A grand evening
It's been referred to as "Melbourne 's grandest dining room," and at one time it probably was, but although the food impressed, I couldn't help but think that the rooms reminded me of a once-great-operatic-diva-in-retirement. Perhaps they should have bought a coat of paint instead of the flash-heavy website?
Grossi Florentino actually comprises several areas, to suit different styles (and budgets!) but tonight we were dining in the swanky upstairs dining room. Grossi has a reputation of a long and proud history, and there's no denying a feeling of old-world opulence steeped in tradition as you enter the dining room. We were seated at a window table with a view overlooking Bourke St. Probably a wonderful view 30-odd years ago, it's now predominantly filled by a seedy-looking Chinese restaurant across the road. Enough about the view, there's more to look at inside, anyway.
Like... Oysters! Served with a fennel viniagrette, they slipped down and were gone within seconds. Only the grins on our faces betrayed that they had ever been there. Always a good start to the evening.
We began the main event with a Russian Lobster Salad, horseradish cream, black rice crisp, saffron emulsion, sea urchin, young leaves and pickled shallots, a delicate construction of particularly subtle flavours which combine beautifully on the palate. Quite possibly the highlight of the night, and highly recommended. Sticking with the Lobster theme, our second entree was the lobster tortellini, lobster consommé, tarragon, tomato and orange tuile. The pasta was perfect, but I found the tarragon-heavy consommé overpowered the delicate lobster a little.
For main, I particularly enjoyed the Slow Cooked Wagyu Rump Cap served with pickled veal tongue and a wonderfully piquant jus. By some minor miracle the meat was still wonderfully pink and juicy. Alicia's suckling pork rib special was equally well executed and faultless. Service throughout the evening was efficient and professional, and although we drank wines by the glass, the main list offers plenty of good options for most budgets (that can afford the food, anyway.)
I find it difficuly to find fault with any aspect of the evening, but I'm not sure I'll return in a hurry. The experience of dining in this historic establishment is almost a rite of passage for every Melbourne foodie, but considering the cost, not one I'll do again for a while.
- Russian lobster salad ($45)
- Lobster tortellini ($39)
- Slow cooked Wagyu rump cap ($55)
- Suckling pork rib special
- Valrhona chocolate soufflé
- "Jazz" apple
By the glass: Bortoluzzi Pinot Grigio, Yarra Yarra 2003 Shiraz Viognier.