Gazi, Melbourne CBD

I’ve always been a big fan of Greek food. However, since Yuye supposedly doesn’t like Greek food, I never get to dine at any Greek restaurants.

As such, as you can imagine, I’ve never been to any of the restaurants owned by celebrity chef, restauranteur and MasterChef Australia judge, George Calombaris’s restaurants.

I was ovejoyed to have been invited to Gazi for lunch as part of a MasterChef Australia blogger event a few weeks ago.

We met with George himself, spoke about MasterChef, tasted his awesome lemon lime and bitters dessert which aired in week 1 (episode 2) and I even made my own version of the dessert here.

Gazi is a modern bar and restaurant that got its name from an eclectic neighbourhood in Athens. It has a laid back, anything goes feel to it and serves Greek street food that’s good for sharing and getting your hands dirty while you sip a drink or 2 from the bar.

As we walked in, all I could see was the ceiling! It was covered in hundreds of upside down flower pots. What a sight!

We were seated by a window with great natural light. The plates that Gazi use were a beautiful deep blue with what seemed like eyes drawn on each of them. Those eyes are what the Greek call ‘the evil eye’ or what is known as ‘mati’. Its use dates back to the 6th century BC on drinking vessels and the Greeks believe the “mati wards off evil spirits and misfortune caused by the envy of others”.

We decided to order plates to share as recommended by our friendly waitress.

First up was a trio of dips with flat bread ($19). We chose the Miso melitzanosalata (eggplant), Sweet potato skordalia, pinenuts, orange and the Tzatziki.

They were all super delicious. The miso eggplant dip was my favourite with subtle eggplant flavours and beautiful savouriness from the miso paste. I’m a big fan of miso as you can see.

The sweet potato dip was lightly sweet and silky smooth. It makes you want to eat more and more of it after every bite.

The tzatziki was definitely one of the better ones I’ve had. It was light and refreshing and not overly sour. I think we did a good job picking these 3 dips, although I would love to try the beetroot dip as well next time.

Service here was impeccable. Fresh bread was brought up without having to ask for it and water topped up as well.

The next dish served was the bourdetto (serve of 3 for $12.50) which is a prawn leg fritter with spicy tomato sauce. This dish was without a doubt perfect with some beer!

The beautifully cooked prawn pieces were served with deep fried prawn legs which were crunchy but not oily. I love ‘one bite’ prawns where you can eat the shell along with the flesh as I think the shells contain the most flavour. I’d happily munch on a whole bowl of this with a couple of beers while I watch the World Cup. 😀

Next up was the Konos Kalamari ($16.50), which is deep fried local calamari, lightly spiced with mary rose sauce. I didn’t like this dish as much as the prawns because the batter was a bit soggy and made it feel a bit more oily than it actually is. The calamari itself was cooked perfectly though.

Our unanimous vote to the best dish of the day went to the Queensland Blue Pumpkin ($12.50) which was a charred pumpkin served with goats curd and chestnuts. Such a seemingly simple dish had a lot of flavour and was a great choice for the cold Melbourne weather. The charring gave the pumpkin lovely flavours and it was so soft it melted in my mouth.

We also loved the freshness that the spring onions and sultanas brought to the dish as well.

At this point, we realised that we may have ordered too much food as that wasn’t even half of the dishes yet!

Next up was from the small souvas menu. We ordered 2 soft shell crab souvas ($12.50) with mint, coriander, honey and mayo, 2 duck souvas ($11.50) with chips (actually french fries!), parsley, onion, pear and mustard mayo as well as a Kolokythokeftedes ($9.50) with zucchini and peas, goat curd, chips, coriander,mint and onion.

Wow. We did not expect them to be so big! They were also regular sized souvas that you’d get outside which means one of these would have been enough for me as a whole meal!

The softshell crab souva was my favourite. I love anything related to soft shell crabs so of course I would have liked this one. It was cooked very well, being soft and crunchy with a burst of crabby flavour.

The duck souva was great too, the duck itself was juicy and meaty while it went well with the pear and mustard mayo. I didn’t however really like the chips combination as it just seemed a little too wacky for me. Duck with chips? Hmm.

I didn’t get to try the veggie one so I won’t mention it here. I did get feedback from fellow blogger Bianca that it wasn’t anything special.

After the huge start to the meal, out came the whole baby snapper ($28). At 400g, you’d think we were crazy, but we did somehow finish it. I loved this dish, it was probably tied in equal first with the pumpkin.

The flesh of the snapper was so juicy and tender and tied in perfectly with the herbs and lemon juice. I’m usually a meat > fish girl but that day the fish won, hands down.

That is not to say that our lamb cutlets ($6.5ea) weren’t delicious. They were succulent and nicely salted, albeit a tiny bit overcooked for me (I like mine rare, this was more medium).

Bianca loved her corn on the cob ($3.50), although I didn’t have any.

The last dish for the day was the Horiatiki village salad ($12.50) which had potatoes, field mushrooms, crispy kale and crumbed feta on top. I would have liked more kale and more mushrooms instead of the lot of potatoes that we got. In that sense, it became more just like a normal potato salad.

As it was still midday on a Monday, I didn’t want to have anything alcoholic so we all decided to go for Gazi’s mocktails. There were in fact only 3 on the menu and we got one of each.

Look at the stunning colours! I didn’t get to try the other 2 but the one I got was the beetroot, carrot and ginger ($7.50).

It had a mild carrot and ginger taste which I didn’t actually mind. In normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have liked either but for some reason, the combination here was quite enjoyable. I especially loved the colour.

To wrap up, we were offered free pieces of their house made turkish delight. It was quite different to regular turkish delights which I’m not a huge fan of because of the rose water, but this one was fantastic. It had a sticky and soft consistency and a wonderful aroma from the cashews.

As we had already seriously overeaten, dessert was unfortunately not an option. We left with our bellies satisfied and I of course loved the company.

Stay tuned for an epic post with behind the scenes of our MasterChef set tour! This episode will air many weeks later, but I will surely remind you when it’s closer to the date. 😉

Gazi
Phone: (03) 9207 7444
2 Exhibition St Melbourne, VIC
http://www.gazirestaurant.com.au/

Disclaimer: Ichigo Shortcake dined as a guest of Gazi.

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