Monday, June 4, 2012

Local Loves

It's been a hectic last fortnight so my therapeutic food reprieve has been kept relatively local (and it's been so effing cold I'm worried I might lose the tip of my nose to frostbite if I spend to much time cavorting outside).  Luckily there is no shortage of fabulous food destinations close to the warm sanctions of home/couch/cheap red wine/GIRLS (seriously how good is girls?!!).

Gorski & Jones
304 Smith Street
Open: Tues - Thurs dinner, Fri-Sat breakfast-dinner, Sun breakfast + lunch
Gorski & Jones on Urbanspoon

I'd been meaning to pop into Gorski & Jones for dinner for quite some time now but have developed some sort of anti-Smith st inner compass, possibly due to recently leaving a job in the area. Gorski & Jones is aptly named after it's owners Meaghan Gorski and Paul and Linda Jones who have already made their culinary mark at Brunswick St Deli (Alimentari).  Building on simple, quality produce and no-bullshit Mediterranean flavours, Gorski & Jones offers brunch, lunch and dinner with a fantastic wine list and cocktails to match. The restaurant fit out takes advantage of the spacious ceilings with the back area resembling a multi-tier plant conservatory. As sick as I am becoming of the generic exposed-wall-restaurant renovation smothered in greenery I really think Gorski & Jones nails it with their unique high walled approach.

Anyway, I aint no designer so lets get back to the food. Weazelby and I finally rendezvoused there last week for a late night dinner date. We started with a beer (Trumer pils on tap - love the cigarette glass) and some antipasto $22. I'd read amorous reports about the antipasto and had suitably high expectations.


This was a generous serve, generous being a complete understatement. Highlights were the chicken liver parfait, roasted capsicum and the layered eggplant. I'm not a big fan of cold chorizo, especially when you know how god damn good it is fresh from the pan, this would be a big winner if it was warm. I'm not 100% but the bread tasted like Baker D Chirico (carb champ!), a high calibre counterpart to this sumptuous first course.

At this stage I was beginning to realise the mess I had gotten myself into for mains, yes there IS such a thing as feeling too full and the fear of how incapable I am at stopping eating was ticking away at the back of my mind.  I chose the wood roasted rabbit stew served with two creamy pillows of romano fused gnocchi. I wish I could say the rabbit was my favourite part, but the gnocchi was so un-bloody-believable. The stew was a hearty combination of tomato, celery, carrot and thyme with sweet cherry tomatoes. The rabbit was a  bit dry, but I am not the biggest fan of rabbit - may be due to childhood scarring of seeing a (pregnant) rabbit skinned and turned into a pie. I always expect a gamier flavour instead of the resounding poultry vibe I get.

Weazelby had the knockout main in the beef short ribs served with a parsnip mash. I could not believe the lavish portion - I think there were about 4 hulk sized ribs in there. The meat fell off the bone with little hesitation and was delightfully rich. Accompanied by slow cooked, sweet onions and a buttery parsnip mash, this dish exemplifies what winter cooking is all about. 

Gorski & Jones have a diverse wine list with a prominent selection of European and local wines. There is also a small range of bottles which are available as a half which always keeps my indecisive white-red mind happy (have half a bottle of BOTH! everybody a happy). Overall Gorski & Jones is the perfect spot for well priced Italian inspired fare and I will undoubtably be returning for more. Both the mains were in the mid $20's range which is exceptional value for the volume you get. For once quantity is equally matched with quality! Gourmet chick has also recently blogged about the breakfast offered there highlighting the burgeoning trend of breakfast + lunch + dinner spots (BLD, yep there is officially an acronym for EVERYTHING).

Mixed Business
486 Queens Parade
Clifton Hill
Open: Tues-Sunday breakfast + lunch
Mixed Business on Urbanspoon

This breakfast stalwart needs no introduction and has been on the hot hit list for a couple of years now. Mixed Business is located on a seemingly dead zone end of Queens parade in Clifton hill and neighbours The Terminus pub (a great spot offering top notch pub fare). I usually pop into Mixed Business once a fortnight, but broke all rules and went there two days in a row this past weekend. In my defence I did order two different meals.

The lovely owners also run Fowlers Flowers (highly recommended florist) which is adjacent to Mixed Business and this usually means a run-off of cute flora decorating the tables. I loved these little heirloom (they have got to be heirloom right?!) squashes and pumpkins. So teensy!

I patted myself on the back for ordering something completely new on the menu - the Ploughmans Board (~$16). A rustic collection of dark rye bread, house made cucumber pickle, vintage cheddar, cherry tomatoes, a soft boiled egg and a pork rillette. Big tick! They also offer a roasted mushroom rillette for the mushroom inclined folk. The rillette was surprisingly...juicy? Not the rich, fatty variety I am used to clogging my arteries with. I am in love with this style of breakfast at the moment perhaps because I just want it all, or maybe because I am am a control freak when it comes to food. At home I have been having a porridge + egg soldier combo and can't get enough of it.

Weazelby had been banging on about ordering these gingerbread waffles (~$15) in what felt like an eternity and actually ordered something else before he ushered the waitress over to switch to the waffles. A wise move methinks as these were fantastic. Not cloyingly sweet like many icecream laden breakfasts can be. The waffles were a fantastic spiced flavour medley of roasted peaches, gingerbread and vanilla. The only excessive feature were the candied walnuts, although delicious in their own right. 

What I normally order without even passing a glance at the menu are the poached eggs with a potato rosti , which are accompanied with tomato relish and avocado ($16). I usually add on smoked salmon as well. This is one of my favourite breakfasts in Melbourne- poached eggs are always spot on perfect and I have yet to have a bad breakfast here.

 The omelette specials also come highly recommended. The only bummer so far has been the coffee, which can be hit and miss. I believe they source their beans from seven seeds so when it is good, its really gooood.

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