I’ve been eye off the maroon meat slicer in the window of Gorski & Jones since it opened about 2 months ago. It’s a big, shiny, impressive beast atop a long white marble bar and it announces the restaurant’s Italianate roots with no need for dinky red gingham tablecloths and an accordian player.

Gorski & Jones is a handsome establishment serving rustic, affordable comfort food from the folks behind Alimentari (By the way, what is with restauranteurs in the inner north expanding to another restaurant in the same suburb? That’s three reviews in a row now where that’s happened. Next thing you know Andrew McConnell will be opening another resto in Fitzroy…..Wait! The Builders Arms has been bought by McConnell and will reopen in its revamped glory in April 2012.)

The space has high ceilings, a long narrow expanse of burnished mirror on both sides, exposed brick walls and those ubiquitous industrial lampshades and it manages to be spacious and light while exuding warmth and cosiness at the same time.

The back courtyard is particularly inviting being amongst greenery and quiet and they are getting planning permission for streetside tables as well.

The kitchen is half open, half behind the wall and there’s a glorious wood-fired oven taking pride of place. The pantry is piled on shelves in open view so they have nothing to hide – fresh ingredients are core to their cooking.

First thing to note is that the complimentary bread at Gorski & Jones is amazing. Unlike any sort of ciabatta I’ve ever had, it had the lightest and thinnest of crusts (almost to the point of being filo-pastry like) while still having a substantial crunch. As we arrived at almost the start of dinner service the bread came to our table still warm from the oven. Ask nicely for seconds!

The menu is divided into antipasto, entrees, mains, sides and desserts. As we were in a hurry we went straight for the extremely well-priced main dishes – the fish of the day of medium-seared tuna with caponata, a risotto with spanner crab, lemon oil and fennel ($26) and roasted and stuffed spatchcock with quinoa salad ($30) – all accompanied with a side of classic caprese salad ($6).

When our dishes arrived we were impressed with the generous servings and fresh and vibrant presentation of all our dishes.

The fish was cooked perfectly (nothing worse than a dry hunk of tuna steak) and the lively scent of the basil pesto and salty caponata gave the fish a huge flavour kick.

The risotto was declared by D to be ‘one of the best risottos I’ve ever tasted’. Light, yet full of flavour, each grain of rice was just the right texture and not drowned in the richness of butter or cheese.

Wood-roasted meats have a particularly salivating aroma and this spatchcock was no exception. The tunnel-boned, extremely juicy bird was paired with a refreshing pyramid of quinoa, tomato, parsley and red onion. Filling without being heavy and rich.

Our side salad could not have been any better – torn mozzarella, juicy ripe tomatoes and freshly picked basil drizzled with olive oil and with a smattering of salt and cracked pepper.

From the dessert menu I wanted to try the tiramisu ($10) but it couldn’t be taken away as it’s already presented in crystal glasses. Never mind, I’ll definitely be returning to Gorski & Jones. It’s a good value local restaurant with food that makes my stomach growl for more.

For more beautiful photos of this delicious food, check out Melbourne Food Files and Two Munch.

Gorski & Jones, 304 Smith St, Collingwood +61 3 9417 7779

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