Double banger

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Angie’s Kitchen, Shop 75, 21-31 Hall Street, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9939 5821
Macelleria, Shop 74 Moonee Ponds Central, 21-31 Hall Street, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9372 8441

Periodically, we find ourselves in Moonee Ponds and, more specifically, on Puckle Street.

And it’s then that we wonder: “What the hell are we doing here?”

It’s all a perfectly OK retail/eating precinct – and we love scoping out some of the gorgeous real estate between Puckle Street and, say, Highpoint on our way home.

But by and large, when it comes to the kinds of food that sets our pulses racing, the neighbourhood is, well, just average.

But there are hot spots.

We continue to love shopping, when we’re in the area, at Fresh On Young – the subject of the second ever CTS story.

More recently, on Hall Street – on the other side of Puckle Street from Young – there is a food flourishing going on, one we make the most of with twin winning lunches at adjoining newcomers.

Both Angie’s Kitchen and Macelleria front Hall Street, but are part of the wider Moonee Ponds Central retail/food/services set-up.

 

 

The colour scheme, fittings and all-round general vibe in Angie’s Kitchen make it feel like the kind of place you’d be very comfortable taking your gran.

But there is some real serious, delicious and keenly priced Chinese food going on here – and it’s all produced and created in house from the ground up.

As we takes our seats, we are entertaining thoughts of trying up to a handful of the many dumplings featured on the menu (see below) – and chicken feet.

We lose out on the chicken feet.

“They wouldn’t work in Moonee Ponds,” we’re later told.

Meanwhile, we mention to the staff member serving us that we’re used to ordering (and eating) Chinese roasts in combos of two or three meats, accompanied by rice and bok choy – as we’d enjoyed the previous week.

Yet this option is not open to us at Angie’s Kitchen.

No problem, we’re helpfully informed – just order the mixed roast platter ($30), a small serve of greens with oyster sauce and a bowl of rice.

So – big change of plans – that’s what we do.

The photo of the mixed roast platter at the top of this story does not adequately convey the generous size of the portions – nor their outright deliciousness.

Oh boy, oh boy – this is fabulous stuff!

And this is quite a different setting from that in which we more normally enjoy this kind of food, but we revel in it.

The portions of duck and barbecued pork are chunkier than the norm, but nevertheless excellent – and, for the most, juicy and tender.

The roast pork pieces, including their crackling, are quite delicate.

 

 

Our small serve of mixed greens ($9.80) is purpose made for accompanying the roast meats and does the job admirably.

 

 

The roast/greens mix makes for quite a substantial lunch, but we cannot resist the temptation of trying the steamed BBQ pork buns ($6.20).

 

 

These, too, are superb, with wonderfully sticky and sweet fillings.

We’ve eaten like royalty so have no qualms whatsoever about the $49 price tag – it seems like a bargain.

 

 

When I first heard about Macelleria and its slogan – “The Butcher That Cooks For You” – I was skeptical.

It sounded a bit gimmicky to me.

We discover that, to some extent at least, that feeling is warranted.

 

 

Customers can and do buy meat from Macelleria to take home – but mostly this a steak/grill joint (one of four in Melbourne) with a display cabinet.

But what arouses our curiosity, impels us through the door and – eventually – finds us taking a lunch-time table is the menu item that is the half rack of beef ribs (menu below).

Based on our previous experiences with the bigness of beef ribs, a half rack with a side salad and mash for $24.90 sounds like a fine deal.

 

 

The dining room is a lovely, airy place in which to lunch and watch the passing parade on Hall Street.

 

 

Bennie is the lucky punter who gets to order and enjoy the beef ribs.

It proves to be excellent.

The ribs aren’t as big as many we’ve enjoyed, but plenty big enough for lunch.

The meat and its rosemary and garlic marinade are terrific.

The side salad is beaut and the creamy mash also fine – though so voluminous is the latter that Bennie falls quite a way short of finishing it.

 

 

My own bangers and mash is a much more modest outing, both in ambition and price ($17.90).

The finely ground beef snags are very flavoursome and the mash the same as that which adorned Bennie’s ribs.

But the high point of my meal is the rich, perfect onion gravy.

 

 

I bolster my meal with a serve of coleslaw ($7.90).

This proves to be a mistake.

For starters, Bennie’s side salad would’ve sufficed for both of us.

And this slaw is just OK – in fact, it’s a bit drab.

 

Big Boy BBQ

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Big Boy BBQ, 764 Glenhuntly Rd, Caulfield South. Phone: 9523 7410

Had ribs on Haight St in San Francisco on my first visit – 1977 – to the US.

Have eaten at famous Kreuz’s near San Antonio – a spectacular temple to the carnivore ethos.

Have had random and very sporadic contact with BBQ traditions, food and culture.

But can in no way claim any kind of expertise despite being a life-long Americanophile.

That’s simply because the area of the US I subsequently came to favour with my time and money – New Orleans and South Louisiana – is bereft of any kind of BBQ tradition at all. I mean … there’s nothing.

Oh, OK there’s a few places.

But really, the various inter-twined food traditions of the creole, Italian, cajun and French varieties seem to have left no room at all for a BBQ equivalent.

That’s a cause of regret for some New Orleanians I have known, particularly those not natives – as is the case with so many Crescent City residents.

There are, of course, upsides to living in New Orleans – culinary and otherwise.

But I digress …

As with attempts at New Orleans and South Louisiana food in Melbourne, my experience here with BBQ in general and ribs in particular has not been joyful.

Still, I’m optimistic about a first visit to Big Boy BBQ – the word, actually many words, are good.

The joint is done out in modern diner style – stools at the front, comfy booths at the back.

Unfortunately, this is a mid-week lunch, so neither budget nor tummy stretch to ribs, which range from $25 for a half rack up to $55 for the full version. Our pal Nat rates them, so I’ll be back soonish I suspect to gnaw galore with Bennie.

My order:

Regular onion strings – $4.95.

Regular coleslaw – $3.95.

Sandwich … The Carolina (pulled pork scotch fillet with coleslaw and BBQ sauce, $9.90).

I’m awful confused by the onion strings – no onion flavour, no sweetness. They taste like fries.

Whoops … they ARE fries. The Big Boy serving me later apologises, promising me a free serve of the onion jobbies next visit. He says he’ll even put my name in his book. I wonder if it’s called The Balls-Up Book?

The fries are OK, but have been heavily doused with some sort of supercharged variant of chicken salt.

The coleslaw is perfect, crunchy yet not too much so, tangy, tasty and all-round brilliant.

It’s made, I suspect and later learn, using the European method of letting the cabbage and carrot sit for a good, long while in a whole lot of salt, sugar and vinegar. Rinsed, it is then dressed in more modest amounts of vinegar, oil, salt, pepper.

A lesson there, I reckon, for a very many charcoal chicken shops.

My sandwich is of modest proportions for the price.

But the meat is real fine – in strands as it falls apart and with good sauce and some more of that slaw.

Serious appetites could do some serious financial damage here, but as a treat and for food that has a sense of authentic BBQ about it, it’s pretty cool.

As well, there are combo deals that make a lot of sense.

The Little Boy combo ($49), for instance, has pulled lamb shoulder, saucy beef brisket and a half-rack of lamb ribs with two regular sides.

The Big Boy BBQ website is here.

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