Besito Bar & Cafe
590A Barkly Street, West Footscray
Footscray will always be… well… Footscray. But West Footscray (or WeFo as we insiders call it) is up-and-coming. On-the-edge. An Emerging Destination. Oh yes, West Footscray is the new Yarraville, people.
When we moved here six years ago, West Footscray was still pretty basic. The high street had an average local independent supermarket, an old Croatian/Italian/Whatever social club, a local library and a dwindling number of shops: pharmacy, greengrocer’s, school uniform shop, charity store. Soon after, it started turning into Little India and a fair number of Indian grocery and clothing stores sprung up. Then the Indian restaurants started multiplying. Now we have a decent little shopping street with really good Indian groceries, a couple of good greengrocers, and one or two really good restaurants with a good following.
The only thing we were really missing was somewhere to go for breakfast.
Then Gusto at Barkly opened, with decent pizza in the evenings and a pretty good breakfast menu (just too many pushchairs for my comfort levels). Jellybread bought the shop next door and expanded but their menu remained limited. And then a few weeks ago, Besito opened.
Owned by a young Colombian couple, Shan and Andres, it is a small, colourful cafe serving the best Colombian flavours and pretty decent coffee. They are not open in the evenings (yet) but they do a pretty good breakfast/all day menu which nicely covers breakfast, lunch and sweet things to go with coffee.
Side orders can be ordered together to augment a simple dish of eggs or arepa, a white corn bread visually reminiscent of rice cakes. The side orders are generous portions: chorizo is a full sausage, scored to help with even cooking, and well-seared on a hot plate or barbeque. The in-house hangover cure is changua – eggs poached in coriander-infused milk. Mild and seriously hot chilli sauces are within reach for another blast of South American flavour.
Most things are made from scratch in-house including the pastries and desserts: the lady of the couple who own this place is a pastry chef and it shows. Orlando showed an interest in some shot glasses in the chill cabinet one morning: we were immediately given one on the house with two spoons. A creamy, not-too-sweet caramel base was covered in the best chocolate ganache, giving just the perfect blast of sweetness without being overpowering.
A question from me about gluten-free options on the menu resulted in a clear and concise overview of what was gluten-free and what was not, reassuring me quickly that they knew the provenance of all their food and made sure all their staff did. Most menu items, for the record, were either gluten-free or could be served as such if requested.
They tell us they will be open soon in the evening, serving South American street food which goes down perfectly with a beer or a glass of wine. I can tell you now this place will become a regular haunt. The owners and their staff are friendly and knowledgeable, it’s a lovely relaxing place to eat, the menu is a knock-out and it can only get better as word spreads.
No free wi-fi yet, but we will keep working on them…..