African Taste

124 Victoria St, Seddon
Phone: 9687 0560

I first heard about this place not long after I moved to Footscray. One of the neighbours mentioned it at my housewarming. Then I heard about it again from Lauren not long after that, and also Deb wrote about it around the same time. All of the reviews were positive.

Yet it took me well over a year to finally get down here. And it’s only a short walk from my house, too. For shame. Anyway, I finally did make it, with my housemate and a big bottle of French cider in tow. It was a Sunday night, and the place was super busy. It’s a pretty small restaurant, and every seat was full when we walked in. Thankfully a couple was about to leave, so we put our dibs on it, and wandered down to the nearby bottleshop. That’s where the cider came in.

The waitress (owner?) informed us that there may be a bit of a long wait, as we’d been seated just after two large tables. We didn’t mind, as we had cider and gossip to keep ourselves amused. We pretty much finished the cider before the food arrived, but thankfully, African Taste has a selection of African beers. Which we naturally hoed into. Which will explain why I don’t really remember what this first dish was.
I remember it being pretty good, and it was my housemate’s first encounter with injera. It’s always a bit tricky to describe injera; lots of people call it a flatbread, but to me, it seems more like a crepe made with fermented flour (hence the slight tangy taste). I remember liking this dish, in any case. Anything you get to eat with your hands is A-OK with me!

Then came the Genfo African Fufu. When ordering it, I pronounced it “foo-foo”. When the waitress read it back, she pronounced it “fyeu-fyeu”. Then we spent the next minute or so trying to imitate her pronunciation and giggling like idiots. Anyway, Africa Taste’s fufu is like gnocchi, except it’s made with bulghur flour. And then pan-fried, and coated with a tasty sauce and a healthy dollop of yoghurt. We had it with fish. It’s amazing, and I’d totally go back for more of this.
We also ordered a Moroccan chicken salad – I think it was Moroccan? – with a bed of couscous, which was nice, but decidedly less interesting than the other two dishes.
With so many African restaurants in the area, it’s hard to know which ones to visit. Interestingly, I never hear reports of bad experiences about any of them from friends. Is it because we’re all too inexperienced to know what to expect, or is the standard just generally high in the area? I’m not sure. But I’m going to keep trying more places to figure it out!

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Le Chien

5 Gamon St, Seddon
Phone: 9362 7333

There’s a dearth of cafes which serve a Western breakfast in Footscray. While that’s not really an issue for me – I’ll take a bowl of congee or pho, or a banh mi or some yum cha any day – I know that some people prefer a more familiar breakfast menu on the weekends. So when Ms A came to stay last weekend, we headed down to nearby Seddon for a coffee and some breakfast.

Walking down Charles St, and being unfamiliar with the area, I held out against choosing any of the cafes we passed, because I remembered driving past Le Chien and it being bustling. Always a good sign. So we rounded the corner and dodged the dog-walking locals, and pressed on the button for the automatic swinging door to open. OK, I had to mention that because it’s a novel gadget. And I’m a guy. We get distracted by things like that.

Anyway, we were seated at a table by the window. I was facing outside, with my back being buffeted by a fan which was on rather high. It was a warm morning, but I don’t think it warranted such wind speed. The couple at the table next to us asked for the fan to be turned down at one point, and were bluntly told, “No”. Which was a little odd, considering the service on the whole was quite friendly.

We ordered a couple of coffees, which took an inordinately long time to arrive, and when they did, were not fantastic. I was starting to think we should have stayed in Footscray and had ca phe sua da instead.

It was another lengthy wait – and yes, they were busy, but we’re talking around half an hour here – until our breakfast came. I ordered the avocado and tomato on sourdough, with a piggyback side order of black pudding on Ms A’s eggs on toast breakfast.

The avocado and tomato were wonderfully fresh, but the toast was incredibly hard. Peering over at the kitchen, the reason why was immediately obvious. A stack of toast was sitting by the grill, waiting to be plated. As it was busy, it probably wasn’t sitting there for that long, but then again, it did take half an hour for our food to arrive… There was also an unfortunate piece of avocado skin in the dish, which is a small thing, but not adding anything positive to my first impression.

Ms A ordered poached eggs with mushrooms – the chunk of black pudding on the plate was quickly relocated to my plate – she also found her toast hard and difficult to cut, though her eggs were well poached.

The blood pudding, for me, was the saving grace of this breakfast visit. Full of iron-y goodness, and not shy with a bold punch of salt, I’m guessing this is a great example of black pudding. It was also studded with fatty chunks of meat, and the texture was perfect – a little coarse, yet moist, sticky and melting.

Overall, I can see why Le Chien is popular, though I’m not so sure why it’s so popular! But then a lot of decent – but not great – cafes are. I’m going to try out the other places in the Charles St strip before coming back, I think.

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