There was a deal that you could get a copy of Cheap Eats for a discount price when you bought the Age. As a result, I've acquired the new edition of this publication. Actually, it's now called "Good Food under $30". Like the Age itself, the book itself is now in a "compact" format.
It's very interesting to browse through it, although there is a certain gushing sameness to a lot of the descriptions. I was interested to note that we've in fact been to a number of places that are included. However, it does seems to me that there's a very fine (and sometimes wavy?) line
between being included and being left out. Obviously a degree of
subjectivity is involved, but I can certainly think of a number of
establishments that I've eaten at that are every bit as good as - or better than - some of
those listed. I wonder if quality is sometimes equated with trendy descriptions on the menu? "Tomatoey butter beans topped with dabs of goat's feta and torn basil atop toast"
(torn basil?) or "paprika-dusted Spanish eggs slow cooked with tomato and salty chorizo nuggets" (salty chorizo?) anyone?
I suppose it's sensible to divide the reviews into geographic regions, but I must say that grouping Armadale into the same "East" region as Box Hill South struck me as being a little arbitrary. And, yes, there's an entry for Box Hill South, as well as a Vietnamese restaurant in Box Hill [Edit - I've corrected this sentence, after saying earlier that there wasn't an entry for Box Hill South].
The requirement for inclusion that you need to be able to eat well (two courses or a number of share plates) for less than $30 needs to be understood. Yes, at each of the listings this may be possible, especially if you eat at breakfast or lunchtime and keep an eye on the prices. But at a number of the venues, we've most definitely paid more than this, especially in the evening and if you allow yourself to range over the entire menu! In fairness, this is in fact acknowledged in some of the listings (but I feel that these may only be the most extreme instances).