Grossi Florentino Restaurant

Grossi Florentino Restaurant
80 Bourke Street
Melbourne  VIC  3000
03 9662 1811
Open: Lunch Mon – Fri from 12pm;  Dinner Mon – Sat from 6pm

It’s probably an oversight on my part, but I had never been to the upstairs restaurant at Grossi Florentini before.  Some may argue it represents a significant hole in my gastronomic experience – to have never eaten at this bastion of Italian fare.  So when gorgeous foodie friend J decided that this is where we would have our next “ladies who lunch” date – it was with curiosity, and I admit, perhaps a little skepticism, that I agreed.

Sitting at the top of Bourke Street, Grossi Florentini is three restaurants in one.  First, you have the restaurant – which, to be honest I didn’t know that much about. There is also a Cellar Bar – which is an all day affair – serving breakfast through to late night suppers.  Then there’s The Grill – I think I ate there once…many, many moons ago.   I don’t recall being blown away – and maybe that’s why I relegated Grossi to a bit of an overrated and outdated Melbourne institution. How wrong could I be?

Walking up the stairs to the restaurant – I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I walked into the dining room and was instantly amazed at the rich renaissance interior – I was seated at a window seat and was able to gaze around and enjoy the ambience before the lovely J appeared in very short time.  Even our handbags were given plush stools to sit on – such was the opulence of our surroundings!

Given it was a Monday lunch, we decided to be sensible, and settled on ordering a single course – so we perused the menu and ordered our dishes.  And then the lavishness began…

Ricotta Cannoli

First up, a little something to get us in the mood.  Two beautiful cannolis filled with smooth ricotta flavoured with sweet balsamic and pistachio.  Divinely creamy and sweet – these cannoli were crisp on the outside and soft and silky on the inside.  The lovely J was going carb free – so I took one for the team and ate both of them.  Absolutely gorgeous!

After this – we were also served some beautiful bread and grissini, which were served with a choice of olive oil, butter or lardo (sorry, no picture). I practically devoured the lardo – it was spectacular!!

Chicken terrine, poached egg and cured pork cheek

I was delighted when the waiter appeared with this gorgeous amuse bouche – stunningly presented, the dish was a riot of flavours and textures. The terrine was melt in the mouth, and delicate in its taste.  The slow poached quail egg was unctuous and creamy, and the cured pork cheek was amazing.  Crisp and sweet – it was the surprise element of the dish.  When eaten altogether – the dish just sang, and felt like pure indulgence.

Venison Special

The lovely J chose the special of the day – venison served on a cauliflower puree,  with red currants and pan juices, all topped with a venison tortellini.  The dish was sublime – the venison was tender, and the cauliflower puree smooth and creamy.  The dish was full of flavour and brought together by the sticky pan juices.  Again, in the name of carb free friendship, I had to eat the venison tortellini – which was filled with delicately shredded and tender meat.  Absolutely delicious!

 Veal Loin

For my “single” dish, I had the veal loin which was served with slow roasted shallots, squash, bone marrow and brought altogether with a gorgeous veal jus, and lifted by a generous smattering of capers. This was absolutely divine – the meat was melt in the mouth, and the pan juices were rich and complex.

White Polenta

Oh… and I almost forgot the most spectacular element – my creamy, mellow, silky white polenta – which was served on the side.  It was so delicious, I ate every last molecule!! It just melded so beautifully with the veal jus and the tender meat.  Divine – this was amazing food.

We were completely satisfied and replete – and needing to get back to our work day, we asked for the bill.  However, they had other ideas…

Citrus semifreddo, caramelised popcorn and liquorice sauce

We were presented with this little dessert taster – just three mouthfuls – it was exactly the right proportion for a lunch indulgence.  The semifreddo was perfectly balanced – creamy, not too sweet, and just the right amount of lemony goodness.  Caramelised popcorn is always a treat, and the liquorice sauce was extremely mild and complementary.  I don’t usually like liquorice – so I was extremely happy to find it wasn’t too intensely flavoured with aniseed, instead providing more of a light, aromatic element to the dish.  A delightful finish to our meal.

So there you have it – you order a single dish and you get 5 courses. Pretty amazing! Just to remind you…. we had:  cannoli, bread, amuse bouche, main and dessert.  I have to admit – the prices are pretty steep – between $55 and $60 for mains (and the entrees sit around the $40 mark) – but the thing is – as the lovely J pointed out – you don’t just get what you order.  You receive so many lovely extra courses, each one thoughtfully composed and beautifully executed – and on top of that, you receive sublime, courteous service and are treated like royalty (even your handbag gets to indulge).

So – how wrong was I??  There is a reason why Grossi Florentini has been around for 75 years – the food is amazing, the service is fabulous, and the ambience indulgent!!  Clearly, I need to reacquaint myself with the Grill – and perhaps try a few more things out at the restaurant – because the meals we had were completely amazing. This place is an institution in Melbourne – for all the right reasons.  Thanks to my wonderful foodie friend J who opened my eyes!  I was so complacent in overlooking this iconic Melbourne restaurant which has been delivering beautiful dining experiences to those in the know since forever. Make sure you check it out and enjoy!

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