That’s not coleslaw!

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Hunky Dory, 28 Pratt Street, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9326 0350

CTS had been wanting to try the new Moonee Valley branch of the Hunky Dory chain right from day one, but has been thwarted by its popularity and a lack of communal seating.

The latter, in particular, seems foolish in a high-turnover swish fast-food place.

But, finally and during a very busy Friday lunch hour, I grab one of the small for-two tables and settle in.

The plates – platters is more accurate – I see whizzing about me are massive and laden with way more than simple fish and chips.

Indeed, F&C seems a minority – mostly it appears to be all about salads, grilled seafood and heaps of molluscs.

So how do I go with my CTS benchmark order of F&C, chips, coleslaw?

Not so good …

Chips – excellent; I eat each and every one.

Fish of the day (blue grenadier) – the batter is not crisp, it is leathery. The fish itself, however, is beautiful, moist yet firm, delicious.

Coleslaw – oh dear.

I ordered this with profound misgivings as all I saw in the display cabinet was a pile of chopped cabbage. Assured that what would be on my plate would be dressed, I took the plunge – so to speak.

And, yes, it is dressed – with quite a tasty mayo concoction.

But it’s a dribble that in no way dresses or is adequate for the masses of veg on my plate.

Often F&C places, and chicken shops, serve coleslaw that has so much mayo that it’s more like a broth with some cabbage in it.

This one goes in precisely the other direction.

Chopped cabbage and coleslaw are not interchangeable terms or concepts.

Mind you, the price for my lunch – $13.50 under the guise of the Hunky Dory “grilled fish pack” – is ace and significantly below what would be the combined prices of the three components.

It’s just one meal and I’m happy to believe/hope that I simply had a bad day.

Meanwhile, this Fairfax story has what seems to be the latest update on Hunky Dory, its fish-labelling practices and state of fish imports in general.



Westie eats goss 17/4/16




Moonee Ponds is soon to have a rather spectacular new cafe.

Dear Abbey will be located in the lovely old church at 23A Gladstone Street – across the road from the Coles/Young Street carpark.

It is being brought to us by the crew behind Little Sister in Keilor East and Hey Jude in Essendon North.




One of them, Joe Avery, obligingly walks me through the new place …

Much of the old church is taken up by apartments, with the cafe taking up roughly the front quarter, with much of that space taken up by the kitchen.

There will be a corridor of seating along the front and down one side of the cafe premises.




But what will set Dear Abbey apart is the glassy, classy structure – with much more seating – that will be located on the church’s forecourt.




Taking shape on the V intersection of Ascot Vale and Mount Alexander roads is a wholefoods outfit.

Eat-in food and coffee will be served from the caravan outside.




Coming soon on Puckle Street is a deli that will be in the New York tradition – think reuben sandwiches and the like.

Brought to you by Johnny the Dude Food Man.




Not far from Puckle Street and down the cul de sac/alley named Aspen Street, it appears a South Indian eatery will soon live where the Sri Lankan joint Spicy Hut once did.




In Footscray, and on Barkly Street near Geelong Road, Vanakkam – purveyor of very fine biryanis – has become Spicy Chef.




It’s the baby of Prasad, himself a former employee of Vanakkam.




Prasad also worked in Rajdhani, the Indian joint that was open in (roughly) 2008 and ’09 in the Barkly Street premises that now houses Roti Road.

He even remembers my regular order there of onion bhaji in those pre-CTS days!




As an opening special, Prasad is offering an enticing meal deal …

Any starter, any biryani, salad and any drink – including beer! – for $11.95.





The frontage at 34-36 Irving Street, which has sported at least a couple of Indian carnations in recent years, will soon be open as Station Restaurant.

I’m told the “East African” food advertised in the exterior signage will basically mean Ethiopian fare, though there are photos of rice dishes in there, too.




Also on Irving, Saudagar is up and running again after a fire-enforced closure.




The Station Hotel, meanwhile, will be closed for a month or so as it recovers from its kitchen fire mishap.




Footscray has a new Japanese eatery – at 84 Hopkins Street, where 1+1 Dumpling Noodles lived until very recently.

Okami is a sister restaurant to establishments in Hampton, Caulfield and Wantirna.

Review forthcoming on CTS.

I would’ve hit it last night solo but every seat was taken!

Judging by the takeaway menu, the food is likely regulation Japanese.

Oakmi Footscray offers an “all you can eat” buffet for just under $30.




Speaking of Japanese food, Edgewater Boulevard has two new eats places soon to open, one being Shinmai Tasty …




… the other being a bricks-and-mortar version of Gorilla Grill, known until now for its food truck offerings.

A deth in the park

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Curators Collective, 778 Mt Alexander Rd, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9042 4560

Consider The Sauce visited the cafe in Queens Park several years ago – it was known then as Olivers Garden.

Had an OK meal.

Then promptly thought no more of the place.

Lately, though, we’ve got a hot tip that things have changed – management, name, food.

So we’re here on a lovely late spring day to check it out.




In truth, and in terms of the building, furniture and all-round vibe, not much at all seems to have changed.

We take a nicely shaded table outside.

This is not our normal practice but there’s no wind and thankfully the pigeons at ground outnumber the flies in air.

The menu (see below) comprises a fairly typical cafe line-up.

We avoid the beef and chook burgers, and I prevail upon my son to choose something other than the Pork Bennie of eggs with pulled pork on a muffin.




So he goes the reuben sandwich ($15), with chips extra ($3).

It’s a good sandwich, with lusty tang from the sauerkraut, good corned beef, cheese, mustard and pickles.

The chips are hot and fine.




I scarf a good handful of the chips to compensate for the fact my farro & beets salad ($15.50) is undoubtedly the most insidiously healthy thing I’ve eaten all year.

Happily, it’s also extremely tasty.

The “beetroot three ways” seems more like three kinds of beetroot but they’re all delicious, mixing it in lightly dressed and grand style with spinach, blood orange, goat’s cheese and heaps of chewy grains.

After that, it seems only right to let Bennie off the leash to enjoy one of Curators Collective “Deth Shakes” ($12).

Ours (top photograph) is a grinningly evil and delicious mix of dark chocolate Oreo milkshake, chocolate, chocolate brownie, coconut, cream and Persian fairy floss.

It tastes real good.

I know … because Bennie told me so.

I didn’t try any of it.


Curators Collective is a very nice spot!

(This story has been sponsored by Moonee Valley City Council. But in all other regards it is a regular Consider The Sauce post – we chose the restaurant and when to eat there; we ordered what we wanted and paid for it ourselves; and neither oversight nor an editorial role were sought by the council.)



Moonee Ponds eats goss

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More changes are afoot in Moonee Ponds and in and around Puckle Street.

At 19 Pratt, formerly the home of Italian establisment L’Angolo Italiano, a barbecue place called  BBQ Land is being prepared for opening.




Going by the photos and dish titles already adorning the exterior, this seems unlikely to be serving American-style barbecue and will be doing more Aussie-style things over charcoal.




Around the corner in Puckle Street, Greek joint Hellenic Flavours has folded.




Across the street, Just Burgers has also closed – we didn’t get around to trying it!

I’m told the people – or person – behind a well-known and fondly regarded burger operation have/has taken over the premises with a view to opening a deli-style sandwich shop.

Think: Pastrami.

Think: Dill pickles on the side.




In the old-school arcade off Puckle Street that leads through to Young Street, the equally old-school Bruno’s Coffee Lounge has closed down.




Over in Hall Street, Nature’s One is offering what looks like a lovely range of breads and baguettes, along with things such as simple toasties and dips.




And even though it happened a while ago, it would remiss of us not to mention that what was once a branch of Yim Yam in Margaret Street is now a Korean eatery called Hanspoon.




Finally, and even though it has absolutely nothing to do with food, let me record the surprise and utter delight felt when, upon walking through the front area of a Puckle Street homewares/furniture store, I find at the back … the still-recognisable shell of a lovely old-school cinema/theatre.

How cool is that?

Fabulous Greek




Philhellene, 551-553 Mount Alexander Road, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9370 3303

Uh-oh – there’s a hair in our dolmades!

Not to worry, though … the follicle is entirely imaginary but is still being plucked from our food by our Philhellene host as a comic reaction to my taking of photographs.

We’re happy to say it’s that kind of place.

It’s our first visit to Philhellene – one that has been long anticipated and we’re happy to do it in our series putting the spotlight on Moonee Ponds (see full disclosure below).

But because of its renown, I’d expected something a little more formal and starchy.

What we get, instead, is pretty much your typical Greek setting and wonderful welcome.




The service is very fine and our food arrives exceedingly promptly.

That food is very, very good – this is Greek food definitely at the upper end of what is available in Melbourne.

It costs, of course, but not as much as we had feared – indeed, the Philhellene pricing is on par with all the other famed Melbourne Greek eateries.

But where it stands out is its lovingly long offering of provincial specials.

It’s for that reason we steer away from the basic $35 per person banquet for a minimum of two – you can check it out with the rest of the Philhellene menu here.

Frankly, it sounds like an outrageous bargain – but we’re familiar with almost everything it has.

Instead, we go a la carte and have a fine old time.

I am drawn to the long specials list with a sense of wonder mixed with frustration that we will be able to try so little of what’s offered.

I mean, how insanely good do fried sardine fillets with pickled fennel sound?

Or lamb and artichoke fricassee?

Sigh … but onwards.




Our admirably unhairy silverbeet dolmades are sensational, though quite pricey at $12.50 the pair.

When we have the traditional, vegetarian stuffed vine leaves – be they Turkish, Greek, Lebanese, Whatever – we prefer them unheated.

By contrast, these are served hot and they suit it – the innards are delicious, tender mix of rice, seasonings and beef.




For our other starters, we do stick to familiar Greek staples – one of them is this terrific tarama.

It’s a generous serve for $8.50, especially as it’s as fresh and tangy as we could wish and is served with beaut house-made bread.




Our calamari ($14.50) is well fried and tender but does tend to lose out in the flavour stakes when compared with the other dishes we enjoy.




For me, one of the main reasons to visit Philhellene is to enjoy lamb – not shaved from a spit nor cubed and put on skewers, but instead roasted.

We take a slightly different tack on that Greek philosophy by getting the roast kid goat ($29.95).

It has wow factor in abundance.

The meat is perhaps a tad too salty but is oh-so-wonderful and really does fall from the bones.

The roast spuds and well-cooked mix of peas ‘n’ broad beans come to the dance, too.

Together with our other selections, this single goat serve does us well – though Bennie is so impressed, he later reckons he could easily scoff a whole serve by his own self.




For a final splash of colour, we love our beetroot salad ($16.50, in which baby beetroots – and their tops – have been boiled and then simply dressed with dukkah and yogurt.

It, too, is wonderful.

We’ve ordered well and eaten superbly – but it is with some regret that we head into the night without giving into the temptation of trying something from the desserts list (see below).

When explaining to our host our hesitation about ordering an overly familiar banquet line-up, he told us such could be varied and that a list of staples is simply what some customers seek and require.

That makes us reckon the way to go at Philhellene is to nominate to the staff a price per person you want to pay and then simply announce: “Bring us food!”

Or, if you’re up for it, go for the horiatiko banquet, which costs $60 per punter and is described as “the ultimate of tasting our favourite dishes”.

As it says on the Philhellene website: “Trust us in providing you with a memorable food experience …. this is the only way we would eat with our family and friends.”

(This story has been sponsored by Moonee Valley City Council. But in all other regards it is a regular Consider The Sauce post – we chose the restaurant and when to eat there; we ordered what we wanted and paid for it ourselves; and neither oversight nor an editorial role were sought by the council.)





Killer Korean BBQ


tobagi3Consider The Sauce is enjoying a splendid year – but it’s not one that is turning out as expected. At its start, I envisaged much activity of the CTS Feast variety. To date, however, there has been a single Feast event. Attempts to get others up and running have failed to come to fruition. I’m OK with that – if such things are not to be, pushing harder doesn’t seem to help. In the meantime, Bennie and I – with help from a variety of very fine foodie pals – have simply continued to explore the western suburbs with glee. That relaxed approach seems to engender it own rewards in terms of interesting approaches that lob into the CTS email inbox. One such a few months back came from Moonee Valley Council – regarding a project in which CTS is very happy to have become involved. So … this post is the first of six that will appear in the next half-year or so sponsored by Moonee Valley Council. Long-time readers will know by now – and new readers can be assured – that our participation has only been made possible by being free to choose freely the six eateries to be written about and by having complete freedom to say whatever we please, good or bad. In other words … it’s business as usual here at CTS.




Tobagi BBQ, 726 Mount Alexander Road, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9370 8870

The stretch of Mount Alexander Road heading uphill to Puckle Street in Moonee Ponds can come across as a closed shop by day.

By night, by contrast and strictly thinking of food, it becomes a good deal more appealing.

As Bennie and I wander down one side of the road and up the other, we ponder quite a nice range of restaurants and cuisines before ending up pretty much where we started, thence to enter Tobagi BBQ, a Korean joint we’ve had on our “to do” list for a long time.

We end up being ever so happy we step through the Tobagi door, as we enjoy good Korean food of a homespun sort we’ve not come across before, cooked and served with panache.

The place is rather plain, if you look closely, but the clever use of many browns creates a warm and inviting atmosphere.

At first, on a mid-week night, we’re the only customers so enjoy the exclusive and friendly attention of both Elle and Jiweon, while the latter’s dad, Gerry, is in the kitchen.




Our first dish, vegetable dumplings ($8), doesn’t augur well for a fulfilling or filling evening.

The dumplings are OK, with mushy fillings that are very garlicky, but the serve size seems on the parsimonious side.




The arrival of “denjang soup” ($10) is much reassuring.

A big, very fine bowl of basic miso soup is studded with heaps of tofu and enoki mushrooms.

There’s plenty enough for Bennie and I to share, though as with our mains the mix of white/black rise seems superfluous to our mutual mindset and appetite.

Even if such grains are the Korean way …




I have friends for whom the idea of paying for kimchi is anathema.

Me, I’ve got no problem with it in an Australian setting, particularly when $4 gets us this lovely, generous bowl of fresh, zingy and only-lightly-pickled cucumber.




Then it’s on to our mains – for which we throw caution, both food and financial, to the wind by going big on meat with beef bulgogi ($25), of thinly sliced and marinated beef with enoki mushies, and pork galbi ($29), of free-range pork ribs marinated in chilli paste and sesame oil.




To go with our mains, we are provided with three sauces – sesame oil/salt, miso paste and chilli paste, along with lettuce leaves and two serve of the same rice ($3 each).




It’s at this point in our evening that Jiweon really comes into her own by deftly barbecuing our meats at our table.

Good job!




We start in on the beef and enokis at the medium-rare stage – and it tastes very, very nice, with great texture and BBQ flavour.

We eat some with the nearby sauces.

We eat some rolled up in the butter lettuce leaves, as instructed.

We eat some just making it up as we go.




The pork proves even more demanding of Jiweon’s time.

She barbecues the big, handsome chunk of meat whole for a while before cutting the meat from the bones with scissors and continuing the cooking.

In the end, we are left with heaps of smaller chunks each and a nice, meaty bone to gnaw on at the end.

The meat is an interesting contrast to all the US-style barbecue we’ve indulged in this year.

Here, the pork rib meat is quite chewy, very tasty and not as spicy as seems might be the case.

We’ve had a beaut meal and love the people here.

It’s a meal, though, that has stretched the definition of “cheap eats”.

But we’re happy with the quality and quantity of what we’ve been served. We reckon it’s all been good value for money.

Truth is, we could’ve got away with paying less by the simple, prudent moves of not ordering rice we didn’t need and two cans of soft drink where water would do!

Maybe a hotpot for us next time …

(This post has been sponsored by Moonee Valley Council.)




More than dumplings in Moonee Ponds

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Dumpling House, 2 Everage Street, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9372 9188

Consider The Sauce recorded the new existence of Dumpling House in a Moonee Ponds eats goss post a month back, noting along the way how much I enjoyed the chicken and mushroom wontons in “peanut, chilli and spice sauce”.

Today I’m back for lunch and I have company.

Between us we try enough of the menu to ascertain that Dumpling House is about more than dumplings and is, indeed, a very handy arrival in the Puckle Street neighbourhood – basic of decor, very cheap and with surprises waiting to be unearthed.

And word, it seems, is getting out – there’s one large lunch group, another table of four and a few takeaway orders going out the door.




Pan-fried chicken and prawn dumplings ($9.50 for 12) are a big bite size and quite chewy.

The innards (top picture) are a deft mix of chicken and prawn – very tasty!




We enjoy, too, the Shanghai fried noodles ($9.50).

There’s nothing spectacular about this dish – it’s simply a good, solid rendition of a standard noodle dish with greenery, carrot and beef.




We are so very happy we have ordered the spicy eggplant ($16.50).

Not that it’s spicy, mind you.

It’s not.

And forget the capsicum, which is little more than a garnish.

The dish is also monumentally oily – but I doubt it could be made any other way.

What it does have is gorgeously luscious eggplant pieces with flavour that has us moaning and sighing with delight.

The sort of eggplant flavour, in fact, of which I dream.

All this is set off by the wonderfully by bright green, al-dente broad beans – such a nice touch!