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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Best Meat Pies in Melbourne



Whoa - that's a big call, isn't it? In a city of meat-pie lovers and with a culture of a Four&Twenty with sauce at the footy in winter. But I really think we've found the top one.
A few months ago I was meeting A. for lunch. I'm working up at the posh or 'Paris End' of the city, surrounded by Hermes, Georg Jensen, Armani etc stores. And politicians. A. works as far down the other end as you can get, in the financial area. Up at my end I pay $7 for a sandwich (if I choose to do so. Not often!). Down the other end with the finance and construction workers, not so much!
So, I trekked down with no real idea of what we'd have for lunch. I passed a non-descript cafe and noticed a sign saying 'Home-made hamburgers $5'. When I met up with him he said he'd love a big hamburger for lunch....'well, what do you know?' said I.
We went in, and they really were fantastic hamburgers. A. started visiting most lunchtimes and chatting with the owner. He discovered the owner came from Italy to Adelaide in the 70s to do a Masters in Economics, before opening up his own French and Italian restaurants in Melbourne. How he came to start running a small cafe for city lunch workers in the less-salubrious part of the city I don't know. But A. soon realised his customers were being treated to some damn fine food. Homemade cakes and slices, proper lasagnes and.....quite possibly the best pies he's ever tasted.
Robert, the owner, realised A. was enthusiastic about his food and started offering samples and new creations for him to taste and give his opinion. After a few weeks of hearing about how brilliant these pies were, I requested a sample. Robert gave me 3. :-)
The most notable thing about these pies is that they're obviously homemade. Robert makes his own pastry, which is flaky and buttery. His fillings change every day. A's favourite is the chicken pie, which can vary from chicken & corn one day to something like chicken, onion and fresh herbs the next.
I received a chicken, onion & herb pie, a beef pie with a hint of curry and a fat sausage roll. These are not pies to be destroyed by squodge of tomato sauce. Tomtato sauce doesn't belong on pies anyway (sorry! - I know that's inviting criticism, but who would ruin a savoury pie with a glob of too-sweet red sauce? Yuck.). I heated them up in the oven at home, with the intention of sampling just a bit of each. 10 minutes later I realised I'd eaten both the pies, and most of the sausage roll. Oops! *blush*.
Yes - these are top pies. I totally agree with A. I also preferred the chicken pie, with its obvious French influence, but wouldn't turn the beef pie from my lips with any argument. I didn't like the sausage roll so much, as it was a bit too obviously bulked out with bread. Tomato sauce would work with that one! :-)
Check out this gorgeous chicken pie creation, and tell me you wouldn't kill for one of these?

If you work around King, La Trobe or surrounding streets and are looking for someplace with food that's both cheap and really good quality, we reckon you should pay Robert a visit.
It's a pretty non-descript cafe, without much attraction to passers-by, but he's obviously passionate about his food and building up his customers. And if you show enough passion about your food too, you may also end up as a sampling guinea pig for him! Also, he tells us he does catering as well, so if your business is down that end of the city, and needs boardroom meals, we'd recommend this place.

Order the pies. :-)

Chatterbox Cafe
318 King Street
Melbourne 3000
03 9670 3566.
Pies $3. Hot food $5. 'Best value lasagne in town' says A.

8 Comments:

  • Fantastic! I was just wondering where to get good pies and this is nearby for me too. I'll go try em out really soon. Thanks!

    By Anonymous b, at 6/16/2005 06:28:00 pm  

  • Mmmmm! That looks so good! Any chance A can wrestle a recipe out of the cook? :)

    By Blogger Anne, at 6/17/2005 04:50:00 am  

  • Nice - I'll check it out, love a good chicken pie.

    By Anonymous kitchen hand, at 6/17/2005 10:05:00 pm  

  • I tried the chicken pie today. I guess 3pm is a bit late as there was only the cold one left that they had to reheat for me. It was chicken and corn today - would've preferred the chicken and onion. Would go back there and try again some time!

    By Anonymous b, at 6/18/2005 01:31:00 am  

  • B - Yeah, I reckon 3pm is a bit late. A. usually has his lunchbreak at 12pm, and they're fresh and hot then. It seems pretty random which chicken flavour will be offered each day, but I know A. prefers the chicken and onion. I've only tried that one, so I can't make a real comparison. Did you meet the owner, Robert? I've only seen him once but he was really lovely.

    Anne - I suggested to A. and he laughed, but I dunno....I'd be pretty keen to get the recipe myself!

    Kitchen hand - oh, you really should. Yummy stuff, and I'm not really a pie-loving girl usually.

    By Blogger Niki, at 6/18/2005 09:01:00 pm  

  • You'd think I never left Fitzroy Street, but... There's a little 24 hour bakery there, they usually have mulitcouloured jello in the window. They make KILLER steak and cheese pies. Did I mention they are 24 hours? What's better than a nice hot steak and cheese pie at 3am on a Saturday night?

    By Blogger Lex Culinaria, at 6/21/2005 02:26:00 pm  

  • Lex C - Oh, that sounds SO good. I love a steak & cheese pie. I asked my friend, who grew up in St Kilda about the bakery,and she thinks she knows which one it is, so next time I'm over there....

    By Blogger Niki, at 6/22/2005 03:25:00 pm  

  • I don't know if the homemade pies from Orange city but i would say the pies from Roberts bakery are the best. We had some meat pies in sydeny they were bad nothing can compare to Roberts pies we were in Austrailia in the month of Apirl of 2010 Roberts keep up the good baking Tom&Jeanine from Wisconsin USA

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/19/2010 06:00:00 am  

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