80 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Without a doubt, my favourite find from the MFWF guide is the Express Lunch, where dozens of well-respected restaurants are offering 2 or 3 course lunches plus a glass of wine, Mon-Fri, for $35/$45. Assuming you choose wisely, this is an excellent way to sample the menus of some of Melbourne’s best restaurants. Naturally, I’ve tried to capitalise on the opportunity as much as possible!
The first express lunch I went to was Grossi Florentino with my good friend N, and we had a lovely sophisticated chat about women in the professional workplace and (a slightly less sophisticated chat on) the ups and downs of law school.
The service was, as expected, perfection. The food was, as expected, lovely. We decided on three courses because really, when else are you going to be able to have a three course meal at Grossi’s for $45? I should note however that the dishes on offer do not accurately represent the normal menu and the experience on the whole is not quite the same. Obviously, the dishes are simpler and the portions smaller than normal, but by no means does that compromise fully on quality.
For example, the wine was served in small, slightly cheap looking glasses rather than the lovely large ones normally used. And the bread was stale (Why Grossi, WHYYYY???). But, c’est la vie, I’ll put up with it. You can read my account of a proper, full-blown Grossi experience here
To begin, N had the minestra di piselli, green pea soup with rice. I didn’t try it but it looked lovely and fresh and made me believe we were in Spring rather than Autumn.
I had a favourite Italian dish of mine, vitello tonnato: poached veal with a tuna sauce and capers. Grossi also served it with parmesan, some fresh rocket and grapefruit segments (or perhaps it was lemon segments). All good except for the citrus pieces, they tended to ruin the flavour of the dish.
We both went with the spezzatino con polenta for our mains, to match the Shiraz we were drinking. The braised beef was so so soft, I love the way a well cooked piece of quality beef breaks into ribbons when you cut it. Such a delicious dish, and it was brought to our table by Guy Grossi himself! “Two lovely dishes of beef for two lovely ladies” he said upon arrival (cue gushy melty feeling in chest).
But the star of the meal, at least for me, was the cannoli siciliani, which was served with a ricotta and maraschino filling and a strawberry sorbet. Such a wonderful dessert that acheived that superb harmony of sweet and savory. The filling had a delicate flavour, and the cannoli pastry was pleasantly crisp. All up, a lovely and worthwhile experience – look out for my Express Lunch posts on Libertine and Red Spice Road over the next week!