Wonderfally delicious

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advis_falafels, 16 Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9396 1841

How cool is watching our favourite locals and those beyond integrating the virus-inspired pivots and swerves into their ongoing operations?

For instance … what was once Little Advi has become advis_falafels.

 

 

Along the way, the shop has been given a much fresher and brighter look.

It’s more spacious, as opposed to the lovely and much-loved yet cramped previous layout.

The menu, too, has been streamlined.

No meat as far as we can tell.

But the dips and salads remain – hooray!

And instead of what was my habitual order for several years – the falafel wrap – there is now an open falafel pita ($11, see menu below).

At first, Bennie and I are a bit bemused about whether to eat with hands or cutlery.

A bit of both turns out to be the go.

And while the ingredients are familiar from previous visits, somehow the flavours and textures seem to have bloomed and zoomed.

The falafels themselves are superb, while the crunchy slaw and hummous are the perfect foil.

Even the way the juices soak into the flatbread is wonderful!

 

Naked and hungry

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Naked Egg, 32A Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9396 0309
Panjali Banana Leaf Malaysian Restaurant, 3/10 Sun Crescent, Sunshine. Phone: 9193 1740

We’ve been hearing the talk – that Yarraville cafe Naked Egg has been doing fab takeaway meals.

So we check them out.

And the outcome is outstanding.

Some takeaway meals don’t suit us as we don’t have a microwave oven.

So I get two serves of chicken cacciatore at $18 each.

Actually, with its sausage and beans involvement, it’s more a cassoulet.

But let’s not split hairs, eh?

 

 

Bennie has somehow become the tightwad of the family, so gets a bit sniffy about the asking price of $18 a serve.

I beg to differ.

Adamantly.

Our “stew” is gloriously rich and delicious, with seeming multitudes of chicken bits, sausage and vegetables, all in a rich, thick sauce of profound delectableness.

Expert cooking going on here, methinks.

In a restaurant setting – oh, those were the days and hopefully will be again – I’d expect to pay in the mid-$20s or even more.

So this strikes me as very good pricing. I expect any decrease in price would inevitably mean a drop in quality.

The side serve of spuds and sauerkraurt is OK, but no match for the main event stew.

In a word: Fabulous!

 

 

For another take-home meal, we venture a bit up the road – to Panjali in Sunshine.

This time, I’ve phoned in our order beforehand and the whole procedure is sweet and swish, our food (mostly) awaiting when I turn up.

We get two murtabaks – one lamb ($12.90) and one chicken ($11.90).

It may be thought in some quarters that anything involving flatbreads purchased for later heating up is a recipe for ugh.

But we know from previous experience that is not the case with murtabaks.

Panjali murtabaks, anyway.

 

 

Our Saturday night meal is, well, orgasmic.

Perhaps we’ve been missing a certain level of spice and oil and funkiness?

Anyone else in that bag?

In any case, our Panjali meal of murtabak has us both ooh-ing and ahh-ing an sporting happy grins.

Not only do the murtabaks re-heat very well, but the accompanying gravies – one beef curry and one dal and vegetables – are wonderful.

 

Meal of the week No.51: Cornershop

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The long-time Yarraville fixture that is Cornershop (9/11 Ballarat Street) is one of our locals – but not really one of our regulars.

Yet here we are on a lovely Saturday, dining on the footpath with our pal, Al Fresco.

We’re not close friends with Al, as eating outside while eating out is a rarity for us.

But today it feels just right.

I’m eager for Bennie to try a Cornershop dish I tried a few weeks back.

For some reason he has been showing an increased interest in – and liking for – dal after years of it being a fixture for us both home and out and about.

Maybe it’s been just background noise for him all that time.

But he heartily agrees with me – the Cornershop’s coconut dahl with idlis, poached eggs, lime and curry leaves ($16.50) is extraordinarily good.

The dahl itself – made with yellow split peas, I think – is lusciously creamy thanks to the coconut content.

The fried curry leaves, coriander and red chilli bits add colour and excitement.

We’re not eggy people by any means, so we’re both bemused that the perfect poached eggs are such a winning and – to us – unlikely addition.

The idlis?

We’re used to the near-mushy consistency of steamed idlis.

The Cornershop versions are magnificent – fried, crisp, a tad salty, amazing.

That’s my gel

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Gelati by d’Asporto, 3/11d Murray Street, Yarraville.

As if we aren’t spoiled enough in the inner west for ice-cream and gelati … along comes Gelati by d’Asporto.

Under the auspices, of course, of the namesake pizza/pasta/Italian joy restaurant just around the corner and – also very much part of the same family business – another eatery at Rifle Range shopping centre and the fabulous kiosk at Williamstown Beach.

The new gelati shop is all smiling business and no fuss – just ice delights and a couple of standing/leaning tables to enjoy them.

Given the plethora of eating – and coffee – options in Yarraville village, this streamlined approach makes all sorts of sense.

I make my first visit, as a guest (see full disclosure below), with high expectations that are easily met and even surpassed.

Prices range from $4.80 for a single scoop and upwards – pretty much regulation gelati prices, in other words, but on the excellently cheap side given the quality at hand.

My twin scoop deal for $6.80 strikes me as a fine deal.

The flavour line-up (see below) is agreeably concise.

My first-up selections …
Mascarpone and fig – creamy, heavenly.

And mildly flavoured, as is usual with this ingredient combo.

Bacio – really, really superb.

Largely thanks to the inclusion of wonderfully crunchy hazelnuts.

I pay another visit the next day and go for the choc mint – and it, too, is lovely.

Will we be back?

Yes.

Over and over and over …

Opening times are 2-10pm Mondays-Thursdays and 11am-10pm Fridays-Sundays.

(Consider The Sauce enjoyed Gelati by d’Asporto as a guest of the management and we did not pay for our sweet treat.)

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.

Yarraville cafe tastes fine

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Mantra Studio Kitchen and Bar, 10A Campbell Street, Yarraville. Phone: 0419 329 936

The location and setting of Mantra is both a surprise and just right: In a light industrial enclave way over in the Yarraville back waters near Francis and Hyde.

Inside, the warehouse has undergone a gorgeous cafe transformation.

There’s lots of space, high ceilings and plenty of room to grow.

Which makes me think that Mantra will continue evolving to become something of a multi-faceted community asset.

In the meantime, there is food.

Very lovely food.

The menu (see below) runs to breakfast items such as sweet corn fritters, breakfast ramen and jasmine rice pudding.

Lunch choices range from a falafel burger to what sounds like a delectable salad of heirloom carrots, beetroot hummus, dukkah and sweet potato.

CTS visits twice within a couple of days and has a swell time lunching.

The service is cheerful and efficient and the wait times good.

 

 

Visiting on my own for reconnaissance purposes, I go with the wagyu burger with chilli relish, cos lettuce, tomato, baco and fries ($24).

Now, $24 is quite a lot to pay for a cafe burger in these parts.

On the other hand, this is a terrific specimen of the burger art.

Simplicity is a virtue here.

It’s a two-fisted joy, juicy and redolent somehow of Middle Eastern seasoning.

The chips are good, though those on the outer reaches of the mound are barely luke warm and the rest could be hotter, too.

 

 

For a return visit of the family Sunday lunch kind, Deb gets the same burger with an equally agreeable outcome.

Here, though, she substitutes the regular fries with crumbed eggplant chips.

They are superb.

And hot.

 

 

I’ve already seen enough – and eaten enough – to rather wish the “poke bowl” fad fades away with some haste, seeing as it widely seems to be an excuse for slopping mediocre ingredients in a bowl and charging richly for it.

The Mantra Bowl ($18), by contrast, shows how it should be done and how good such an offering can be.

The ingredients are top-shelf in every way and – just as importantly for this kind of meal – they are beautifully arranged in the bowl with skill and talent.

Rice ‘n’ black beans, heaps of robustly crunchy pickled cabbage, several kinds of mushroom, bean sprouts, tender asparagus – and even a trans-national touch through brown baba ganoush and flatbread: All wonderful, alone and/or together.

 

 

Bennie muchly enjoys his BBQ duck waffle with mango chutney, lychee gel and grilled asparagus ($23).

The meat is juicy yet nicely chewy, though it seems to me his meal would benefit from a greater sauce/liquid component.

He disagrees.

Apart from the  breakfast and lunch routines, Mantra is already happily experimenting with Friday evening events of the “beer and dumpling” and “beer and sliders” variety.

There is some parking available right outside the cafe, while the surrounding streets are subject to time limits.

Be careful!

Check out the Mantra website here.

 

Greek groove in Yarraville

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Eleni’s Kitchen + Bar, 28 Anderson Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9943 4233

There’s a lot of family history tied up in Yarraville’s new Greek eatery.

Locals who know just how long the fit-out of the former Anderson Street boutique took will be gratified to know that a fine space has been carved out here, upstairs and down, full kitchen and all.

Surely this is the most radical makeover of a village business property for more than a decade?

The place is being managed by Eleftheria (“Thierry”) Amanatidis.

At her side around the place is her uncle, Tony.

The restaurant is named after Tony’s mother, Eleni Amanatidis.

Eleni’s husband is Dimitrios Amanatidis, the father of whom was Antonios Amanatidis, one of the first Greek Orthodox priests to arrive in Australia.

 

 

So, yes, a lot of family vibes and inner-west Greek traditions going on here.

Unsurprisingly, and very happily from our perspective, the food being delivered (see menu below) is old-school, straight-up Greek tucker.

We wouldn’t have it any other way!

 

 

Still, within that framework we find some nice ‘n’ lovely twists and tweaks when we partake of a fine dinner as guests of Thierry and her crew (see full disclosure below).

In the serve of super fresh dips ($14), for instance, the melitzanosalata eggplant number tastes not in the least of the garlic and smokiness we are expecting, but instead of zingy mint.

Just as good is the tirokafteri of feta, capsicum and the tiniest tingle of chilli.

These two are finely abetted by a tzatziki with dill and a very mild-flavoured tarama.

 

 

The dips are served with very good house-made bread, though we resort to grilled pita to mop up the remainders.

 

 

Bennie and I split two mains between the more ritzy grill line-up and the “Eleni’s home favourites” list that includes moussaka and pastitisio.

The cabbage rolls ($24) are every bit the home-style classics for which we’ve been hoping.

If I rather wish we’d gone for something a little more rich and hearty, Bennie has no such problem.

 

 

The meat in our lamb gyros plate ($25) is very fine indeed – salty and herby and heaps of it.

This meat, BTW, is also available in pita-wrapped takeaway form for $12.

In some ways, though, the top test of both our mains – and a handy gauge of the freshness and general excellence of the food at Eleni’s – comes in the form of the salads that accompany both.

Differing slightly, they are superb – dressed well, juicy and delicious in every way, and displaying no sign at all of even a single tired or brown-edged leaf.

 

 

Bennie and I are keen to go both the available desserts – so we do!

The baklava ($8.50) – made by Thierry herself – is a tender take on another Greek classic.

 

 

Even better, or so I think, is the rizogalo (rice pudding, $8.50).

This is some kind of fancy trick – that something so homespun and plain can simultaneously be so suave, smooth and sexy.

Coffee?

Spot on Greek for him and Italian for me end a great New Year’s Eve outing.

There’s no doubt in our minds that Eleni’s will be widely regarded as a very welcome arrival to the inner west.

(Consider The Sauce dined at Eleni’s as guests of management. No money changed hands. Our food was chosen by CTS. Eleni’s management did not seek any editorial input into this story.)

 

Knockout burgers

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Maple Leaf Meats, Yarraville Gardens

The initial buzz that attended the arrival of food trucks in the west has long since faded.

Trucks still park at Yarraville Gardens and elsewhere, but they have become for us – and no doubt others – just one of many eating scenarios.

For this Saturday lunch, our post-kung fu, food-seeking rambling finds us parking and intent on doing the “truck thing” for the first time in a long while.

We do really, really good.

 

 

After perusing the line-up of vehicular vittles on offer, we opt – for no great reason and with only modest expectations – for Maple Leaf Meats and their cool, old-school truck/caravan.

I say modest expectations because part of our general disinclination to have any truck with this style of food comes down to quite a few disappointments of the mediocre and over-priced food variety.

The Maple Leaf Meats crew goes a long way towards restoring our faith in food trucks and what they offer.

The menu (see below) runs to barbecue offerings such as ribs and wings, but we’re not up for that kind of full-on meatiness or expense (in the case of the ribs), so opt for the burger route.

 

 

My Maple Leaf Burger ($14) is a very fine production with its cheese, pickles, tomato, lettuce and chipotle mayo.

Had I been paying more attention, and not in such a hungry hurry, I may have noted the presence of caramelised onion and therefore opted for another burger selection, caramelised onions being another offering we often find very disappointing and dull.

Here, though, they’re fine – a plus on what is already a fine burger.

Best of all, the patty is of robust and delicious beefiness.

 

 

Bennie does even better with his Smoked Meat Burger ($15).

In addition to the routine fillings, including in this case mustard, this winner comes with “Montreal smoked meat”.

This turns out to be pastrami, which – we’re told – is a Montreal specialty.

But this is not just pastrami – it’s Really Good Pastrami and there’s heaps of it.

This is not merely a matter of the sort of flavour tingle that a rasher of bacon gives to a burger.

So profound is the smoked meat’s impact that it’s more about creating something wholly new and different.

Bennie loves it.

 

 

In tune with the rest of our meal, the small serve of chips ($5) is excellent – each and every one is hot and crisp.

The best part of an hour later, we’re pretty much in Werribee and getting on with our day.

After a longish period of silent grooving to the car music, out of nowhere Bennie emphatically opines:

“Man, that was a good burger!”

 

Bank on it

2 Comments

 

Vault Cafe Bar Restaurant, 13 Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9041 3361

Consider The Sauce’s senior partner spent much of last year’s grand final day in and around the Vault.

Given that sort of context, you’ll be unsurprised to learn I was way more concerned about where the next beer and the next goal were coming from rather than about chowing down.

But I did notice that there were many happy customers enjoying a range of food – mostly, IIRC, burgers and the like.

Maybe, I thought, the latest outfit to inhabit the old bank on the corner of Ballarat and Canterbury streets has shaken of the bad location karma that had seen a couple of previous businesses come and go.

It took us a while, but we’re back to find out.

We’re doing so early on a week night on which a couple of special offers are going around.

But even without them – a burger deal with drink for $18, parmigiana for $15 – we reckon the Vault is a good thing.

 

 

There’s nothing ambitious or innovative going on here.

It’s a cosy (and warm) room, the staff are on the ball and we eat well for very little outlay.

We’re not sure how anyone would go here with some of the more exotic fare, but for your more straightforward offerings, the Vault is reliably feeding people and making them happy.

Think of it as a pub-not-pub.

 

 

I check to make sure the parmas on offer – there are four – are made with real-deal chicken.

They are.

And how.

My traditional outing is as thick as any I’ve had – yet is still superbly juicy throughout.

This is top-shelf parmigiana – big, even a little crisp around the extremities, the flavour of the ham and tomato sauce coming through in turns.

Criticisms?

The chips are fine but could’ve been hotter.

And with such a magnificent star of the plate, all that was needed salad-wise was some simple leaves, tomato and cucumber.

Those three are all present, but so are plenty of things – including sweet potato and eggplant – that put this salad in the try-too-hard bag.

Still, at $15 this is a red-hot bargain; I’d happily pay full whack.

(Bargain parma nights at the Vault are Tuesdays and Wednesdays).

 

 

Bennie reckons – from an ultra-hardcore, fussy, expert perspective – his southern fried chicken burger ($16.50, $18 Monday-Thursday with a pot of beer or cider) doesn’t reach any ecstatic heights.

But he is well pleased anyway.

There’s a nice slab of chook in there, along with sriracha mayo slaw, plenty of pickles and cheese.

He allows me a sample – and its tastes good.

He gets the same chips as accompanied the parma.

 

Pizza d’Asporto Yarraville – opening today!

4 Comments
ysporto6

 

Pizza d’Asporto Yarraville, 2-6 Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9689 6807

The first day of public trading is on the Thursday, but in the meantime the newly assembled team at Pizza d’Asporto Yarraville is under the pump on the Wednesday night.

 

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There could not be a better trial run for all of them than the opening celebration currently in full swing.

 

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A happy crowd of family and friends have gathered for the event.

 

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The old post office premises has been fitted-out beautifully.

 

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I have a negroni and couple of Pieronis; Bennie is hammering the Chinotto.

 

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It may be a new experience in a new kitchen for these guys, but the Pizza d’Asporto quality is there all the way.

 

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This pizza finally pushes Bennie beyond tipping point in terms of zucchini fandom.

 

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Yet even this simple number of just cheese, chilli, olive oil and salt is amazeballs.

 

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But the biggest flavour hit, for us, comes from this perfect-in-every-way traditional pasta pesto with beans and potato.

OMG so good!

 

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We have a ball; meet some interesting people; just generally enjoy hanging out.

 

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What a joy it is that we have a Pizza d’Asporto right in our very own neighbourhood.

 

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Mind you, we’ll doubtless still hit the Williamstown mothership on occasion – just because, you know, we dig it.

 

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Congratulations to Claude, Antoinetta, Anthony and their team.

 

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Happy birthday, Mishra’s Kitchen!

2 Comments
mishra34

 

Mishra’s Kitchen, 18 Wembley Ave, Yarraville. Phone: 9314 3336

It’s a most happy thing, this food-blogging caper, or as it’s evolved for us anyway …

Pretty much the only down side is that mostly we don’t have the opportunity to patronise on a more regular basis so many top places and the smiling, welcoming people who run them.

 

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Such a one is Mishra’s Kitchen on Wembley Avenue in Yarraville.

So we are delighted to accept Sanjeev’s invitation to attend his joint’s fifth birthday party.

 

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We bowl up right at the appointed time thinking that, as so often is the case with us, that we’ll among the very first arrivals and that proceedings will only just be getting underway.

Wrong – the part is already in full swing!

 

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We make happy with the laid-out goodies that include a luscious dal makhani and a very toothsome goat curry.

Sanjeev has turned on this spread without charge.

 

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But guests are being encouraged to give the money they would otherwise have spent on food to the Moira Kelly Creating Hope Foundation.

From Sanjeev’s invittation: “Moira Kelly, AO, has supported sick children and their families for decades. She is known for her work in bringing to Australia children with serious health problems that local doctors are unable to treat (such as conjoined Bangladeshi twins Trishna and Krishna). Moira takes on causes that everybody else says are impossible, and she says of her work: ‘There’s no saying No to hope.’ Her aim is to help international and local needy children and families to be as independent as possible and live full lives in the community.”

You can read all about Moira and her kids here.

 

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We have a lovely time chatting with many people.

 

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And we even have the pleasure of running into Mick and Anika, our neighbours from the days we lived in West Footscray!

 

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Yarraville eats goss 12/8/16

2 Comments

ygoss1281

 

Pizza d’Asporto is coming to Yarraville.

The crew behind the cool Williamstown pizza/pasta/good vibes eatery and Kiosk by d’Asporto is opening a second store in the old post office next to the Sun Theatre.

A full-on fit-out is in progress.

This lovely old brick building has been the location of several unsuccessful businesses in recent years, most recently – in the space to be inhabited by Pizza d’Asporto – by a frozen yogurt joint.

But I reckon this new venture will rock, especially given the big, inviting raised patio area.

 

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Cafe Fidama is no more.

After being bought by the crew from Seddon Japanese gem Ajitoya a few months back, the new owners have decided it’s time to move on.

A fit-out is under way that will see the premises become what is described on the Ajitoya FB page as “Japanese Bar Dining”.

More details as they come to hand but expect a launch in about a month with a spring/summer menu.

 

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The Anderson Street venue that was home for many years to the boutique Marita’s is becoming Yarraville’s first dedicated kebab shop.

OK, this is at the fast-food end of the spectrum, but we reckon it’s welcome news nevertheless – rounding out the village’s eating options in the same way the arrival of two very good Vietnamese restaurants has done.

I understand those behind the new business have Greek roots.

 

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Meanwhile, we can now officially stop speculating about what kind of cafe and/or eatery is eventually going  to move into the ground-floor premises of the St George Theatre apartment complex.

That space is now home to a pilates outfit.

Yarraville Thai

1 Comment

blue4

 

BlueStone Thai, 58 Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9689 0110

It seems like a lifetime ago …

Pre-blog, and before taking up our now long-time residency in Yarraville.

I recall visiting the venerable bluestone building in Ballarat Street when it was still a pub and had something of a name for steak and chips.

After that it became Dig A Pony, which we never got around to before it folded a few months back.

Now it houses BlueStone Thai and we’re up for it.

Having scoped out the menu online, I have no expectations of anything too adventurous or regionally based or unusual, like we might find up the road apiece at Yim Yam.

But that’s OK – just some nice, straight-up orthodox Thai will do us fine.

That’s exactly what we get.

The dining room is all dark-wooded niceness and warmed up on a chilly night.

The service is very good.

 

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Chicken satay ($9.90) is excellent, four sticks bearing thigh meat perfectly cooked and served with a runny peanut sauce.

 

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Mildly spicy green curry ($14.90) is a good-sized serve stuffed with plenty of meat pieces and vegetables.

 

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Basil chilli stir fry with pork ($14.90) is likewise mild, by our standards, and also rather good.

Two bowls of rice cost us $5 and the total bill is an excellent $44.70.

BlueStone Thai seems likely to have found a nifty niche – serving the kind of Thai food in which many punters delight and away from the frequently nutty crush and madness of the Ballarat/Anderson streets nexus.

On the way home on this Friday night, we witness Anderson Street absurdly gridlocked for blocks in both directions either side of train tracks – and with not a train in sight.

 

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