I’d heard lots of good things about Gills Diner, but never realised that it was the back end of the rave-worthy Commercial Bakery. Hence they both have creamy whitewashed warehouse walls, a slightly gothic Victorian-era school house decorative aesthetic and they presumably share the same kitchen.
The night didn’t start well when we were offered ‘still or sparkling’ water, one of my top three restaurant pet hates (poor Lena had to listen to me rant for a good minute about it). However, the blackboard menu brought me out of my temporary funk, as it listed a wide selection of hearty Italian/French plates with various combinations of meat/fish and veg.
My spatchcock with bread sauce ($35) was beautifully cooked, with a couple of juicy legs served with peas, pencil leeks, walnuts (a nice crunchy contrast in texture) and garnished with strips of preserved lemon and a spray of snow pea spouts. The only downfall was that I found the sauce a bit too oily, and the rich butter combined with the softened mash-like bread reminded me of the rather unappetising texture of curdled cream. I don’t think it was the dish’s fault – I just made a mental note to avoid bread sauce from now on. Lena had the special, a thick round of eye fillet ($36) served with a lasagna-sized chunk of potatoes dauphinois and hearty array of vegetables and lardons, which she told me was very enjoyable.
To finish off, a crowning glory of churros to share. Four long strips of cinnamon sugar dusted dough, crispy and light, with rich dark dipping chocolate, the remainder of which I would have been quite happy to drink. Great value for $10.
- Gills Diner, rear 360 Little Collins St, Melbourne +61 3 9670 7214