Rib and curry sensations

Leave a comment

Santorini, 1 Parker Street, Williamstown. Phone: 9399 8520
podatpid, 638 Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 0404 904 900

Never order ribs from a non-specialist barbecue joint.

This is the emphatic lesson rammed home to Consider The Sauce through tedious confrontations with mediocrity.

Or worse.

But in the case of Santorini, we figure this is a rule worth ignoring.

Observing on FB the ingenuity and passion with which the whole Santorini crew is confronting the virus brouhaha is truly heartening.

That includes free delivery – yes, even as far as Yarraville – and specials events such as “souvlaki night”, free donut nights and more.

So order ribs, we do.

What we get is simply sensational.

Great lemon potatoes and heaps of them.

Greek coleslaw, and heaps of that, too, with just enough onion to add a little bite and quite a lot of feta, which crumbles into the dressing.

What a magic mix!

Given the superb accompaniments, and the fair asking price of $25 per person, we’d be quite unfazed to get a single big beef rib each.

Unfazed, but disappointed.

But no!

We get two of the beefy blighters each.

And – you guessed it!  – they, too, are very, very excellent.

And tender.

And delicious.

To order from Santorini online, go here.

 

 

Another of our faves, podatpid on Barkly Street in West Footscray, is also having lots of fun and satisfaction in keeping on trucking.

The cafe is selling a select range of top-notch grocery items, including bread.

And pick-up/take-home meals.

After having two encounters with it, we’ve become particularly fond of their pork-and-pineappple curry.

A really big serve for two cost us a fine $22.

It’s not so hefty in the pineapple department – it being outweighed by sweet potato.

Now that’s something that normally have both of us wrinkling up our noses in disgust because of its similarity to pumpkin.

But here, mixed in with the rich brown (and mild) curry gravy, it’s fab.

And our curry boasts a really good amount of tender pork chunks.

 

 

This particular meals ends with a sweet treat from yet another of faves – Olive Oil & Butter on Somerville Road.

Baklava for two – with yogurt. Greek, of course.

Hunkering down at home like everyone else, we’ve actually been cooking/eating healthily and affordably to a quite amazing extent.

So it’s been good to enjoy such great food from outside.

Even if we’ve not been sitting inside.

 

Happy Greek arrival

Leave a comment

 

Skewered Taverna, Shop 13, 71-79 Kororoit Creek Road, Williamstown.

For a while there, a few years back, Rifle Range shopping centre in Williamstown was the site of frequent visits by Team CTS.

Those visits were all about dropping in to partake of the fine food – pizzas, pastas and more – as proffered by Pizza d’Asporto.

Once a new Pizza d’Asporto shop opened right around the corner from us in Yarraville, Rifle Range was no longer a target for us.

But maybe a return visit to the Willy Pizza d’Asporto is in order – there’s been a reconfiguration there that makes the place more like a restaurant proper than a mere takeaway place with some seating.

Plus, you know – pizza, pasta, any excuse.

But today we’re back on Kororoit Road to check out the centre’s newest arrival – Skewered Taverna, which has slotted into the premises once housing the local charcoal chicken shop.

 

 

The place is set up – and feels – like a cross between a quickie souvlaki joint and a more formal Greek restaurant, something that is also reflected in the menu (see below).

When quizzed about what elements of the food line-up are made from scratch in house and those brought in, we appreciate the honesty shown us – tzatziki yes, taramasalata no; dolmades no, but moussaka and gemistes (stuffed capsicum) yes.

That knowledge guides us, to some extent, in our ordering.

 

 

OK, OK, I confess –  I am photographically challenged when it comes to capturing the simple magic of a souvlaki wrap.

This is an unlovely depiction of Bennie’s lunch.

It’s called “The Village” ($13.50) – and it’s everything he wants in a souvlaki.

Well-cooked and seasoned lamb off the spit, tomato, onion lettuce, tzatziki and chips wrapped in thick, Greek-style pita bread.

We reckon the Skewered souvlaki list is going to be a VERY hot ticket in this neighbourhood.

 

 

My meal is something very different.

I go for the made-in-house moussaka ($23) and am delighted in every way – especially after my most recent moussaka try had been disappointing.

I get the same chips, pita bread (grilled and oh-so-moreish!) and tzatziki as Bennie, along with some good Greek salad.

The moussaka itself is home-style Greek cooking marvellous – a big serve, rich, creamy, meaty, comforting and delicious.

For many more stories, go to considethesauce.net.

 

 

Croatian cravings sated

Leave a comment

 

Ragusa Republika, 139 Nelson Place, Williamstown. Phone: 9069 6690

There’s good food to be had on Nelson Place in Williamstown.

Good food created and served in good places by good people.

But, sadly, the overall vibe is rather downbeat when it comes comes to tasty high times.

CTS has discussed this seemingly unchanging situation with many Willy locals and other westies over the years.

Yet no one quite seems to know why it is so.

But in that context, we applaud what Eva Maddox and her crew are doing at Ragusa Republika.

 

 

Here there are no shortcuts, cutting of corners or scrimping.

Everything is high class and stylish, the dining room itself elegant and warmed just right on the chilly night we visit.

That hands-on approach extends to just about every aspect of the food, from house-made stocks and on up – everything bar the ice-cream.

Eva and wine expert Pino are enthusiastic out front and Team CTS – Kenny, Bennie, Nat – very much enjoys taking up the invitation of a complementary meal (see full disclosure below).

The prices here are on the high side –  but punters most definitely get what they pay for.

The building is gorgeous, extending out the back to a high-ceilinged cathedral-like former chapel.

 

 

A forerunner had been running for several years before briefly closing as some behind-the-scenes changes were effected, re-opening in April with “Republika” added to the name and a bright new look – but pretty much the same food line-up.

 

 

Our Croatian food adventure starts with a bang and hardly ever lets up.

These warm, fresh-baked rolls are sensational and served with olive oil and (house-made) ajvar (relish).

 

 

Zagorski štrukli are traditional baked pastry pillows filled with ricotta and truffle oil ($19).

We get one apiece – and it’s almost like they float to our eager mouths.

 

 

The squid ink dumplings that come with crni njoki ($20/$39) are almost as light, though it is the fresh-as calamari with garlic and chilli that truly grabs the attention.

 

 

Amid richness, it is the plain that triumphs for us.

The chicken noodle soup is the big hit of the night.

It has just the right amount of oil to lend every mouthful a velvety feel.

And, yep, the noodles are housemade.

We are each served a less-than-full bowl for reviewing purposes.

A full bowl goes for $15 – making for a lovely light lunch when teamed with the complementary bread rolls.

 

 

Bennie is very satisfied with his svinjska rebra iz paca sa satarašom ($44).

He reports that while the marinated and roasted pork belly meat is not fall-apart tender, it remains moist and “just right” to his way of thinking.

The accompanying jumble sautéed eggplant, capsicum and tomato is fine.

 

 

Ribarska popara – traditional seafood stew with paprika, chilli, tomato and polenta ($42) – juggles the delicate and the lusty just as well as I have been expecting.

The mildly seasoned broth turns from red to a sort-of orange as the polenta gradually blends in.

And the plentful seafood is very, very good.

 

 

The one dish that falls short of delighting us is Nat’s lignje u prošeku of roasted calamari with potato, capers and prošek ($41).

For all we know, this could be an outstanding rendition of this dish.

But the combined sweetness of the onions and dessert wine leaves us more puzzled than anything.

 

 

Are we up for dessert?

Yes we are!

Well, the Weir portion of tonight’s Team CTS is.

Štrudla od višnje (sour cherry strudel with hazelnut ice cream, $17) and …

 

 

… knedle (plum dumplings with plum sauce and sour cream, $17) are every bit as perfect and sweet-with-some-sour as father and son were hoping for.

Will we return to Ragusa Republika under our own steam and as paying customers?

Yes we will – for more of that chicken soup.

Though I also fancy getting stuck into the sarma/stuffed cabbage leaves.

Check out the Ragusa Republika website – including menu – here.

(Consider The Sauce dined at Ragusa Republikat as guests of the management and we did not pay for our meals. We were free to order whatever we wished. Ragusa Republika management neither sought nor was granted any input, oversight or pre-publication access to his story.)

 

Fish, chips, excellence

110 Comments

Batterbing, 60 Douglas Parade, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 1227

Batterbing is located in a Douglas Parade premises that has been home to fish and chips for a long, long time.

Decades, I’m guessing.

Can any Williamstown readers tell us?

In any case, these days – under its newish name – it’s being run by John McMonagle, whose work we loved so much at Dough! in Newport.

His Williamstown location is superior – it’s handily placed for more drop-in and foot traffic.

And that’s great – it means more people can enjoy the super work being done by John and his team.

The place remains very much an old-school fish and chip shop, with rudimentary dine-in facilities – a bench and stools inside, a few tables and chairs on the footpath outside.

But none of that matters.

Here be made – and happily consumed – what are, in our opinions and experience, the best fish and chips in the western suburbs.

(Matched mind, you, by Ebi in Essex Street, Footscray – very different style, equally fine outcome.)

The Batterbing art starts with chips.

Here the potatoes are hand-cut and tumbled – and are wonderful.

Real spuds make for hip chips.

I go with my never-fail arrangement carried over from the Dough! days – now officially called Combo for 1 ($15, top photograph).

Those chips, a handful of tender calamari rings and a nice chunk of juicy, delicious and expertly deep-fried blue grenadier.

So very fine!

Unlike Dough!, there are no pizzas at Batterbing.

But there are burgers – so we take one of them for a run, too.

The Lil Jerry Seinfeld – is there some in-joke I’m missing? – is a doozy.

Crisp and deeply tanned deep-fried chicken thigh is joined in burger harmony by just the right amount of slaw and mayo in a purple bun.

Like all the Batterbing burgers, it comes with a side of those chips – and that makes the $13 entry fee a dead-set bargain.

Williamstown, an interesting arrival

Leave a comment

 

Bob’s Diner @ Rifle Club Hotel, 121 Victoria Street, Williamstown. Phone: 9367 6073.

One Friday night, and long ago before Consider The Sauce started, Bennie and I ventured into the Rifle Club Hotel, having heard there was a some Thai food going on there.

That turned out to not be the case, and we fled, figuring the establishment – then – was no place for a boy and his dad.

Now we’re back after learning that a crew called Bob’s Diner has set up shop.

Truth be told, this pokies venue is not a good fit for us, but we’re prepared to give it a crack.

The dining room has been done out in basic diner style and, as expected given the the name of the place, burgers are big on the menu.

But there are also such items as poutine, chicken wings, fish and chips – and even a grazier’s beef pie with sauce and mash.

 

 

The chips ($5) come in a good-size serve and are enjoyed by us both.

 

 

My SouthWest Chicken Burger ($12) is an enigma.

Bun, coleslaw, briny pickle all good.

The chicken is crumbed and crisp.

But tastes of nothing.

Is it re-constituted like a chicken nugget?

I can’t tell, but it disappoints.

 

 

Bennie does a whole let better with his cheese and bacon burger ($12).

This is a good, solid burger that is priced right.

Given the dearth of eating options in the immediate neighourhood, Bob’s Diner is sure to be of interest.

But we’d advise savvy scrutiny of the menu and quizzing of the staff.

 

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.

Meal of the week No.29: Hellenic Hotel

7 Comments

hell32

 

After participating in the opening rituals of Hellenic Hotel, I am super keen to try on the joint’s upstairs bar $15 daily specials.

So much so, I bound up the mid-week stairs.

The bar area – excluding verandah – is quite compact, featuring three tables for two, a couple of tall tables with stools and a communal table, also with stools.

The bar menu (see below) features a range of snacky-type dishes through to those with a bit more heft, such as 1/4 HH chicken for $17.

There’s a daily special allocated for each day (also on the menu below) – and based on the excellence of my Wednesday beef stifado, I definitely want to try them all.

My beef stew is marvellous.

The serving is of a good size and the sticky stew features not only heaps of very good beef chunks but also halved baby onions and carrot.

They all sit atop a bed of barley that is puffed up yet still nicely chewy.

Topping all is a fistful of of fennel salad that provides nice contrast.

It’s a delicious lunch and very good value for $15.

 

hell31

hell33

hell34

Hellenic Hotel unveiled

5 Comments

hell23

 

Hellenic Hotel, 28 Ferguson Street, Williamstown. Phone: 9393 1000

Yes, the new George Calombaris establishment in Williamstown is up and running.

The “soft opening” Consider The Sauce attends is loosely dedicated to “media”. It follows one the previous night for family and friends and will be followed the next night by another for locals.

 

hell26

Star Weekly reporter Benjamin Millar documents the action.

 

I enjoy running into a few pals, but each invitee has chosen their own timetable and there is no communal seating, so this just like a busy (normal) night and plays a dual role of fine-tuning the restaurant and its food.

 

hell24

 

My dining companion, Star Weekly sales gun Rochelle Loney, and I go for the “Feed Me” set menu that retails for $49.

In some ways, this is a bit lazy of us and I later regret not taking the opportunity to explore the a la carte menu in more depth.

But it does make things easy for us – and, besides, what we are served is very much the kind of thing I suspect many-perhaps-most customers here will want.

 

hell25

 

What we get is pretty much plain, straight-up Greek food – and I say that as no criticism.

It all ranges, in my opinion, from good to very good to outstanding.

 

hell27

 

Warmed Mount Zero olives – lovely.

In my world, the paler and less fishy is taramosalata the better it becomes.

This is a luscious verging-on-white delight served with slightly fluffy chargrilled pita bread.

 

hell28

 

The black sesame lavosh and granny smith slices and puree top the saganaki with elan.

But the saganaki is just OK – maybe it’s simply not my thing.

 

hell29

 

The HH grain salad with pulses, nuts and herbs is a cool, moist and topped with creamy smoked yogurt.

 

hell210

 

“Heirloom” carrots with fenugreek and almonds are sweet and flavoursome.

 

hell211

 

The Hellenic Hotel rotisserie chicken …

Normally, I’d expect to see greater depth of colour and way more turbo-charged seasoning.

But this is superb.

Of the two pieces we are presented, I get that with the breast meat.

To my great happiness, it is moist and delicious – which speaks highly of the quality of the chook and the skill with which it has been cooked.

 

hell214

 

Greek rice pudding – risogalo – is topped with rhubarb and candied pistachios.

It’s a fine way to complete our meal. I like that its sweetness is restrained.

Consider The Sauce will visit Hellenic Hotel again soon to see how the $15 upstairs bar daily specials shape up!

 

hell213

hell22

Calombaris social media manager Danielle Poulos with Mandy and Sammi from Mama Knows West.

hell215

hell21

Hellenic Hotel – sneak preview

6 Comments

hell3Like many folks in the west and across Melbourne, I have watched the long-running birth of George Calombaris’s Hellenic Hotel in Williamstown with interest.

On a professional level, I have been somewhat ambivalent.

On the one hand, this is obviously a significant western suburbs food story, so therefore of great interest to Consider The Sauce and its readers.

On the other, Consider The Sauce is used to operating in something of a parallel universe to the bubble that is Melbourne’s officially designated “food scene”.

So it would not have surprised me had the opening of Hellenic Hotel come and gone without CTS being involved in any way at all … and that would’ve been fine.

But an email from Danielle Poulos changed all that.

Danielle is the social media manager for the Calombaris empire.

She is also someone with whom I have a previous history – we worked together many times on arts/music stories when I was heavily involved in the Sunday Herald Sun’s entertainment coverage.

That all seems a long time ago for one reason – it is!

But somehow, we have remained in touch … so I was delighted when her email lobbed and our lives once again overlapped.

We very soon after met for coffee, and the best part of 20 years melted away …

But my paramount question remained: Did Hellenic Hotel and those who sail in her want to be OF the west – or were they to be merely IN the west but with hearts residing elsewhere?

With Danielle replying that the former was most definitely the case, it’s down to business we got …

I will continue to take Hellenic Hotel as it comes – but there’s no doubt that having a highly and fondly regarded pal as my point of contact is making a huge difference!

 

hell6

Hellenic Hotel head chef Josh Pelham (right) works with his kitchen crew a week out from opening night.

Hellenic Hotel, 28 Ferguson Street, Williamstown. Phone: 9393 1000

There is about a week to go before Hellenic Hotel opens to the public – opening night, Friday, June 17, is already booked out – and the air of excitement is palpable.

I get a contact high just by hanging out with Travis McAuley (Hellenic restaurants general manager), Nikki Reid (Hellenic Hotel manager) and Danielle Poulos (Calombaris social media manager) as they give me “the tour”.

For them and everyone else involved, the pressure is on – but there’s a lot of fun and satisfaction to be had, as well.

 

hell5

Travis and Nikki unwrap the new crockery.


The Ferguson Street premises is certainly much changed since I last stuck my nose in about four or five months previously.

And those changes amount to way more than some new furniture and a pretty paint job (mostly white and blue, as you’d expect).

There has been some major infrastructure doings going on here, including installation of a lift and substantial provision of “facilities” and office space upstairs.

The downstairs area – the dining room of the restaurant proper, which will seat about 100 people – is today buzzing with tradies applying last-minute touches and tying up fit-out loose ends.

The place is also buzzing with dozens of newly employed young staff doing training.

Greek training.

Coffee training.

Ouzo, wine and cocktail training.

And training in the Calombaris ethos of “philotimo”, “kefi” and “meraki”.

I’m told about three-quarters of the font of house staff of about 25 are locals.

 

hell4

 

Hotel Hellenic head chef Josh Pelham is involved in the training process, as well.

He’ll be overseeing a kitchen staff numbering about 12.

There will be much overlap, menu-wise, with the Hellenic enterprises in Brunswick and Kew – but each of three has its own special focus.

In the case of Hellenic Hotel, that will be on food emanating from the kitchen’s rotisserie oven.

 

hell10

 

Upstairs, the bar – seating about 80 people – will sport a more relaxed vibe.

The “bar menu” will basically be the starter menu from downstairs, though bar patrons will be free to order from the full list should they wish to do so.

Up here there will also be a $15 daily special – now that sounds good! – as well as Greek-based music on Sunday afternoons.

Hotel Hellenic will be open every day from noon.

 

hell8

The rooftop bar is very much a work in progress.

Travis tells me they’re hoping to have this area up and running come summer.

 

hell9

 

Whenever it does open, the views will be spectacular …

My current take on Hellenic Hotel and the locals is this:

There is, as you’d expect, a high degree of interest.

Much of the interest is of the enthusiastic variety – both from people excited about eating in the new venture and from local businesses wishing, hoping for an all-round boost.

Some of the interest is passive.

And some, a smaller amount, is cynical and even resentful.

Again, this is no surprise and is something of which these folks are aware.

For what it’s worth, they appear to me to be sincere in their desire to engage with the locals – and win over the unpersuaded.

To that end, one of several pre-opening events being held next week has been put aside for them.

 

hell1

What’s up in Willy?

2 Comments

raga3

 

Raga Indian Cuisine, 223 Nelson Place, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 6982

A couple of years ago, Consider The Sauce was very excited to try – for the first time – the funky South African workingman’s soul food that is bunny chow.

Sadly, before I got around to a return visit to Sanctuary Lakes shopping centre for a return encounter, the humble cafe concerned closed down.

(See here for that story and some background on bunny chows!)

So I was delighted, as we ambled away from enjoying Nelson Place’s new Italian joint, that Bennie noticed the above notice in the window of a nearby Indian eatery.

At the first available, opportunity I’m there.

After I order my lamb bunny, the staff/management soon work out I’m “that guy with that camera” – and I am unsurprised to learn Raga has ties to the now defunct Point Cook cafe at which I first tried a bunny chow!

 

raga4

 

So I am brought a complementary dish courtesy of the chef.

Quail 65 is a knockout – and probably the best Indo-Chinese dish I’ve ever tried.

The rotund fritters are wonderfully crisp and nicely salty on the outside, while the shredded quail meat inside is fabulous.

All is attended by lovely, spiced cucumber noodles.

They are so good!

But I am mindful of leaving room for my bunny so donate the remaining two fritters to the grateful inhabitants of the adjacent table.

 

raga2

 

Now take it as given that my experience with bunny chows is limited … but that said, I reckon my Raga lamb bunny is a killer delight.

The accompanying salad, served in a giant prawn cracker, is just right.

The lamb curry is plentiful, very spicy and studded with tender spud chunks.

This time around, knowing a little of bunny lore, I make only small use of cutlery, mostly use my hands and love every mouthful of curry and bread.

But it’s a big meal and I call a halt to my feasting after consuming all the curry and about half the bread.

The price?

I suspect experienced Durban bunny hounds will snort with derision at paying $17.50 for what is ostensibly blue-collar street food.

But I don’t have any problem with the price tag – it’s a good investment, IMO, for a fine meal.

And especially given this is probably the only place in Melbourne, and even within Australia, that serves bunny chows.

After all the cafe-style Indian places we frequent, it’s been real nice to spend some time in a proper, well-appointed Indian restaurant.

And the thalis ordered by a happy a neighbouring table seem like a great deal. The thalis, like the bunnies, are served on Mondays and Tuesdays.

The mint/tamarind sauce that came with my papadums was adorned with latte art!

 

raga5

raga1

Nelson Place, top stuff

6 Comments

mscal8

 

Mascalzone Pizzeria Osteria Artigiana, 217-219 Nelson Plavce, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 7269

Mascalzone has been open about three weeks, replacing one of the nondescript venues for which Nelson Place is mostly known, that one replacing another before it.

Mascalzone is sure step in a good direction.

It’s done out brightly with an accent on Italian in decor, ambience and food.

There’s a big brick oven at the rear and a display cabinet of fine-looking antipasto goodies at the front.

We find the service for Saturday lunch is terrific and our food is brought to us in a timely fashion.

Mascalzone’s menu (see below) is a smartly tight line-up of modern-classic Italiana that extends from starters through pizzas, pasta and salads to dolci.

 

mascal6

 

When checking out such joints as this for the first time, we routinely choose one of the basic pizzas just to see how they shape up.

In this case that means the napoletana ($18) picked from a list of nine red pizzas and five of the white kind.

Our pizza is very nice with simplicity being the thing and the toppings all of good quality and in the right proportions.

The crusts are have a wonderful charred thing going on.

 

mascal7

 

From the list of five pastas, we select the pappardelle al ragu di agnello with roasted asparagus ($22).

At first, the lamb shoulder sauce and the white pasta present as so pale as to be pallid.

But there’s do doubting the home-style depth of flavours in the meat, the attendant juices and the excellent cheese gratings.

All this rests upon and about truly wonderful house-made pasta that is al dente perfection.

 

mascal5

 

Tiramisu ($10) is a dream of cream and not much else – but we love it anyway.

Next time we’ll be up for sharing one of the two antipasti platters.

And there will be a next time.

Nelson Place, food destination.

 

mascal1

mascal3

mascal2

Yum cha by Kenny – no relation

4 Comments
kenny9

 

Kenny’s Yum Cha House, 34 Ferguson Street, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 8688

The premises recently occupied by Kenny’s Yum Cha House was previously, and for many years, a rather nondescript noodle shop we never tried.

A new family has taken over, headed by dumpling-making dad Kenny, and they’re doing very nice things.

I confess to having tried “hokkien noodles” a few weeks before Christmas and being unimpressed.

But then a home delivery of some of yum cha items – and very good they were – re-sparked my interest.

 

kenny1

 

So heading to Ferguson Street with two regular CTS companions, I am filled with hope.

But there is cause to be cautious in terms of optimism.

After all, normal expectations for yum cha goodies served in such a humble, corner store setting would normally fall into the realms of cheap, enjoyable but surely frozen and mass-produced dumplings and the like.

 

kenny3

 

What we enjoy at Kenny’s Yum Cha House is way, way better than that – top-notch yum cha that pretty much matches what you’ll find at any of the storied yum cha places around town.

In fact, this place sort of redefines yum cha and how it can work.

Yum cha doesn’t have to be Sunday brunch; it can also easily be dinner.

Great yum cha doesn’t have to involve trollies; it can just as easily be a la carte.

In truth, it can even be argued that ordering as you go is preferable.

 

kenny4

 

Finally, Kenny’s Yum Cha House proves beaut yum cha doesn’t have to be served in a vast barn; a smallish neighbourhood enterprise can do it, too.

Everything we have is good or better:

  • Pan-fried dumplings ($8 for five).
  • Pork dumplings ($5.50 for three).
  • Chive prawn dumplings ($6 for three).
  • Pork ribs in black bean sauce ($5.50).
  • Chicken feet in black bean sauce ($5).

Only the last mentioned are in any way less than excellent; they lack a certain spicy zing.

 

kenny2

 

As well, as we find that assessing a yum cha joint can at least partially be done on the basis of greenery, we order Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce ($12) – and that, too, is lovely.

 

kenny5

 

It’s been a rather smashing meal – cheap, easy, impromptu (we pay $16 per person).

And on a Monday night in Williamstown!

 

kenny6

kenny8

Kenny meets Kenny.

kenny7

 

 

 

 

Meal of the week No.25: Kiosk by d’Asporto

3 Comments

kiosk26

 

Getting all excited about the impending opening of Kiosk by d’Asporto at Williamstown Beach – including doing a story for The Age and then doing a blog story about doing a story for The Age – is all good and well.

But it’s not in the realms of proof-is-in-the-eating.

 

kiosk25

 

So lunch it is for us.

We choose a beaut day for it – sunny but not hot, precious little wind and not too many people around.

There’s two tables adjacent the kiosk but we grab two of the stools right up close.

 

kiosk21

 

Bennie has one the gorgeous-looking panini on display – pulled pork with Italian coleslaw ($10).

It’s fabulous!

The bread is fresh, the pork has great flavour and the slaw has nuts and dried fruit.

 

kiosk23

 

I’m not sure how Italian the fish and chips ($10) are but I love them anyway.

It’s easy to do so as they’re hot and crisp and delicious.

The chunk of flake is of modest proportions but is all meaty perfection.

 

kiosk22

 

Also freshly fried are the arancini – the larger ones of potato and cheese ($3 each), the smaller of a sort of rice-y bolognese with cheese ($1.80 or four or $6).

They are totally yummy taste balls.

 

kiosk24

 

The fine display of sweet, baked goodies – and the coffee and the gelati – will have to wait for another day.

It’s only one meal – but Kiosk by d’Asporto really does feel like a game-changer for westside beachside eating.

Kiosk by d’Asporto – photo shoot for The Age

7 Comments

kiosk17

 

Read The Age story here.

Right from the time we got a nice reader’s tip that something good was happening at Williamstown Beach, Consider The Sauce has been following the doings there with high interest.

 

kiosk5

 

Not just because stuffing the lifesaving club’s kiosk with really good Italian street food is such a fine idea but also because the lovely crew from Pizza d’Asporto is up to their necks in making it happen.

 

 

kiosk18

 

As well, such a brilliant idea is it that selling it as a “Just Opened” feature for The Age was a breeze with that rag’s food editor Roslyn Grundy.

 

kiosk7

 

Today’s the day for the photo shoot.

 

kiosk15

 

I don’t expect to be playing a particularly active role – but it is my story and besides, you know, it’s fun.

 

kiosk6

 

Claudio, Antoinetta, Ros, myself and everyone else involved has been most fervently hoping for fine, sunny weather.

 

kiosk13

 

That we don’t get.

 

kiosk2

 

But Melbourne being mercurial Melbourne, we’re all pretty happy with the overcast but warm, windless conditions.

 

kiosk12

 

Oh yes, it could be way worse.

 

kiosk4

 

Figuring the photographer was booked for 1.30pm, I’m a bit shocked to bowl up at 1pm to find the shoot already underway.

 

kiosk11

 

I am also aghast that the kiosk is chockers with all sorts of beautiful food and that all hands are on deck – when the official opening is still a week away.

 

kiosk3

 

But while it’s likely only two pics will be used to accompany my yarn, truth is this is also a handy trial run for the entire Kiosk by d’Asporto operation.

 

kiosk9

 

I have a nice old time chatting to all and sundry as photographer Wayne, his wife, Nicole, and Antoinetta get the business done with professional aplomb.

 

kiosk8

 

Then we eat!

Read The Age story here.

 

kiosk19

 

 

Meal of the week No.17: Prince Albert Hotel

2 Comments

prince21

 

At about the time CTS enjoyed a lovely meal at Williamstown’s Prince Albert Hotel we became aware they were soon to join the ranks of those offering Sunday roast meals.

Of course we had to check it out!

Bennie and I subsequently turned up and went away disappointed as we’d arrived a week too early for the roast introduction.

This Sunday, though, I am even more in the mood as it’s a chilly and rain-blasted day.

The pub is warm, I pay for my roast pork plate, wait and am then blown away.

The Prince Albert is setting a new benchmark if this lunch is anything to go by.

The above costs $15 and it’s wonderful.

A handful of crisp spud chunks.

Another handful of delicious, whole roast baby carrots.

Two meaty slabs of pork with tremendous flavour, not as fall-apart tender perhaps as rare roast beef or lamb but superb eating nevertheless.

A mound on the side of fine, mustard-laced slaw.

Nice tub of jus for dipping.

Downsides?

The apple sauce is cold and the pork skin is chewy rather than crisp.

But so good is my lunch I feel churlish even mentioning them.

Wow.

See earlier story here.

Santorini/West Welcome Wagon/CTS benefit – the wrap

2 Comments

www5

 

The fundraiser night for West Welcome Wagon hosted by Santorini Greek restaurant in Williamstown and Consider The Sauce was a hoot and a wonderful success.

Many, many thanks to Craig and the Santorini crew for making us so welcome and filling us up with so much fantastic food!

After subtracting booking fees and a very generous per person fee for food, West Welcome Wagon will be getting just a tad under $1000.

 

www7

 

Some very generous bidders on our three auction lots put another $500 or so in the kitty.

So all up, West Welcome Wagon will get more than $1400 to help continue its amazing work with asylum seekers in the western suburbs.

 

www9

 

So thanks, too, to Santorini (again!), La Morenita/Latin Foods & Wines and Brother Nancy for their generosity in terms of auction goodies.

 

www10

 

And a final big “thank you” to all who supported this event!

We’re already discussing the next one.

 

www1

www3

www4

www8

www2

 

West Welcome Wagon party – auction goodies

Leave a comment

auction2

The Brother Nancy team gives a cheery thumbs-up to being part of the fun!

 

There’s about a week and half until the West Welcome Wagon/Santorini/CTS Greek fundraising feast in Williamstown.

We have about 10 tickets left – if you’re thinking about attending, and we really, really want you to, I suggest you get your skates on.

For booking information, go here.

In the meantime, a couple of generous businesses have donated goodies for a simple, two-pronged auction on the night I hope will raise even more moolah for West Welcome Wagon.

Brother Nancy in West Footscray – see Erika’s story here and mine here – has donated lunch for two to the value of $50.

We reckon that should see a pair of you right for a cool drink, a main meal and a hot drink.

 

auction1

 

As well, Maria and Marco of La Morenita/Latin Foods & Wines have donated a lovely half-dozen bottle of primo South American wine.

A good thing on Nelson Place

1 Comment

general2

 

General Food Co, 117 Nelson Place, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 8239

General Food Co is on Nelson Place but not really of it.

It’s down towards the shipyard area of Williamstown and separated from Nelson Place’s hit-and-mostly-miss range of eateries by Thompson Street with its Greek restaurant on the corner.

This is a good thing!

Instead of having a Willy food hub vibe about it, General Food Co has a friendly, we-love-locals thing going on.

 

general1

 

The interior is small but cosy; there’s an outside area that must be simply great on nice days and there’s more tables on the footpath.

The service is fine, kids are greeted on a first-name basis and the coffee is outstanding.

The two dishes CTS tries – one smaller, one larger – are lovely to eat and behold, and are cooked and presented with skill.

But they are of modest proportions.

They’re perfectly fine for a light lunch but we advise against bringing a rampant appetite here – or perhaps, if that is the case, heading towards the breakfast list, several selections of which I spy as being more generous.

 

general4

 

I’m told the “dakos” in my smashed beetroot dakos ($12.50) is a kind of Greek rusk.

Atop the pleasantly chewy bases is a cool, luscious and tangy mix of beetroot and fetta.

The balsamic reduction seems a little out place and is too sticky.

 

general5

 

Lamb keftethes ($19) are three plump, generously sized lamb meatballs, deliciously chewy and well-seasoned, with a fine tzatsiki, pita bread that is both crisp and chewy and good salad components.

Some more yogurt/cucumber and a few more slices of pita would’ve been appreciated.

It is genuine regret that I have included some critical comments in this story – General Food Co is a lovely place and, as already stated, the coffee is fab.

 

general3

general6

Altona/Willy eats goss

3 Comments

altona2

 

Dropping into one of our favoured locals haunts – Altona Fresh at 62-76 Second Avenue – seeking coffee, great pork sausages, even greater lemon zest-marinated green olives, I am delighted to find coffee is now on the menu.

How marvellous!

 

altona1

 

Now shopping for Altona Fresh’s superb goodies can be accompanied by an excellent caffeine chill-out and maybe even a $3.50 canoli fresh from Cavallaro’s in Footscray.

 

altona3

 

The sorts of older shopping strips of the kind on which Altona Fresh is situated are our favourite foodie destinations – all this one needs is a bit of street life and it could be really lovely.

Even on a mid-week afternoon, with not many people around, it’s already apparent this coffee breakthrough could play a role in doing just that.

 

ctsf112

 

Also talking Italian, but moving over a suburb, Pizza d’Asporto – which has rapidly become one of our very favourite regulars – has extended its trading hours.

It’s now open for lunches on both Thursdays and Sundays, as well as Fridays and Saturdays and seven nights a week.

Yum!

 

santo15

 

Staying in Williamstown … fine Greek restaurant Santorini is hosting, with Consider The Sauce, a fundraiser to benefit West Welcome Wagon and its work with hundreds of asylum-seeker homes in the west.

It’s going to be a wonderful night!

See story here.

 

window1

 

Live in or near Altona North?

Love pho?

Give Window Cafe a try.

See story here.

Greek feast for West Welcome Wagon

2 Comments

santo11

 

TO BOOK FOR THIS EVENT, CLICK HERE.

Ever since running a successful event at the Plough in Footscray to raise money for West Welcome Wagon, I have been wanting to run another.

It’s been what they call a learning curve.

Picking a suitable restaurant is easy.

Finding one with the required community spirit and generosity is significantly harder.

Finding one with both that is big enough to hold the sort of numbers required to raise a good whack of WWW-bound cash is MUCH harder.

 

santo15

 

When the proprietor of Williamstown Greek restaurant Santorini contacted us with a view to having Team CTS eat at his establishment, I had a hunch.

“Maybe this is the one!” I thought.

And I was right – when I asked Craig if he would be interested in hosting a WWW fundraiser, he said: “Yes!”

And, just for the record, he did so before the CTS story about our fabulous dinner was published.

I’d earlier contacted Mia of West Welcome Wagon to tell her I was eager to organise another fundraiser.

Here’s what she said of West Welcome Wagon’s efforts to help asylum-seeker households in the west:

“We have had money flying out the door of late. So very many households arriving here with absolutely nothing … the influx was so sudden and great that donations in kind haven’t been enough and we’ve been buying things like food and paying for trucks to help move beds. My point being, we are definitely, more than ever, open to fundraising!

So our June 24 feast date is more than timely!

Of course, a worthy cause is no reason not to have a bunch of fun and eat exceedingly well.

And for that, both Mia and I thank Craig and the Santorini team very, very much.

Here’s the drill …

At our fundraiser, there will be heaps of great food in the generous Greek tradition.

The ticket cost is $50 per person – with 40 per cent of the takings going straight to West Welcome Wagon.

(CTS will be taking none of it and we will be buying tickets.)

The banquet we will be served normally costs $55 – so we are getting it for $5 less and still raising money for WWW.

How cool is that?

 

sanfund1

 

Here are the details:

West Welcome Wagon/Santorini/Consider The Sauce fundraiser

Santorini Restaurant, 1 Parker Street, Williamstown.

Wednesday, June 24, from 7pm.

Cost: $50.

Food: Banquet (see above).

Drinks: Not covered by the ticket price but freely available on the night from the bar.

Tickets: There are 50 places available.

TO BOOK FOR THIS EVENT, CLICK HERE.

We are looking forward to enjoying your company!