RUSTIC WEST – DON’T LOVE ME WHEN I’M GONE

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With the recent closure of inner-west icons The Reverence and Dancing Dog Cafe, the Westsider team thought it was time to shine a light on some of the “old school” joints still chugging along, fuelling the west’s residents with a daily dose of coffee, beer and toasties, and spread the love like cheap margarine while we still can.

Sure, we all adore the new joints with their polished floorboards, down-lights and astro-turf, but for now, celebrate with some of our best westies, the inner-west waterholes and eateries with less flash, requiring less cash…

 

Feedback Café, Yarraville

You notice the music as soon as you walk in, a thoughtful selection that somehow manages to capture the mood of the day; something breezy and jazzy in spring, or mellow or consoling when the wind is howling outside. Friday nights are about drinks and watching great local bands. There is an energy and efficiency to the intimate space. Shelves and tables are strewn with classic and quirky books and magazines for kids and adults. The menu is hearty with an exotic twist. Current standouts are the Hillbilly Chilli, Reubens, Falafel Baguettes (all with homemade sauces and pickles), Black Rice Pudding, Nonna’s Piselli, and the Rusty Crowe – curried mince on cheesy sourdough with fried egg and tomato relish – all with gluten-free or vegan options. The coffee is addictive – Allpress Supremo blend – and consistent, and I’ve had more milkshakes at Feedback than any self-respecting adult should admit to. They’re frothy and cold with the perfect icecream:flavour:milk ratio. The staff clearly enjoy working there, and the punters enjoy being there. (Laura Hird)

31 Ballarat St, Yarraville


McManos Chicken, Seddon

As old school as they get, if McManos Chicken has been there since the signage was painted then it was probably a Friday-night special for your grandparents. Recently anointed the best chips in Melbourne by radio station Nova 100, the surly proprietor suddenly has more to be annoyed about – he now runs out of his delicious crinkle-cut chips and succulent chickens at 6pm instead of 7pm. Just cook more you say? Well that goes against everything that “rustic” stands for. One of the last bastions of the chicken-pack with pineapple, it’s worth it purely for the nostalgia factor. Oh, and try the salads and potato gratin if you dare. (Anonymous)

99 Charles St, Seddon


Al Nada, Spotswood

A Spotswood institution operating as long as anyone can remember, this is one of those simple places that concentrates on what they do well, and leaves the rest to everyone else. If you’ve never had Lebanese Pizza, you’re in for a surprise, and a treat! Thin flatbreads serve as the base, and tasty, yet minimalist toppings satisfy more than you think they will. The ‘sojok’ (spicy lamb sausage) may look like it would glow in the dark but it’s special, as are the spinach pies and fresh dips. The prices, just like the rest of this place, are from another time, and although I’m sure they do actually close, they are somehow seemingly open anytime you happen to go past, Next time, stop in and see what all the fuss is about. (Anonymous)

84 Hudsons Rd, Spotswood


Johnny & Lisa’s Fish & Chips Shop, Kingsville.

For the past 16 years, Johnny and Lisa have been preparing, cooking and serving traditional fish and chips from their Kingsville shop on Geelong Rd. Initially drawn in years ago by the giant fiberglass shark on the roof, old school signage and bulldogs themed weather strips on the door, its now become my regular go to. The classic signage hides no secrets as on offer is everything you’d expect. I usually order grilled fish and chips but more often than not also leave with some soy sauce soaked steamed dimmies and a couple of pineapple fritters. I always end up having to share. As expected, Friday night is their busiest and Flake and Chips the most ordered item. Johnny’s and Lisa say they appreciate their many regular customers of which I am one because, in my opinion, its one of the best fish and chip shops in the west. (Mario Varricchio)

277 Geelong Rd, Kingsville


Yarra Lounge, Yarraville

Under the afternoon shadow of the iconic Sun Theatre is an old Greek Tavern that’s now a Bar and Tapas Lounge serving local beers on tap, meze and flatbread pizzas. Actually it’s been 15 years since it was a Greek joint, but somehow it retains a pinch of that old Yarraville feel, when there was a lemon tree in every backyard and spanakopita in every oven. Great place to meet friends before or after a movie for Saganaki and Spanish meatballs washed down with a schooner of their finest ale, or just sit and sip a chardonnay while watching the pop-up park crowds come and go. (Anonymous)

7 Ballarat Street Yarraville


happymaree, Yarraville

About 7 years ago a guy was cleaning the windows of an old shopfront a few doors down from my place, so I stuck my head in and said “hey are you opening a café?” We got talking, and soon afterwards a café did, in fact, open. It wasn’t just any café though, this place transformed my life. Sure, the coffee, freshly baked muffins, cookies and other treats sucked me in at first, but I soon worked out that my own home wi-fi actually extended all the way to their cute little vintage tables and post-war kitchen chairs. This arts-focussed joint has never disappointed, and through their menu transformation from smaller to larger meals and full service – and my move to nearby Seddon – I still drop in whenever I can. (Derek Green)

229 Somerville Rd, Yarraville


Footscray Hotel

 

Earliest records available show that since before 1856 the Footscray Hotel has overlooked the banks of the mighty Maribyrnong river, sitting high up on Hopkins street, just across from St Monica’s. It’s still there, but the view is gone. The 4000 new apartments, due for completion in the next 10 years, have secured the views of the CBD that once blinked on the old Public House. It’s boom-time for the area, whether we’re prepared for it or not. There are no poker machines and there’s no TAB, in fact if you care for a wager, the pin-ball machine is the only option. There are rooms upstairs for short and long term residents, with stories we should know. There’s music, conversations, a smoking area out the back, and trucks that scream past every minute. And there are smiles, stares, and laughs when you ask for the IPA from Otago. Nothing much has changed, and if it has it’s been very slowly. It’s gritty, old-school, historic and working-class. The VB advertising hangs proudly over the spirits. The 20 inch TV (colour!) shows the football and the floor sticks near the door. We’re not sure why, it always has. Your team probably aren’t going to win tonight anyway. Shugga beats her tail on the floor when new punters who come in, but that’s the extent of interest she has. Franco Cozzo watches over closely, reminding everyone they’re welcome. (Megan Bridger-Darling)

48 Hopkins st, Footscray


Pirates Tavern, Williamstown

Tucked away along the waterfront in Williamstown, the Pirates Tavern is a hidden gem of the West. Situated in an old shed behind Seaworks, it is a historic venue that is both intimate and welcoming. With live music on Friday nights, you’ll often find the dance floor packed with locals and friendly folk from further afield. The Tavern is the clubhouse of the Williamstown Maritime Association and is bedecked with maritime paraphernalia and the odd pirate reference (of course!). You can join as a member of the WMA or come along as a guest – just sign the club book inside the front door. You can also book the venue for birthday parties and other events. You can’t call yourself a Westie unless you’ve visited the Pirates at least once! (Michelle Fisher)

82 Nelson Place, Williamstown

Don’t wait ‘til they’re gone to spread your love!

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