Meal of the week No.35: Hatch’d

Leave a comment

hatchd1

 

CTS appears to have hit Hatch’d in Kensington in the aftermath of a rush hour.

The salad bar at the place (497 Macaulay Road, Kensington; phone 1300 428243) is exhausted and the two wooden tables provided for eat-in dining need clearing.

But hey, I figure this is a fine thing.

Surely, it must mean that this joint’s food is popular, and thus good, even on a Monday night.

I soon find out that is indeed the case.

The chips are fresh, though I could live without the chicken salt seasoning.

The coleslaw – the salad bar has been topped up subsequent to my order – is fresh, though some sharper flavours would be handy.

But at Hatch’d, the bird really is the word.

As ever, as in ordering a medium bowl of pho when I know a small offering will more than suffice, I succumb to ordering a half chicken when a quarter would be adequate.

No matter – when I am done there nothing but a pile of bones on my plate.

This is an excellent charcoal chook – juicy, flavoursome, wonderful.

Even the breast meat requires neither stuffing (of which there is little) or gravy (provided at my request in small bowl at no charge) to be enjoyable.

An interesting perspective … a similar meal, of similar quality – but with slightly different seasonings and presentation – would cost at a fancy hipster barbecue establishment at least $10 more, and maybe even double, the $16.50 I have paid here.

While I have been enjoying my meal, a stream of customers – and almost as many Uber food drivers – have come and gone.

 

hatchd2

hatchd3

Gelati – and lunch, too

Leave a comment
15654

 

1565, 3 Gower Street, Kensington. Phone: 9376 1965

Since first writing about the gelati emporium that is 1565, we’ve dropped in for the odd and very excellent cone or cup.

On a recent visit, we discovered that Kensington joint is doing lunches, too, so I am happy to check it out.

 

15652

 

The 1565 lunch routine is the epitome of simplicity …

Soup ($10) with a crusty bread roll.

 

15653

 

There’s arancini for $5 ($9.50 with salad).

And those same superb rolls are used in panini ($9.50) – your choice of schnitzel, eggplant or beef.

 

15651

 

My beef schnitzel job is medium rather than large, but there’s no doubting the good, fresh flavours and prime eatability of the meat, bread, rocket, roasted capsicum and scamorza cheese.

 

15655

 

As well, there is a small but wonderful range of biscotti and cakes, all made on the premises.

Gelati fantasia in Kensington

5 Comments
gel9

 

1565, 3 Gower Street, Kensington. Phone: 9376 1965

Tootling to Kensington to do a story on Kensington’s new gelati joint for The Age – see story here – I am envisaging little more than the profound pleasures of trying some excellent Italian ice-cold creaminess, meeting the people involved, writing about both and then maybe creating a subsequent post for CTS.

An enjoyable, satisfying day’s work, in other words, for a western suburbs food blogger.

I get all that in spades – and more.

 

gel2

 

For what I discover is that the crew behind 1565 – brothers Adriano, Alfred and Alessio Acquaro and their mum, Joy – have strong family ties to Pizza d’Asporto and Kiosk by d’Asporto in Williamstown and Impasto Forno Antico in Avondale Heights.

Indeed, the canoli and the like that abet the 1565 gelati and coffee here are supplied by the latter establishment.

How wonderful to discover yet more of the connections and depth of food culture traditions that weave and wander across the west in all sorts of ways!

 

gel4

 

1565, just off the commercial strip of Macaulay Road, is done in simple, elegant style.

It is named after year gelati was apparently “invented” in Florence.

If, on that basis, you’d expect an approach to gelati that is strong on tradition, you’d be spot on.

 

gel3

 

But while staying within those parameters, the 1565 crew are doing marvellous things in terms of flavour diversity.

Sure, there’s vanilla, pistachio and coffee.

But there’s also booze in the form of rum and raisin, Prosecco and the sweet liqueur of No.43.

Then there’s poached fig, watermelon and mint, panettone.

 

gel1

 

I enjoy a wonderful scoop apiece of ricotta and miele (honey) and Nutella with rum baba.

Like orange and fennel, that latter of my two is imbued with textures beyond creamy.

Bennie is equally delighted with his double-banger cone of poached fig and coffee.

1565 is open from noon until late seven days a week.

 

gel7

 

For all of our 15 years in the west, five of them as food bloggers, we have frequently observed that the Macaulay Road strip looks like it should be a food and drink star.

But it’s never been that.

Under-achiever is a phrase that comes to mind.

Perhaps the arrival of 1565,  joining the cool Korean of Frying Colours up the road and with a new Italian place soon to be unveiled, heralds an upturn in Macaulay Road’s eats situation.

 

gel5

Feeling crabby

1 Comment
pacific22

 

Pacific Seafood BBQ House, 295 Racecourse Road, Kensington. Phone: 9372 6688

As a recent dinner with friends wrapped up at our fave Somalian eatery in Ascot Vale, it was suggested we reconvene for a soiree for the Chinese mid-autumn festival with the express purpose of getting gleefully sticky and messy with as much mud crab as we can handle.

The festival Sunday proves too tricky so instead five of us gather mid-week at Pacific Seafood BBQ House in Kensington and have a ball.

I confess this is unfamiliar territory for me.

Do we order one mud crab – they’re priced at $65 – each?

How does it work?

It’s easy – the rest of us reject any ordering duties and leave it all up to She Who Oraganised The Gathering.

Our trust is well rewarded!

 

pacific21

 

As with my previous visit to this newish arrival on Racecourse Road, with another member of our happy group, we are served complementary soup.

We love this tradition, which we also run across in various Asian and African places.

This is plainer than most and reminds me very much of my mum’s vegetable soup, even if it is beef based.

Then it’s crab time!

After consultation with the staff, it’s agreed that two crabs with accompanying noodles and a few other dishes will do us right.

Our crabs are brought, pre-cooking, to our table for our approval – just like a bottle of wine.

They look bigger than in the distorted view offered by their storage tank.

Then it’s off to the kitchen with them!

 

pacific23

 

They return upon a mound of egg noodles ($12 on top of the crab fee) and drenched in a sticky chilli sauce.

It’s all very good.

There is much cracking, sucking, ooo-ing and aaah-ing as the delicious, sweet crab meat is extracted.

It’s a profound pleasure to have one’s fill of fresh crab and bugger the cost.

The two crabs prove plenty – in fact, the final two claws linger on the plate for several minutes before being claimed.

But here’s an interesting thing – the sauce-imbued noodles are every bit as tasty and enjoyable as the actual crabs.

Such good seafood in the company of good pals – absolute heaven!

Happily, the rest of our meal is also very good.

 

pacific26

 

The fried rice ($10.80) is excellent and quite a cut above the regular fried rice we all know so well.

This is studded with good-sized chunks of roast pork and quite a few biggish, plump and wonderful prawns.

 

pacific25

 

Vegetables with bean curd ($19.50) makes sure we get some greenery and fungus as part of our meal.

 

pacific27

 

Our final dish – deep-fried chicken ribs with egg yolk ($22) – comes from the specials colourfully arrayed on the walls.

It’s a relative of the familiar salt and pepper chicken ribs.

But these chook bits are richer – perhaps a little bit too rich but perfectly fitting and yummy for a special occasion feast such as this.

 

pacific24

 

We’ve eaten grandly – for which pleasure the five us pay a few collective few bucks under $200.

So … $40 each for such fine food?

Bargain!

 

pacific28

 

We finish with moon cake pieces – just a nibble for me because, as with another member of our group, I’m not a fan!

 

pacific29

pacific211

pacific210

 

 

 

 

Top-notch burgers in Kensington

Leave a comment
ed22

 

Mr Ed, 285 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9376 6444

“Cafe By Day, Burger Bar By Night” – that’s Mr Ed in Kensignton.

Having checked it out in the former regard – see here – it’s become a sometime coffee spot for me, and perhaps I’ll grab one of their terrific pies or sweeties.

Tonight we’re in the house to check out the burgers.

The previous night, Bennie I had perused the menu – see the Mr Ed website here.

Having looked at the varied ingredients and the prices, Bennie wondered aloud if the Mr Ed burgers would offer sufficient eating.

And well he might …

The prices range from $14.50 to $17.50.

Among the ingredients listed for the nine burgers are pickled zucchini, Hereford beef, bourbon bacon jam, confit baby tomatoes, tomatillo salsa and shredded kale.

Ooohhh – sounds fancy!

But will we get a good feed or dainty, boutique burgers gone in a mouthful?

Actually, at another time and on another visit I might choose to compile a meal just from the very alluring list of sides.

How about rainbow slaw, purple congo/kipfler/bullhorn pepper fry-up or merlot pickled onion rings?

Ahh, but not tonight – on with the burgers!

 

ed21

 

Bennie goes the Buddha burger of minute eye fillet, soft egg, kassler, oven dried tomatoes, crumbled aged cheddar, house relish, roasted garlic aioli ($16).

He loves it – a lot.

It’s proves to be a very messy proposition but that’s fine, of course.

He loves the way all the varied, high-falutin’ ingredients – including “the nicer than normal ham” and the runny egg – combine.

This burger maven rates it a very solid 8.5 or even 9.

Yes, that good.

Only glitch – and it’s only a very minor one – is he’s unused to having your real, actual meat in such a meal.

He’s (very) used to hamburger patties, whereas this is in effect a steak sanger and he grapples, but only very momentarily, with the eating skills required.

I go the Wagyu beef burger with pickled zucchini, raclette, baby leaves, house relish and mustard mayonnaise ($14.50, top photo) – and it, too, is a doozy.

The beef patty is about an inch thick, well seasoned and delicious, and the dressings and zucchini noodles are wonderful.

 

ed24

 

For sides, we get a small serve of the home-made fat chips ($4).

My heart sinks a little when I spy what appear to be wedges but … wedge-shaped they may be, but our chips are fabulous.

Once-boiled and once-fried, they have tender, hot innards that veritably scream: “Potato!”

 

ed25

 

We complete our meal with a mixed pickle plate of jalapenos, carrot, cucumber and cornichons ($5.50).

We both love pickles so we both love this.

The jalapenos are somewhat out of place but the cornichons hit the spot and the carrot and cucumber are true delights that are pickled somewhat in the sweet, delicate Japanese style.

We’ve enjoyed and admired the Mr Ed take on burgers.

We’ve received burgers that don’t see us waddling out of the place having completely stuffed ourselves.

But we consider the quality of the ingredients and cooking and the resultant flavours well worth the money we have paid.

We recommend the Mr Ed burgers to anyone who has become a bit jaded with 8bit and the like.

The service has been fine, Mr Ed is a fine place to spend an hour so and we reckon their burger endeavours deserve greater patronage than the handful of occupied tables we’ve observed this Friday night.

Kensington treat

1 Comment
lunch6

 

Luncheonette, 173 Rankins Road, Kensington.

Luncheonette is a lovely Kensington place I could describe as having “been on our radar”.

But maybe we would never have gotten around to it had we not been happy to accept an invite from pals to join them for Saturday brunch.

As the four of us amble towards the cafe, I see people seemingly waiting outside for a table – and fear I may have to make a complete hypocrite of myself as I’ve just a few hours earlier penned and posted a piece about the lunacy of queues and hopelessly long wait times.

 

lunch10

 

But no, happily we are ushered right to an inside table for four and proceed to make happy.

The place is small but happily the menu is cleverly designed to fit right in with the limited prep space.

Many dishes look enticing.

We go with three sandwiches and an egg dish.

On the way over, Bennie had shown interest in the fact Luncheonette boasts a reuben sandwich.

I’d warned him that generally one gets what one pays for and that for $13 he should not be fronting up and expecting a two-handed monster.

 

lunch4

 

As it turns out, his reuben has surprising heft for the price, with plenty of sliced pastrami going down a treat with the gruyere, cabbage and mustard, and an American style offering of crisps and sliced pickles on the side.

No bad at all!

 

lunch3

 

My club sandwich ($13) does not impress quite so much, though chopped chicken is tasty and beautifully herbed.

I don’t get much of a hit from the promised “crispy bacon”, though …

 

lunch2

 

I hear no complaints from the recipient of the BLT variation, which appears to be bolstered by a good quantity of avocado.

I’d only say that for myself, alfalfa sprouts have no business being anywhere near a BLT … but others’ mileage may vary.

 

lunch5

 

It appears the member of our group who goes the brunch route did the best of us all.

A simple fried egg is served with homemade hash browns, smoked salmon, horseradish cream and cress ($16).

It’s a lightish dish that explodes with a variety of different but fabulously complementary flavours.

 

lunch7

lunch8

lunch9

Ace cake, minestrone

5 Comments

kensington1

 

Kensington Market, Kensington Town Hall, 30-34 Bellair Street.

From the street, Kensington Market doesn’t appear as if it amounts to much – a handful of stalls, a couple of which doing food: Gozleme, corn, snags.

Once along a hallway and into Kensington Town Hall proper an entirely different picture emerges.

 

kensington2

 

The hall is chockers with a quite diverse range of “maker” goodies – clothing, crafts of many sorts, jam, artwork and much more.

Even better, an adjacent room has a whole of lot of food stuff going on.

There’s nothing too elaborate, mind you – no sit-down meals or the like.

But there’s more than enough for me make myself at home for an hour or so, eat well and meet some lovely folks.

One crew, manning the in-house kitchen, is doing things such as toasties and egg and bacon rolls at extremely low prices.

 

kensington9

 

From them I procure minestrone for a silly cheap $4.

OK, it’s a smallish serve in a polystyrene cup – but gosh it’s the real deal and very good!

 

kensginton8

 

I enjoy making friends with Von and her pal Ocea.

Von makes her living cooking for kids so her Von’s Vegan Bake House operation is a weekend thing.

Her range of sweet, baked things is impressive and enticing.

 

kensington5

 

I have a slice of one of her cakes with my coffee.

It seems like a modestly proportioned piece for $6 but this ain’t no airy fairy sponge – it has real heft and is delicious.

 

kensington6

 

From Von I also secure some cookies – don’t they look amazing?

(I find out at home that they indeed are …)

 

kensington7

 

Right next door, I meet Simone and Sam who are here representing St Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church, also of Kensington, and raising money to help feed the homeless.

 

kensington4

 

From them I get – also for taking home – some luscious-looking rice pud!

Even better, they tell me that in a few weeks their church will be holding its annual fete, at which there will be all sorts of Egyptian food on offer.

Unless unforeseen factors intrude, CTS will be there – I can just about taste it already!

The next Kensington Market will be on Sunday, August 16.

Check out the market’s website here and Facebook page here.

I can understand the allure of food festivals.

But every weekend somewhere near you there’s fairs and markets and fetes that do food, too.

It’s a parallel universe I prefer.