Brewhouse feeds us good

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Two Birds Brewing, 136 Hall Street, Spotswood. Phone: 9762 0000

It’s taken us ages to check out Two Birds Brewing.

As soon as we amble through the doors of this Spotswood brew emporium, we regret that has been the case as we take to the place with alacrity.

There’s a bar/servery at the front and an attendant and cosy drinking/eating area.

 

 

A nice, happy mid-week buzz is going on and there’s quite a good crowd.

It’s warm, but also busy and way too dark for comfortable photography.

So we are very happy to keep on marching through to the brewery proper, which has another area with tables, chairs – and heating.

 

 

It’s all very cavernous and industrial, but we love it – what a place to enjoy a meal and a drink!

CTS doesn’t normally do booze, but this being a brewery it would seem somewhat inappropriate to go without, so I have a very nice schooner of the Two Birds Taco ale, while Bennie is happy to go with his usual Coke stuff.

We are very interested to see how the food will shape up, having checked out the menu before we departed home.

On the one hand, we are delighted to see a list that is so deeply into hipster food of the American style yet unlike anything else we’ve seen in Melbourne.

On the other, we wonder if this will be bar food that is really snack food – we fret, just a little, that we will spend a packet yet nevertheless leave without feeling fully satisfied.

There prove to be so no such problems for us at Two Birds – we enjoy a fine meal and consider the pricing just right.

 

 

House-made pickles ($8) are superb.

Carrot, green beans, celery, zucchini, onion – here is a wonderful fantasia of colours and textures, with each of the vegetables evincing different flavours.

Croquettes ($10 for four, top photograph) present as gorgeous-looking crisp orbs – we can’t wait to grab them.

Their promise is fully realised – inside each of them is lipsmackingly good and gooey mix of macaroni, cheese and pimento, all with just the right level of spice heat.

 

 

We move on to the “bigs” portion of the menu …

By this time we are happy and relaxed in the sure knowledge that the Two Birds experience will leave us well fed.

The one remaining issue to be resolved surrounds what was always going to be Bennie’s main choice – the smoked pork hot dog.

As Bennie himself puts it: “How good can a hot dog be for $17?”

With its fine sausage and dressings of bacon, paprika mustard and ketchup, it hits nice heights in terms of flavour and eating pleasure.

Bennie enjoys the heck out of it, but he does make unfavourable comparisons to the $5 versions to be had at the Wiener Wednesdays at Littlefoot in Footscray.

I tell him that’s harsh and very much a case of comparing apples and oranges.

As he wraps up his meal and licks his fingers, he ponders this.

“I’d happily pay $12 for that,” he says.

Fair call, I reckon.

The kipfler potato salad that accompanies his hot dog is very fine.

 

 

The only problem with my chicken schnitzel “on brioche” is that there is, so far as I can tell, nothing even remotely “schnitzel” about it.

Instead, this a regal, sooper dooper chicken burger that makes me very, very happy.

Around a nice slab of chook are, according to the menu, nothing more than “special sauce, American cheese and lettuce”, yet the flavour impact is way greater than that suggests.

With a lovely dob of that same potato salad, I enjoy my meal and consider it good value for $17.

Check out the Two Birds Brewing website – including menu – here.

 

Killer burgers in Spotswood

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Spottiswoode Hotel, 62 Hudsons Rd, Spotswood. Phone: 9391 1330

Even with the contemporary makeover, the Sunday night scene at the Spotiswoode is cheerily like any pub anywhere in Melbourne.

There’s family groups all over the joint, couples and single diners, too. Some are watching footy but everyone is having a fine old time.

Some folks are even chowing down on the $10 Sunday roast special this late in the day.

It’s that sooper-dooper special that has seen us return several times since our first visit.

But tonight we’re here to try the broader menu, about which we’ve heard very mixed reports.

We have to report, however, that the meals we see scurrying around us – shanks ‘n’ mash, two kind of ribs, steaks, F&C and pasta among them – look amazingly tasty and very big.

Whether this is testament to a triumph of substance over style, we know not.

But still, we’re wondering if we’ve really goofed by BOTH of us ordering the burger with lot ($15.50).

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Those doubts are accentuated when our meals arrive looking nothing special at all.

That turns out to be largely an optical illusion caused by the large white plates on which our food resides.

The truth is, these are killer burgers – hands-on, gooey, messy, unrepentant macho classics.

The buns are big and fresh.

The good-quality bacon and cheese both taste real fine.

Even the fried egg – something I can and do live without when it comes to burgers – seems just right.

The beef patty is partially charred on the outside, nice and chewy and just the right dimensions in relation to the other ingredients.

Finally, the various green bits and the tomato have a crunchy freshness to match it with the more greasy elements, providing just the right kind of contrast.

Thee are the best burgers we’ve had for a good long while, and the price is a steal.

But we both wonder how they’d go when being assessed by our pal Nat, a hardcore, finger-on-the-pulse Melbourne burger maven if ever there was.

The chips?

They’re a deep brown and look like they may be ace – but they’re just OK.

 

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Spotswood Farmers Market

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Spotswood Farmers Market, Spotswood Primary School, Melbourne Rd, Spotswood.

Farmers markets have never been a regular thing for us, but we can see that changing as we enjoy a couple of hours at the Spotswood edition on a sunny Saturday.

Apart from fresh produce, preserves, bread, coffee and so on, we are most impressed with the range and quality of the food to eat right here and now that is available.

There’s kids and dogs of all sizes and descriptions, some live music, displays and many interesting things to see and experience.

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Bennie just loves his popcorn chicken and sausage on a stick from Ghost Kitchen Taiwanese Street Food.

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Ghost Kitchen also serves noodles and spring onion pancake, the latter for $7.

Sounds a bit steep, I opine.

I’m told they’re pretty much dinner plate size and are used as a wrap for various fillings.

One of those fillings is “Asian doughnut”, the mental picture of which has me furrowing my brow and Bennie cackling with glee.

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The Ghost Kitchen folk tell me they’re a relatively new to the game and have even been trying a few music festivals, but the younger punters at such events are allegedly hard to feed, with the discussion usually going something along the following lines:

Ghost Kitchen: “Hello, how can I help you?”

Punter (eyes glazed, swaying slightly): “Water …”

Ghost Kitchen: “Cool! Interested in something to eat?”

Punter: “Water …”

And on like that …

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I am most impressed with the work of a stall called Falafel People.

The falafels are quite coarse in texture but unoily and crispy and fresh.

The eggplant dip I sample is outstanding – smoky and lemony.

The hummus, not so good.

They’re not set up to deliver the platter spread I am familiar with after many visits to upper Sydney Rd, so I make do with a falafel wrap.

It’s a doozy – cucumber AND turnip pickles, good tabouleh and those falafel balls.

Falafel People on Urbanspoon

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Bennie moves on to a cone of Timboon ice cream.

Salted caramel? Blimey – genius at work!

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Then he has his sketch portrait drawn by David from St Marks Anglican Spotswood.

St Marks is also running a snag stall – $3 for Andrews sausages sounds pretty good to us, but by now we’re done with eating … until dinner time.

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The Hobsons Bay City Band has me bopping – sort of – with a medley of Four Seasons hits.

On the way home, having decided as usual to make our way back to the car via back streets, we meet some new friends.

We are lured into a garage sale by a swell-looking lemonade stand.

Off to one side are a plethora of large, deeply green leaves.

Inquiring as to what they are, I express my surprise – despite being a food nut, I’ve never before laid eyes on fresh bay leaves, only ever having used the dried variety for cooking.

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The lady of the garage sale house in turn expresses her surprise at my ignorance.

“I know you guys,” she says. “I follow your blog!”

This turns out to be Kristie, so we spend the next 10 minutes or so – while happily imbibing Ella’s Most Excellent Lemonade – discussing westie food topics at large, including the general uselessness of Williamstown and other subjects addressed too scathingly to go into here!

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Spottiswoode Hotel

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Spottiswoode Hotel, 62 Hudsons Rd, Spotswood. Phone: 9391 1330

Quite a few months before our fine Sunday lunch at the Spottiswoode Hotel, we’d dropped in merely in pursuit of ATM facilities.

The Consider The Sauce ethos fully embraces bare-bones, old-school pubs, but in this case the gloomy vibe saw us heading for the exit as soon as our business was done.

Since then, the place has undergone a comprehensive makeover.

We’ve been hearing good things about it.

We’ve checked out the menu at the pub’s website, and found it to be meaty, matey and very good-looking.

We’ve been hearing good things, too, about the size, quality and price of the joint’s Sunday roast deal – Thanks, Sue! – so we’re upbeat for our visit.

The renovations have been drastic.

There’s a lot roomy space amid the three co-joined interior eating/drinking spaces.

There’s a lot of wood and vintage brick, comfy-looking armchairs, a big fireplace and a sweet spot outside with umbrellas and a woodfired oven.

And there’s even a room off to the side with pinball machines, into which we later pump a handful of gold coins.

It all looks great and we find the service matches.

The menu runs to a savvy list of pub grub classics and more priced around the $20 mark for main courses.

There’s specials during the week – steak and a drink on Mondays, F&C and a drink on Tuesdays, parma and a drink on Wednesday and curry and a drink on Thursdays, all for $15. We spy, too, another special scrawled on one of the mirrors – $16 for a whole grilled with salad and chips.

But we’re here for the $10 roast.

Thus continues this year’s Consider The Sauce romance of the roast that has taken in the Famous Blue Raincoat, the Footscray Club, Bruno’s Coffee Lounge and even New Zealand.

The Spottiswoode roast deal is as good as any.

The serves look a tad modest, but that turns out to be all about the large plates.

The vegetables – nice selection, cooked but not mushy – are really tasty.

The meat – it’s lamb on the day we visit – is tender and plentiful, although we seem to have struck a portion of the animal that’s quite fatty. No matter.

The gravy is dark and rich.

The spuds are fall-apart tender – if we have any regrets it’s that we don’t get more than the two halves each we are provided.

But that’s a minor issue considering the price, terrific atmosphere and really fine service that sees the needs of each and every table met with aplomb by numerous staff members.

We’re keen to return to explore the regular menu.

Spottiswoode Hotel on Urbanspoon