Westie eats goss 14/06/18

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Miles and Colin at Lay Low Bar.

 

Introducing Bennie to the joys of the Brother Hood Yiros + Grill a few weeks back, we had a tasty ball – squatting on the internal bench that is the place’s only seating in an otherwise fully take-away operation.

Happily, we need not wonder how we’d go when the Brother Hood is busy and car or footpath are the meagre options – there’s a bar opening right next door that will welcome yiros imbibers with open arms.

Of course, Lay Low Bar is about more than being a mere seating adjunct of a yiros joint – as Bennie and I discover when we drop in for a mid-week squiz.

The bar – at 93 Buckley Street, Seddon – is one of a row of gorgeous old double-storey Victorians.

I’m told the history of No.93 includes periods as picture-framing shop and a squatters’ residence.

 

 

Proprietors Miles Williamsz and Colin Wood and their crew are closing in on completion of their fit-out, which includes this fabulous mural by Hannah Simpkin.

They’re all about collaboration, including with the fashionable apparel emporium Brixton Pound in the shop front and the Brother Hood, with the laneway at the rear providing easy access to the bar for yiros customers.

The Brother Hood, as well, will be formulating a few specialties solely for the delectation of Lay Low customers.

 

 

Booze-wise, Lay Low’s focus will be on high-quality and unique cocktails, with Hop nation beers also available.

Lay Low Bar will open to the public on July 4.

The mooted hours are 4-10pm Wednesdays and Thursdays, noon-11pm Fridays and Saturdays, noon-10pm Sundays.

For more unfolding news, check out the Lay Low FB page here.

 

 

In Footscray, and tucked behind Huxtaburger, a Taiwanese chicken shop is taking shape.

I’m told Hot Star is owned by the same company that runs the tea chain Gong Cha, the local outlet of which the new chook place gazes upon.

 

 

Around the corner, in the same strip of shops occupied by Smalls Graces, a Chinese eatery will soon open.

 

 

On Paisley Street, just a few doors from the Leeds Street tram terminus, a Japanese restaurant has opened.

CTS will be checking it out pronto!

Very mixed reviews on its FB page.

 

 

Is there life at the Tottenham shops on Sunshine Road?

Yes, no, maybe?

Biryani n Grills appears to be set up to go – but shows little sign of being in use when I have a mid-week morning look.

As one wag put it somewhere on Facebook: “At least it’s not a massage parlour!”

 

Vietnamese brilliance

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Co Thu Quan, Shop 11-12, 10 Droop St, Footscray. Phone: 9689 1451

CTS HQ is, I suspect, like most westie households that like to get out, about and on the fang.

We go in cycles and ebbs and flows.

For instance, the quite recent times when we seemed hellbent on tracking down every curry house in the west actually seem a bit like fading memories.

Seems like we’ve had enough biryani for the time being!

But what of Vietnamese tucker?

Ah, pretty much the heart and soul of western suburbs food.

Yet so deeply interwoven is it into all our lives, it’s a bit easy to take it for granted.

Not that we don’t eat it regularly and even weekly.

We do.

But when it comes writing and posting about it, well not so much in recent times.

So it gives me giddy pleasure to wax enthusiastically, passionately about Co Thu Quan.

The original version of this eatery was tucked away in Little Saigon Market, becoming one of the victims of that institution’s sad, fiery demise.

Now – after opening branches in Richmond and the CBD – they’re back!

The new Footscray restaurant is on the Droop Street side of the Westville Central building, in the shopfront previous occupied by the sadly short-lived Issan Thai Street Food.

There have been changes.

The original Co Thu Quan was all about snack-style street food.

This new place, done out in nice dark wood and all abuzz with zippy, cheerful service, has a vastly expanded menu.

Instead of light snacks there’s a plethora of noodles, salads, vermicelli, rice, soups and much, much more.

And it’s all – or almost all – cheap, cheap, cheap. Think under $15.

And while you can order pho here, there are so many other glittering, intriguing choices, it would be folly to do so.

Here, by their many dozens, are dishes you’ll not find elsewhere in Footscray or the west.

Yet, by and large, there is very little on the massive menu that is bracing or confrontational for those less adventurous or not much inclined towards the intestinal.

Hoi an chicken rice ($12) is a simple, light, refreshing and superbly enjoyable take on the universal chook/rice combo.

There’s a lot more shredded chicken atop that rice than the above photo suggests.

Clear shrimp dumplings ($10) are wobbly parcels stuffed with shrimp and ground pork.

They’re fun to eat, but a tad shy of the flavor explosions I was anticipating.

Nat enjoys slurping on his water spinach crab noodles ($12).

Immersed in its chicken broth and freshwater crab paste are rice noodles, pork and crab meatball, pork sausage, fried tofu, tomato, water spinach, congealed pork blood, topped with fried shallot and green onion; tamarind sauce on the side.

Now that’s a meal.

Asked to describe it in three evocative words, he proffers pungent, salty and sour.

For me, Vietnamese crab noodle soup is an uncharacteristically rash choice.

It costs $27 – a ridiculous amount to pay for a single bowl of soup noodles.

But I utterly adore it and have no regrets about paying for it.

Fresh crab of this quality is usually only consumed in communal settings, so I revel in my singular enjoyment of the chunky shellfish bits.

But just as good is the hearty, delicious chook/crab soup in which the tapioca noodles, a single prawn and fresh mushrooms happily swim.

We plan on spending much time in the rest of the year exploring the Footscray Co Thu Quan menu.

Fried chicken

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The Art Of fried Chicken, 320 Racecourse Road, Flemington.

The Art Of Fried Chicken has taken over two shopfronts that have long been empty since the days they housed two Asian eateries.

They – and the walkway between them that used to lead to the original Laksa King – have been turned into a single premises.

TAFC is a food truck operation putting down bricks-and-mortar roots, though I suspect the building as a whole is destined for development somewhere along the way.

It’s fitting, then, that this new fried chook joint has something of a makeshift vibe about it – less restaurant and more food-truck-without-wheels, with rudimentary seating.

That’s OK by us.

 

 

As well, we’re happy to give them some leeway in terms of assessment as we are visiting in the opening hours of their opening day.

Such is not ideal for CTS story purposes, of course, but that’s how the timing has worked out – post-Saturday morning kung fu, it’s been an easy and choice option.

Plus: We’re hungry.

We arrive about 12.20pm and are served quickly.

About 10 minutes later, the place is a whole lot more crowded; the word is out.

 

 

We ignore the opening day $1 wingettes and rib spcecials.

Of the menu listings (see below), we ignore those under the Things With Bread and the Chicken Without Bones headings.

Actually, we are bemused anyone would order the latter.

Why order breast when you can order Chicken With Bones?

Which is what we do.

What we get:

Three pieces of regular Art Of Chicken ($15, above photo).

 

 

Three pieces of Asian Hot Nashville Chicken ($16).

 

 

Mama’s Vietnamese slaw ($5.50).

 

 

And chips ($5.50).

It’s all pretty good.

Even the chunkier meat pieces are juicy (or at least not dry), though inevitably it’s the bone-dominated items that are the most tasty.

Bennie is disappointed at the mildness of the spice hit in the Nashville poultry, though the spicing appears to be a bit random, as the wing I have gives me a right nice glow.

He rates the chips highly.

Myself, not so much; they could, IMO, be hotter and less greasy.

(Just to re-iterate: This is opening day, so some leeway is in order.)

Perhaps best of all is the Viet slaw – it’s excellent.

If only more chicken places, of all kinds, took this route with their slaw offerings!

The Art Of Fried Chicken is destined to be a Flemo hit.

Will we return?

You bet.

Check out the Art Of Fried Chicken website here.

 

Fine pizza @ Edgewater

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Terminal 45 Woodfire Pizzeria, 41-45 Edgewater Boulevard, Maribyrnong. Phone: 9317 0123

The western suburbs are quite well endowed with classy pizza places.

One that appears to have flown under the pizza pie radar is Terminal 45 Woodfire Pizzeria, which is located down the hill from the Edgewater shops and pretty much right next door to St Burgs.

Last time Bennie and I spied this joint, it was a sunny summer Sunday early evening and it was packed and firing.

This time – urged on by a successful home pizza delivery and a friend’s hearty recommendation – we are back early in the week on a cold night and the scene is quite different.

We are the only customers, though deliveries continue apace.

Terminal 45 lists almost a couple of dozen pizzas, with what seems less on the menu by way of pasta and starters than most such places.

No matter – we are here for pizza.

And they’re excellent.

Caprese ($16) is like a salad on a pizza base, and thus an instant hit with my salad-loving son.

It’s simple, tasty and rather magnificent – just uncooked mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, basil, olive oil.

Piccante $16) has hot salami, roasted red capsicum, mozzarella and fresh chilli.

It, too, hits our pizza spots right nicely.

And not only do our pizzas please us, we note happily that the prices are a good dollar or two less than we regularly pay elsewhere.

Indonesian for the west

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Spice Klub, 4/203 Ballarat Road, Footscray. Phone: 0439 159 417

There are many interesting things for us to try when we return to Spice Klub.

On the menu (see below) are noodles, rice, desserts and more.

But it’s going to be tricky.

Because I simply can’t see us hitting Spice Klub without ordering the beef rendang.

It is brilliant – and I strongly suspect those with a deeper knowledge of and experience with Indonesian food will concur.

Called here rendang sapi, it costs $13 and is served with plain rice.

In modern parlance, this meat would be referred to as “smashed” or even, heaven forbid, “pulled”.

But let’s go old-school and refer to it as cooked down.

It is meat of high quality; no gristle or globs of fat here.

It’s quite sweet, has a nice chilli kick and is just sufficiently oily for the recipe to work.

Best of all, the flavour is a full-on orchestral blast of blended spices.

Gosh.

 

 

Bennie and I do good with the rest of our meal, too, though unsurprisingly not quite as spectacularly.

(We are guests of management – see full disclosure below.)

Lumpia semarang (chicken and prawn spring rolls, $10) are gorgeously lumpy in a way that denotes house-made food.

The chunky prawn and chicken mince inside, quite fishy in flavour, is equally rustic.

Our rolls are served with nice tamarind sauce with a strong whiff of ginger.

 

 

Nasi bakar ayam ($13) is “BBQ rice” cooked in banana leaf and studded with boneless chicken pieces.

It’s served with a crunchy mix of toasted coconut, chilli and salt, along with a sticky soy/chilli concoction.

It’s enjoyable, though probably better categorised as an entree than as a main.

Despite Spice Klub’s official address being on Ballarat Road, it’s actually on the strip of shops on Gordon Street familiar to all in the inner west as home to … not much.

But now there’s a cool Indonesian joint in place, hopefully we’ll be more frequent visitors to the neighbourhood.

Bizarrely, given the technicolour multitude of food riches in Melbourne’s west, Spice Klub is – as far as we can ascertain – our only Indonesian restaurant.

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

 

 

French for sandwich

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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.

Cool burgers; heaps of parking

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Burger Freaks, 656 Somerville Road, Sunshine West. Phone: 0403 595 189

Cruise up the outer end of Somerville Road of a night and you’ll not find a lot open.

Just about all the many commercial operations of many kinds have shut up shop until tomorrow.

Sure, some of the freight places work way outside 9-to-5 routines.

But the tradie-style cafes on almost every block are most certainly not open.

But Burger Freaks is.

 

 

Roshan Altendorff has been running Burger Freaks for about three months, with the daytime trade all about the local, hungry workforce.

Come night-time, though, it’s all about burgers – and home delivery. Burger Freaks is on both Menulog and Uber.

But why sit at home – and gamble with the fickle travelling ability of burgers – when you can pay a visit?

The Burger Freaks dining area is as unadorned – and virulently non-hipster – as you’re likely to find.

It gets points from us for that – but it would all be for nowt if the food isn’t up to scratch.

It is.

 

 

The chips ($4) are good and hot.

The Mate (top photo) – with beef patty, cheese, caramelised onion, beetroot, bacon, lettuce and BBQ sauce – costs $10.50 or $14.50 with chips and a can of drink thrown in.

It’s beaut.

 

 

The California ($11.50, $15.50) – with beef patty, double cheese, double bacon, BBQ sauce and American mustard – is a bit more flashy.

But just as good.

These are both really admirable and enjoyable solid, no-fuss burgers with nicely charred and good-quality meat.

 

 

As well as burgers, this place sells a revolving range of frozen meals for $4.50 and $5.50 depending in size, as part of the UrCommunity – Feeding Australia Meal Deals project.

They run to curries, pasta, stews and the like.

Burger Freaks is open for evening dining every night except Mondays.

See the Burger Freaks website, including menu, here.