Okay, so I lied.
Well, actually, I wasn’t technically lying.
We did go to Grossi, but not the Grossi Florentino. Unfortunately, if you’re povo like me, the lunch budget doesn’t always stretch to Florentino’s where standard mains are 45-50 bucks but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on some of the Guy Grossi magic. Right next door from the acclaimed restaurant on Bourke St hill is its little sister, the Cellar Bar (which is where we went). And in between is the middle sister, the Grill. Same establishment, same uber-cool atmosphere, just different prices and different menu offerings.
Sure, we all want to dine at Grossi proper for lunch – apparently they serve the best Italian food in Melbourne – but we can’t all be like Lila Fowler when it comes to eating out (hehh, another Sweet Valley reference!) so if you want to sample some of Grossi’s cuisine, you’d have to go to either The Grill or The Cellar Bar where the prices are relatively cheaper. Not that there is anything wrong with going to either of them. Besides, I think it’s pretty cool (if not slightly pretentious) to meet up with a mate after dining at The Cellar Bar and tell them oh-so-casually, “Adam and I just ate at Grossi.”
Okay, so how was our experience?
We were given complimentary bread with olive oil (I think it was infused with sun-dried tomatoes or something) minutes after I sat down. Heh, for some reason Adam thought that this was the bruschetta that we ordered and got a bit miffed as to why anyone would pay $12 for four measly pieces of plain bread + oil (granted, it was good bread and good oil)
Ahhh, the real bruschetta! It came with porcini mushrooms and pecorino (Italian cheese made out of sheep’s milk that tastes quite similar to parmesan only richer). This was the highlight of the lunch according to Adam and I totally agree. I love how something simple can have so much flavour and intensity. The woodsy and fragrant mushrooms, the drizzle of fruity olive oil, the crispy warm bread. I think this was about $12, which to me, is a bargain.
I ordered the pesce spada al limone e capperi (Swordfish steak, lemon, capers and peas – it sounds much sexier in Italian, heh). Also $22. While I preferred Adam’s dish over mine, I also thought that the chef did a wonderful job with my fish. Although swordfish is a pretty dense and muscular fish, it was surprisingly tender enough for the lemon juices to run through the meat.
Our next stop on Bourke Street hill was to good ol’ Pellegrini‘s Espresso Bar, another much-loved Melbourne institution. Even though I have not been that happy with my coffee the last few times I’ve been to this joint, I still love it if only for the atmosphere.