February 9, 2009

The Grand

Dining Date: January 2009

2009 Rating: 77th

2009 Star rating: 1

Chefs: Leonardo Gelsomino & Valerio Nucci

Location: 333 Burnley Street, Richmond Victoria

First of all, apologies for the very infrequent blogging of late. Jan/Feb always seem to be a write off for me, too many birthdays/events going on at the same time! But thankfully a large majority of them are over and I can get back to the blogging.

Recently it was Daz's birthday, and as part of a birthday treat we went to The Grand in Richmond for lunch. It is located in an old pub which has two dinning options, the dining room and the bar. We decided to have a sit down meal in the dining room. The dining room is very stylish with wire mesh curtains that give the room a certain sense of uniqueness. One of my favourite details is that there are large windows on each wall, filling the room with natural lighting, especially nice on a mild summer's day.

The Grand

Since I had a big dinner planned, I thought it best if we just went for some main dishes. So to start the meal we just had a plate of complimentary bread with Kalamata olives. They were very tasty. I've never been a big fan of Kalamata olives, because they tend to be too salty, but these were salted very lightly letting the olive flesh do its own talking.  

Bread, Butter and Olives

I went for one of the specials of the day. Rabbit done roulade style, stuffed with pork sausage and parsley with a buckwheat polenta. To tell the truth, I was a little disappointed. When I was younger we used to have wild rabbit caught on hunting trips by my cousins, and I distinctly remember the flavoursome taste wild rabbit delivers, it would be very hard to confuse it with any other meat. So when my dish arrived, I was expecting the same intense wild flavour, however it was very dulled down and tasted alot more like chicken. The buckwheat polenta was a saving grace and was very nice. I'm used to having regular plain old boring polenta, the buckwheat gave it a nice new texture and was a pleasure to eat...although a little bland, but heck, its polenta!

Roulade of susage and rabbit, with buckwheat polenta

Daz went with the other special for the day, Tagliatelle with beef ragout which I managed to steal a bit away from his plate. The pasta was delicately thin, meaning that very little chewing was needed to extract the flavour. The beef itself was tender and cooked perfectly. I sat across from him watching him eat his meal while thinking "I wish I had his dish". Next time I go there, I know which dish I'm going to order.

Tagliatelle pasta with beef ragout

Now, before I describe the next dish I have to disclose something. I LOVE EGGPLANT! Its not a normal type of love. I love it so much that this year I have planted 30 eggplants in my garden. I love it so much that when its on special I buy no less than 3 kilo's of the stuff, I love eggplant so much that if I had to choose a last meal before I die, I would like Stuffed eggplant, with a side of roast eggplant and Parmesan eggplant chips. I hope that has described my love for the purple veg. 

So onto the dish. The very helpful waiter suggested steam eggplant with tomato and basil for a side dish. I took one look at Daz, and didn't have to think twice. Presentation wise it didn't look like anything special, but as soon as I took the first bite, I was in heaven. I'm still not sure whether it was the type of olive oil or whether chilli had been added, but each bite left my mouth tingling. The soft texture of the eggplant with the crispness of other vegetables in the dish made for a perfect combination. I am ashamed to admit that I ate the entire dish myself, leaving an amusing expression on Daz's face. At the end of the meal, I did something I don't do unless I really feel it is well deserved, I sent my compliments to the chef. I asked Daz whether I was blinded by my love of the eggplant or whether the dish was actually that good, his response?...."I don't know, I didn't try it". I don't care though, it was GOOD!

Steamed eggplant with tomato and basil

Lunch on a Saturday didn't seem to be their most busy period. At one point we were the only diners in the room. When there are so few diners, there is a expectation of the wait staff to hound you a bit and be a little too attentive. We found our waiter to be amazing, I would have to say some of the best service I have had to date. The waiter seemed to appear at the exact time Daz or I had a request. His suaveness added to a great experience almost talking us into what ever he suggested, and considering he suggested the best side dish that has ever existed (okay, that might be an over exaggeration), that was definitely not a bad thing.

We were really pleased with the whole experience. Although it was a little weird when the head chef come out and asked what all the fuss was with taking pictures of every dish. I had previously asked if I could take pictures, but towards the end the waiter said that the head chef wanted to know "why the photo shoot?" I calmly replied that I take photos of everything I eat. Somehow I don't think the chef would have been pleased to know that I was a blogger and that everything was going to be put onto my website. On our way out Daz took the opportunity to take a few photos of the building until he realised that the head chef was glaring at him from the kitchen window. We took that as our ticket to leave.


Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

Mmm that tagliatelle and ragu reminds me of a beautiful dish I had here recently.

What a grumpy chef! Sounds like what I experienced at a cafe here. Puts a bit of a damper on the meal and put me off going back to the place.

Ali-K said...

My common excuse it that a friend was meant to join us and couldn't. As she was dying to eat there we took photos to show what they were missing. Nothing like a little flattery to get the grumpy chef onside.

How did the doughnuts go at the picnic?

Arwen from Hoglet K said...

Sounds like eggplant-lover's heaven!

It's an awkward situation with chefs and photos isn't it. It's so hard to know how to handle it.

Maria@TheGourmetChallenge said...

Thanks guys for the wonderful comments!

Hi Lorraine - The pasta was pretty good! I dont think the chef was so much grumpy I think he was more curious.

Hi Ali-K - What a great idea, next time I'm going to use your excuse, that will get them off my back quick smart. The picnic was canceled. 46C is was too hot to be standing around in the sun. But a new date is going to be set soon, keep an eye out on the syrup and tang website! Hope to see you there!

Hi Arwen - Not egg-plant heaven so much...for me that would involved egg plant in every course....including dessert! :D I've decided to always ask the wait staff before taking any photos, I think this kinda ease's the weirdness....but I think in this situation it only just drew more attention on us.

Ali-K said...

I saw notice of the cancellation not long after posting my comment. Hopefully I can come to the new date...TBC. I've never been to a blogger event before.

Food lover said...

I must go there again to try the eggplant - although it doesn't look that great, your post makes it sound delicious!

Agree on great service. Our waiter was also right on the spot.