Gazi, 2 Exhibition St, Melbourne (3)

By George (Calombaris)! I am completely in love with Gazi.

I was impressed from the moment I stepped inside and was greeted by the brightest smile I’ve seen on a maitre d’ for a long time. We arrived around 6:30pm on a Saturday night and were able to walk straight to our seats without a booking (which we had to vacate by 8:30pm but we were heading to a gig at The Forum). They take bookings too, hooray!

I was impressed when another efficient and genuinely warm waitress guided us through the menu options and then thoughtfully suggested a hot toddy for my croaking (and grateful) dining partner.

Gazi, 2 Exhibition St, Melbourne (7)

I was impressed when my homemade fizz was presented in a miniature bottle with a paper straw and when the roll call of gutsy Greek street food arrived at our table to hide away the ‘mati’ evil eye adorning our plateware (which you can buy for $22).

If you want to cast a wide net over what the menu has to offer, head straight for the 10 course ‘Feed Me’ option ($69 a head). It dabbles into all parts of the menu (except the mini souvlakis, which I’ll be coming back for) and the kitchen is happy take into account any dietary requirements and dislikes without drama.

The meal starts with Greek dips ($9.50 each) – a smoky hummus decorated with fried chick peas and a creamy tzatziki – accompanied by some warm triangles of pita bread on which I could feast all day.

Gazi, 2 Exhibition St, Melbourne (4)

Next in line is some ‘Hellenic dirty food’ – a slab of fried saganaki given a contemporary twist with some tart cumquat glyko ($14.50) and two fat king prawns accompanied by braised with some punchy olives and caper chunky tapenade ($14.50).

Then there’s dishes from the tender wood fired grill. From the spit comes some slices of beautifully rich pork with a case of crisp crackling served with atop an apple skordalia and with a sprinkling of fleshy white beans.

Gazi, 2 Exhibition St, Melbourne (2)

Even better are the tender and juicy strips of pulled-apart roast chicken with tirokafteri, a feta and red capsicum dip. For the pescatarians there’s two perfectly cooked fillets of crispy-skinned salmon drizzled with a walnut dressing as well.

Gazi, 2 Exhibition St, Melbourne (1)

The dishes continue to pile up on our small table with a generous bowl of golden fries spiked with salty feta and oregano ($9.50) and marouli, a hunk of iceberg lettuce dressed in an oregano vinaigrette and grated kefalograviera cheese ($9.50).

Gazi, 2 Exhibition St, Melbourne (5)

The desserts are tooth-achingly sweet with a rich ‘creme brulee’ prickly with praline, Turkish delight and plump dates ($12.50) and some syrup soaked sticky fried balls of dough and crunchy cocoa nibs ($10.50).

Gazi, 2 Exhibition St, Melbourne (6)

From the ashes of the high end Press Club has risen a more casual Greek kind of restaurant that I love. I love the brashness and fast pace of the restaurant.  I loved the ocean wave created by hanging 3878 terracotta pots from the ceiling and the jellyfish like baubles of light suspended within the wave. I loved the sounds of people around me tucking into food and wine with laughter and ease. I loved the food – every single dish – and I think the prices are reasonable for the quality of the offering.

Basically, I loved it all! (Sorry my photos don’t do it justice).

Every day 11:30 am – 11:00 pm
Gazi on Urbanspoon

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