Cafe high point

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Rustica, Highpoint.

The existence of a branch of famous Fitzroy cafe/bakery Rustica at Highpoint came as a complete surprise to us.

But, asked to meet friends there, we are eager to try.

Highpoint Rustica is located well away from all the other centre’s food outlets and courts, in the newer, swisher part of the centre.

It’s easy to forget it’s in a shopping centre – and that’s a fine and no doubt deliberate thing.

There’s indoor and outdoor seating – well, sort-of outdoor!

The staff do an admirable job and the pricing is thereabouts in comparison with other western suburbs cafes presenting food of similar quality and sophistication.

 

 

The not so good first.

My slow-roasted garlic and rosemary lamb baguette ($19) looks the part with its greens, pomegranate, pickled onion and garlic labneh.

But it is dull, lacking the zing the ingredients so strongly suggest.

The best bit is the side serve of potato salad.

 

 

In some ways, the menu disturbs with its long-winded and extravagant lists of ingredients for many dishes.

The dish called Smashed Peas ($20), for instance, stacks up thusly: Beetroot cured salmon, snow pea tendrils, radish, zucchini noodles, puffed wild rice, goats whip, beetroot hummus and poached egg on quinoa-soy-linseed toast.

Tendrils?

Ha!

But this is a winner and I love every mouthful, wiping the plate clean.

To my cynicism-fuelled surprise, ALL the ingredients/flavours fit just right.

The egg is superbly done.

The fish is mild of flavour but very good.

The greens and salad bits are of prime freshness.

I’d order this again without hesitation.

 

 

The Spiced Chickpea Falafels ($19.50) are equally fine.

The good falafels are fat and a little dry.

But that’s no problem at all when they’re keeping company with roasted zaatar carrots and cauliflower, pickled red cabbage, pomegranate, more of the beetroot hummus stuff and grilled ciabatta with zaatar seasoning.

It’s a colourful jumble of joy, full of crunch and taste tingles.

The coffee here is excellent.

And I’m told by one who knows that the likes of their almond croissants and cronuts are to live for.

 

A crackling good meal

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Mama Lor Restaurant & Bakery, 187 Watton Street, Werribee. Phone: 973 106 78

Some newspaper coverage at the start of the year tried hard to posit food from the Philippines as a sort of next-big-thing in Melbourne.

We reckon that’s something of a stretch.

Nevertheless, out here in the west there ARE three new or newish Filipino food places – in Burnside, West Footscray (yet to open) and Werribee.

The latter is the subject of this story.

Consider The Sauce has a somewhat ropey history with Filipino food, as long-time readers may recall.

A lot of that has had to do with bain maries – and the supremely unappealing, limp and ugly food that frequently resides in them.

There’s a bain marie at Mama Lor, but that’s only a side interest here, one for quickie lunches and takeaways.

For this eatery is a full-service real-deal restaurant, a sister for the identically named establishment in Sydney.

On the Friday night we visit, they’re well into a protracted “soft opening” period.

It’s all very happy, full and bustling, with the staff zipping around and taking care of business well.

Does a meal with friends, one of whom is from the Phillippines, change the CTS outlook in regards to Filipino food?

Yes, mostly, with one mis-step detailed below.

 

 

Our two “barbeque” pork skewers ($3 each) are perfect, juicy, smoky and lip-smackingly fine.

 

 

Kare kare ($19) is a beef stew in a peanutty sauce, with green beans and eggplant on board for the journey, too.

There’s some hefty chunks of good meat in there, and the shrimp paste on the side adds flavour interest.

 

 

Bitter melon?

Been there, done that – usually served from the aforementioned bain maries.

Not impressed.

But we go with Maria’s suggestion.

This dish, amapalaya with dilis ($15), certainly looks the part – vibrant green, NOT swimming in some gray gravy, studded with onion, anchovies and tomato.

Sadly, it’s awful – or, at the least, not to my taste.

But even Maria screws up her face in distaste.

Bitter melon that’s TOO bitter for a born-and-bred Philippines native?

 

 

Chicken lomi ($15) is much, much better.

This chicken noodle outing, which appears to be loosely based on the familiar viscous soups of Chinese heritage, is stuffed with chicken, still-crunchy cabbage and all sorts of other goodies.

 

 

The highlight of our night – for myself certainly, but also I strongly suspect for my friends – is the lechon belly/roast pork (we go the large for $23, but it’s also available in $12 and $45 sizes).

Oh, yes!

This is wonderful – and a dish to which most tables in the place appear to be gravitating.

Either that or the chicken equivalent.

The roast pork is plentiful and devilishly flavoursome, with only the very meatiest pieces displaying any dryness.

The equally plentiful crackling is superb, upping the sin quotient by another several notches.

The sauce on the side?

I thought it would be gravy of some kind – but it turns out to be a nice, grainy apple sauce.

It goes well with the pig meat, but it would’ve been nice for it to be warm. Though maybe cold is the tradition here.

It’s real nice to see a restaurant proper of Philippines heritage open up in Werribee and others also on the go or soon coming across the west.

See the Mama Lor website – including menu – here.

 

Ripper meal, $15

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The Brotherhood Yiros + Grill, 99 Buckley Street, Seddon. Phone: 9689 6318

It’s the same conversation every Saturday – very enjoyable it is, too.

Finish kung fu in Carlton, head in a vaguely in a westerly direction and discuss what to have for lunch.

This week, Bennie is pumping for Somalian in Flemington.

I’m not much in the mood for detours, let alone review material; home is calling.

So we settle on somewhere around Seddon, with parking to be the deciding factor.

As a fall-back option, Bennie suggests – as I know he would – Brotherhood.

I’m fine with that – I love their food.

But.

Two yiros for us two.

Chips on the side seem both excessive and essential – but we always order them anyway.

And two cans of fizz.

All that stacks up at about $40.

That’s fine for such good food.

But this is not a restaurant – so we end up eating on the footpath.

I don’t mind that – but it does sometimes make the $40 admission fee seem a bit steep.

But as we approach the famed yiros outlet, Bennie points out a sign that changes everything – our lunch, our day and quite likely future Saturday lunch arrangements.

 

 

In an investment in drumming up some brisker lunch business, Brotherhood management has introduced a special deal – one yiros, side of chips and a can of drink for $15.

Oh, yeah!

Our kind of deal.

The various posters say the deal will be around until the end of October, but we receive a strong hint it may be of longer duration.

Even better, we’re told a permit has been gained for some tables on Buckley Street, so a higher level of dining comfort is imminent.

 

 

As it turns out, this Saturday feed is the best we’ve had here yet.

The chips are so good, crunchy and hot that we’re grinning and eating simultaneously.

Even the chicken salt fails to dampen by glee.

When it comes to the yiros wraps, happiness turns to outright giggling on both our parts.

Maybe it’s because we’re among the day’s earliest customers, but our yiros are stuffed with the most wonderful lamb – much of it crunchy, crisp and salty.

Oh my – so very, very fine.

Obviously, in the CTS family we talk and think a lot about food.

But in this case, our constant celebratory post-meal chatter lasts all the way along Victoria, Charles, Gamon and Fehon streets and until we’re home.

According to their FB page, the Brotherhood crew serve lunch on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

 

Yarraville gelati

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Augustus Gelatery, 175 Somerville Road, Yarraville. Phone: 9315 314

The first things Consider The Sauce looks for when trying a new gelati/ice-cream joint are unusual or intriguing flavours.

We find one at the Yarraville shop of the rapidly expanding Augustus chain – dark chocolate gelati.

So dark it is, it looks like tar!

We both find it to be very, very good – and very chocolate-y.

The pistachio that makes up the rest of my twin-scoop cup is just average.

Bennie finds the same with his strawberry cheesecake.

Other than the dark choc gelati, we find most of the other Augustus flavours to be of no particular interest to us and …

… there appears to be an accent on pastel adventures!

What else?

Price per scoop?

Here it is $5 for a single; we reckon our double scoop deals for $6.80 are well priced.

Baby/kids cones?

Not that we can see – and the staff members are dealing with an ongoing kiddy/holiday rush when we’re in the house.

Sometimes we find ice-cream/gelati places don’t advertise the fact they serve smaller serves.

And sometimes that’s all we feel like!

Coffee?

No.

Yarraville Augustus is apparently a hit and is sure to remain so through the forthcoming summer.

But it’ll probably be a some-time location for us as we stick to firm and long-time favourites in the village and in Kensington, the latter at which we can get great coffee, too.

Burger bounty

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5 Districts NY, Unit 5/2 Thomsons Road, Keilor Park. Phone: 9193 6616

A black and rather brutal-looking building in a brand new industrial estate in Keilor Park may not seem like a place for some choice eating.

Bennie certainly thinks that’s the case.

So he is surprised – truth be known, I am, too – that 5 Districts is actually doing quite brisk trade during a Monday lunch session, humming along straight after AFL grand final weekend.

That Monday lunch business and a close watch on this new establishment’s social media in the past few weeks would seem to vindicate management’s commitment to this location – it’s a winner in a broader neighbourhood obviously crying out for just such a venue.

 

 

There’s a lot of room inside, including a variety of eating spaces, communal tables, stools and chairs.

The upstairs/outdoors area is already a hit at the wind-down end of the week with locals and employees of the many nearby businesses.

Based on an early menu seen by CTS while getting up a preview story a couple of months ago, we have been expecting a much more lavish menu including dude food heavyweights such as ribs and fried chicken.

Instead, we discover the menu (see below) has been pared back for the settling-in period.

That’s fine by us – burgers it is.

 

 

Bennie’s Piggy Smalls ($17) – with heaps of excellent shredded pork and equally generous quantities of apple slaw – is a doozy and goes down right fine.

 

 

In some ways, my selection of the place’s basic burger – the County Classic ($14) – is even more impressive.

With beef, cheese, bacon, leaves, tomato and “Districts special sauce”, this is your regulation burger done very well.

The fine cow patty, excellent, is surrounded by be equally good ingredients.

Nothing flash – just sturdy, tasty simplicity.

 

 

We find sides of fries with our burgers ($4) are good rather than great – it is very early in the week and the day, so we refrain from being too judgmental.

We do enjoy dunking our fries in the various hot sauces available – and find a tub of the mildly-spiced, house-made concoction as good as any of them.

5 Districts NY gets the thumbs up from us!

 

Gami whammy

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Gami Chicken & Beer, Sanctuary Lakes Shopping Centre, Point Cook. Phone: 7379 7288

We’ve had us some fine fried chicken of late – notably at fine Korean establishments in Laverton and Williams Landing.

Among the feedback we received following those two stories was a robust suggestion we check out the fried chicken served by the Gami chain.

OK, we’re up for that – even if we are always going to have a natural affinity for smaller and/or family businesses.

So off we toddle to Sanctuary Lakes Shopping Centre and the newish Gami outlet there.

This is not a neighbourhood into which we stray often – but today we’re happy for the change.

 

 

The Gami outlet is not in the centre proper – instead it is perched alongside Point Cook Road.

Inside, it has many of the hallmarks and vibes of a fast food eatery – and even looks a little like the tarted up interior of a shipping container.

But this is a real-deal restaurant, with good table service during a medium busy lunch rush.

We choose from the separate lunch list (see below) and its tighter, slightly cheaper roll call of dishes from the main menu.

On the menu proper there are plenty pf options – salad, stews and so on – that do not involve deep-fried poultry.

 

 

After ordering, we are presented with two small, complementary dishes to keep us busy.

Sweetish pickled radish and … does anyone know what these stubby Korean versions grissini are called?

In any case, they’re a nice time filler.

 

 

A small side of chips ($4.50) are hot, good and just a little on the chewy side.

And, yep, that’s regular tomato sauce.

 

 

Bennie is happy with his Gami chicken burger and chips ($15.50).

It has good, crisp chicken and a heap of crunchy cabbage.

 

 

But I suspect he envies my half boneless chicken ($18, dinner price $19.50) and its mix of thigh and chicken pieces.

And so he should – this is fabulous fried chook, every bit as good as that provided by the two Korean restaurants cited at the start of this story.

Some of the breast pieces are tending towards dry, but not unforgivably so, and this is also a generous serve, bigger than it appears at first glance.

Alongside is a very fine and spicy dipping sauce.

There’s also more of that fresh and crunchy cabbage, anointed with a mix of mayo and, yes, that’s regular tomato sauce.

I’m pleasantly surprised at how well this lubricating duo works.

 

Superb Japanese food

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Kingyo izakaya, 12 Margaret Street, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9372 8585

Some Consider The Sauce stories are succinct and full of brevity.

Others are long-winded, going off tangents to explore side and back stories.

Neither scenario should ever be taken as an indication of quality, enjoyment or passion – or lack thereof.

This Kingyo izayaka review, for instance, will be briefish – yet this is some of the very best Japanese food we’ve had in a long, long while.

It is superb.

It’s all about way more than good cooking – it’s also about quality ingredients and, most of all, extremely beautiful presentation.

This joint, with its simple and elegant dining room, is a sister eatery to I Dream Of Sushi just up the street.

Nat and I choose from the lunch menu. Both lists can be found below.

 

 

My “chotto plate” is a ripping bargain at $24.

How good – and gorgeous – is this?

Lovely housemade pickles – a rarity in any Japanese place.

Sashimi with regular pickled ginger.

Ridiculously luscious stewed eggplant.

A crisp panko-crumbed spud-and-eggplant croquette.

Excellent agedashi tofu and delicious gyoza with stuffing far superior to most.

Rice and top-class miso soup.

Wow.

 

 

Contemplating a hefty evening meal to come, Nat goes with the lighter sashimi set for $20 with equal delight the result.

We’ll be back – Bennie will love this place.

And so will you.