This article (edited), appeared in the Autumn edition of Westside Living.
Eat Drink Westside is a unique collaboration between the city’s western region councils and the annual Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, shining a light on the local community’s enviable gastronomic heritage and many diverse culinary gems.
This year’s jam packed program features wineries, enticing flavours from Iran to the Philippines, cannoli masterclasses, specialty cheese, signature cocktails and lots more. A key feature of Eat Drink Westside is Westside Wanders, a series of mouthwatering guided journeys through a selection of the area’s gourmet venues.
Running between 24 March – 2 April 2023, Westside Wanders celebrated the food culture of twelve different neighbourhoods. Each evening ‘Wander’ took participants to interesting venues, stopping for a bite, a drink or a snack at each. Each ‘Wander’ was hosted by well-known media personalities, like 3RRR’s Cam Smith, creating an entertaining and immersive experience.
The MFWF Special Events Program showcased the diversity of the area with a selection of epicurean events spanning Footscray to Werribee. If you missed the MFWF (or were spoilt for choice!) we’ve curated some key highlights from Westside Wanders so you can plan a night with your friends and ‘do your own wander’!
Penny Young, Moonee Ponds
Located in the heart of Moonee Ponds, Penny Young is a true hidden gem. The bar’s inviting atmosphere, rustic charm and impressive selection of over 14 craft beers make it the perfect spot to relax and indulge. Highlights of the cocktail menu include a refreshing ‘Lychee Lovers’ and the spicy ‘Mango Chilli Margarita’.
The venue also boasts an extensive Italian menu curated by Head Chef Maurizio Luongo. With a huge choice of pizza toppings, including all your favourites, Penny Young’s pizzas are cooked in their impressive wood-fired oven imported from Italy.
If pizza isn’t your thing you can enjoy some mouthwatering pasta dishes such as ‘Paccheri’ – slow braised ragu of cuttlefish and prawns, peas and potatoes in a white wine sauce. There are also charcuterie boards and vegetarian options including eggplant chips and arancini balls. And make sure to leave room for a delicious dessert and an aperitif!
While in Moonee Ponds, don’t miss The Suburban Cellar Door, a wine bar specialising in Aussie small batch wine or Holmes Hall for a carefully curated meal.
Penny Young Bar. 22 Young St Moonee Ponds. @pennyyoung_bar
Suburban Cellar Door. 24 Puckle St Moonee Ponds. @thesuburbancellardoor
Holmes Hall. 15 Holmes Rd Moonee Ponds. @holmeshallbar
SalamaTea House & Cafe Sunshine
SalamaTea is located in the heart of Sunshine and offers authentic Persian brunches by day and banquets at night. Run by Iranian chef Hamed Allahyari, the venue is an impressive social enterprise, employing friendly and welcoming staff from refugee backgrounds.
The breakfast highlights include a traditional Persian breakfast of lavash bread with savoury fetta truffles and grape molasses. The SalamaTea evening menu, features simple Persian dishes such as Sweet-and-Sour Chicken Stew as well as the national dish of Iran, Ghormeh Sabzi. The food is delicious and healthy too. All mains are gluten free and vegan options are available.
SalamaTea is a play on the word “Salamati” which means “wellbeing” in Persian. Why not take some inspiration home with you by picking up a copy of Hamed’s excellent recipe book ‘Salamati – Hamed’s Persian Kitchen’ while you’re there?!
‘Gojo’ and ‘NNB Dessert House’ are two more gems in the Sunshine neighbourhood. Gojo – Ethiopian Cafe and Restaurant owner Daniel Alemar showcases the best of his homeland’s food and culture, serving wholesome Ethiopian fare, while at NNB Dessert House, as the name suggests, you can sample Vietnamese desserts and street food.
SalamaTea House and Cafe Sunshine. 21 Dickson St, Sunshine @salamateahouse
Gojo Ethiopian cafe: 10 Clarke St, Sunshine. @GojoCafeRestaurant
NNB Dessert House: 221A Hampshire Rd, Sunshine @nnbdessert
Pecks Road Cafe
Pecks Road Cafe in Caroline Springs is a must-visit destination for all doughnut lovers. Co-founder and chef Albin Lawang specialises in hand crafting unique doughnuts in this cozy little cafe.
There’s a tempting range of flavours to choose from, including traditional favourites like Cinnamon and Strawberry, and more exotic creations such as ‘Ube’ – a purple yam doughnut with white chocolate shards and edible flowers, which was inspired by Albin’s Filipino heritage.
Albin is also a former personal trainer and describes the inspiration behind the shop: “I wanted to create a place where people can indulge together in their favourite treats while not feeling guilty. After all, life is about balance and not going to extremes. We love to create both classic recipes and also add a Filipino twist!”.
The menu also includes an extensive range of deli sandwiches, pastries and drinks. Whether you’re looking for a quick snack or a cosy spot to relax with friends, Pecks Road is the perfect place to indulge your sweet tooth.
Other ‘must-see’ stops in the area are Izakaya Rin, a Japanese lakefront restaurant, and The BoardWalk Pizzeria for all things Italian.
Pecks Road Cafe: Shop A6 1 – 7 Caroline Springs Boulevard @pecksroad
Izakaya Rin: Shop A3 1/7 Caroline Springs Blvd @izakayarincs
The BoardWalk Pizzeria: Shop 9-10/1/7 Caroline Springs Blvd @theboardwalkpizzeria
There’s so much to see, taste and sip out West. So plan ahead, loosen off your belt and make the most of everything on offer!
For more inspiration about what’s happening this autumn follow @love_the_west on Instagram.