French for sandwich



Small French Cafe, 157A Barkly Street, Footscray.

For a few years now, Stefan Armentano has been running Small French Bar on Barkly Street in Footscray, bringing a wonderful touch of all sorts of French food and wine to the already wondrously diverse Footscray table.

Now he’s spread his wings – but not very far.

His new cafe/sandwich shop is directly opposite his restaurant.

Fittingly, it’s called Small French Cafe.

Fittingly – but somewhat inaccurately.

Tiny French Cafe might have been more appropriate.

Inside, there’s room for some high stools, a coffee machine and a display cabinet – and that’s about it.

Outside are a couple of tables and chairs.

But who cares about the scale of enterprise?

Let’s feel the quality … which is very fine.



The substance of the blackboard menu is all about baguette sandwiches, the varied line-up of five all priced at $9.50.



I go for the saucisson with salami, cheese, cornichons and butter, while …



… Bennie opts for the canard with duck confit, greens, grain mustard and cornichons.

This is simple and tasty eating that is right up there with the many other cheap lunch options in this neighbourhood.

Best of all is the bread – oh my!

This not your usual crusty baguette.

Stefan tells me it’s what called “pain aux cereals“.

“It is a whole-grain bread, typically the first alternative choice instead of white bread in France for sandwiches,” he says.

It’s wonderful!

Wonderful and chewy.

Memorable moments with Mietta’s mafia

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Amy, Gifta and Mietta.


Selam Authentic African Restaurant & Bar, 127 Nicholson Street, Footscray. Phone: 8383 2560
Small French Bar, 154 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 9687 8479

A few years ago, Mietta Gibson began what has become a family tradition.

Each year, as Christmas approaches, she takes the sisterhood portion of her family out on a surprise adventure.

One year it was a Middle Eastern cooking class, another it was gift-wrapping for a charity.

And on another occasion, the whole crew attended a filming session of The Project.

This year, she began plotting and scheming many months ago, with no firm ideas in mind other than “western suburbs” and “food”.

Mietta, you see, lives on the Mornington Peninsula, her entire family lives in the eastern suburbs and she was keen to expose them to some different aspects and perspectives of Melbourne.

She was not having much joy in terms of online research – until she stumbled upon Consider The Sauce.

(Frankly, given our substantial online footprint, I’m surprised it took her so long!)

Anyway, in mid-October I received an email with the header “Seeking your help”.

A few emails back and forth, and then we were happily chatting on the phone.

And just like that (sound of fingers snapping), the deal was done – Team Consider The Sauce would proudly show these gals our backyard and we’d all have an absolute blast!

And so it turned out …




As Mietta and her crew exit Footscray station, she has no trouble picking me out of the crowd; we meet up and make the whole round of introductions.

With her are her sisters Eliza and Natalie, her niece Matisse, her mum-in-law Kate and – all the way from France – her friend Iris.

What a happy, garrulous crew they are!

At this early point in our evening, no one involved except Mietta and myself have any idea about what is in store – the happy gasps and grins as our gameplan is explained to them are gratifying!

Then we’re off – first stop Littlefoot, Bennie and I explaining the familiar streets and places and faces as we go.





After “looseners” all round, we pretty much retrace our steps to Selam on Nicholson Street.

There we enjoy a truly fabulous Ethiopian meal.

Nothing edgy or unexpected, mind you – it’s simply beautifully cooked and presented Ethiopian tucker.

Lentils three different ways; terrific salad; cabbage and excellent greens (silverbeet, I think).

And in the centre of our two platters is the dry derek tibs of pan-friend lamb pieces – so good!

Best of all, though, and by general acclaim, is the lamb soup – which I foolishly forget to photograph.

This zingy lamb broth – a bit like an Ethiopian version of the standard Somalian offerings at such places as Deli Afro – is a sensation, each of our bowls liberally studded with wonderful bone-in lamb meat.




Mietta and her friends – for whom the western suburbs, Footscray AND Ethiopian food are all vivid new experiences – take to the Selam fare and non-cutlery eating with gusto and delight.

Truth be told, I chose Selam for our outing pretty much on a whim and because I liked the look of the place.

But chef/proprietor Amy has done us proud and the way she and daughter Gifti have looked after us has been superb.




The cost? Including all that terrific food, some wine, a few beers and sundry soft drinks – just under $20 per head.


But we’re not done yet … dessert is on the menu.

Actually, Footscray at 9pm on a week night is not particularly auspicious for dessert.

But before our evening began, I’d worded up Stefan at Small French Bar that we might descend upon his establishment later in the evening.




It’s a bustling, cheerful scene that greets us as we enter.

It’s crowded, but room is found for us.




Naturally, we ignore the savoury aspects of the menu.

We ignore, too, the sorbet option.

What we do order is three portions apiece of the other three desserts …




… fondant au chocolat …




… creme brulee …




… and profiteroles.

Gosh, they’re beaut – and we’ve ordered just the right amount for us all to have a good taste of each dish.

There is much happy sighing and clinking of spoons on crockery.




For Iris, who has been away from France for two months, this is all a profound treat.

She says the place even smells French!

What a truly memorable evening we’ve enjoyed.

There was something about the nutty randomness of Mietta’s original email approach to us that appealed enormously to CTS.

And that hunch has been vindicated.

We hope to see these folks over our way again!



Bastille Day/Small French Bar




Small French Bar, Shop 3 154 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 9687 8479

Stefan has his liquor licence now – so is able to proclaim happily: “I reckon we are a bar now!”

My understanding that he’ll have his delightful establishment doing dinners on Friday and Saturday nights in addition to the regular breakfast and lunch hours.

When he posts on Facebook details of a special Bastille Day dinner of three courses for $55, Consider The Sauce and friends leap at the opportunity with alacrity.

Our group ends up being of six, so we are allocated the long, tall table and the accompanying stools – about which we care not a jot.

We are very happy to be together and enjoying such a lovely meal, all agreeing that Small French Bar is a wonderful addition to Footscray, its affordable fare and homely vibe fitting right into the “food for the people” ethos that surrounds it.




To start we are served a glass apiece of kir royal and amuse bouche of salmon mousse slathered on baguette and …




… superbly fresh ‘n’ salty oysters.

Oh my!




I confess my exposure to French cooking is extremely limited and that feuillete d’escargots a la Provençale (snails and garlic butter pastry) is my very first exposure to snails as food.

What to think?

Hmmm … not bad, nice flavour, quite chewy.

More like mushies than the oyster facsimile I’d been anticipating.




I share my pastry with a dining companion who has ordered the assiette de charcuterie (cold meat plate).

Ahhh, this is more my go – very nice!




Only one of group orders the non-meat main – ratatouille Nicoise a la buche de chèvre (Mediterranean vegetables stew with melted goats cheese).

He’s happy with his lot and it does look a treat … I’d certainly be happy to eat this.

But … like the rest of us, I’m pretty much ecstatic about the boeuf Bourguignon of beef and ox tail stew in red wine (top photograph).

This has us all “ooohing” and “aaahing”.

It’s fabulous, sweet, rich, hearty and perfect!




Fondant au chocolat (chocolate self-saucing pudding) appears modest of portion but is more substantial than it looks, sublimely gooey and of very intense flavour.




Tarts aux pommes (crunchy apple tart) rounds out the menu options.

The verdict of one who goes this route?


See earlier post here.

Meal of the week No.16: Small French Bar




What a delight it is – upon the occasion of Consider The Sauce’s first visit to Small French Bar – to have lunch in Footscray when the mood is for lightness and avoidance of bowls laden with noodles.

When the desire is not so much for quantities of food as it is for a food experience.

Just think – within a few months, the inner west has been blessed with eateries of the French, Jamaican and Portuguese persuasions.

And the world hasn’t ended and the west still exists pretty much as before.

Small French Bar (3/154 Barkly Street, 9687 8479) is housed in cosy premises in the Royal Hotel building.

The cafe is done out in simple style and there are French tunes on the sound system.

The menu (see below), too, is simple – split as it is into sections for petit dej, frommage, brasserie, snacks charcuterie and patisserie.

Duck confit ($25) is being joined by a rotating cast of French classics such as coq au vin, pot au feu and beef bourguignon.

Daylight hours are the go at the mo’ – but when the place gets its liquor licence in a few weeks, night hours will be introduced.




My goats cheese salad ($15) is simple and magical.

Good greens are dressed with walnut oil and cider vinegar, while the slightly unorthodox inclusion of pine nuts adds lovely taste and texture.

Sitting on top are three slices of fresh baguette slathered with fabulously flavoursome Buche de chevre, both warmed rather than toasted.

Wow – it’s a perfect and wonderful light lunch!




Stefan tells me he took to heart the lively discussions on the Facebook pages of both Inner West Newsboard and Consider The Sauce regarding his use of foie gras.

At first, he bristled with defiant pride based on cultural heritage.

He loves the stuff – and so, too, do his Vietnamese customers.

But putting aside all that – and the questionable ethics of people all around the cafe happy to tuck into budget meals undoubtedly not made with free range or organics chickens – he decided to take it off the menu.

It’s a pragmatic business move – naturally, he wants Small French Cafe to appeal to the widest possible audience.

It’s a decision, too, that will doubtless leave some delighted and others disappointed.





La Parisienne Pates


290 Lygon St, Carlton. Phone: 9349 1852

Remember the Rainbow Warrior?

There was a time of several years in my life – and in the lives of just about every Kiwi around the world – when I’d sooner have gouged my eyes out than let anything French, liquid, solid or otherwise, pass my lips.

Thankfully, those days are long gone.

France is rehabilitated into the brotherhood of nations, even if it is no closer to sainthood than any of them.

Like several of its near neighbours and many others, France is up to its eyeballs in the wickedness of the arms industry.

The mock-solemn pronouncements of national leaders regarding the misbehaviour of tyrants in the Middle East and elsewhere deserve no more than snorts of derision.

From whence do the guns come?

Do they take us for fools? (Rhetorical question!)

And, of course, villains are far more likely to be of a transnational variety these days.

Corporations with tentacles in just about all countries who pay taxes in none.

Dangerous, stupid, ignorant ideas and the people who believe them also show complete disregard for nominal national boundaries.

And, no, I am not referring just to the usual terrorist bogey men! Christianist sharia law, anyone?

In any case, having briefly surveyed the surrounding Lygon St options and then engaging the staff in some pleasant chat, I am delighted to sit back, chill out and generally have a ball for an hour’s worth of lunch time at  La Parisienne Pates.

This is a splendid temple to all things French, with dazzling displays of lollie water, mustards, jams, pates, snags of many kinds, cheeses, sweeties and so on, including cassoulet that appears to be incredibly rich and fatty but a bit of a bargain at $25 a portion.

Most of the business seems to be of the take-out variety, though up the back there are a handful of marble tables where patrons can partake in the pleasures of a simple and affordable eat-in menu.

Being in a charcuterie, I do the smart thing and order the piggy platter of the same name.

Although never big consumers of cured meats, just lately we’ve backed away even more from having them around – been a long time since chorizo was a weekly event!

So it is with an easy heart and no guilt at all that I tuck into my lunch, which looks on the diminutive side for $16.

But as is so often the case, looks are deceiving – this is a filling repast and quite a bargain.

The OK baguette bread, of which I’m told there is plenty more should I require it, teams up with a handsome, juicy slab of pork and pistachio terrine. Wowee – it’s brilliant!

The other porky bits consist of a piece apiece of three different and very fine salamis and a rolled-up slice of ham.

The odd man out is a slice of pastrami, its coriander crust providing a flavour grenade.

Unmeaty variety is provided by a single chargrilled artichoke and a handful of sour and sublimely crunchy cornichons.

Such an unapologetically fatty meal renders the knob of butter surplus to requirements.

I eat much slower than is my usual habit, savouring every delicious mouthful.

Around me, other customers are getting stuck into one-man quiches and filled baguettes.

My cafe latte and the service are outstanding.

I leave with a caramelised onion tart and a small serve of swell-looking potato salad.

There’s heaps of good stuff to eat in and around Lygon St, but you’ve got to be smart about it – it’s all to easy to stumble into one of the many options that are of profound mediocrity.

In that context, La Parisienne Pates presents as an extremely handy and tranquil alternative. 

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