Thursday, November 5, 2009

Grossi Florentino Cellar Bar, Melbourne

The Grossi Florentino Cellar Bar is the baby of the Grossi Florentino familia.  There is the fine dining 'Restaurant' which sits upstairs on the first floor.  Then the moderately expensive 'Grill' next door. 

The Cellar Bar is long and narrow, with dark wood panelling, ornate wrought iron and glass hanging ceiling lights , black chalk board menus and, a long bar curved at the front displaying an assortment of cakes through a glass window.  

Outside, there are a few pavement tables which are perfect for warm and sunny days.  Inside are lots of high leather bound bar stools and a few small tables; perfect for a couple, a little squeeze for three, impossible for four, unless you are just here for drinks that is.

There were three of us tonight and we were there to sample some food.  Having read some good reviews about this place, I was expecting nothing less than good. 

We arrived early - around 5:30ish to be precise.  The place was already half full with ladies sipping wine and couples meeting for after work drinks.  With lively music and equally lively Italian waiters, this place was buzzing this evening. 

The wine list is nothing short of extensive.  It gives The Melbourne Supper Club a good run for its money. 

From the food menu, we ordered the Canneloni Al Forno (with minced veal) and Cotoletta Alla Valdostana (Crumbed veal, fontina cheese). Veal for all of us!

A basket of bread with olive oil for dipping was brought to the table; one piece of foccaccia and crusty bread.  Unfortunately, the focaccia was a little stale (luckily there was only one piece of it) and the crusty bread was well, crusty bread.

Two of us had the canneloni dish, one was presented better than the other.  Funnily enough, the less attractive one came out as the better picture.  The minced veal was beautifully fine, it wasn't overwhelmed by too much tomato sauce either. 

Unfortunately, I couldn't eat the end of one of my canneloni's as the pasta was rock hard.  My companion's canneloni seemed to be cooked perfectly through (the one pictured).  We agreed that although it was nice, it wasn't anything special.  For $18, I expected a bit better to be honest. 

The crumbed veal came with creamy smooth mashed potato.  As a more generous portion to our canneloni, I was rather envious.  My other companion commented on how tender and juicy the veal was and happily reported that it had no trace of gristle.  She also seemed to enjoy the mash as well.  It certainly looked the better the two dishes and was a little more pricey at $24.

We decided to try a dessert that we had seen being brought out to another table when we arrived.  A huge brandy glass of 'Zabaglione'; whisked egg yolks, marsala wine and sugar.  Not the healthiest of desserts I must admit, but then again are any desserts good for you?! 

It was served warm, just off the heat and had a frothy top.  The denser bottom layer had a powerful marsala kick.  I could feel the cockles of my heart (and toes) a warming!  As one would expect, it tasted like a light English custard with sweet wine.  We couldn't manage it all as it was just a little too much for us. 

I imagined it would be lovely served with fresh strawberries or a thick slice of dense chocolate cake, like Missippi mud pie.  OK, I know the latter would make it very un-Italian!  But I really think it would taste great.  For $10 though, I thought the Zabaglione was very reasonable and definitely for sharing.

Perhaps I didn't choose the right main, but I certainly didn't think that my dish was anything amazing.  What I did think amazing though was the cheerfully lively attitude of the waiters, the cosy surroundings of this bijoux of a place and its obvious popularity. 

We were made to feel very much at home.  I have to say that the welcoming atmosphere and typically Italian surroundings would draw me back in an instant.  A great place for drinks...just not completely sold on the food.

Grossi Florentino Cellar Bar
80 Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Tel:  61 (0)3 9662 1811 

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