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The Age’s Cheap Eats guide celebrates 25 years

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The Age Cheap Eats guide is this year celebrating its 25th anniversary – quite a feat!

I love the idea that they put this out every year – it’s for people like me who don’t always want to pay an arm and a leg to eat out- but still want great food with a side serve of value for money.

In a great article (read it here) written by The Age’s Nina Rousseau, the guide started out way back in 1986 – and according to founding editor Alan Attwood, they had no idea it was going to so popular.

Rousseau’s article aptly described how not only the world, but how food has changed over the past quarter of a century: “(the guide has) weathered two recessions, sworn in four prime ministers, and witnessed the mania of the macaroon. It was there when cafes became licensed, when it was no longer cool to blow cigarette smoke on your fellow diners and when producing a coupon to pay for your dinner was very much in vogue.”

All very true!!

This year I am proud to say that one of my very favourite places to eat – and is just around the corner from home – has been named the winner of the 2011 Country Cheap Eats Champ award. Well done to The Elk Horn Road House.

Before the new lease holders – Terri and Julie took over, it was nothing more than a tin shed in what seemed like the middle of a paddock. Now it’s kitch and gorgeous and I go there almost every morning for one of their delicious coffees. I am fussy about my coffee and these guys make it perfectly every single time.

I have also been there for breakfast and lunch and their committment to using local produce (including herbs and vegies grown in their own garden) – is just fantastic. The menu is concise, but varied and is always beautifully cooked.

So next time you are in Geelong and heading out onto the Bellarine Peninsula, stop by the Elk Horn Road House and sample their coffee, amazing breakfasts, lunches and cakes and slices. They also have a gorgeous array of gifts, home-made jams and other produce, plus heaps of other great stuff which will get you inspired.

If your not in Geelong, but closer to Melbourne, here are the winners of the other categories for this year. Make sure you go and check them out! Cheap Eats is available at all good bookshops and newsagents, and direct from http://www.theageshop.com.au .

2011 CHEAP EATS CHAMP

Aangan, 559 Barkly Street, Footscray West, 9689 4175

Sporting a refit, Aangan dishes up flavour-packed regional specialities. It’s some of the best Indian in town.

2011 COUNTRY CHEAP EATS CHAMP

Elk Horn Road House, 420a Wallington Road, Wallington, 5250 6056

Top coffee and first-rate food in a simple shed setting that oozes country charm.

BAR OF THE YEAR

Naked for Satan, 285 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, 9416 2238

Affordable, inventive pinchos that pair well with sinful cocktails and a fab fitout.

CHEAP EATS HALL OF FAME

The London Tavern Hotel, 238 Lennox Street, Richmond, 9428 6894

Serving pots and parmas to the game-day hordes, the London has been a Cheap Eats inclusion since 1986.

BREAKFAST SPOT OF THE YEAR

Jackson Dodds, 611 Gilbert Road, Preston 9471 1900

Brilliant brekkies run day-long so you can eat your dukkah eggs or kedgeree whenever you roll out of bed.

LUNCH SPOT OF THE YEAR

Duchess of Spotswood, 87 Hudsons Road, Spotswood 9391 6016

Stylish and sophisticated English-skewed lunches and brunches.

FITOUT OF THE YEAR

Salford Lads Club, 1 Fennell Street, Port Melbourne 0409 543 911

In a back-block warehouse, the SLC is a former mechanics workshop turned airy, cool caff.

CAFFEINE HIT OF THE YEAR

Proud Mary, 172 Oxford Street, Collingwood 9417 5930

So they should be proud. This roastery and caffeine dispensary knows its beans backwards.

VEGETARIAN SPOT OF THE YEAR

Munsterhaus, 371 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North 9489 4420

A relaxed, all-vego canteen dishing up creative salads, each with distinct flavour profiles.

WORLD FOOD DISH OF THE YEAR

Simon’s Peiking Duck Chinese Restaurant, 197b Middleborough Road, Box Hill South 9898 5944

Return of the “duck Nazi” Simon Lay, renowned for his crisp-skinned Peking duck banquets.

BIGGEST HYPE OF THE YEAR

Mamasita, Level 1, 11 Collins Street, City 9650 3821

Reviewers and bloggers stormed this Mexican mama and the hype machine kicked into overdrive.

Very Inspiring~

Lisa

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