Stepping it up a tad, Indian style

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Nawab Sahab, 2/102-104 Watton Street, Werribee. Phone: 9749 8852

Luckily for us, the Indian food we most like is frequently produced by eateries at the lower end of the price spectrum.

But for once, we decide to try one of the spiffier places on Watton Street.

Not that Nawab Sahab, once you’re inside, is overwhelmingly grand or anything like that.

And the prices are very reasonable.

Very unusually for a western suburbs Indian eating house these days, there is no inclusion here of South Indian fare such a dosas, idlis, vadas and the like, and only a minimal Indo-Chinese component.

But there are handy points of difference choices under headings such Mumbai Special and Delhi Corner.

 

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Nawab Sahab also has a feature I have never before seen in an Indian restaurant – or a restaurant of any kind: A “selfie station” at which guests are invited to “dress up like a Hyderabdai prince”.

 

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We love it that a serve of papadums – unoily, crisp and with minty and tamarind dipping sauces on the side – is brought to our table without charge, as is a second serve.

For the first of two visits, Bennie and I both enjoy the “gold” thali (top photo) – at $21.50, a little more expensive than most of their kind, but still good.

Nice rice, a tangy chicken curry, a mushy one of the veg kind, rather crunchy chick peas, a way better-than-average raita, onion/pickle and a somewhat doughy gulab jamun – we are happy with what we eat.

 

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One of our thalis is served with a fine naan on the side …

 

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… the other with pooris.

 

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Our second visit, a week later, is uneven.

Bennie’s order of chicken noodles is a mistake.

Much as we like Indo-Chinese food, this dish reinforces for us the folly of ordering noodles in Indian eateries – though we have come across a few exceptions.

At $17.50, this over-priced for a very average noodle outing – though the serve is bigger, and deeper, that it first appears.

Really, either of the cheapie noodle houses a block away would do better for a quick, wok noodle fry-up.

Unfortunately, Bennie completes his dinner before mine arrives – and by now I’m wishing we’d gone elsewhere.

 

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My Amritsari kulcha ($16.50) does, however, redeem our night handily – especially when the second, advertised naan arrives.

The naan have only the very faintest paneer quotient, but are hot, lovely and slathered with ghee.

The chick peas are the same dark and overtly al dente specimens served with our earlier thalis and the raita is, again superb.

Check out the Nawab Sahab website – including menu – here.

 

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Meal of the week No.29: Bollywood Sweet Bazaar

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Bollywood Sweet Bazaar has been open a couple of months at shop 2/49 Synnot Street, Werribee, specialising in “pure ghee sweets” and a colourful Bollywood theme.

But they do savory snacks and the like, too.

Top of the list is this puri aloo sabzi for $9.

How good is it for $9?

Three rather doughy but very nice puris, a runny but good chick pea curry, yogurt adorned with puffed rice, pickle and a super potato/onion curry seasoned with mustard seeds, curry leaves and fresh coriander.

It’s a righteous, bargain-priced flavour blast.

I’m betting the two pieces of chocolate barfi I depart with are the good, too!

 

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Westie eats goss 13/3/16

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Down on sleepy Woods Street, Laverton, Seven Star Chinese Restaurant has been open a few months, inhabiting a property formerly occupied by an Indian grocery.

 

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Strolling inside, I am delighted to find a rather lovely and swish dining room.

At Seven Star, dishes such as beef with black bean sauce and satay beef with vegetables are relegated to the “Oz style Chinese dish” section of the menu.

Under the “Authentic Chinese dish” section are to be found such overtly interesting fare as garlic pig tripe, fish flavour eggplant with pork mince, crispy pig trotters and boiled fish with pickled cabbage and chilli.

There’s also a cold list that includes fried peanut salad, oily chicken, wined chicken, pig ear in chilli oil and braised chicken giblets.

CTS will be checking this place out for sure, so stay tuned for a review!

 

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Taste Of The Middle East is on Synnot Street in Werribee, right next to Coles.

Following up on a reader tip – thanks, Clint! – I am surprised to find that it’s no longer in the “coming soon” category but is up and running for Sunday lunch.

However, I soon discover a menu that’s dedicated to eggs, steak sangers, parmas and the like.

Turns out the regular cafe menu will continue to run in the mornings and I’m a day early for the Middle Eastern goodies, which will kick in later in the day – beginning the day after my brief visit.

We’ll be checking this one out, too.

 

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Coming soon is Dosa Palace in Altona.

Brought to us by Nagesh of Hyderabad Inn fame, it’s located on Millers Road, Brooklyn, between the West Gate Freeway and Geelong Road.

This is undoubtedly a novel place to open a restaurant, with solid commercial/industrial on one side of Millers Road and a rather lovely residential neighbourhood tucked away on the other.

Will be interesting to see how it goes.

Despite the name, expect pretty much a full-service Indian line-up of food.

Fine barbecue for the west

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The Park Hotel, 12 Watton Stree, Werribee. Phone: 9741 1441

The Park Hotel has been on our radar for yonks – but it seemed like every time we’d start meandering in that direction, we’d get distracted.

Tonight all the stars align.

Being unable to attend the launch of the pub’s whiz-bang barbecue range a few weeks previously, we’ve been happy to accept an invite to take the smoked goodies and sides for a run for a mid-week dinner (see full disclosure below).

So there’s big star No.1 – a new venue doing barbecue in the western suburbs.

Yay!

 

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As well, it’s the very day of Bennie’s 15th birthday so we are joined by his mum, Deborah.

And we all have a very nice time.

Many readers more locally long-standing than I will be aware of this venue’s notorious past.

There’s a running joke about the length and specificity of the Park’s dress code, which definitely sets out to prevent a return to the bad old days.

 

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So much so that “park hotel werribee dress code” is a Google thing.

But no problems these days – the Park is a pleasant, roomy and friendly venue, with an array of seating options.

Family-friendly, too.

If the music is tad on the loud side for us, there is one monumental blessing – no pokies here!

The Park Hotel menu is just part of the food they’re doing here (see menu below).

But based on our very enjoyable meal, the pub is likely to find itself a destination for barbecue fans.

Partly because the nearest specialty barbecue places are in Maribyrnong, Footscray and beyond.

But mostly because what we have is, mostly, very good and priced pretty much how we’ve come to expect this kind of food of this kind of quality.

We are not served from the menu list but instead are provided a mighty fine sampler platter for the three of us plus three sides samples.

So it’s hard to gauge where our fare would fit in price-wise – I’m guessing somewhere between the $45 Pleased To Meat You option and the $65 Meat Master offering.

So what do we have?

 

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In order of wow factor:

Lamb, rosemary and olive sausages – superb!

These wonderful snags are listed on the menu as going for $12 the pair, which we reckon is a steal.

Roast chicken maryland with a maple glaze – also superb!

Like just about everyone else, we eat a lot of chook especially given how much Indian, Vietnamese and African food we eat.

So it takes a lot to impress.

As soon as Bennie takes a mouthful of the Park chook, he opines: “Oh man, this is good!”

I agree.

Pulled pork shoulder – very nice and better than most we’ve tried in the past few years.

Cool with the “Carolina vinegar” sauce served on the side.

Pork ribs – ostensibly “Kansas City style”, these are not on the bone as we may have expected and are on the extra fatty side and a little too chewy.

Enjoyable but …

 

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And our sides?

Mac ‘n’ cheese – simple, no-frills and the best we’ve had in Melbourne.

It’s moist, rich and delicious.

Cornbread – a deep brown and with a delightful nuttiness.

Coleslaw – this is a bit of letdown; mostly, I suspect, because it has dried out a bit in the small sample tubs.

 

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Dessert?

Hey, it’s Bennie’s birthday – of COURSE we’re going to have dessert!

He absolutely loves – and inhales – his chocolate brownie with salted caramel sauce and coconut ice-cream that is turned into an impromptu birthday cake.

 

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His mum, meanwhile, is very happy with her dark chocolate and beetroot cheesecake – as are we all.

 

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Many thanks to the Park staff for ensuring we had a very enjoyable evening.

Check out the Park Hotel website (including menu) here.

(Consider The Sauce dined at the Park Hotel as guests of the management and we did not pay for our meal. We were served a selected range taken from the venue’s new barbecue line-up. Park management neither sought nor was granted any input, oversight or pre-publication access to his story.)

 

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Sri Lankan fusion in Werribee

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Fusion Ceylon, 27 Watton Street, Werribee. Phone: 9741 9656

Sri Lankan tiramisu?

What might that look and taste like?

Like this: Basically a regular tiramisu configuration but one made with sweet Sri Lankan coffee; spiced with cumin and cardamom; the usual sponge fingers joined by gingernut biscuits; and topped with cashews and chewy praline.

The textures are, well, pretty much pure tiamisu but the flavours are musty, mysterious and magical.

And happily, for my tastes, this SL tiramisu is far from overly sweet and actually nicely on the bitter side.

 

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It’s the creation of co-proprietors and co-cooks Isuru Madusanka and Chiran Hemadas at their new baby, Fusion Ceylon.

CTS has been to 27 Watton Street before, when it was being run as a game try at combining SL food with burgers, fish & chips and the like.

Since then, and before Isuru and Chiran arrived, it reverted to strictly fast-food under different management.

The place still bears hallmarks of its fast-food heritage but the lads have brought in some nice wooden furniture that gives the place a sweet cafe vibe.

Fusion is, of course, in food terms a much over-used and abused word, frequently denoting not much good at all.

These two blokes, though, have the background – many years between them working in top-shelf hotels – to cleverly, and deliciously, match the cooking of their SL culture with approaches a little more edgy.

Their menu (see below) is short but full of intrigue and of low prices.

Item: Chickpeas and sprats ($10) – stir-fried chickpeas with onion rings, chilli flakes, mustard seeds and sprats. The sprats, I’m told, a similar to the dried anchovies used elsewhere in Asia.

Item: Another dessert – this time it’s banana fritters … wok-fried bananas with treacle, macerated strawberries and vanilla ice-cream.

We stick with more humble dishes for our first visit yet are very satisfied.

 

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Nasi goreng a la Ceylon ($13) appears to be not much different from the regular versions, though Chiran tells me the spicing is different and they use basmati rice instead of jasmine.

But it’s all good – the rice is packed with a finely diced vegetables and chicken chunks and the gooey fried egg sitting atop is just right, as is the nicely charred chicken drumstick.

The prawn crackers are, as they always are, unnecessary.

 

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The same vegie mix is found on the noodles kothu ($10), which come from the specials list.

As with the more traditional roti kothu, in which roti is finely chopped with the other ingredients, here the noodles get the chop treatment.

And instead of chicken or pork, mine is served with lingu – house-made SL sausages that draw on a Dutch heritage.

 

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Chiran and Isuru make them with chicken or pork, vinegar, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, pandan leaf and curry leaf.

There’s one snag on top of my kothu and pieces mingled in.

The sausage is distinctive and quite tangy – but not in the least confronting.

 

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The kothu noodles are served with what I’m told is a “mixed meat gravy” for adding as I eat.

It’s very nice and tasty lubricant.

Meanwhile, it seems you can take the chefs out of five-star hotels but taking the five-star hotels out of the chefs can take some adjustment.

As we have been talking , I’ve had to rather sternly – but amid all-round laughter – request of Chiran that he please, please cease referring to me as “Sir”!

 

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Hoppers in Werribee

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Fab Delight, Shop 4, 167-179 Shaws Road, Werribee. Phone: 9749 7777

There’s a stack of Indian restaurants in and around Werribee.

There’s now a Dosa Hut branch in Tarneit, we know an Indian place will be opening at Williams landing in coming weeks and there’s a couple of places in Laverton.

But these scarcely seem sufficient to service the rapid upsurge in Indian-based residential living in Wyndham and adjacent suburbs.

And Sri Lankan?

As far as we know, until now the nearest bona fide Sri Lankan eateries have been in Sunshine and, further afield, in Tullamarine, Glenroy and the city.

All of which makes, we reckon, the opening of Fab Delight something of real significance.

Even better, based on our first visit we reckon it’s a gem – a lovely, cheap, family business that serves authentic Sri Lankan food that is very good.

 

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Fab Delight is located in Werribee Village, a smallish shopping centre that continues to serve local needs even as behemoths such as the newly branded Pacific Werribee proliferate in the area.

Werribee Village has a Sim’s, a couple of Chinese places, a butcher, a baker and a pizza maker.

It also has the recently reviewed Carv’n It Up.

We love our mid-week dinner at Fab Delight.

We bypass the snacky stuff, the modest dosa line-up, the hoppers and the koththu and the devilled dishes.

 

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Instead, we get two plain rotis ($1.80 each) and an egg roti ($3).

They’re fine – fresh, hot, flaky, chewy.

 

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We get a single serve of string hoppers (20 pieces for $7.50), served with a chilli sambol.

 

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And, in the curry department, we get a serve of the yellow potato curry ($7.50), which is helpfully provided to us in two serving bowls.

The gravy is more of a soup but still good and the potato chunks are a marvel, with wonderful flavour and texture.

 

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The pork curry ($13) is Bennie’s choice – so adamant is he that my caution about anything to do with pork and curries, especially at these sorts of cheap-eats prices, is swept aside.

His determination is vindicated as this curry is something of stunner.

It’s a dry curry that is largely built around black pepper.

It’s different, it’s yummy!

The pork pieces are as tender as can be expected and very tasty.

Bennie gives an enthusiastic thumbs-up with one hand as he stuff his gob with his other.

Between our curries, and the rotis and string hoppers with which to mop them up, we enjoy a splendid, delicious and very affordable meal.

 

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On a roast roll

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Carv’n It Up, shop 1a 167-179 Tarneit Road, Werribee. Phone: 9974 0661

Werribee Village is one of the older – and smaller – shopping centres in the area.

It has a Sim’s.

It has Chinese x 2, F&C, a chook shop and a place with curry signage that purportedly sells kebabs.

And now it has a brand new purveyor of old-fashioned roasts and accessories.

 

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Carv’n It Up is rather austere in terms of decor but on the evidence of my Saturday lunch-time visit, it is already a hit with locals.

Folks aren’t queuing up out the door but they are coming and going in a steady stream.

The roast theme is delivered via meals, family deals, rolls and a bevy of extras.

I am gratified my lunch is served on good, solid, real crockery and with metal cutlery.

Potential takeaway customers be warned, though – at least some of the to-go meals are served on yukky polystyrene trays.

 

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Roast beef with veg (14.90) does me real good.

The three slices of beef are well done but cut easily enough – though a serrated knife would’ve been appreciated.

The meat serve is very generous – so much so that what at first appears to be a surfeit of gravy is only just enough to make my meal work.

I like the spuds and peas.

But I am enough of a roast traditionalist to find the veg “medley” a bit over ambitious and fiddly – I do not want capsicum with my roasts.

See other recent stories about roasts here and here.

 

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