Our fave taverna

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

Olive Oil And Butter has become a “regular” for us.

We love that it’s doing its own thing away from the cafe culture of both Yarraville and Seddon.

The geography also means parking is never a hassle.

The coffee is reliably very good.

We love the syrupy sweet treats such as baklava, the custardy galaktoboureko and the more austere biscotti-style of paksimadia and koulouraki.

 

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But it is the plain cake-iness of the semolina revani that we have cone to love most – at first because it goes home in better nick but eventually just because it so good.

Especially when its syrupy richness is cut with a big dollop of high-class organic yogurt.

 

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We take the spanakopita and its meaty cohort the kreatopita home often, too.

These cost what seems a rather hefty $8.50.

But one look, feel, smell or taste of the incredible quality of the pastry involved soon dispels such misguided views.

 

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For in-house savoury treats, best bet is the tight blackboard list of rustic Greek dishes – just the sort of thing you might find at a roadside taverna.

Horiatiki salad with loukaniko (sausages) is a treat for $16.50 (top photo).

The serve is significantly more generous than the picture suggests.

Best of all, there are multiple discs of superb, sweet, tangy, smoky sausage.

The grilled, seasoned Greek-style pita bread – perhaps from this place? – does good mopping up the juices and a rather miserly serve of a nicely spicy pepper dip.

See earlier story here.

Laughter amid the gloom in Altona

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Greek Orthodox Parish & Community – The Dormition of Our Lady, North Altona – launch day of their new church

It’s the launch party of the new Greek church on Millers Road and there’s a lot of people about.

A lot of happy, animated people.

It’s not raining – but it has been.

Leaden skies and sunshine are in an arm wrestle that ends in a draw.

 

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There is, however, a lot of dainty stepping around mud and puddles by people in high heels.

And even low heels.

 

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Antonio from Werribee and I bond immediately.

 

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I’m a bit bemused but not disturbed by the food on offer – corn, prawn skewers, falafel, fish and chips.

And lots of sweet treats.

Where’s the kebabs?

 

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The queue for the F&C looks way too long and tiresome.

So after a beaut corn cob I go for a $5 falafel sandwich. With tahini sauce and turshi, it’s excellent.

 

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I am unsurprised to run into emissaries of another western suburbs spiritual establishment.

 

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Anna, Vicki, Pat and Pam are manning the sweets stand with great aplomb and gaiety.

It’s from Pam that I learn the reason for the food – the church’s big day just happens to coincide with a Greek Orthodox fast day that dictates the non-consumption of meat or dairy products.

Yet there is beer on sale!

I buy a $10 tray of homemade, syrupy goodness to take home, with Pam throwing is a handful of Turkish delight cubes for good measure.

It’s my lucky day!

 

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After witnessing a punch-up in the queue for loukoumades – I take a $5 bunch of them home, too, and boy are they amazing! – I notice the crowd is thinning out and realise it’s time for me to do likewise.

Down at the oval

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Gorilla Grill. Phone: 0401 830 800
Kalamaki Greek Street Food. Phone: 9602 4444

 

Maybe it’s spring … but I’ve come full circle in how I feel about the food truck scene as it happens in the inner west.

After harbouring doubts pricing and comfort levels, I have come out the other side a keen fan.

I know this …

Every time Bennie and I drive past Yarraville Gardens, even if we don’t stop, we eagerly count of the truck turn-out and discuss those we have yet to try.

And on recent truck outings, we have unabashedly enjoyed the social atmosphere involved, invariably meeting friends old and new and loving the all of it.

The trucks and their operators seem to have fitted right in.

They’re a happy crew and we enjoy talking with them.

 

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That the food truck scene has become such a complementary part of our western food scene is a credit, I reckon, to all involved – from the operators and the council right through to the punters, their kids and dogs.

So mid-week we are happy and relaxed as we head to the smaller truck gathering point at Western Oval.

We wave hello to Remi at Happy Camper and Conan and Raymond at Big Cook Little Cook and head for the two untried by us … and make happy in a way that highlights one of the strengths of the food truck scene: We order our dinners from different trucks.

 

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From Gorilla Grill, Bennie grabs the Gorilla “Thriller” Pork Ribs ($13, see menu below).

I don’t try, but gee it all looks good and my partner is very happy.

 

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At Kalamaki Greek Street Food, I pass on the “souva” line-up and head straight for one of two platters available (menu below).

The Kara has a skewer apiece of chicken and lamb, a rustic grilled pita bread, fine chips and tzatziki.

It’s all good or better and just the dinner I have been seeking.

The dip is thick and great for chip dipping and meat slathering.

I make butties with the chips and pita.

Yum.

 

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Just as we are getting down to chowing down, we cheerfully greet CTS pal and food truck aficionado Nat Stockley.

It’s an unplanned food truck moment.

 

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Greek treats made with love in Kingsville

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

There’s an awful lot in the name of this great Greek bakery in Kingsville.

You see, that’s what they use – olive oil and butter.

Oh, of course, there’s other ingredients – but the name nevertheless symbolises a keen dedication to natural products.

No ingredients with numbers rather than names, no premixes … just a righteous determination to make and bake with the simplest and the best in an entirely old-school manner.

This is the kind of place at which the declaration, “Our products have a limited shelf life”, is a proud boast.

Olive Oil & Butter is run by Pelagia, her brother Chris and their mum Martha.

It’s a first restaurant/cafe/bakery outing for the family – and that’s a good thing, as it means the recipes are derived from an inter-generational tradition.

After my lunch is done and paid for (see below), I introduce myself to Pelagia, who is nice enough to set up a display platter of the Greek baking that is available this day. The line-up tends to change, but the prices are mostly in the $4-5 range (less for biscuits).

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 Clockwise from top right:

* Koulouraki – biscuit with vanilla.

* “The best” galaktoboureko – Filo pastry, semolina-based custard, vanilla, syrup with cinnamon and cloves.

* Baklava – roasted almonds and walnuts filling filo pastry with a cinnamon and clove syrup.

* Revani – semolina cake flavoured with lemon and orange sweetened with an orange-zest syrup.

* Another version of koulouraki.

* Paksimadi – a crumbly vegan biscotti flavoured with orange.

As Pelagia explains the ins and outs of the baking before us, we are joined by her mum.

It’s easy to tell from the glint in her eye and the pride in her work that Martha is serious about “olive and oil and butter” and using only the very best ingredients. And no preservatives at all …

I try only a few of the above assortment – they’re delicious.

The rest go home with me – it doesn’t take too long for me to realise my insistence on paying for the lot is going to be rebuffed at every turn, no matter how hard I try or how long I persist.

Olive Oil & Butter does breakfast and lunch, too, though much of what is available in that regard is of non-Greek derivation – pies, muffins, focaccia and so on.

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I do enjoy my pastitsio ($15), though.

It’s a hearty dish that is something of a variation of moussaka, with the good ground beef and tubed pasta melding into the rich bechamel sauce. The accompanying salad is just, fine, too.

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And for dinner, I am also gifted this gorgeous scroll-style spanakopita ($9).

Like the bakalava and its variations (katafi, gianniotiko, saragli), the cheese and spinach scroll is made with filo pastry that is made from scratch in the kitchen.

How good is that?

My two cafe lattes ($3.50) are excellent, BTW!

PS: I will update this post with “tasting notes” as I work my way through my trawl!

The Olive Oil & Butter Facebook page is updated regularly with news and photos of what is available.

 

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The Greekgrill

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The Greekgrill, 43 Civic Parade, Altona. Phone: 9398 5335

Getting in early seems to have become something of a Consider The Sauce habit of late.

When I ask the staff at The Greekgrill how long they’ve been open, they say since about midday!

Yep, it’s opening day.

That would explain why we haven’t noticed this establishment before.

It’s smack bang in the middle of a small shopping strip that has previously been of little interest to us, save for hitting the ATM of the correct flavour before heading to adventures elsewhere in Altona and environs.

The Greekgrill delivers a variety of options – yes, you can order a burger or kebab wrap or charcoal chicken here.

But what intrigues me are the more substantial and traditional Greek offerings.

And especially at attractively low prices. (As previously noted, we love Greek restaurant food, but that style loses out when the prices are steep compared to more affordable options.)

How about a plate of chicken or lamb gyros with “chips, salad, warm pita bread and tzatziki” for $16.90?

Or “char grilled baby snapper served with lemon and herb scented rice and salad” for $17?

Mixed grill for two goes for $36 and the seafood platter for two costs $42.

I entered seriously contemplating some of these heftier items, but while ascertaining if the taramosalata is house-made – the answer is “yes”, but it’s not on today – I switch paths and figure a light meal is just the ticket for this early evening chow down.

My mixed mezze plate (top photo) is beaut – particularly at $14.

The dips, eaten with warmed and lightly toasted pita bread, are super – an apricot-coloured spicy fetta number with a swell and very cheesy chilli kick, a plain cucumber and yogurt combo, a garlicky eggplant delight, and a beetroot blend that is less sweet than most of its kind but packed with that earthy beetroot flavour.

Elsewhere on my plate are two kinds of olives, kalamata and stuffed green jobs, a few cubes of rather ummemorable fetta and some roasted red capsicum.

I’ve been given a few extras over and above the menu description – perhaps because it’s opening day and they’re looking to impress or perhaps because of the interest I’ve shown.

Small red peppers stuffed with a creamy blend of fetta and ricotta also have a nice chilli hit, while the marinated octopus is chewy but nice enough.

A serve of “dolmadakia” (“vine leaves stuffed with herb rice”) costs $6.50, but I’ve snagged a couple at 50 cents apiece. They’re plain but good.

Judging by the number of locals dropping in to grab menus, it seems The Greekgrill will prove a winner.

 

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The Real Greek Souvlaki

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The Real Greek Souvlaki, 315 Brunswick St. Phone: 9417 1414

More than two years, way more than 300 posts … and no Greek eateries on Consider The Sauce?

There’s a few reasons for that, I reckon.

One is that they’re not thick on the ground in our immediate neighbourhood and only slightly more common in the greater west.

Another is cost.

Not that Greek restaurant in Melbourne are necessarily out of our budget reach – though a couple in the west certainly fall into the “special occasion” category.

It’s more that we mostly feel we can get pretty much the same flavour hits from very similar food that is of the Middle Eastern derivation at significantly lower prices.

As previously noted, that sort of much-loved thing is not ubiquitous in the west, either; hence our regular journeys to Coburg!

So it’s lovely to visit The Real Greek Souvlaki in Brunswick St.

We reckon it is right up there with the best Greek restaurants in Melbourne, with perhaps only the absence of seafood counting against in terms of comparison with its more formal counterparts.

That’s an assessment that may surprise its regulars.

Because this place, I’m certain, finds a really, really big share of its turnover coming from the souvlakis that are also known these days as wraps.

Most of these would be sold, I’m equally certain, at hours when we’re sure to be tucked up in bed and are no doubt especially brisk sellers around closing time … if Brunswick St actually has a closing time.

But you can get sit down plate meals at the Real Greek Souvlaki – and at prices much lower that at more famous Greek places, including one just a few blocks away.

Moreover, just on the basis of its wonderous displays of mouthwatering Greek meze, this establishment deserves to be regarded far more highly than as a mere souvlaki joint, regardless of its informality and basic stock in trade.

This extensive range of pies, pasties, dips, stuffed vegetable, pickles, balls, salads and more starts in the exterior window display …

… and continues inside …

Perversely, today I feel like a Greek meal of far more basic type – lamb from the spit, salad and chips.

It’s terrific.

The chips are just OK – a little flaccid and heavily chicken-salted, but hot and very edible.

The salad is fine and includes enough olives and sharpish fetta cheese to satisfy.

The lamb is superb – crunchy, top-of-the-line delicious and cuddling up to your basic garlic/yogurt sauce.

I get all this for $17 – including an extra dollop of chilli dip and a small dolmade.

The chilli dip is more like hot pepper dip, so has only a mild spice kick but is very piquant and just plain great with the meat.

I wish there was a whole lot more of it.

The perfect meal …

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1. Cucumber, tomato, red onion, red capsicum, salt, freshly ground black pepper, oregano, olive oil, red wine vinegar, kalamata olives (stone in), feta cheese.

2. Finely chopped garlic, salt, finely chopped cucumber, yogurt.

3. Pita bread.

Sometime I make far more than enough so there’s plenty left for the next day’s work lunch or dinner.

I’m sure the nutritional value is shot by then and, of course, it’s not fresh.

But you know what?

Often it tastes better.

Same scenario works with a mixed Italian salad.

I’ve been told that white cheeses – feta, mozzarella, ricotta and so on – are less fatty than the yellow ones.

Nevertheless, I usually order low-fat feta.

Sourced usually from Sims or our local IGA, I notice no decrease in flavour.

Sad to say, this one – from Coles in Williamstown – was flavourless.