Loose Change Lunch… Feast a fortune, Pay a Pittance

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The regular installment in our St Kilda Bites food review feature continues, where our poignant food critic ‘Peckish pom’ continues her relentless search for great value, high quality local lunch dining. Here are three more in the St Kilda area worth mentioning!

 

The Banff

St Kilda is almost bursting at the seams with pizzerias, but The Banff on Fitzroy St offers a rustic antidote to the sleek, modern Italian. It was day four above 30 degree and I was not coping well. I stumbled in, plonked myself gratefully next to the fan and surveyed the extensive menu. It advertises fantastic food and beverage meals – $6 for a pizza between 12pm and close on Mondays and Tuesdays and 12pm until 5:30pm Wednesday through Friday. They also boast a great selection of their menu as gluten free for an extra $2.50. I decided to go for squid, lemon, rocket and capers. It was just the thing for the intense heat, but I might also have gone for saganaki with rosemary potatoes and sea salt. The selection was frankly huge and as well as ‘run of the mill’ (hardly) pizzas, there were tempting morsels such as Korean barbecue beef, peppers, caramelised onions, Japanese mayo and mozzarella, and even those were only $10.90. There is also an extensive range of pastas, focaccias and salads. There is a happy hour from 3-6pm every day with beers from $2.50 (that can be bumped up to jugs if the customer so wishes). A great place for large groups, you’re sure to please every palate and dietary requirements and still have a couple of dollars for the tram ride home.

145 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda

Ph: 9525 3899

 

BaBa Louey

For a while now my friends have been pestering me to wander out of my comfort zone and eat somewhere that is not Fitzroy or Acland Streets. While hardly off the beaten track, Carlisle Street is often overlooked, despite the abundance of coffee shops and cafes that line its shopping precinct. BaBa Louey is all polished wood and green plants, cosy yet airy, and with a surprisingly eclectic menu. I was tempted by the fragrant sounding beef and lemongrass soup, with slow cooked beef, lemongrass, Chinese herbs, dark soy, bean shoots and rice noodles. I settled on playing it safe though and chose the Mexican wrap, filled with chicken, avocado, tomato and mixed salad bundled up in a spinach wrap, accompanied with perfectly crispy chips. Both of these dishes were only $10, as was the classic Pad Thai. Three Thai fishcakes were $5.50 and the great specials menu was simple but effective with chicken satay skewers at $5 for four. The coffee was light yet delicious and with it I had a small selection of cookies to provide something sweet to finish off my lovely meal. Overall, BaBa Louey is an adorable café with delicious food at too good to be true prices.

172 Carlisle Street, St Kilda

Ph: (03) 9593 8385

 

Bruce

A well established local café with an army of dedicated regulars, Bruce provides refreshment and caffeine fixes to the employees of the Town Hall and patrons of the Library. The coffee of choice is Genovese, a popular St Kilda stalwart, with the Super Brazil blend taking pride of place. Bold and creamy with a kick that jolts the back of the throat yet is instantly moreish. The owner, amazingly named Bruce, prides himself on his knowledge of his customer base and his confidence in his business. As we chat, he points out the quirks of some of my fellow drinkers: “She usually goes for a skinny cap, but it’s far too hot, so it’s an iced coffee today”. Designed by Six Degrees, the small but well-proportioned space has expanded into an outside area in the past year and the ‘Wall of Bruce’ features pictures of Bruces Springsteen and Forsythe, Bruce-themed book covers and little gifts his faithful regulars bring him to create a rotating gallery. It’s a lovely touch and worth coming to the café just to see. The menu is simple but effective, with pides, pizzas, house made muffins, frittatas and breakfast bits all below $10. I decided on a ham and Swiss cheese pide with caramelised onions and mustard mayonnaise. It was just the ticket, filling, tasty and complementing my coffee wonderfully as I watched the world pass in front of my window. Bruce is also a member of Social Spoons, an initiative to encourage a more active social life for those struggling with isolation issues. Bruce creates a happy and comfortable space in a neutral environment with affordable prices and friendly staff, ideal for those anxious about the wider world. Cheap and cheerful, the café offers comfort, great coffee and a surprisingly extensive menu that leaves one satisfied and content. As I leave into the unorthodox heat, I hear Bruce greet another customer: “Latte for you?”

134 Carlisle Street, St Kilda

Ph: (03) 9537 1088

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