Sunshine Turkish is a winner

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Cafe Lakoza, G08/1 Foundry Road, Sunshine West. Phone: 0404 499 031

On the way to Cafe Lakoza, I attempt to get Bennie enthused about our impending lunch by indicating he will be free to order a halal snack pack.

If he so desires.

He doesn’t.

“I’m all done with halal snack packs,” he says.

Hmmm – it seems another teen fixation has fallen by the wayside.

I can’t say I’m upset.

So if an HSP isn’t the go, I suggest we may want to get stuck into the Turkish breakfast feast on offer.

It’s the kind of thing – replete with all sorts of sweet and savoury offerings – we’ve had before in more northern suburbs, but never in the west.

As it turns out, we arrive after the noon deadline for the brekky line-up, so settle for more orthodox Turkish feeds.

Cafe Lakoza is located right next to Found 401, which has become a well-regarded burger stop, and about a block from a fine yum cha establishment.

The place is pretty darn busy for Cup Day; there’s a big family occasion – birthday party? – taking up most of the room.

But we are seen to with smiles and in good time, both in having our order taken and in having our food served.

 

 

Visually, there’s not a lot of difference between Bennie’s selection of mixed kebab platter, with chicken and lamb, and …

 

 

… my own choice of lamb alone.

Both cost $18 and are wonderful value for money.

There’s a lot of food here and neither of us go close to finishing our plates.

All is fine and fresh.

Good dips and salad and rice.

Heaps of meat.

Best of all are the chips – they are excellent.

A rarely noted phenomena: Oft times the best chips you’ll find anywhere in Melbourne are those served in joints of the Middle Eastern and/or Mediterranean persuasion.

The bread we are served, after a short delay on a busy day, is not the fresh-baked Turkish flatbread we are expecting.

It’s more of a bun thing – like a cross between Turkish bread and a regular dinner roll.

It still does the job.

We finish happy chappies – but not before noting that the halal snack packs being served to another table do look fabulous.

It’s a fine thing to have a good Turkish eatery in Sunshine – and it seems it’s already become a popular fixture.

And the location is good, with parking no problem.

A full menu – and there are some less usual items in there – can be found on the Cafe Lakoza Facebook page.

 

CTS: HSP virgin no more

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Flemington Kebab House, 301 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9376 2767

As has been amply illustrated through its six-year history, Consider The Sauce is VERY partial to food with its origins in the Middle East or eastern Mediterranean.

But halal snack packs?

That’s something new, for me – I could even correctly be called a Johnny-come-lately.

It’s time to fix that.

In the course of asking a few people who I figure might know about such things, one name that came up was that of Flemington Kebab House – and I’m only too happy to return to this old favourite to break my HSP duck.

So … HSPs.

I love the idea. Most particularly, I love what a mate refers to as the “positivity” surrounding them and the noble concept of sticking it to Pauline Hanson and her ilk while eating top-notch, multicultural food.

But there’s things about HSPs that are definitely turn-offs.

The polystyrene trays?

Ugh.

The cheese?

Nope.

So while I know I really should, for the sake of journalism and realism, eat a straight-up, orthodox HSP, I am determined to do some customising.

For starters, I recoil with horror when the Flemington Kebab House staff member reaches for the polystyrene and my dinner is subsequently brought to me on one of metal platters on which all their other eat-in meals are served.

(In my half hour or so in the joint, I see quite a few Menulog orders departing …)

Hold the cheese.

 

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Finally, Flemington Kebab House, being a significant step up from  your basic kebab shack, I get to choose from three different kinds of meat – lamb, chicken or the composite/mince brew that is doner kebab.

 

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I go for the regular shaved lamb – on chips, of course, and with the regular yogurt and chilli sauces – for $16.

It’s good.

And the chips retain at least some of their crispness right down to the very last one.

But I remain unconvinced.

It’s a simple truth that a plate of meat – with dips, salads and maybe rice on the side, and with a stack of fresh, warm Turkish attending – is, to my mind, a much superior meal.

Especially at a very fine kebab establishment such as this one.

Turkish cuisine and limousines

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Platinum Cafe, 36 Macaulay Road, North Melbourne. Phone: 0497 849 411

Platinum Taxis has been in residence at Macaulay Road for many years.

From No.36 operates a wide range of vehicular services – not just your humble cabbies but also airport and hotel pick-ups, limos and all the resources that drivers need to do their jobs.

The current Platinum Cafe set-up, however, has been in-house for just a few months.

 

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Bennie Weir practises his psycho stare; Nat Stockley photographs food.

 

After our very good pal Nat Stockely realises things have taken a Turkish turn at Platinum, we waste no time in convening a North Melbourne lunch date.

Bennie and I are hoping for good, cheap fast-food, perhaps something a little more exotic, perhaps an alternative to the Embassy Taxi Cafe in terms of midnight-hour munchie outings.

Sure, the menu (see below) does include burgers, toasties and the like.

But wow – we find a whole bunch more than that!

 

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The joint is being run by Nadia and her friend Ozen (both pictured at top) and also Lev.

Nadia knows her way around Turkish food, having worked for a Deer park eatery of that genre for more than a decade.

But what she and her pals are turning out in North Melbourne is mostly not Turkish restaurant food.

 

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Instead, Platinum Cafe is providing home-style cooking of the kind your favourite Turkish mum prepares.

On the day we visit, we’re told to “forget” the specials board (see below) – I would’ve certainly opted for the lamb roast.

Instead, we three converge on the bain marie and proceed to enjoy a mighty feast.

 

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My plate stacks up thusly …

Very good Turkish rice with orzo.

Patlican kebab (eggplant kebab) – one of the best eggplant dishes it’s ever been my pleasure to devour, the slippery, delicious eggplant mixing it with lovely lamb cubes.

Mucver – fritters of spud, carrot and egg that are wonderfully chewy.

Sulu kofte – Marble-size balls of cracked wheat (quite like gnocchi) and chick peas in a rich soup based on a lamb stock.

The cracked wheat balls are more tender than they appear but along with the chick peas constitute a meal in themselves and would probably be better enjoyed as such.

The soup, however, is great.

 

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The plates of Nat and Bennie are similar save for the addition of a vege-and-chicken dish with cheese sauce of Nadia’s own devising.

 

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Platinum Cafe also boasts a range of dolmas, including stuffed capsicums, and sarma such as vine leaves.

We get a plate of the latter and enjoy them very much.

They’re served how we like ’em – cold.

They’re quite delicate and have a nice smoky flavour. Nat even reckons there may be meat of some sort involved though Nadia tells me that is not the case.

 

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Also provided to our table is a very good salad of finely chopped vegetables, tomato, pickles (both cuke slices and cornichons), olives and fetta – such a shame it barely gets a look in as we explore the rest of our meals.

Our meal deals – including our plates, the stuffed vine leaves, the salad and cans of drink – costs us each an awesomely cheap $17.

 

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Nadia tells me about the 90 per cent of the drivers who come in are of Turkish extraction – sounds very high to me! – but that there are also drivers from Greece, Italy and East Africa. From all over, really …

For all of them, I suspect, the Turkish homecooking served at Platinum Cafe is both welcome and somehow familiar, no matter from where they hail.

Nadia also warns us that when we return, the line-up of home-style dishes will almost certainly not be the same.

We wouldn’t have it any other way!

Platinum Cafe is open from 6am-8pm on week days and from 8am-5pm on Saturdays.

 

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Meal of the week No.8: Footscray Best Kebab House

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After the excitement of the Dancing Dog building auction, Bennie, Che and I are up for lunch – a late lunch by our standards.

Footscray Best Kebab House is a long-time fave of Consider The Sauce – see older story here.

The truth is, though, that my couple of visits in the past year or so have had me wondering if this great place has lost its edge.

My solo meals seemed to lack some sparkle and the serves seemed a little on the mean side.

But on this visit, we work out a way to make FBKH really sing again.

For the three of us we order a large lamb kebab meal ($16) and three stuffed vine leaves ($1.50 each).

The stuffed vine leaves are fine but slightly redundant to our purposes.

The ordering of a main kebab meal for the three of us turns out to be a masterstroke.

The chilli dip is as sensational as ever and the yogurt dip (spinach in this case) is also beaut.

The salad is the usual cool and very unique-to-this-place jumble of vegetables.

The lamb is sensational, especially mixed with judiciously with both dips.

But here’s the thing – this single large kebab plate does all three of us just fine.

Much, much more affordable than ordering a small plate apiece at $14 – and it makes much better use of the big serves of the fabulous fresh bread that are routine here.

Brilliant!

Mezmez – return visit

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Mezmez, 42 Ferguson Street, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 8804

We sometimes have a laugh about how fickle the winds are that blow Consider The Sauce this way and that as it embarks on its adventures.

It’s our Saturday jaunt, we’re hungry and feeling virtuous after about an hour’s worth of house-cleaning in our low-maintenance home.

Heading towards Fehon Street, we are confronted with road signs ruling out a right-hand turn and destinations such as Seddon, Footscray and beyond.

So a left turn it is … and Williamstown, with no specific destination in mind.

We park and check out a cool pizza place that is on our “to do” list, but they’re not rolling yet despite it being 12.30pm.

Maybe next time for them.

So we are happy to return to Mezmez, which we wrote about just a few weeks back – it’s a beaut and significant addition to the Williamstown food scene, and we’re eager to try some more of their dishes and write about them.

 

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Bennie has been given the run of menu, including the more substantial and expensive meals, but goes for the pide with BBQ zatar chicken, peppers, spinach and chipotle mayo ($14).

It goes down a treat.

He especially like the herby nature of the chicken.

 

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My salad of baby beetroots with walnuts, goats cheese, witlof, pasrley and orange dressing ($15) is fabulously brilliant.

It’s a big serve – I take a while longer to eat my lunch than Bennie does to eat his sandwich – and filling for a dish made up so much of water-based ingredients.

The way the various goodies both play off each other and meld together is magical.

The key ingredient is the witlof, the bitterness of which moderates the beet sweetness.

Wow.

 

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Mezmez today has some keen-looking baklava on display but we find we are unable to do anything but order another of their Nutella doughnuts ($3.50).

Both myself and the occupants of the adjoining table are bemused by Bennie’s display of inexpert cutting the sees us end up with two unequal doughnut halves.

Oh well – even the lesser of the two tastes divine to me.

Just like that, Mezmez has become a CTS favourite.

 

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Knocked out in Williamstown

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Mezmez, 42 Ferguson Street, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 8804

When it was known as Plumm’s, 42 Ferguson Street was a quasi-regular for us – for breakfasts, lunches and even, IIRC, the odd dinner.

I think that between Plumm’s and Mezmez, there was another inhabitant of the address but I can’t recall its name.

Certainly, there has been a long period on non-use for the address before the recent opening of Mezmez.

Maybe that’s not a bad thing, with a view to dispelling “failed restaurant karma”.

Not that we’re suspicious or anything!

In terms of a fresh start, it’s also a fine thing the Mezmez crew has overhauled the room so that it bears little or no resemblance to what went before.

 

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There’s lots of wall tiles, lots of wood and a variety of different seating and eating configurations.

When we visit for Saturday lunch, the place is buzzing, there are happy people in abundance and staff are on the ball.

Mezmez is a sister restaurant of Pint Of Milk in Newport, so as you’d expect has many of the same cafe strengths going on.

But the new place looks and feels very different.

More to the point, outside some orthodox breakfast items, the Mezmez menu (see below) – especially the brunch and lunch lists – evinces a strong Turkish and Mediterranean feel.

And that’s mostly why we’re here and excited about it.

 

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We’re allocated a small wall-mounted table with tall stools towards the back of the room – and we’re happy about that.

Because we’re sitting right at the very spot where food leaves the kitchen and heads for the customers’ pleasure – so we get a good look, while we’re waiting for our meals, at what other folks have been ordering.

That ranges from breakfasts of the basic, toasted kind and the more ornate and decadent through to an “ancient grains” salad, panfried saganaki, crispy fried squid and preposterously fat lamb koftas.

IT ALL LOOKS FANTASTIC!

 

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Bennie chooses the buttermilk pancakes with sour cherries, toasted walnuts and halvah ice-cream ($18).

He’s happy enough, but reckons there’s too much sauce!

I grab a bite and am impressed.

Perhaps, at $18, a third pancake might not be too much to expect.

And perhaps he’s old enough and savvy enough to understand that just because his father lets him off the leash for a sugar hit doesn’t mean that’s going to be the best direction to head.

Because he’s frankly envious of my …

 

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… “mez platter” ($16) with its olives, dukkah, falafels, cauliflower fitters, dips and bread.

It’s all good or much better.

And I always admire any such dish that is constructed with such skill that all the players are in correct proportion so they all “run out” at the same happy conclusion to the meal.

That’s certainly the case here.

The outright stars, though, are the tightly-packed and fragrant falafels and sublime cauliflower fritters.

Wow!

Deep-fried yet ungreasy, they’re packed with flavour – and in the case of cauliflower, that always seems to me some kind of miracle.

That vegetable doesn’t have the most robust flavour characteristics yet often it seems to survive all sorts of cooking techniques.

The only faint quibble I have is wishing the dips had a bit more zing.

 

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As we’d awaited our meals, Bennie went close to toddlerhood regression and the throwing of a tantrum when he saw the blackboard words “Nutella Donuts” had been crossed out.

No problem, my friend – that is yesterday’s news so we’re good to go.

 

 

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Oh boy, this is awesomeness personified – and a bargain at $3.50.

Just so good – ultra gooey and divine.

And filling, even shared between the pair of us.

 

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Nor surprise, eh, that my $3.60 cafe latte is brilliant?

Williamstown locals have a new star to adore.

 

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Sunshine Mosque – a personal touch

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Open day at Sunshine Mosque, 618 Ballarat Road, Sunshine. Phone: 9363 8245

Consider The Sauce would like to believe our dismay and disgust at the recent weeks’ deliberately inflamed anti-Muslim hysteria is universal across the land.

Sadly, though, having read much in the press of all kinds, on social media and various websites – luckily I am pretty much completely out of the loop when it comes to talkback radio – I know that is simply not the case.

But while these events have been unfolding, a thought bubbled up: “Why have I never been to a mosque?”

At very much the same time, the Cyprus Turkish Community of Victoria started publicising its “everyone welcome” open day – and we are only too happy to accept the invitation.

Predictably and joyfully, our visit is a whole lot of fun, full of friendly people with big smiles.

And, of course, we have our fill of the food on hand.

 

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The cheese-and-spinach gozleme I enjoy is as good as it gets – hot of the hot plate, fresh and wonderful.

But the coolest event of the day has an unexpectedly personal note …

 

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We have been on the mosque grounds just a matter of minutes when I run into my Star Weekly colleague Yasemin.

I’m surprised to see her, and she I.

But we shouldn’t be … after all, I did know she’s a local; and she, in turn, knows of my foodie/multicultural adventurer persona.

Yasemin is very busy selling tickets for the kebab operation but we nevertheless squeeze in some conversation.

For me, this is the western suburbs one-degree of separation at splendid work and a valued opportunity to see a colleague with whom I have in the past year finessed numerous stories as something other than a reporter to my sub-editor.

And for Yasemin, I hope (!), it’s a chance to see me as something other than a cranky, demanding, nitpicking pedant – perhaps as an openminded foodie blogger with untold curiosity and as a father.

That latter description being, you’ll be unsurprised to learn, very much how I see and define myself these days.

This is Yasemin’s mosque.

I ask her if she pretty much grew up here.

Her answer is: “Yes!”

 

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After my savory appetite has been satisfied, I enjoy a super strong and sweet Turkish coffee with a deep-fried dessert called sam isi.

It’s filo pastry encasing semolina, and like so many treasured desserts from that part of the world, is sweet without being overly so.

 

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I stop and have a yarn with Tammy of Stylish Sisters.

Tammy refers to herself as a “convert”, her husband being Somalian.

And, yes, she knows all about our favourite Union Road destination.

I love the name of her business – in my opinion, which in this context is worth no doubt very, very little – many of the “sisters” do indeed have style to burn.

 

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Eventually, the presence at the event of a flagrantly mustachioed dude with a busy camera having been noted, Ekrem Fuldagli introduces himself to us.

Ekrem is the chairman of the Cyprus Turkish Islamic Community of Victoria.

It’s a busy day for a busy man, but he makes time to escort us into the mosque proper and patiently answer my questions.

Ekrem has been in the chairman role for about a year.

He tells me it’s a challenging but rewarding role, involving as it does issues and projects both within the mosque community and its interactions with the wider world.

He describes the mosque community as very mainstream and relationships with the neighbours as just fine

The domed mosque interior itself is truly beautiful and, yes, it has what I would call a “spiritual” vibe.

Ekrem tells me the dome itself has no religious significance.

Rather it is all about acoustics and the oration requirements of the pre-electricity and pre-amplification times.

Sadly, other commitments mean we are unable to linger for the scheduled Q&A session to which I have been eagerly looking.

Maybe next time!

 

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Post-midnight Braybrook kebab

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Tasty Toasted Kebabs @ Fun Galore, 234 Ballarat Road, Braybrook

Funny, eh, how almost all the palaver about Melbourne’s food trucks seem to imply they’re some cool, NEW thing,

That’s simply not the case – vehicular food delivery systems go way back in Australia, I’m guessing as far back as the horse-drawn variety as opposed to those mounted on internal combustion or steam engine vehicles.

And then there’s Mr Whippy and the kebab shacks that are festooned across the city.

Perhaps in the case of the latter it’s a matter of out of time, out of mind – the kebab shacks don’t come into their own until after midnight.

They’re far from our usual routine, but we’re on hols so the rule book is out the window.

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Our sleep requirements have expanded to fit the extra time available, and – perversely – late nights are perfectly acceptable.

After his father has done with televised sport for the night, Bennie has glommed on to a screening of the 1955 flick The Tender Trap.

We don’t from whence does the lad’s penchant for vintage comics, cars, clothes, movies and so on come.

Sure, his dad and his mum are so inclined, but it hasn’t been forced down his throat.

Yet he’d happily prefer Louis Armstrong over the latest teeny bopper any day, and can equally happily disappear into old-school song-and-dance movies.

So I’m happy to let him suck up an hour or so of creepily sexist Frank Sinatra sparring with husband-chasing Debbie Reynolds – and even rise from the sofa for the occasion when he calls my bluff and quickly proffers an eager “Yes!” to the suggestion of a post-midnight snack.

Then off we go …

We reject one Ballarat Road, ahem, establishment on the grounds it looks rather forlorn and lacks even the most rudimentary seating, ahem, facilities.

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And thus we front at Fun Galore and the kebab shack run by a friendly fellow named Abdul.

He’s been tending this particular patch for six years and runs other shacks on Sydney Road and Flinders Street.

In those six years, he tells us, there have been only a couple of instances of rowdy, drunken or abusive behaviour.

“People are looking for something good to eat so are nearly always polite and friendly,” he says.

That’s certainly the case on the night we visit, with about 20 or so customers coming and going in the 20 minutes we’re hanging around.

These folks keep mostly to themselves.

What surprises somewhat is that in being outright Caucasian, Bennie and I are in a small minority, with most punters being of Asian persuasion, including the Sub-Continental variety, with some representation from Pacific and African parts of the world.

Why should this surprise? This is the western suburbs, this is Braybrook – what the hell did I expect?

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Our chicken kebabs cost $8 and are tasty.

Thankfully, Abdul uses Lebanese-style pita bread, so our snacks are without the significantly greater weightiness that would come with Greek-style pita or Turkish bread.

Our kebabs have been toasted so the bread is quite pleasingly crisp, yet the salad bits inside retain their crispness.

The chicken meat, for mine, gets lost among its fellow ingredients, including plenty of garlic and chilli sauces.

But perhaps that’s no bad thing.

Then it’s home and bed for us.

 

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Laying hands on a great feed at … Westifield Airport West Shopping Centre

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Back at work again. There’s precious little of it and Lord knows how long it will last – but it’s a fine thing nonetheless.

Perhaps best of all, it’s at Airport West.

As I discovered in my first week, the office location is a sweet 15-minutes, courtesy of the ring road, from Bennie’s school.

That’s a far cry from the white-knuckle madness of Geelong commuting or even the train/car combo of the CBD and South Melbourne.

Quarter of an hour?

I almost wept with the sheer relief of it the first time I did it.

If I’m careless enough to forget to make/take my own lunch, getting fed at my new place of employ is tricky.

The office is just a few minutes’ walk from Westifield Airport West Shopping Centre.

Oh dear …

It’s full of your nice, everyday ordinary people, but the centre itself is dreary and uninspiring.

It’s basically one long zigzagging snake that looks pretty much exactly the same no matter where you are in it.

Worse, there are only a series of dull lookalike cafes and a single lacklustre food court

No Grill’d or Guzman y Gomez here.

And, generally speaking, our growing appreciation of the spaciousness and style of the new food hall and retail segments at Highpoint is only going to be enhanced by spending time at this Airport West mall.

Kebab, chicken curry, plastic enshrined sushi/sashimi … all tried, all edible, if you get my drift.

What to do?

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Looking closer at the offering of the Chub kebab stand, I find the answer – stuffed vine leaves and Turkish pide.

The pies are made on the premises, come in all the usual flavours, are hefty, flavoursome and a supremely cheap $4.50.

This particular lunch’s salami and cheese number is rich and hearty.

As one of the blokes is throwing together my serve of stuffed vine leaves (three for $4), I ask if they’re made by his mum.

They sure look like they have been.

“By my aunty, actually!” he says.

Good enough!

They’re mighty – fat and full of lemony and tomatoey rice. They’re filling, though, so I could’ve lived without the fourth I’ve been provided on account of the interest I have shown.

What do you reckon?

Is it is possible that there’s something really worth eating at every shopping centre in Australia, no matter how grim the prospects may initially seem?

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Quick Stop Cafe

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Quick Stop Cafe, 146A Mickeham Rd, Tullamarine. Phone: 9335 3040

A business meeting of sorts is to take me, for the first as far as I’m aware, to Sunbury.

After studying the whereabouts of my destination and the ways of getting there from Yarraville, I resolve to give the ring road and Calder Highway a miss and go for the ease of the $14 toll route instead.

It’s then that I recall a tip-off from Juz, No.1 leaver of Consider The Sauce comments, about a kebab joint just off Mickelham Rd on the way to the airport.

Now there’s a handy lunch option for my return post-meeting travel!

Sadly, the joint is closed – maybe it’s too soon after the Christmas/New Year hullabaloo for a cheap eats establishment to open when situated in an otherwise drab light industrial precinct.

So I go tooling off along Mickelham Rd to see what, if anything, this part of the world offers by way of foodiness.

It’s within only a block or so that I spot Quick Stop Cafe. The size and style of the signage is so similar to that of the unopened place suggested by Juz that my immediate thought is that the business has simply shifted to a site with more potential drive-by customers.

Upon entering, I soon discover that is not the case.

Still, I resolve that – come what may – this will be my luncheon venue.

Quick Stop does a range of takeaway kebabs, some eat-in plates and even some keen looking Turkish-style breakfasts, such as the Menemen Breakfast of “lightly pan-fried pepper, tomato, cheese with egg” for $8.

I order the $12 chicken plate solely on account of the fact I like nicely, deeply tanned look of the chook going around and around behind the counter.

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As I sit back to await my meal, I look around this small and very basic cafe, which I surmise does a good lunch trade for tradies, drivers and the like, and revelers of various kinds and sobriety later at night – all of which, I subsequently discover, is indeed the case.

A handful of the aforementioned tradie types order after me and depart with their takeaway goodies before I lay eyes or teeth on my meal, and I am beginning to feel a little forgotten.

It turns out the slight delay has been caused by the house rice being completed.

And what rice it is – still slightly al dente, nicely salty and studded with heaps of short bits of vermicelli.

It goes real good with the chicken off the spit, which is not as crispy as I have been expecting. It IS delicious, though, and of surprisingly un-oily texture.

Both rice and chook, in turn, are super fine with the tangy, fiery chilli dip and the more mundane cucumber and yogurt number.

All of which goes to show you can never run out of surprises when it comes to getting a good, affordable feed in Melbourne.

I enjoy talking to the staff, including the boss, Amber, before departing in the somewhat sad knowledge that it will surely be a long time before I’m in this neck of the wood again.

 

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Deniz Kebab House

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Deniz Kebab House, 829 Ballarat Rd, Deer Park. Phone: 9363 1188

Here’s a Turkish eats place that sells a lot of the sandwiches otherwise known as kebabs, but which deserves to be considered so much more than a kebab shack.

With its homely formica tables, tiled floor, very friendly service and extensive menu, Deniz Kebab House is very much a family-style full-on Turkish restaurant.

Talking with owners Tuncel and Inci is very cool, as it always when the people concerned are so full of enthusiasm and passion for what they are doing.

Everything is made in-house, they proudly tell me.

And that “everything” is a lot – not just the various meats, dips and salads but also all the sweets, bread, pides, boreks, pizzas and more.

My single dolma is good, with tomatoey rice that is so al dente it’s almost crunchy. I like it that way when it comes my way!

There’s three meat genres going around and around on spits – lamb doner, chicken and one called “slice lamb kebab”.

Seizing with glee on a point of difference, I order the latter.

It’s unlike any kebab meat dish I’ve ever experienced – nicely, gently chewy with a distinctive flavour that makes me almost think there’s some kind of cheese been used in its preparation.

I subsequently discover from Tuncel that the lamb is softened with milk and onion and cooked with salt, pepper, chilli, oregano and paprika. 

I’ve requested some of the house chilli dip so get that and none at all of the customary yogurt-based accompaniments for such a meal, but I’m cool with that and up for some heat.

The chilli dip is fiery hot and piquant, and goes great with not just the meat but also the bread, which arrives at my table so hot and fresh it’s steaming.

Dolma, meat plate with dip and salad, can of soft drink and a pide stuffed with lamb and herbs for the next day’s work lunch – and I’ve still got change from $20.

Tuncel tells me the opening of Chef Lagenda a few doors up a few months back is good for business in terms of helping the Deer Park strip foster a reputation for foodiness.

Deniz Kebab House on Urbanspoon

Cafe Global

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Cafe Global, 373 Sydney Rd, Brunswick.

Having satisfied our desire for new, fresh reading material, the Consider The Sauce lads find ourselves kicking around a part of Sydney Rd we didn’t expect to be anywhere near come lunchtime.

We’ve tried Mediterranean Wholesalers, open to the idea of cheapo pizza slices and cannoli, but we find all the tables taken.

So we wander on.

There’s no hurry, I tell Bennie, and this is Melbourne – let’s let the Food Spirits guide us.

And so it is that we contemplate what looks to be – from the outside – just another drab inner-city bakery.

We get a delightful surprise when we step through the door – here’s a grand room done out in rococo style with an emphasis on red and gold, a pizza oven at the far end providing a clue to the premises’ previous incarnation.

He looks at me. I grin. We nod to each other – this is it, this is lunch.

These days this is Turkish territory.

Cafe Global, we are told, has been open about four months and has family connections to another, famous Sydney Rd Turkish establishment.

As such, Cafe Global has the dips ‘n’ kebab landscape covered, but we like the look of the place for home-style food potential.

That’s all a moot point for us, as we’re immediately captivated by the gozleme production process being undertaken just inside the front door.

The pastry is being rolled out using the traditional wooden pole and stuffed with goodies on the one side, the completed parcels being cooked on the other.

There’s four fillings available.

We leave the four-cheese-and-mint and capsicum-eggplant-mushroom-onion-parsley for another day, going with the lamb-parsley and cheese-spinach for $6 a throw.

Our lunch is insanely good.

The pastry is rich and buttery and light. The fillings are flavoursome, their spare lightness and delicacy providing plenty of impact without heaviness.

The service is a bit muddled – we get no bread to go with the avocado dip we ordered. But it tastes like a regulation, if very smooth, guacamole anyway.

And we don’t receive the two stuffed vine leaves we requested.

But this is all to the good, so well fed and well pleased are we with our gozleme – so slim, so cheap, so delicious.

McKebab

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McKebab, 49 Gordon St, Footscray. Phone: 9317 9132

It’s not precisely, literally a hole in the wall, but McKebab has that sort of vibe about it.

This tiny kebab shop is situated next door to a convenience store, with both of them sitting on the ground floor of what is otherwise as a spectacularly ugly building.

Across the street is the pokies pub known as the Powell. Across Ballarat Rd, but still on Gordon St, is a foodie strip – a fish and chip shop, pizza place, Korean noodle hang, a couple of Indian eateries – that seems forever to be waiting for that magic spark.

It seems that often in the west, and no doubt elsewhere, businesses and their operators must make do with situations, locations and premises that are presented to them, that are affordable.

In this case, we suspect that what presents as a simple kebab joint has the capacity and knowledge to present more home-style cooking of the Turkish/Iraqi family that runs it.

We wish them well if that is the case.

Certainly we enjoy our brief visit and the friendly service we receive.

As we take one of the two tiny interior tables, we strike up a conversation with two blokes at the other who turn out to be senior players for the same rugby club for which Bennie plays. Like him, they too have enjoyed success earlier in the day.

It is the home-style dish that draws our eyes and impresses the most.

Well, impresses me the most anyway.

As we’re returning from a friend’s birthday party in Hoppers Crossing, Bennie is already quite full of party pies, sausage rolls, saveloys and chips, and would prefer to be at the burger place up the road anyway.

Later in the week, buddy!

We order “green beans, rice and salad” ($9.90), with the main protagonist turning out to be fasolea.

This is a fantastic, tangy dish of green beans tomato, capsicum, what is described to me as an “Arabic herb”, onion, garlic, salt and pepper.

The beans are, of course, very tender, but I find the whole thing delicious.

The tabouli is a tad too dry and onion-y for us, but the rice is fine.

The house-made turshi – pickled turnip – is fantastic, salty, bitter and crunchy.

We order as well four felafel balls, which are freshly made and good, with an inwardly greenish hue and a smooth, ungranulated texture.

The hummus that accompanies is smooth and mild of flavour and the bread – housemade, too – is like a cross between Lebanese pita and Turkish bread.

No doubt because of their location – students above, boozer across the road – the McKebab folks face heavy demand for your typical kebab options.

But we hope they hang in there with some more home-style fare.

Roxy Kebab Cafe

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Roxy Kebab Cafe, 801C Ballarat Rd, Deer Park. Phone: 8390 1007

Roxy Kebabs – doesn’t sound too flash, does it?

But as with so much else about western suburbs eating, looks are deceptive.

This Turkish establishment was noted down for close-to-immediate investigations after being spied while perusing the Deer Park shopping strip as part of Consider The Sauce’s visit to the new Chef Lagenda.

Seeing a bunch of fellows slurping up lamb shank soup has that sort of effect upon us.

School is out early for the start of the holiday break, so up the road we head, having a strong hunch the place will rise above its daggy name and humble exterior.

That it does.

Roxy Kebab Cafe is a small operation but all the expected goodies seem present and they’re doing wildfire trade on this Friday lunchtime.

Looks are deceptive, too, with the lamb shank soup, one of three – there’s also lentil and tripe varieties available.

The small serve ($6), with fresh Turkish bread, would do nicely as a light meal.

The opaque surface hides heaps of marvellously tender globs of shank meat and the broth flavour is strong.

Our soup is also rather fatty, so a hefty squeeze of the lemon segment provided is definitely required.

To make up the rest of our $20 lunch we go with the small meal of the day ($13), with both lamb and chicken from the spit, chilli and hummus dips and salad.

There’s no rice but it’s a goodly sized serve nevertheless.

In order of impressiveness …

The salad is beaut – a crispy, fresh concoction of lettuce, green, onions, cabbage, carrot, parsley and – quite probably – more.

It may seem odd to rate salady bits as prime in a visit to a kebab joint, but for us these sorts of places are as much about the trimmings and condiments as they are about the carnivorous aspects.

The chilli dip is tangy and crunchy and fab – and it’s of only mild disposition, meaning we can (just about) slather it on the bread like a normal dip.

The lamb is tasty and tender. The chicken is a bit bland for me, but then I generally find it’s always so.

The hummus is fresh, creamy and smooth but seems almost shockingly devoid of flavour.

Still, all up this has been a most satisfactory kebab shop lunch.

Stepping outside, we step right next door for a fun visit to Hollywood Costumes.

Even though it’s clear we’re not in there as paying customers, the staff could not be more friendly and welcoming.

Bennie checks out the long rank of Superhero Costumes with an expert eye, though we also note with approval the presence of Ghostbusters and Spongebob garb.

We make a diversion on the way back to the car for a stupendously generous $2.90 cup of berry gelati and a cafe latte and hot chocolate at Pane e Latte, just behind the shopping strip, thus rounding out a most excellent Deer Park adventure.

Roxy Kebabs on Urbanspoon

Amasya Kebab

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Amasya Kebab, 134 Nicholson St, Footscray. Phone: 9687 7032

So enamoured have we been with Footscray Best Kebab House that it has taken more than a decade for me to take its competition, Amasya Kebab, around the block for a spin.

It proves to be a good move on a day when I feel like a change from habitual patterns and routines.

Amasya may still stand in the shadow of its near-neighbour just up the road apiece, but it’s swell to know there’s a handy alternative nearby for when the crowds at FBKH are too intense.

Amasya is shiny, white and bright – but nevertheless welcoming and a nice place to stop for a while.

It has much in common with FBKH – a lunchtime crowd that encompasses the widely diverse hues and style habits of Rainbow Footscray, the happy buzz of being a family-run business and the Turkish travel posters among them.

As well, the menus are pretty much interchangeable, and there seems to be only minor differences in the pricing.

My small meal of the day ($12), lamb only, does indeed look on the modest side.

But it fills me up plenty and the quality is there.

There’s no rice, but that’s more than compensated for by the large serving of lamb.

This is not crispy, crunchy, salty as I dig it, seeming to have come from a part of the spit recently carved for another customer. It’s still fine, though, being tender and tasty.

The salad bits and leaves with a lemony dressing are good but without much distinction.

The yogurt/cucumber dip is stiffer than normal but does the job.

The chilli dip is the big hit – it’s every bit as good in terms of lip-smacking tang and crunchy delight as that found up the road.

Excellent!

The bread is fresh, warm and typically wonderful.

We have tried the Amasya pies before – and they’re recommended, seeming to have more filling and less bread than those found in other Turkish places.

Amasya Kebab on Urbanspoon

Footscray Best Kebab House revisited …

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93 Nicholson St, Footscray. Phone: 9689 0777

When considering the pros and cons of running a food blog, it’s tempting to simply state: “It’s all good!”

And certainly, in terms of both expectations and unexpected delights and surprises, getting Consider The Sauce up and running has been an overwhelmingly enjoyable and satisfying experience.

But if there is one, albeit minor, downside it is this: Revisiting old and muchly favoured regulars, as well as new discoveries and finds that deserve to become so, has become just that little bit more difficult.

The pressure is on for the next blog post!

Through it all, however, we have retained Footscray Best Kebab House as a regular haunt, so highly do we dig the food – and even though it was covered in one of our very early pieces

In this case, fronting up is an especially enjoyable proposition as we are being joined by Ms Baklover of Footscray Food Blog fame and her girls, all of for whom this is a debut visit to FBKB.

We are a tad early, so being sans either my usual book or newspaper, it’s supremely pleasurable to just sit for a quiet moment. I contemplate a lazy, relaxing day ahead with my son. I consider the changeless surrounds of Footscray Best Kebab House. Like other institutions around the city – Pellegrini’s is an oft-quoted example – the prices have crept up but all else is just as it ever was.

Or so it seems. It may be a trick of the mind, but it’s one I’m happy to go along with.

As ever, the bread is fresh and warm, with some of the pieces having a nice crustiness to them. It’s a nice pacifier, too, for young children restless with food on their minds.

Bennie and I start with a couple of stuffed vine leaves, cold thanks. In the end, I end up eating both, Bennie being far too distracted by the juicy meats, dips and salads to come. The dolmades are good, but not as memorable as some I recall from previous visits.

We feel like something a little different from our usual instant-gratification trip of chicken and lamb from the spit, so go for the large adana kebab meal to share ($13.50).

It’s all present and accounted for:

Superb rice on to and into which the meat juices and dips seep.

A crunchy, lemony and ultra-fresh salad of finely diced bits and pieces that Ms Baklover suspects is sprinkled with sumac. I’m not sure about that. It’s the same topping we’ve always had here. Maybe it’s the Turkish equivalent?

A small serve, by request, of the reliably oily and delicious potato salad.

Dips in the form of cacik (cucumber and yogurt) and chilli dip. There’s two other kebab joints within a few minutes walk who do their own chilli dips, as does the very good Flemo kebab establishment. But none of them come even slightly close to this masterpiece of crunch and tang.

The only disappointment – and it’s only a slight one – is the adana kebab meat. It’s just as we like our kebab meaty bits – crusty, a little chewy, a little salty, but – in this case – a little too much on the dry side.

We earlier demurred in regards to the large shish kebab meal on the basis of price – it’s up to $17.50 these days.

That turns out to be a mistake. Ms Baklover orders it for her and her kids, and we’re jealous.

It’s just the right size for one big mouth and three little ones. Let me try that another way … It’s just the right size for mum and her three girls.

Ms Baklover seems to share our high esteem for the chilli dip and just loves the big and luxuriously tender chunks of marinated lamb and chicken.

The girls partake of all, sometimes in the face of maternal determination that it be so, but in the end show a marked preference for … the wonderful Turkish bread.

In terms of our eating-out habits, this food seems just below the top-of-the-class leaner, cleaner range of Viet options in terms of nutrition and healthiness. And the damage for Bennie and I – two stuffed vine leaves, two soft drinks, large meat/dips/salad/rice meal – is an excellent $20.

We adjourn for a somewhat chaotic but nevertheless enjoyable coffee and baklava at Babylon just down the road.

Footscray Best Kebab House – long may it reign as one of our very favourite places!

And thanks to the Baklovers for the company!

Footscray Best Kebab House on Urbanspoon

Photograph: BENNIE WEIR