Buckley’s enhance

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Rocco’s Deli, 93 Buckley Street, Seddon.

It’s opening day at Rocco’s Deli in Seddon.

Post-kung fu, all we’re after is a look-see.

Lunch?

Maybe.

Upon arrival, though, we find the new operation in fully open mode, so we are delighted to settle in for a while.

Not just for lunch and sweets, but also for a big serve of opening buzz we share with the staff and numerous locals coming and going to have a gander.

This Seddon branch of the famous Rocco’s Deli in upper Yarraville is an adjunct of Lay Low Bar with which it shares the building.

 

 

Since our initial story about Lay Low, we have watched on with admiration as the place and its makers have put in a lot of hard work to successfully establish their business.

Along the way, they have demonstrated a level of smarts, savvy and wisdom in terms of self-generated community engagement that should be the envy of many.

There have been cocktail classes, a busy and cheerful social media presence, a pop-up stall at the Willy beer and cider festival, a food tie-in with the adjacent Brother Hood Yiros and Grill and more.

Lay Low’s Colin tells us the Rocco’s opening is all a part of that – and, more directly, the desire to have food available on Sundays when the Brother Hood goodies are unavailable.

So … the sourcing of grazing boxes from Rocco’s in Yarraville has quick-smart led to the establishment of Rocco’s in Seddon.

Remarkably, Colin also tells us the fit-out and set-up has come together in a matter of days – rather the usual months and/or years.

 

 

Food offerings are simple, cheap, sublime.

My sandwich is an Italian dream of singing flavours delivered by high-quality ingredients – hot salami, ham, provlone, roast red capsicum, pesto, split green olives.

It’s superb – and at $8.50 is a great contrast to some of the lame $15 sandwiches going around, and could even be said to inhabit the same pricing planet as banh mi.

 

 

Bennie goes a slightly different route involving prosciutto and sun-dried tomato.

Rocco’s Seddon is being described as a “spritz bar and deli” and as you’d expect – given the Lay Low breeding – there is some great booze on hand.

But we stick with bubbles of the soda water and ginger beer variety.

 

 

Dessert?

We snaffle the day’s last jam doughnut ($2.50) and a sensational ricotta cannoli ($3.90), both house-produced and the latter having a much smoother texture than the grainier vibe with which we are familiar from other ricotta fillings.

We’re assured that next time we visit to eat such treats, there will be coffee to accompany.

We admire Lay Low and the Seddon branch of Rocco’s.

And we love the way they are helping bring on a welcome transformation of what Consider The Sauce referred to in 2014 as “Footscray’s bleakest street”.

 

Tina’s turns it on

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Tina’s Dumpling House, 54 Pier Street, Altona. Phone: 9398 8851

Tina’s Dumpling House is a major arrival in Altona.

We’d be tempted to opine it is the best eating place in Altona, but …

Unlike just about all other media outlets who comment on Melbourne food – from the MSM through to hobbyists, all with their endless selective/definitive “Top 10” and “Melbourne’s greatest” lists – we won’t be doing that for the simple reason that we haven’t tried all the eating places in Altona.

So let’s just say that the food at Tina’s is very good and the prices and service righteous – so much so that Altona locals will surely ensure its success and residents of the wider west are advised to consider it a destination.

Indeed, in terms of quality for this kind of food, the prices are bang on par with what’s available elsewhere.

As well, most dumplings can be had in variable serving sizes of six or 12 pieces.

Of course, Tina’s is not just about dumplings – there’s a broad range of main courses, rice dishes and noodles available (see menu below).

And, yes, you can get here lemon chicken or sweet-and-sour pork if that is your bent.

Tina’s has taken over a Pier Street premises long home to a previous Chinese restaurant.

It’s a lovely room in which to sup.

The wait time of 15 to 20 minutes for dumplings is re-assuring in terms of knowing a house-made philosophy is in play.

Pan-fried pork-and-cabbage dumplings ($7.80 for six, $11.80 for 12, top photo) are terrific.

All too often, we find the meaty centres of such dumplings have a turd-like toughness – even good ones!

At Tina’s, the fillings are luscious and tender.

Steamed prawn dumplings ($7.80 for four) are just as good, with a full quotient of that essential bursty prawn effect going on.

Steamed BBQ pork buns ($6.80 for two) are, for me, a revelation.

We usually order these for bun fan boy Bennie, while I remain bemused and/or unimpressed.

This plump pair are superb and make a fan boy out of me – like son, like father.

The fluffy/moist buns are stuffed with a more generous than usual mix of hot, sticky chopped pork heavily perfumed with rice wine.

Beef brisket soup noodle is one of our regular choices, but always with egg noodles.

At Tina’s, we stumble into a rendition made with rice noodles, their whiteness imbuing the bowl with a pallidness that suggests bland.

But there’s no doubting the robustness of the broth or the pleasure to be had from the excellent, tender chunks of beef ($11.80).

Food lore tells us that there nothing Singaporean about Singapore fried noodles – just as there is nothing Chinese about egg foo young.

But that doesn’t mean a dish of “Singapore” fried noodles, often less oily than other Chinese wok-fried noodle dishes and with a fetching grittiness delivered by curry powder, cannot be immensely enjoyable and satisfying.

Tina’s version ($11) is a winner – hot, mildly spicy and with plenty of veg, meat and seafood.

And, yep, seafood extender.

Ethiopian in upper Barkly

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GeBeta Cafe and Restaurant, 1/578 Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 0432 523 921

The word GeBeta, Tamrat Achamyeleh tells us, is about Ethiopian food.

Not just the platters on which the stews and pan-fried goodies are served, nor the injera with which they are accompanied or the gathered hungry folks.

Nay, it is all of the above – a sort of “let’s all eat together” statement of purpose.

We’re totally down with that, especially when it comes to trying a brand new Ethiopian eatery in West Footscray.

That’s right – West Foostcray, rather than the more typically Ethio/African precincts of the singularly named Footscray near the other end of Barkly Street.

After sampling the GeBeta food, we reckon the locals around here will love supporting this colourful addition to their eating palette, one that is otherwise tilted towards Indian food – though not quite as much as is sometimes claimed.

GeBeta is being run by Tamrat Achamyeleh and Tiruzer Ahunem, whose food we enjoyed on many occasions at Ras Dashen on Nicholson Street.

We admire their smarts in moving up the road where there is much less competition of the Ethiopian variety.

None, actually.

The menu – see it at the place’s website here – features a line-up of reliable Ethiopian regulars.

We are in a meaty mood so share a lovely spread of doro w’et – “the national dish of Ethiopia” – and kh’ey tibs at $15 each.

The doro w’et is rich, oily and all delicious, its single chicken drumstick and hard-boiled egg quite sufficient in terms of heft.

The kh’ey tibs is light on the menu-nominated “berbere infused curry”, but is still very good, the just-cooked onions adding welcome crunch and texture.

All is abetted by a nice salad studded with green chilli slices.

GeBeta serves injera made with teff at the weekends, but the regular hybrid version at other times.

Tamrat tells us they hope in the future to have on the menu the beef bone soup we loved at their Footscray establishment.

At the moment, the restaurant is a cash-only proposition.

Steak sanger heaven

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For Heaven’s Steaks, 1463-1465 Centre Road, Clayton. Phone: 95436403

Consider The Sauce dined at For Heaven’s Steaks a few years back with Nat Stockley.

So enjoyable was the occasion that, more recently, I was somewhat flummoxed by the realisation it had not been recorded – with story and photographs – right here.

But the delicious memory has lingered, fanning a determination to get Bennie there some time to eat such wonderfulness for himself.

The drawback?

Clayton is long way to go for a steak sandwich.

Rather, it seems like a long way to go for a steak sandwich.

Truth is, it’s not much further than the treks we regularly undertake all over the west.

But in our own stomping ground, with almost all byways and highways agreeably familiar to us, drives to Werribee or Truganina or Deer Park seem no more taxing than a jaunt around the corner to the local shops.

Doing battle with the bridge, Kingsway and the Princes Highway is a whole nuther matter.

But the day arrives when Bennie, unimpressed with the westie Sunday lunch options offered, says: “Let’s go!”

It’s an adventure!

The traffic is as gnarly and stressful as expected, so it’s a relief to pull up at the venue and, once more, meet Nat – and get right down to business.

 

 

For Heaven’s Steaks is very much your old-school eatery of the Italian kind.

In terms of ambience, it reminds me of the Embassy Taxi cafe on Spencer Street in the city – that is, rather charmless in a charming way.

But who cares?

We’re here for the food – and the food at For Heaven’s Steaks is of Everestian standards.

 

 

The wall-mounted menu behind the serving counter lists various options, including tuna and cold cuts.

But I’m guessing more than 90 per cent of customers order one of the steak sandwich options – with good reason.

As detailed at the bottom of the menu, all come with “roasted peppers, lettuce, tomato, cheese, egg and salami”.

Truth be told, the salami – a thin offering – is mostly lost amid such a robust line-up of flavours.

As well, we all get chillis as an extra.

 

 

My dining companions go with the Italian Classic Double ($16, above) with steak and sausage.

For me, the Italian Double ($15) with sausage (top photo).

All is superb!

Nat comments with zeal how great it is to enjoy a steak sandwich in which the steak is of such good quality and so well cooked that it is a breeze to eat without the kind of chewing and tugging that leads to whole deal disintegrating.

Much of that is also down to the baguette-style rolls used.

If they’re not sourced from a Vietnamese bakery, they certainly seem like they have been.

The sausage is presented in sanger-friendly patty form yet boasts texture and seasoning that is profoundly Italian.

The fried eggs are perfect and the cheese is stretchy.

Worth the drive to Clayton?

Oh, yes!

Meal of the week No.47: DaLat Hill Sunshine

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Perusing Sunshine Plaza on a casual walk-through, one might conclude it’s doing it tough.

There are a lot of premises without tenants.

The supermarket has become a Dimmeys.

The fresh produce/market Big Fields has become the otherwise identical Vicfields

And the deli next door has closed.

But …

There still exists here a community vibe of the sort that struggles to gain a foothold at the bigger shopping centre across the road and others of its kind.

The tables and chairs outside the aforementioned deli, for instance, seem to remain a friendly gathering place.

And Sunshine Plaza management continue to fight the good fight with regular FB updates on centre affairs.

Another crew that’s injecting life at the plaza is the one behind DaLat Hill Sunshine, which occupies one of the premises fronting Hampshire Road.

 

 

Despite its Vietnamese name, there’s no rice paper rolls or pho here.

Instead, they are going their own sweet way, developing a niche based around steak, along with regular cafe fare (see menu below).

Here you can get T-bone, ribeye, scotch fillet and the like at fair prices.

But the place’s big drawcard, one designed to get new customers through the door yet also remain an always available “special”, is the Special Rump Steak for $10.

We are a little surprised to be asked how we want our meat cooked, as we figure the $10 steak will be of the ultra-thin variety sometimes served as part of Vietnamese steak-and-eggs and for which precise cooking instructions are pretty much irrelevant.

So … medium rare for us both.

How good can a $10 steak be?

The answer, at DaLat Hill Sunshine, is … just fine.

Sure, you’ll not be chowing down here on prime, big-bucks beef, but our steaks are enjoyable nonetheless.

And they’re nicely sized for our Saturday lunch, steak not normally being something we would otherwise ever consider ordering for anything other than an evening meal.

And then, only very rarely.

Haha!

But what makes our meals more than just adequately satisfying – and propels them into realms of bargain pleasure – is the care taken with the accompaniments and the presentation.

The mashed potato is very, very good.

The asparagus spears are both cooked through and crisp.

The thin gravy is fine for meat dipping.

And even the rosemary garnish does its part by imbuing all with a just the right amount of perfume.

The service is fine and smiling – as are the Vietnamese iced coffees with which we depart.

 

Fish, chips, excellence

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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.

Regular burgers, too

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Upsize Burger Bar, 2/234 Barkly Street, Footscray.

Consider The Sauce – leastwise, the senior partner thereof – has no truck with burger towers.

Well, no truck with the eating of them.

But I confess to being intrigued by these burger equivalents of skyscrapers.

Which is just as well, because my Facebook feed regularly features photos of such things.

But, nope – if it cannot be grasped in two eager hands, and/or requires a knife and fork, not interested in eating.

Though I suspect, if Bennie was given free rein, he’d be right into exploring what seems little more than macho posturing to me.

In that regard, I accept I am in some sort of minority and that there is widespread interest in, and fandom of, this particular burger cult.

Upzsize Burger Bar is catering to it with panache, with many sorts of flamboyant arrangements – including using donuts  and mac-n-cheese as buns!

 

 

The in-house photos illustrate some of the more conservative options available.

On the place’s FB page are to be found many spectacular examples of high-rise burger architecture.

The Barkly Street joint is something of a temporary exercise.

It’s open on Friday, Saturdays and Sundays – and only for three more weekends (making its last day Sunday, November 25).

We are happy to explore Upsize to the extent of their regular burgers – and we enjoy doing so.

 

 

My Basic B ($14) is a good, solid, workmanlike burger.

It has two beef patties, American cheese, “FCM sauce” and pickles – and goes down fine.

 

 

Bennie chooses the chicken equivalent for the same price.

He likes it.

The chicken is crisp and the slaw delivered in appropriate amount.

We both much enjoy that the pickle slices are so plentiful that they constitute a strong flavour component, as opposed to the usual mere whiff.

 

 

The regular order of beer-battered fries is very generous for $5.

They’re good.

But remind me that a CTS story on this particular genre of chip will be the go come my Christmas break.

Where do they come from?

How much beer – if any – is actually involved?

And are they actually re-constituted spud – and thus the potato equivalent of chicken nuggets?