Sunday, February 2, 2014

GG's Restaurant and Bar

Disclosure: I dined as a guest of GG's Restaurant and Bar

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Almost four years into our relationship, Brad and I don't really go out for anything too fancy these days, something that's nice on the wallet I suppose, but something I also wish we would occasionally plan for a little more (but when partner is not as into food as the other, there's only so much you can do…)

So it's always lovely when I get the opportunity to slide on a bit of eyeliner, wiggle into a little black dress and pull on the heels, for a relaxed but still slightly more dressed up night.

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Whilst GG's is pretty slick, with a modern fit out, an impressive looking European styled menu and a lovely dark palette evoking an intimate and cosy ambience, there's still a sense of casualness, should you be in more of a jeans and t-shirt mood. 

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Being just a stone's throw from the MCG, and also connected to residential apartments, it's easy to understand why. I feel this balance can be hard to achieve, so I'm pretty impressed when I find somewhere that can do it…and not feel overdressed in my heels. 

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We're greeted by the manager Luca, who takes us to a cosy corner table, and promptly materialises a pomegranate bellini on to my table. Prosecco, succo di pesca and a touch of pomegranate foam is a light and fruity start to the night. The pomegranate flavour is a perfect addition, and a nice reminder that I really ought to have the fruit more often!

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Luca recommends that I leave the food with him, which I'm happy to do…but make a few little requests, since I had previously been ogling the menu online. 

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Our first 'course' is really much more, as a collection of small plates is gathered and presented on our table. A fennel veloute is refreshing, but still lovely and creamy, and the crab beignet's although absolutely tiny, have a soft and subtle crab flavour, that's nicely complemented by a zing of grapefruit, it's smooth and velvety texture contrasted with a crisp panko-esque batter, littered with sesame seeds. 

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Two chicken wings are hidden underneath ribbons of green garnish and a handful of nuts and sesame seeds. It's delightfully crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside, with a nice spicy kick. 

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Although some might choose to start with the watermelon with feta and a balsamic glaze to clear the palate, I chose to end on it, to prepare me for the next course. Sweet mingled with tart, the creamy texture of the feta wrapping wholly around the watermelon. 

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On request, I also received a serve of the black pudding pies, served on a bed of red onion and apples, being a bit of a fiend for black pudding myself. Cute as a button these pies would've only been a touch bigger than a fifty cent piece. Slightly sadly though, the flavour in these came across a bit muted to me, lacking the iron, heat and bite that I normally like in a black pudding, although I loved the pastry, and appreciated the detail in such a small little thing!

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Whilst I'm always tempted by three or four cheese anything, from pizzas to souffles, I'm never quite ready to fully commit, a little bit too concerned with how many hours I might need to spend in the gym later. But I took the plunge at GG's with their gorgonzola, mascarpone and parmesan gnocchi, rich, creamy and heavenly, a small entree size serve was just right. The gnocchi, despite carrying quite a weight with all the cheeses, remain fluffy and airy. 

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A small slice of salmon with spring vegetables and a crab bisque foam was a reprieve from the richness of the gnocchi, with bright spring flavour.

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A feature of GG's kitchen are their rotisserie meats, which change regularly and are slowly roasted over hot coals. This particular meal, we were treated to a generous serving of lamb that had been roasted for 8 hours and a very succulent serving of pork belly, topped with a fresh and crunchy apple salad. Both were very rich and well seasoned, but I tended to prefer the pork belly with the salad balancing the flavours out nicely. The texture of the lamb didn't resonate with me as much, but I think I have a tendency to be relatively picky about how I have my lamb (a little more pink and juicy).

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Crisp handcut chips and a side of quinoa and pomegranate salad with couscous made for easy eating on the side as well. I particularly loved the flavour and texture of the quinoa salad, and the bursts of sweetness from the pomegranate. 

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Although close to bursting towards the end, when the beautifully presented dessert platter was placed in front of us, with little bite sized portions of each dessert for each person, a vortex suddenly appeared in my stomach, and magically…there was room…

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The selection of desserts from the menu included the delicate and light honeycomb panna cotta, a chocolate nougat, rich and dense balls of chocolate mousse, fruit pate and a red skin macaron. Although the macaron may not have been the prettiest thing, it surprised me with how much flavour it had, and although I did not grow up religiously on red skins, definitely brought some nostalgia along with it. 

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Nearly toppling on my heels on the way out, Brad and I both immensely enjoyed our night at GG's. A diverse range of food, that still seems to come together in a cohesive theme and palate, relaxed but still elegant atmosphere and friendly service. It's no wonder that we observed such a wide range of clientele through our meal, from the older couples, to one or two families, to boisterous family with young professional as kids, it seems that everyone can be well catered to here. 

150 Clarendon Street
East Melbourne

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