Yarraville dumpling zone

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Chi Bao, 46 Anderson Street, Yarraville.

Greater Asia is as vast as Yarraville’s village is tiny.

Nevertheless, in our 15+ Yarraville years, we have tried a goodly number of local eateries of one Asian persuasion or another.

Sometime it’s been great.

More often it’s been just OK.

And sometimes it’s been dreadful.

Yet heading to Chi Bao – the village’s spanking new dumpling emporium – we are cheerful, optimistic.

But nor are we weighted down with high expectations.

We figure we’ll be doing fine if we get something of similar standard to what we might be served at Highpoint or Pacific Werribee.

 

 

So we are consequently ecstatic, thrilled and quite happy about the quality and deliciousness of our lunch.

The menu does play it a little safe in places – after all this is not central Footscray, Sunshine or St Albans, where hardcore can be a viable business plan.

So the Chi Bao menu has, of course, fried rice, but also Shanghai fried noodles, spring rolls and even sweet and sour pork.

But in the food we enjoy there is not slightest sense of gentrificated compromise, even if the pricing appears to be a tad higher than we’d pay for similar food in Footscray.

And we appreciate that our chosen dishes do not all arrive in a flurry – the wait times denote the care evident in our food.

 

 

Up first is the simplest of salads ($7.80) – cucumber with the lightest of applications of a vinegar sesame dressing.

It’s cool and just right.

 

 

Salt and pepper tofu ($6.80) appears, at first blush, to be rather pale and unappealing.

But in the eating it is superb, the tofu pieces delicately rendered and imbued with a spot-on level of salt.

 

 

The chilli dumplings ($16.80) are 10 steamed pork-and-cabbage parcels luxuriating in house-made chilli oil.

The dumplings are every bit as good as we could wish for.

But what really excites us about this dish is the funky, rich, sticky and spicy chilli oil.

It’s not in the danger zone, but is very much an improvement on the weak, pallid, watery versions we have been served elsewhere.

 

 

Our beef and celery pan-fried dumplings ($15.80 for 12) arrive freshly turned out of the pan and sporting a lacy bottom.

These, too, are superb – though we detect little or no difference in flavour attributable to the presence of celery over cabbage.

The dumplings at Chi Bao are colour-coded to make identification by the staff easier when it comes tom look-a-like dishes.

So the chicken dumplings, for instance, have some turmeric included.

In the case of our beef-and-celery dumplings, the grey-with-black-dots colour scheme is thanks to black sesame.

Chi Bao is a hit.

It is happily occupying a niche in Yarraville that obviously needed filling.

 

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.

Making Aussie pizzas better

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Cheezy Pizza, 75 Gamon Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9078 9392

Consider The Sauce likes pizza.

But not that much, other eating-out options in the wonderful west usually pushing our buttons much more often.

And when we do opt for pizza, there’s two kind that take our fancy.

One of them being Lebanese pies – they’re cheap and wonderful, though in Australia they’re not what readily springs to mind when the word “pizza” is bandied about.

Our other pizza affection is the real-deal Italian style now able to be found freely.

In our experience, they’re pricier, but are worth because of the care put into them, with an accent on high-quality ingredients – but not too many of them.

Your Aussie pizzas?

Not so much.

Sure, they have their place – and we’ve eaten plenty.

But we just don’t reverberate with joy at the thought of messy, greasy piles of poor-quality makings.

Processed ham especially rankles.

But one thing we do love is absolutely love is reader feedback, suggestions and tips.

One such tip leads us to try Cheezy Pizza on Gamon Street in Yarraville.

 

 

Here Steve Evagora and his partner have set up shop in what has been a pizza joint like forever.

It’s a bare bones pizza place, though quite comfortable.

And it is ALL about pizza.

Aside from garlic bread, two dessert pies and choc mousse, it’s all pizza, pizza, pizza (see menu below).

No sign at of salads, pasta, steaks or schnitzels.

We like that.

And we like Steve’s gameplan.

“When we were setting this place up, we decided we want to take Aussie pizzas – and make them better,” he says. “There’s no processed ham here.”

This strikes us a wonderfully laudable aim.

And, after sampling the Cheezy Pizza wares on two dinner-time occasions, we reckon they’re nailing it good.

 

 

Of the four Cheezy Pizza pies we try, the champion is our large American ($15.90).

It’s a simple affair – mozzarella, tomato and salami.

But it’s the tomato sauce that is the winning key – this is plentiful and has depth of flavour and texture foreign to most Aussie pizza places.

“I’m in awe of how good this is,” Bennie enthusiastically opines.

He’s not kidding.

 

 

On the same visit, we also try a small capriciossa ($9.90).

Sporting tomato sauce, mozzarella, leg ham, mushrooms and olives, this is good – though doesn’t have quite the same tasty flavour hit as our American pie.

 

 

The following week, we phone in an order and pick it up ourselves.

The eternal popularity of home delivery for pizzas puzzles us, as they seem to suffer in the process just as much as hamburgers.

Our large New Yorker (tomato sauce, mozzarella, prosciutto, cherry tomatoes, feta and rocket, $19.90) is excellent.

 

 

With it we get a small pesto chicken (pesto, mozzarella, chicken breast, pine nuts, olive oil, fresh basil, $12.90).

This lies outside our usual purist pizza inclinations.

But it’s also a winner – and we love that the pine nuts are generously festooned across our pizza.

Little things like that make a big difference.

Well there you go.

Looks like we’ve found an Aussie-style pizza place that will become a regular haunt for us.

 

Yarraville cafe scene does a new block

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Boma Coffee, 127 Stephen Street, Yarraville.

The long-standing old fish and chip shop, opposite the vet where we take Boris, is no more.

In its place has arisen a swish-yet-welcoming cafe.

Boma Coffee, a sister outfit for Kodama Coffee in Williamstown, has quickly made itself right at home – just as a heap of happy customers are doing likewise in their new local.

 

 

The interior is compact and comfortable; and there are outside tables, too.

The menu (see below) is succinct – breakfast various ways plus a handful of heftier brunch/lunch items.

The latter all clock in at about $18.

I know that will be a beef with some people.

But we are by now used to paying that sort of money for this sort of food – at Bruger in Barkly Street, for example.

And, as I happily discover, the Boma Coffee food is excellent and worth every cent; and the serves are generous.

The beef burger ($18, top photo) looks like an austere outing given all the multi-layer architecture-inspired versions going around.

But simple is good – and this burger is very good.

Its has an Angus beef patty of chewy, tasty delight, along with cheese, tomato, lettuce, ketchup and mustard.

Importantly, the dill pickle atop is crunchy and sour.

The waffle fries are OK.

But.

Honestly, waffle fries appear to be a new gimmick.

I just wish people would stop.

Give me spuds – or something closely approximating them – every time.

Still, this a fine burger that delivers deep pleasure through simplicity and great ingredients.

 

 

Super foods?

Well, we can’t really get with that concept, either.

To us, super food is something that tastes bloody fantastic.

But the Boma Coffee superfood salad ($18) wins me over with similar elan.

I might expect Bennie “Salad Boy” Weir to be a fan of this.

Except it has kale.

Indeed, my salad does sport a vibe that is perilously close to ernest.

I keep on glancing at my feet, expecting to find myself wearing sandals. With socks.

As well, the salad’s ingredient are all finely chopped, finding themselves just a few degrees short of being a smoothie.

But the kale (yes!), quinoa, roasted corn, black turtle beans, tomato, avocado, toasted almonds and salted ricotta, all with a tangy japapeno and lime dressing, go down an absolute lip-smacking treat.

My bowl is empty and shiny when I finish the lot.

 

 

As you’d expect at a cafe that has the word “coffee” in its name, my cafe latte ($4) is terrific and has me gaily chirruping like a spink in spring.

Boma Coffee is on a for-sure winner in terms of location.

Suitably removed from the congestion of Ballarat and Anderson streets, and with a good distance to Woven (in one direction) and Fig and Walnut (in the other).

 

Happy times at Burger Heights

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Woven, 175b Stephen Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9973 5926

In the past year or so, Bennie and I have enjoyed some good/OK burgers.

But, we confess, it’s difficult to recall any that have had us pumped up with unbridled enthusiasm, burger lust and fired-up determination to return to the scene of the crime with haste.

Perhaps we have become dulled by average products written about with what will serve the informational needs of our readers in mind, rather than our own immediate burger gratification?

So today, after the regular Saturday kung fu outing, we are trying an experiment – going somewhere we like and admire.

Somewhere we trust to turn on a truly great burger for us.

Woven has made a happy home of the area on Stephen Street and a good distance from the throngs of the village.

Previous posts concerning this fine establishment are these days so long in the tooth, I’m not even going to bother posting links.

Woven has not, however, become a regular haunt for us, save for occasional road coffees.

But we do keep an eye out for its specials on Facebook – and it’s one of them that is our mission today.

We are not disappointed.

Our matching double chipotle cheeseburgers come with two Black Angus beef patties, double American cheese, double bacon and chipotle/lime slaw in milk buns.

Dear readers, do not blanche at the admission fee of $25 – they are worth every cent.

All is terrific, even if the cheese is overwhelmed by a bevy of surrounding and strong flavours.

The slaw has just right amount of spice kick.

And our burgers come with twice-cooked, hand-cut chips included.

Now THAT’S a burger.

Yes.

We’re told the Woven burger specials list burgers change on a pretty much fortnightly basis, though a more orthodox burger is a menu fixture.

 

Bowled over

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Coracle Cafe Restaurant, 63-65 Anderson Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9315 1411

Yarraville village’s long-standing Chinese restaurant has gone.

Truth is, it went some time ago and Coracle has taken a while to arise at the same location.

The place is beautifully fitted out, mostly in blacks and whites and pale wood, with the big windows letting the light pour in.

In the months leading up to its unveiling, the name alone conveyed little information about what would be the nature of the new place … so the outcome is a bit of a surprise.

Let’s call it, definitely for want of a better phrase, Asian fusion.

Sure, as you’d expect, there’s a nice, tight list of breakfast items on the menu; and there’s brunchy things such as Vietnamese-style poached salad and “Super Green Gyoza”.

There’s banh mi, too.

Yes, $10 is a whack more than you’ll pay for banh mi in Footzcray or St Albans.

But the ones we see being inhaled around us look fabulous.

The more substantial heart of the menu, though, is the line-up of seven Coracle Bowls.

Yes, these are by way of the poke bowl trend – but Coracle’s efforts transcend just about all else we’ve tried.

On the one hand, the Coracle kitchen crew appear to with work the same basic toppings for each bowl offering, with individual tweaks as advertised.

On the other, there are super smarts at work here that kick our meals – three bowls over two visits – up and into the realms of magic.

The bento bowl ($17) is brilliant in every way.

The foundational success of every Coracle bowl very much appears to the prosaic nuttiness of the brown rice bases.

(Though Bennie’s mileage in this regard is not so extensive as that of his father …)

But here, the excellent toppings complete the job by sheer dint of quality and – equally important – by their deft apportioning.

Dressed salmon cubes, kale in sesame oil, two kinds of pickle, tobiko, broad beans, seaweed salad and more – all taste as mighty fine as they look.

Bennie enjoys his Korean bowl ($16.50), with excellent bulgogi beef.

Though he opines that more by way of starker flavour and texture contrast would’ve made him even happier.

The vegan bowl ($16.50) is very good, too, though what are listed as “tempura seasonal vegetables” are quite a long way from crunchy battered.

We are having such a fine Saturday lunch time we go the whole hog with the Coracle brownies ($6).

These don’t look anything special, especially as the melted marshmallows atop are rather unsightly and add nothing at all.

But the eating of what is both moist and chewy is of immense, top-quality choc pleasure.

The brownies are sluiced down with very good cafe lattes ($4).

It’s early days yet, but I strongly suspect Coracle will become one of our regular local haunts.

Sanger champs

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Butcher 128, 128 Roberts Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9318 0975

Yarraville is a big suburb.

For several reasons, much focus falls on the maze-like collection of streets in and around Anderson and Ballarat.

But Yarraville stretches a long way towards Geelong – well, to Cemetery Road anyway.

And certainly to Roberts Road, where Butcher 128 is located.

Perhaps its far-flung location is why it’s been off our radar for so long.

Even now, it’s pure happenstance that takes Bennie and I there for a quick Sunday meal.

Much of the previous tenant’s infrastructure has been kept in place – hence the name – and combined with contemporary cafe gear.

There’s a beaut covered outdoor area and play space down the back.

It’s busy in the brunch/lunch peak hour, but the staff are smiling and efficient.

One side of the menu (see below) is mostly dedicated to breakfast fare; we mine the other.

Bennie’s The Meat Hook ($15.50, top photo) is superb.

Right from the first bite, he’s nodding in enthusiastic acclamation of its braised pork belly, BBQ, Sriracha mayo and cabbage/herb slaw.

My The Baron ($14) is just as good.

The house-made salted beef, tender and thinly sliced, is about an inch thick.

It’s joined by cabbage slaw, Swiss cheese, pickle and house mustard sauce.

The bread is the just the right light, perfectly toasted, to house it all.

There surely can be no matter better argument for positing “mere” sandwiches as bona fide meals than our 10/10 pair.

So impressed by the sandwich department, I return a few days later for a bowl dish from the breakfast side of things.

XO crab ($18) has egg noodles, a fried egg, crispy shallots, house XO sauce and a soft shell crab.

It’s a modest serve and a light meal.

And it’s very dry, though the sauce flavour is happily present.

Best of all is the soft shell crab – easily the best I have had.

Well, in Melbourne anyway.

It’s crisp and sweet, and thus a far cry from the drab specimens that have helped make us un-enamoured of this particular specialty.

Our coffees, over both visits, are crazy good.