Shiny grill time

2 Comments

 

DeGrill, Sunshine Marketplace, Sunshine. Phone: 0402 189 860

A small, single-frame cartoon in the Sunday Age a few years back always makes me chuckle when I think of it.

Two blokes are surveying the Sunshine Marketplace shopping centre.

One says to the other: “Wow – this really is the United Nations of bogans!”

I like it because it’s bloody funny.

But I also like it because I like it that Sunshine Marketplace is like that.

We may live in Yarraville, hit the new fried chicken place in WeFo as soon doing so is viable and even frequent hipster places in Footscray proper … but we love all the west and its people and food.

Which is why CTS loves venturing to not only Sunshine, but also Werribee, Deer Park and beyond – and will continue to eat and review and tell stories from well beyond the ribbon that is the inner west.

 

 

So we applaud the opening of DeGrill at Sunshine Marketplace.

It’s a bold and adventurous move – it is situated, after all, right opposite Maccas and right next door to the cinemas.

I could say that DeGrill is aiming for the same sort of focus as Grill’d or Nando’s – but that would be doing DeGrill a disservice.

Because the menu is significantly more broad than such a comparison might imply.

I suspect the menu may have to be tweaked over time to find out what really works in this particular setting.

But over two visits, CTS and friends enjoy some good food and good service at (mostly) good prices.

The style is classy fast food and proper cutlery and crockery are in use, as are fine salt and pepper grinders.

 

 

There are three hot dog options on the menu, two featuring kransky or chorizo.

But the classic ($7.50) is constructed using a standard frankfurter.

So all is regulation here, but its recipient is pleased enough.

 

 

“Crispy” chicken ($9.50) has the wow factor aplenty.

The serve consists of three superbly cooked wings anointed with a tangy sauce.

Very good!

Especially when served with …

 

 

… a side of mash and gravy ($6).

This a rarity is Melbourne in general, let alone in a Sunshine shopping centre.

It’s OK, we all like it – but it’s not spectacular.

 

 

The menu’s “between the buns” section lists nothing that could be described as a beef burger, but based on our table’s orders of the cheese steak ($9, above) and …

 

 

… the only marginally different philly cheese ($9.50), this may be the way to go here.

Both are keenly priced and boast good ingredients and dressings.

The steak is thicker than routinely found in steak sandwiches and, best of all, is so well cooked that biting through for a mouthful is done with ease and without the whole sandwich falling apart.

Big thumbs up for that!

 

 

Under the heading “from the grill”, DeGrill offers dishes such as a flat iron steak ($17 and $26) and chicken ($16 for half, $29 for full).

These and others may fulfill the implied promise of more hefty meals.

Sadly, the beef short ribs ($16) do not.

It’s common knowledge ribs are expensive to secure and are inevitably at the upper end price-wise wherever they appear.

It’s common knowledge, too, the beef ribs can be fatty.

But these are very fatty indeed, and the three segments amount to not much more than a brief meal of not many more mouthfuls.

As well, as per the eatery’s name, these rib bits are grilled and not smoked, as you’d generally find at the numerous barbecue-style places across the city.

The coleslaw ($4.50) lacks crunch – maybe because its main component is savoy cabbage?

It’s under-done in the seasoning/flavour department, too, though some quick work with the salt and pepper grinders soon fixes that up.

 

 

CTS is over the mega shake thing – too often they seem to involve poor quality ingredients and unjustifiably high prices.

This DeGrill brownie shake ($9) defies both factors – good price, nice shake.

We wish DeGrill well.

Maye its arrival will inspire others to hang out their shingle in the same locale.

Thanks to Annie and Ali for helping us with this story!

Check out the DeGrill website – including full menu – here.

Very socially adept

3 Comments

 

Sunshine Social, 64 Glengala Road, Sunshine West. Phone: 9312 0223

Sunshine Social is a hit and hoot and we love it to bits.

This is the biggest thing to hit Sunshine West for years – the adjacent Glengala Road shops barely seem to have changed for the best part of a decade.

In fact, this may be the biggest western suburbs food story of the year.

We bowl up just a few days after opening day, eager to check out the vibe, try the food and see if the widespread community interest and hopes are being fulfilled.

The answer is a rousing “yes” – albeit with a couple of food mis-steps noted below of the very easily forgivable these-are-very-early-days variety.

 

 

The old servo has been done up a treat, the swish fit-out preserving the old-time feel of the building and, best of all, the wonderful roof that once sheltered filling-up motorists from the elements.

It would be easy to describe the furniture, fittings and general ambience as “industrial”, but there is a bit more warmth to the place than that might imply.

As well, even on a busy Friday night, the noise levels are surprisingly subdued.

Three of us have drinks, two starters, three mains with various sides and a single, cheapo dessert and pay just a tad over $100 – so Sunshine Social represents good value for money as well as a whole heap of fun.

We arrive early after having dithered about a later start time involving a bigger assemblage of Team CTS, but are glad we’ve reverted to 6.30pm kick-off as the place rapidly fills up after that.

Sunshine Social doesn’t take bookings – it’s not that sort of place – so while it’s as hot as it is right now and the curiosity factor is high, it would be wise to pick your time with some thought.

Loosely based on the concept of old-school charcoal chicken shops, Sunshine Social goes from there to offer a menu that broadens out to take in some multicultural ideas, all the while offering a cohesive gameplan.

 

 

Marinated olives and chargrilled vegetables ($7.50) are a delightful way to get our meal underway.

It’s a deceptively big serving of beaut olives of various colours and dimensions and long strips of gorgeous red capsicum, zucchini and eggplant.

 

 

We try two of the five dips at $4.5o a pop (punters can get the lot for $16).

I am outvoted in my desire to try the beetroot and whole bean number.

Instead, we get the eggplant and pistachio/pea/mint versions.

The former is rather dry and crumbly but has robust roast cumin flavour.

The latter has little by way of nuttiness, the pea and mint dominating in a smooth operation.

 

 

Given the charcoal chook inspiration going on here, I was only ever going to order one thing – the very same thing that I ALWAYS order in chicken shops: Half a chicken with slaw and chips ($28.50).

The price here is higher, of course, but no more than expected.

The chicken near the various bones is excellent, moist and delicious.

The breast meat is dry – as it so often is, no matter the price.

But it’s not terminally so, and certainly all this could easily be fixed up with a small pot of gravy as per charcoal shop tradition.

The chips are very fine and the slaw – much drier and different in style from the usual – a crunchy, lightly-dressed delight.

 

 

The meat served with Nat’s order of “lamb shoulder with Mediterranean herbs” ($22.50 with one side) is tasty.

But we are both surprised the sheep meat is sliced and more like your regular lamb roast than the fall-apart epic the phrase “lamb shoulder” automatically suggests to us. And there’s not much sign of the advertised herbs, either.

In both the cases of my chicken and his lamb, neither of us feels the sweetish coating (chicken) or sweetish sauce (lamb) do anything to enhance our meals.

Chicken options with more high-powered seasonings taking in lemon, chilli and turbo-herbs would be a good move, we reckon.

 

 

The no-hesitation thumbs-up of the night goes to Bennie’s fried chicken burger ($13.50).

He loves the big, succulent, crisp chunk of fried chicken and gives his burger – abetted by slaw, cheese and jalapenos – an 8 out of 10.

He gets chips with his sandwich and an extra order of slaw on the side that is plenty big enough for both himself and Nat.

 

 

During the course of our meal, we’ve pondered dessert.

But predictably, we’ve loaded up plenty on the savoury segments of the menu, so treats such as choc ripple biscuit cake with peppermint slice shavings and cream will have to await a return visit.

I do grant Bennie his wish for a house-made choc top for $4.50.

He likes it.

You can tell by his unbridled display of passion and delight and enthusiasm for the camera.

We decide that there is nothing else quite like Sunshine Social in all of Melbourne – not that we know of anyway.

Sure, there’s a gazillion hipster burger places and almost as many barbecue joints and similar.

But a self-described “grill” that has no steaks and little seafood?

Nope.

On the basis of community reaction and our experience just a few days into its life, the place will endure and then some.

It is destined to become something of a second home to many.

And next time, we may expand our ordering horizons to the likes of pork ribs, grilled calamari, a range of meat on sticks or Moroccan lamb snags.

Check out the Sunshine Social website (including menu) here.

Westie barbers No.5: Coffee with your cut?

Leave a comment
axe4

 

AXE Barbers and Baristas, Shop 1/1 Foundry Road, Sunshine: Phone: 0414 427 769

Being a cheapskate, I normally avoid hairdressers or barbershops with a chic look – polished cement floors, like that – as they’re usually ridiculously over-priced for my minimal, buzz-cut needs.

But at new Sunshine outfit AXE Barbers and Baristas I do good.

And I get a fine cafe latte, to boot!

Mind you, “Axe” seems like a rather threatening name for a barbershop …

 

axe1

 

… but that changes when I meet barista Engin (left) and barber Xavia, and learn that the name is made up of their initials and that of a third partner, Allan, who I don’t meet.

Xavia provides me with an expert buzz-cut for a price not far removed from those charged by the St Albans and Footscray Vietnamese hairdressers I usually use.

 

axe2

 

These blokes will do well, I reckon.

There’s not a lot by way of service businesses at the Gold Leaf end of Hampshire Road, but there is new apartment activity representing potential customers.

There’s parking close by at both Hampshire Crescent and Sunshine Plaza.

Check out the AXE website here for hours and prices.

 

axe3

Yum cha blow-out

1 Comment

gold16

 

Gold Leaf, 491 Ballarat Road, Sunshine. Phone: 9311 1863

In the past year or so, CTS has dined yum cha – see here and here.

But as enjoyable as those outings were, in places that run yum cha a la carte and to order and without trolleys, we figured it was time for the real deal.

 

gold11

 

You know the drill – huge barn of a place, high noise levels, trolleys whizzing everywhere.

 

gold12

 

So CTS and a bunch of willing pals hit Gold Leaf in Sunshine.

Typically, Bennie and I arrived first and somewhat early.

We were forced to cool our heels with other early arrivers as the staff meal tables were cleared and then – in we went!

 

gold3

 

Within half an hour, the joint is packed and rocking.

With a group of eight eating madly, I don’t even think about keeping note of individual items and their prices.

Suffice it to say, it really does make a difference – the food here was of a very high standard and the service fine.

 

gold6

 

We had many of the staples and a few more adventurous things.

 

gold1

 

Eating the divine roast pork/crackling, for instance, I placed in my bowl some of the attending noodles – only to learn I was eating jellyfish for the first time.

It was lovely!

 

gold5

 

It was a wonderful experience and the price – a buck or so over $30 per head – equally splendid.

 

gold18

 

But some things never change …

As we’re wrapping up desserts and wrapping up generally, I notice even more trolleys sallying forth laden with very interesting a delicious-looking items.

No room for them … this time!

 

gold14

gold15

gold13

gold10

gold4

gold8

gold9

gold2

 

Life goes on at Berkshire Road

3 Comments

madam1

 

Madam Curry, 71 Berkshire Road, Sunshine North.

Ah well, that’s the end of an era in western suburbs food history.

Marco and Maria from Latin Food and Wines (frequently referred to as La Morenita in the many stories we have run about them) have moved from their long-time North Sunshine redoubt for a great new home in Deer Park.

There’ll be more about them and that right here at CTS in due course …

It seems the sleepy Berkshire Road shopping strip that has been such a big part of our lives for so many years will become even more somnolent.

But food things there are still ticking over.

The newest arrival is the roti-producing outfit called Madam Curry, which has moved from Sunshine Plaza into the premises formerly occupied by a failed South American eatery.

 

madam2

 

My understanding is that for the Madam Curry operation, serving walk-up customers curries, rotis and the like is strictly a second-string affair to the contracts they have to supply rotis across the city.

Thus as I arrive at their new digs for lunch I am wondering who will actually be stepping up for a lunch-time feed in the back streets of North Sunshine.

So I am happily surprised that as I am lunching, two different groups of local workers/businessmen come and go.

Madam Curry’s stock in trade may be supplying rotis to the Melbourne hospitality industry but it seems catering to the lunch trade in a neighbourhood where there is not much food to be had is a smart move.

The eat-in/takeaway menu (see below) covers a tight range of reasonably priced starters, roti canai dishes, wraps and noodles.

 

madam4

 

Prawn dumplings ($5.50) are nice – plump and flavoursome – without having the oomph to be expected from a top-line yum cha joint.

 

madam5

 

The prominent appearance of curry leaves is a good sign of home-cooking in my chicken curry with roti cani ($9.90).

The curry IS good, made so far as I can tell from thigh meat and featuring a goodly number of spud bits in a tasty, mild curry sauce.

The roti is OK but does have something of a mass-produced taste/feel to it.

 

madam3

West Welcome Wagon benefit – the wrap

2 Comments
www37

 

West Welcome Wagon Fundraiser,
Curry Leaves, 463 Ballarat Road, Sunshine. Phone: 8528 3876.
Hosted by Consider The Sauce, 15/3/16

Yes, a fine time was had by all at the latest West Welcome fundraiser – held at that fine purveyor of Sri Lankan tucker, Curry Leaves in Sunshine.

 

www36

 

The final accounting is yet to be done but WWW will in a day or so be about $1400 better off in terms of much-needed cash to continue its amazing work.

 

www315

 

That’s thanks to many people …

The many attendees – some familiar faces, many new ones – who bowled up for the biggest event CTS has ever organised.

 

www314

 

Thanks most of all to chef Duminda, Bec and Dillon and the rest of the Curry Leaves crew.

 

www313

 

The food was wonderful and there was plenty of it!

 

www33

 

Thanks, too, to famed Footscray drinking/eating emporium Littlefoot for donating a lovely meal for the auction and for long-time CTS reader and pal Juz for putting up his hand to take it away.

 

www32

 

And equal thanks go to another CTS pal Christine, master baker, for creating and donating a superb “black velvet cake” of “red velvet with a black cocoa syrup, frosted in good old cream cheese frosting”.

 

www31

 

That classy item was won at auction by Elizabeth – who immediately declared her prize was meant nothing less than immediate consumption.

So the knife was wielded and just everyone in the house had a very tasty slice.

Thanks everyone!

 

www35

www310

www34

www39

www311

www38

CTS Feast No.13: The Wrap

3 Comments

ctsf132

 

CTS Feast No.23: Xuan Banh Cuon, 232 Hampshire Road, Sunshine. Phone: 0422 810 075. Tuesday, December 8, from 7pm.

What a happy pleasure it was holding a CTS event at our favourite Vietnanese restaurant.

Several guests were repeat offenders.

 

ctsf137

 

Others were Xuan Banh Cuon regulars who nevertheless were happy to make the effort to join other fans.

 

ctsf138

 

Many thanks to Xuan, Carson, Ang and the crew for providing us with such wonderful food.

 

ctsf139

 

The biggest hit of the night was the mixed entree platter we each received of pho cuon thit bo (sautee beef wrap in fresh pho noodle), banh goi (Vietnamese puff) and cha mrc hai phong (northern squid cake).

The pho cuon thit bo especially impressed – Carson describes it as a non-soup, summertime version of pho, complete with rare beef slices and all the usual pho goodies.

Wonderful!

 

ctsf134

 

CTS has held far fewer events this year than was initially anticipated – this being the third.

But they’ve all been very good!

We hope to see you next year at CTS Feast No.14 and beyond …

 

ctsf131

ctsf136

ctsf135