltiness engendered by bacon, olives, capers and anchovies.

 

dough5

 

My own piccolo diavolo ($10) hits the spot and is – not surprisingly, given my own tastes – the leanest and meanest of our lot.

Hot salami, chilli, red onion, roasted red capsicum and chilli oil make for a light, tasty, spicy lunch.

We like John and his joint, and envy the locals for whom this is becoming a regular.

 

dough3

Hot Fish @ Conways

6 Comments

hotfish4a

Hot Fish @ Conways, 11-21 Wingfield St, Footscray. Phone: 9689 3400

Fish and chips and other seafood to eat right away at Conway’s?

Seems so obvious, we’re surprised it’s taken this long to eventuate!

But we’ve taken our time to check out the freshly-cooked fare at the famed seafood outlet near the river.

We’re particularly interested to see how things are shaking in regards to a couple of issues raised by the otherwise warm picture painted by the review at Footscray Food Blog and subsequent Facebook discussions.

hotfish1

First up, the eat-right-here situation has been well and truly fixed thanks to the addition of four nice long bench tables and equally long seats right outside the Conway’s shop proper and another seating set-up further along under an umbrella.

hotfish5

Secondly, the chips – about which some misgivings had been voiced.

Our brought-in chips are crunchy, well-cooked and hot.

But, oh, the salt!

I’m a big fan of salt when it comes to F&C, but this level is almost too much for me – and Bennie finds it goes a fair way to spoiling his lunch.

The fish (hake) that comes with our twin Classic Fish & Chip packs ($9) seems a little light-on at first, but proves to be meaty, delicious and filling.

hotfish6

No surprise our serve of coleslaw ($4.50) is dressed with commercial mayo, but it’s good.

The vegetables are fresh and hand-cut, and we both like the resultant salad a lot.

With its fine, under-cover seating and ease of parking, Hot Fish will certainly be a magnet for those in the greater neighbourhood seeking a fish and chip fix.

But best to request a restrained hand when it comes to the salt shaker!

 

hotfish2

hotfish7

hotfish3

REAL old-school in Altona

1 Comment

alex5

Alex Take Away Food, 11 Ford Rd, Altona. Phone: 9398 4267

“If you aren’t paying for a product, you ARE the product.”

Such is the charge often levelled at Facebook

We’re not blind to the creepier aspects of the social media behemoth.

But while keeping them in mind, we find it almost impossible to remain unmoved by the connectedness it can foster.

Take the Altona, I lived there FB page for instance.

In its short life, it has quickly racked up more than 2500 members and become a lively, entertaining focal point for all sorts of stories, photos and reminiscences about Altona.

And it’s how we found out about Alex Take Away Food.

alex4

The address has nothing to do with what most of us non-Altonians think of when we think of Grieve Parade – the freeway exit after the Millers Road one.

Nope, this part of Grieve Parade requires taking the Millers Road exit, heading right down past the refinery, turning right on to Civic Parade and THEN  turning right on to suburban – as opposed to industrial – Grieve Parade.

On the early week night we visit, the place is mad busy.

There’s a heap of customers in-house and there seems to be just as many phone orders coming in.

Everyone but us is a regular. We feel like strangers gatecrashing an intimate gathering of friends and families.

Certainly, the pace is sufficiently frantic to preclude any chit chat and inquiries about just how long this community asset has been doing business right here.

But judging by the funky decor, I’m guessing at least since some time in the 1970s.

We’re in no hurry though, so happily enjoy the vibe until our order is taken.

alex6

There are zero tables or chairs, inside or out.

And unlike almost all the other customers, we can’t simply whisk our goodies home – and even the beach, while reasonably close by, seems a stretch that will ruin our dinner.

So we prop on the footpath right outside the shop, get stuck in and make small talk with some local youngsters while we’re at it.

alex7

Bennie loves his “with the lot” ($7.50).

He’s enough of a burger maven to understand and appreciate that there’s a difference between more American-style burgers and the Aussie variety – and that there’s a time and a place for both.

alex8

My calamari rings ($1) are the of the surimi variety and just OK.

My deep-fried snapper ($7.50) is much better and a real classy piece of work.

The batter is crisp and deep brown, and adheres to the fish pretty good.

The snapper itself is a huge chunk of seafood and has juicy depth of the sort we’ve rarely encountered.

Our chips orders ($4) got lost in the hubbub somewhere, so we end up with some that appear to have been sitting for a while – they’re barely warm and a bit leathery.

But as we saw heaps of chips of what appeared to be excellent quality and appearance be prepared as we waited for our food, we wouldn’t let this minor lapse deter us from returning to this amazing and obviously much-loved neighbourhood joint.

 

alex2

Old-school F&C

4 Comments

ck4

CK’s Cafe and Chippery, 253A Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 9687 4560

The stretch of Barkly Street up towards Victoria Street remains unreconstructed Footscray and is not, it appears, perceived in any way as a food precinct.

Yet while the area is changing in terms of apartments and the like, it already teems with eating activity.

The options range from the new-look Plough Hotel and a couple of famous old-school Chinese places to Lentil As Anything, a growing number of African establishments, a (mostly) late-night pizza joint, a Nanado’s and a pair of cafes.

Chris, the “C” of CK – the other letter is a bloke named Ken – tells us he’s even heard the short-lived Italian buffet-style place across the road from his new cafe is scheduled for a fresh incarnation.

ck5

It could be that the guys’ cafe and chippery may find a handy niche for itself in this mixed environment.

As Chris points out, the area is a lot more residential than it appears from street level.

What they’re offering is a nothing-fancy range of fast-food.

In terms of fish and chips, it would be unfair to compare with the polish of, say, Ebi – but being situated between that Essex Street place and the new food-to-eat-right-away outing at Conway’s, and offering an alternative to what’s around in their immediate vicinity, may do them right.

Certainly we have only the most minor of quibbles regarding a two-man meal that costs us only small change over $15.

(Conway’s, BTW, is where CK’s is sourcing their fish …)

ck1

My blue grenadier ($5) looks a little lonely presented alone but tastes fine. The batter is relatively ungreasy but does come away from the fish.

ck2

Bennie’s burger with the lot ($6.50) appears rather unimpressive when first brought to table, but the boy likes it a lot – as you can see from the photograph, the patty is significantly more beefy than is often found in such places and at such prices.

As he says, it ain’t the Grill’d of which he’s so fond, but it IS less than half the price.

ck3

The chips ($3) are the standout of our meal – lots of ’em, hot, crisp, perfectly cooked.

We’ve even been given a choice of regular or chicken salt.

Chris charges us $2 rather than the listed $3.50 for the coleslaw he’s quickly whipped up for us on account of he thinks it’s rather on the mean side size-wise.

I carelessly neglect to take a picture of it, but it impresses – freshly made cabbage and carrot with just the right, restrained amount of commercial mayo.

Meaning it’s a little on the sticky side – as opposed to the mayo/cabbage soup we are often served elsewhere!

 

ck7

ck6

Book ends for an Indiana Jones marathon

Leave a comment

indi6

Hooked, 172 Chapel St, Windsor. Phone: 9529 1075

Supper Inn, 15 Celestial Ave, Melbourne. Phone: 9663 4759

It’s halfway through the school holidays, it’s grand final day and we’re feeling exuberant and a little bit mad.

We’d sort of planned on watching almost all of the footy before hitting the road to St Kilda and the Astor Theatre for a 5pm start.

But we find the whole thing so pitifully boring, so we head out heaps early.

And, naturally enough, there’s little traffic to speak of, so we have plenty of time to wander down Chapel St eyeballing a vibrant part of town we rarely visit these days.

The bonus time factor likewise settles the dilemma of whether to eat before or after our three-movie marathon.

We finally settle on the specialist and classy Hooked fish and chippery, of which there is also a branch in Fitzroy. I’ve eaten here before, but Bennie hasn’t.

We’re expecting excellence of the same kind we regularly experience at Ebi in West Footscray.

That’s what we get, too, though at first we are somewhat taken aback at what seems like rather tight-fisted serves of both our fishy protagonists and chips.

But once we remind ourselves that we’re having the daily lunch box special for $10.95 with salad extra for $2, we devour our early dinners with much enjoyment and consider them good value.

indi1

Bennie’s crumbed calamari is right up there with best I’ve had – grease-free, both fresh and nicely chewy, beautifully seasoned.

indi2

My two pieces of blue grenadier are more substantial than they appear, deliciously tender and superbly cooked.

In both our cases, the chips are very fine and the Asian-influenced salad with pickled ginger does OK – so actually is way better than the usual salad components found at fish and chip joints.

The most lovely surprise of our meal comes in the form of a punnet of one of the sauces available for 95 cents.

“Sambol” is unlike anything sambol we’ve ever experienced before.

It’s actually far more like the sort of oiled and gingery mash usually served with Hainan chicken rice.

With deep-fried seafood and potatoes?

It really works!

indi3

Booking a couple of tickets for the Astor’s Indiana Jones marathon was inspired by examination earlier in the week of the lacklustre school holiday movie fare on offer.

It’s a winning move and we have a ball.

We see three cracking good flicks for $20 in a gorgeous old theatre, sharing the experience with a happy, slightly geeky crowd that claps and cheers before and after each movie, during the more preposterous scenes and at some of the more crack-up lines.

There’s at least half a dozen cats dressed up as Indi, and one group with an Esky stuffed with food.

During the first interval, we see one bloke tucking into a can of Jim Beam & Coke AND a mighty slice of chocolate cake. At the next break, we spy the same dude wielding a packet of Malteasers.

indi7

We’d seen Raiders Of The Lost Ark at the same venue about a year before, so it holds little surprise for us.

I haven’t seen the next two since the time of their original releases and have little recall of the storylines, so lap them up with glee.

Temple Of Doom seems to suffer, to my mind, from a lack of exotic locations.

From a foodie point of view, however, it does boast a couple of brilliant barbecue scenes.

The Last Crusade is more upbeat, goofy and rollicking, with Sean Connery a real cool addition.

Across the three movies, we spy two stunts that have received the Mythbusters treatment, though there may well have been others.

Given the slightly late start and the breaks between flicks, it’s after midnight before it’s all over, so the early dinner has turned out to be just the right move.

But now, of course, we’re up for supper. Bennie wants to have his first ever crack at congee, so off we go down St Kilda Rd and into the CBD, where we find a park easily.

Supper Inn is a late-night Melbourne institution, though my one meal here was so long ago as to leave me completely bereft of any detailed recollection.

No matter – it seems like the perfect place to continue what has already been an awesome day in the life of Consider The Sauce.

The restaurant is bustling and doing brisk business. The dowdy decor doubtless hasn’t changed in decades.

Most of the punters do as we do and roll their eyes and grimace as a series of rowdy (drunk) Hawthorn fans periodically spark up with tuneless renditions of their club’s theme song.

Footy club theme songs being perhaps even more loathed in our home than the dreaded Christian Music …

indi8

I’m knocked out and proud as all get out that Bennie’s wanting to try congee for the first time – and that he orders the preserved duck egg with pork rendition ($7.50).

Even better, he slurps the lot up with glee. It tastes pretty good to me, too!

indi9

By comparison, my rice noodle soup with roast pork is a dud.

I appreciate the wealth of bok choy and the pork is equally plentiful, on the sweetish side and rather good and meaty.

But overall, my supper is bland – and, at $16, it’s at least $5 more pricey than we’d normally expect to pay for such a dish.

Should there be another late-night out for us – and on the basis of this one, it appears that is certain be the case – we’ll likely head for another late-night joint, China Bar, around the corner.

There, should we wish to do so, we’ll be able to have a better quality version of the same soup noodle dish at a more modest price, and probably better food overall – or at least more in line with our tastes.

Still, we’ve fully experienced two grand Melbourne traditions in a single day – a movie marathon at the Astor and a post-midnight feed at the Supper Inn.

Happy sighs punctuate our drive home.

 

indi4

indi5

indi10

indi12

When a place goes bad – or at least a little off – do you want to know? No matter the cost and consequences?

27 Comments

On Sunday night, Bennie and I visited an old favourite we hadn’t checked out for a while.

We’d heard there were new owners running the place.

Indeed, about the time this joint was on the market, our previous post on it received quite few visitors. Prospective buyers doing their research?

Would the food in particular and the experience as a whole be of the same excellent standard as previously?

Yes, there was a new crew running the place – and doing a grand job of it.

The service was tip-top, the smiles wides, with walk-ins being treated to the same standard of friendliness as the many phone-ins.

The phone barely stopped ringing the whole time we were in the house.

The food?

Well, on the one hand what we got was all anyone could rightfully expect of a pair of $5 burgers, bacon $1 extra, small serve of chips for $3.

But on the other hand, the chips were dull and quite a few of them were barely lukewarm.

The burgers seemed equally drab and a mite miserly, with the patties those cheapy kind that when cooked have texture and taste closer to meatloaf than a beefy burger.

It was an average meal but typical of the kind you’d expect from such an establishment. But it was notably less impressive than those we’d been served by the previous owners.

Were this a bigger business or a trendy one with plenty of supporters and fans and potential defenders, I’d be up for an explicit and honest review.

But … this is a lovely little “mom and pop” operation.

And as it stands – today, right now – I’m feeling squeamish about laying it all out. As well, it could be that other aspects of the food available – such as fish and chips – remain excellent.

So, dear readers, the question is: Do you want to know – no matter what, and no matter the cost and consequences, potentially quite damaging, to the businesses involved in such cases?

(To those of you really curious and who take the time to email me, I’ll spill the beans!)

High points at Highpoint

3 Comments

hp8

Fish Pier, Highpoint Shopping Centre. Phone: 9318 8277

Cupcake Central. Highpoint Shopping Centre. Phone: 9077 4542

Despite the fact we found the array of outlets and services available in Highpoint’s new food court a bit of a mixed bag, we have been enjoying our visits there.

The more recently opened fashion precinct adds a touch of undeniable class, even if the many shops therein are unlikely to ever see any of our money.

In the food section itself, we’ve bought meat and boreks from the rather classy butcher.

And if other chores and purposes take us to Highpoint, we’re more than happy to do our dinner shopping – and even a stock-up shop – at the very well stocked fresh produce store.

My one serious reservation about the new food area has been the lack of interesting places to eat.

There’s now an Italian-style panini/focaccia/sandwich place that looks like it may be worth checking out, although the salads on display look rather shopping-centre dreary.

In this setting, Fish Pier is also well stocked with fresh seafood.

It’s a pity, perhaps, that the place’s eat-in assortment is tucked around on the side, as on the basis of my lunch it’s well worth considering.

hp1

At $10 or thereabouts, my fish and chips would be a perfectly OK lunch; at the special promotional price of $5 it’s an outright bargain.

The chips are fresh and hot but only average.

The flathead fillet is much better – a winner!

The panko-crumbed calamari rings ($1 each) are not freshly fried for me and are thus a bit tired on it, a bit soggy and chewy.

I could do without the salad bits and pieces.

hp4

Like Fish Pier, Cupcake Central is part of a chain.

But forget about that; forget, too, the shopping centre location.

This is a stylish cafe space I’d be happy to spend time in just about anywhere.

Especially as my $3.30 cafe latte is outstanding.

My salted caramel cupcake ($4) is about 30 seconds of sticky decadence, although I do end up scraping off about half of the creamy, cloying topping.

All sorts of other sweeties, especially of the Italian variety, are always going to have bigger place in my heart than cupcakes, but this is a top spot.

See earlier stories about Highpoint here and here.

 

hp2

hp9

hp5