Ripper meal, $15

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The Brotherhood Yiros + Grill, 99 Buckley Street, Seddon. Phone: 9689 6318

It’s the same conversation every Saturday – very enjoyable it is, too.

Finish kung fu in Carlton, head in a vaguely in a westerly direction and discuss what to have for lunch.

This week, Bennie is pumping for Somalian in Flemington.

I’m not much in the mood for detours, let alone review material; home is calling.

So we settle on somewhere around Seddon, with parking to be the deciding factor.

As a fall-back option, Bennie suggests – as I know he would – Brotherhood.

I’m fine with that – I love their food.

But.

Two yiros for us two.

Chips on the side seem both excessive and essential – but we always order them anyway.

And two cans of fizz.

All that stacks up at about $40.

That’s fine for such good food.

But this is not a restaurant – so we end up eating on the footpath.

I don’t mind that – but it does sometimes make the $40 admission fee seem a bit steep.

But as we approach the famed yiros outlet, Bennie points out a sign that changes everything – our lunch, our day and quite likely future Saturday lunch arrangements.

 

 

In an investment in drumming up some brisker lunch business, Brotherhood management has introduced a special deal – one yiros, side of chips and a can of drink for $15.

Oh, yeah!

Our kind of deal.

The various posters say the deal will be around until the end of October, but we receive a strong hint it may be of longer duration.

Even better, we’re told a permit has been gained for some tables on Buckley Street, so a higher level of dining comfort is imminent.

 

 

As it turns out, this Saturday feed is the best we’ve had here yet.

The chips are so good, crunchy and hot that we’re grinning and eating simultaneously.

Even the chicken salt fails to dampen by glee.

When it comes to the yiros wraps, happiness turns to outright giggling on both our parts.

Maybe it’s because we’re among the day’s earliest customers, but our yiros are stuffed with the most wonderful lamb – much of it crunchy, crisp and salty.

Oh my – so very, very fine.

Obviously, in the CTS family we talk and think a lot about food.

But in this case, our constant celebratory post-meal chatter lasts all the way along Victoria, Charles, Gamon and Fehon streets and until we’re home.

According to their FB page, the Brotherhood crew serve lunch on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

 

Sweetness!

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Theo’s Greek Cakes, 11 Fosters Road, Keilor Park. Phone: 0434 099 450

We are delighted to herald the arrival of new Greek baking emporium on the smallish shopping strip on Fosters Road in Keilor Park.

Theo’s has all your sweet Greek dreams covered at great prices.

Parking is no problem.

And it’s simply a cool place to be.

 

 

We suspect most customers treat it as a shop, taking their goodies home.

But for eating-in purposes, the place is set up in simple cafe style.

 

 

Theo’s is very much about the sweeter side of life, but there are limited savoury options available.

We love our slices of spanakopita ($6).

Rich and flavoursome in a home-style way, they eat bigger than they look.

And at a place in which we would’ve been unsurprised about being presented with plastic plates and implements, we are very happy to have our lunch accompanied by real-deal unplastic gear, along with water.

 

 

For dessert, Bennie opts for this profiterol creation ($5).

He enjoys it, but perhaps not as much as he’d been hoping – likely because the chocolate is not the dark, more bitter kind he likes these days.

He plainly envies my politiko ($5, top photo).

And in that he’s right on the money – as this is superb.

It’s bit like a heftier Greek version of tiramisu, the base of syrupy semolina cake topped by a layer of cream and plenty of powdered coffee.

It is wonderful – and so healthy, too!

Our $4 cafe lattes are a fine foil for all this sweet heaven.

As an added bonus, a delicious trek to Theo’s can become a one-stop outing that includes, a few doors away, Frank’s Supermarket, a happy business a bit like a scaled-down version of Altona Fresh or Mediterranean Wholesalers in Brunswick.

Though, sadly, it is closed during our Sunday visit.

Theo’s joins the D’s Souvlaki is building a whole new food vibe at Keilor Park.

Long may they both prosper and the trend continue.

 

Expanded taverna

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Olive Oil & Butter, 196 Somerville Road, Kingsville. Phone: 9315 1060

Before there was Eleni’s, Meat The Greek or Brother Hood, there was Olive Oil & Butter.

Yes, the renaissance of Greek eateries in Yarraville and nearby suburbs was spearheaded by this Somerville Road institution.

We’ve done two stories on it, but they’re getting old now.

And in the meantime, Olive Oil & Butter has become a regular for us, but mostly for takeaway coffee and treats.

Eating in?

Not so much.

Time for another look?

Yes.

Because we feel like it for a post-kung fu Saturday hoot and lunch.

And because it’s worth recording that Olive Oil & Butter has expanded considerably, the dining area stretching down the back to an outdoor area.

These days it’s got a lovely feel of a real-deal Greek eatery with happy bustle all about.

Of course, this is Melbourne, so coffee and breakfast are front, centre and popular.

But the menu (see below) also features a nice round-up of rustic Greek dishes for lunch.

It’s for them we’re in the house.

 

 

Bennie opts for the open souvlaki ($23).

All present and accounted for as per the menu – two fine skewers of lamb, herbed pita bread, chips, tzatziki, tomato and onions.

He loves; he clean it all up.

I suspect he’s probably making unkind comparisons of the price-to-quantity ratio kind with his beloved Brother Hood in Seddon.

Buddy, that’s unfair – this is a sit-down restaurant situation and you’ve just had a lovely feed.

I get, as recommended by our wait person, the fasolakia lathera ($22, top photo).

Oh boy, this is so wonderful – green beans slow cooked in tomato, onion, garlic (and, I’m sure) a heap of olive oil.

Again, I can hear naysayers proclaiming: “What – $22 for a plate of overcooked beans?”

Ah, but there’s so much more here than that – this is rich and complex, the lemon potatoes and olives fit right in and it’s an ample serve for an all-veg dish.

So delighted am I, that I have another look at the menu and take note of the other home-style meal available here – spanakorizo, moussaka, yemista, fakes – for future consumption.

It’s these sorts of dishes that are the heart of Olive Oil & Butter.

We spy only one seafood dish on the menu, for instance, and the lavish mixed grills you’ll find at other Greek eateries are absent.

But, for me at least, that makes the place all the more appealing.

 

 

All of the above AND the outstanding sweet treats, many of them syrup-drenched, and …

 

 

… the equally terrific spanokopita, tiropita, kreatopita and bougatsa and …

 

 

… and a nice line in Greek groceries make this a Very Cool Place.

And the staff are always on-the-ball and smiling.

See earlier stories here and here.

 

Greek delights in the autumn sun

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the Lygon that narrows as it enters East Brunswick?

Oh, yes!

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Toasted pita bread, of course.

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

A couple of good stuffed vine leaves.

Fetta cheese.

Loukaniko – pork sausage.

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

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

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

 

 

Desserts?

Yes.

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

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

Our cafe lattes are excellent.

See the Xenia Food Store website here.

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

 

Greek street food – on the street

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Greek Gypsy, 545 Macaulay Road, Kensington. Phone: 0423 709 769

We are eating from yucky polystyrene – and it’s all our fault.

Well … sort of.

If we’d made clear our eating intentions – to have our dinner right there, beside the food truck that is Greek Gypsy – we’d have been provided proper crockery.

Oh well …

As it is, we do get metal cutlery as we proceed to enjoy our meals.

And very good they are, too.

The outdoor furniture that accompanies the Greek Gypsy routine may not be any less disposable than the polystyrene containers.

But the food is every bit as delicious and enjoyable as that to be had at the other Greek enterprises that have been unveiled in our greater neighbourhood in recent months – see here, here and here.

 

 

From the compact menu, both Bennie and I choose …

 

 

… open gyro plates ($14), with a mix of lamb and chicken.

The meat is outstanding – both juicy and chewy, the lamb having a slight edge IMO.

Toasted pita goes good with a generous serve of excellent tsatziki.

The salad bits?

Just OK.

 

 

Chips ($5) are just the teensiest bit too oily.

But otherwise, they are hot, crisp and yummy – and, like, the meat, way better than we have been expecting from this food truck operation.

One of the dinner options we had been contemplating this night, just down the road apiece, would’ve run to a minimum of $80 for the pair of us – and quite probably more than $100.

Yet here we are, sitting atop Kensington Hill, having spent a fraction of that and grinning like happy fools as we eat like kings and watch the traffic and the world flow by.

Life is grand!

 

Greek groove in Yarraville

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Eleni’s Kitchen + Bar, 28 Anderson Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9943 4233

There’s a lot of family history tied up in Yarraville’s new Greek eatery.

Locals who know just how long the fit-out of the former Anderson Street boutique took will be gratified to know that a fine space has been carved out here, upstairs and down, full kitchen and all.

Surely this is the most radical makeover of a village business property for more than a decade?

The place is being managed by Eleftheria (“Thierry”) Amanatidis.

At her side around the place is her uncle, Tony.

The restaurant is named after Tony’s mother, Eleni Amanatidis.

Eleni’s husband is Dimitrios Amanatidis, the father of whom was Antonios Amanatidis, one of the first Greek Orthodox priests to arrive in Australia.

 

 

So, yes, a lot of family vibes and inner-west Greek traditions going on here.

Unsurprisingly, and very happily from our perspective, the food being delivered (see menu below) is old-school, straight-up Greek tucker.

We wouldn’t have it any other way!

 

 

Still, within that framework we find some nice ‘n’ lovely twists and tweaks when we partake of a fine dinner as guests of Thierry and her crew (see full disclosure below).

In the serve of super fresh dips ($14), for instance, the melitzanosalata eggplant number tastes not in the least of the garlic and smokiness we are expecting, but instead of zingy mint.

Just as good is the tirokafteri of feta, capsicum and the tiniest tingle of chilli.

These two are finely abetted by a tzatziki with dill and a very mild-flavoured tarama.

 

 

The dips are served with very good house-made bread, though we resort to grilled pita to mop up the remainders.

 

 

Bennie and I split two mains between the more ritzy grill line-up and the “Eleni’s home favourites” list that includes moussaka and pastitisio.

The cabbage rolls ($24) are every bit the home-style classics for which we’ve been hoping.

If I rather wish we’d gone for something a little more rich and hearty, Bennie has no such problem.

 

 

The meat in our lamb gyros plate ($25) is very fine indeed – salty and herby and heaps of it.

This meat, BTW, is also available in pita-wrapped takeaway form for $12.

In some ways, though, the top test of both our mains – and a handy gauge of the freshness and general excellence of the food at Eleni’s – comes in the form of the salads that accompany both.

Differing slightly, they are superb – dressed well, juicy and delicious in every way, and displaying no sign at all of even a single tired or brown-edged leaf.

 

 

Bennie and I are keen to go both the available desserts – so we do!

The baklava ($8.50) – made by Thierry herself – is a tender take on another Greek classic.

 

 

Even better, or so I think, is the rizogalo (rice pudding, $8.50).

This is some kind of fancy trick – that something so homespun and plain can simultaneously be so suave, smooth and sexy.

Coffee?

Spot on Greek for him and Italian for me end a great New Year’s Eve outing.

There’s no doubt in our minds that Eleni’s will be widely regarded as a very welcome arrival to the inner west.

(Consider The Sauce dined at Eleni’s as guests of management. No money changed hands. Our food was chosen by CTS. Eleni’s management did not seek any editorial input into this story.)

 

Yiros winner

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The Brotherhood Yiros + Grill, 99 Buckley Street, Seddon. Phone: 9689 6318

It’s inevitable there will be comparisons between this place, just off Buckley Street, and that other new Greek street food-style gyros/souvalaki joint in Seddon.

This is no big deal, as I’m pretty sure both are going to prosper.

Truth is, there’s a welter of kebab-type meals available in the west but a for-sure dearth of Greek classics, a vacuum/niche into which both are happily tapping.

 

 

The Brother Hood crew have a couple of favourable points of difference going in their favour:

Their meat is grilled over charcoal.

They make their own pita bread.

Both definite pluses.

There’s another point of difference that’s not so favourable – or at least it’s a little different.

The Brother Hood place is not a restaurant.

It’s takeaway only, though there is a wait space – that’s about as big as a bathroom in a cheap motel.

It’s there that I enjoy my first BHYG meal.

And most excellent it is.

 

 

My lamb wrap, at $11, costs a couple of bucks more than the Meat The Greek equivalent and it shows.

Everything is ace, from the house-made pita bread on up.

There’s plenty of lamb – and, best of all, it’s of the classic crusty variety.

 

 

My unadorned “patates”, or not “loaded” as the current argot goes, are very good and well priced at $4.

Brother Hood Yiros + Grill?

Or Meat The Greek?

I like it that I can do both.

Brother Hood Yiros + Grill is open for dinner hours only on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.