I caught up with Damo and Fakegf for dinner here. Funnily, Damo chose the place, saying it’s from my eating wishlist… but I’d forgot I’d even added it to my list!
After some scrutiny into my OWN website, I realised I added this diner because Fakegf recommended it. She saw how cutely tucked-away this little spot is, and it’s also been consistently one-hatted for the past 4 years.
And so it appears my friends know my own blog better than I do myself. Ha ha!
Gills Diner seems to be part laneway bar, part bakery, and part diner. All in one atmospheric package. Once you’re past the laneway’d front doors, the warm, private ambience of the venue beckons in a secretive way that speaks so much about Melbourne dining.
Bread from Commercial Bakery
The menu’s scrawled in chalk against a board on the wall, featuring Italian dishes sourced from local producers.
1. Octopus, saffron potato, white gazpacho, salami
2. Quail, farro, grapes, goats curd
We started off by sharing a trio of antipasti dishes, priced at $33. Soft octopus with spicy salami, and succulent quail with sweet bursts of grape.
3. ‘Puttanesca’ arancini, truffled pecorino
But our favourite antipasti were these arancini. They sat on really fresh tomato puree.
Spanner crab risotto, with leeks + saffron $32
We made a smart choice by sharing two main dishes between the three of us, portion sizes were pretty decent. My companions enjoyed this crab risotto, saying how good the seafood broth was, and how it wasn’t the heavy, starchy type of risotto. I found it light and tangy with soft morsels of crab, and that characteristic interesting ‘plasticky’ hint of saffron. Took a bit of getting used to… but I ended up liking it too.
Squid ink linguini, calamari, cherry tomatoes, chilli dust $32
Our other shared dish was this hard-to-photograph squid ink pasta with tangy tomatoes and springy calamari. Again quite good, although Damo thought it was a touch heavy because of the push of squid ink. I’m glad we shared everything, because I wouldn’t have been able to finish any of these mains on my own.
It wasn’t sensational food, but it was good food in a wonderfully hidden locale inside Melbourne’s CBD. Fakegf liked all the dishes except the octopus antipasti, and she plans to come back with her boyfriend (aka the ang moh). I suspect it’s because this restaurant is a really good place for date night!
One final thing. Fakegf has recently started a food blog of her own. I think you should put it on your reading list: thehangrybitch.wordpress.com