About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Friday, April 18, 2008
Grossi Florentino The Grill & Google
Ed's recent post about the reasons why restaurants should respect blogs that review them came to mind recently as I wrote a review designed to fit a certain publications template. It occurred to me that there were just not enough available words to really say what I thought about this particular establishment, even though what was written was a true account of the evening in question, but if I was blogging about it, a reader may get a much better impression of the restaurant as that review will only have been touched by one person, me, the blogger and not some sub-editor whose function is to fit the article to their publications style and space limitations, sometimes changing the thrust of a review in the process.

What one gets in a blog is warts and all and to illustrate, below is a piece I wrote, followed by a blog style review of the exact same evening in question at Grossi Florentino, The Grill.

The Grill’s two course $30 pre-theatre menu is rather like a man who wears a Zegna suit, while inside beats the pure heart of a peasant. The Robyn Boyd designed room is grand old Melbourne, all wood panels and hard mirrored surfaces divided by columns, fuelling a noisy ambiance. Smartly attired waiters serve rustic Italian food, with starters like char-grilled cotechino with lentils, pasta and bean soup and perfectly cured salmon. Generously portioned mains include a beef stew, fillet of fish with giant couscous and breaded chicken served alongside garden fresh peas. Simple, good value fare with honest flavours. Glass of wine and excellent coffee included - dessert choices extra.


It's not often anyone opens a door for me, perhaps never really, but that is exactly what happened the night I dined at Grossi Florentino's The Grill.

It is the sort of place where the doppelganger actors from Underbelly, a television series detailing Melbourne's violent gangland war, would feel very comfortable, just as comfortable perhaps as the notorious criminals they played, who would revel in the Robyn Boyd designed surroundings of hard mirrored surfaces and wood paneling that ramp up the noise levels, making hearing or overhearing a conversation almost impossible - they would also like that plenty of seats face the door.

But what you have, despite being slightly dated, is a very stylish interior overlooked by the Florentino crest. It is also a room that has a split personality, with a long narrow section of seating abutting the open kitchen, of bustle and high energy levels, where chefs choreographed their complicated ballet, that leads into a larger space, which seemed altogether gentler and more relaxed.

The warm welcome from the door was carried on by the friendly and efficient waitstaff, snappily dressed in black jackets and starched white aprons, who happily carted an endless supply of Source Municipal (tap water) for the entire evening.

We nibbled on quality olives and dipped sour dough bread into olive oil whilst choosing from the $30 pre-theatre menu consisting of two courses, glass of wine and a coffee, which continued the split-personality theme; this elegant restaurant was serving simple and rustic Italian peasant food, the sort of food that Cafe Di Stasio serves on their $30 menu - to a much higher standard.

The pasta e fagioli soup, while having the necessary flavour, was perhaps lacking for body, better were the three slices of cured salmon, cut in the modern manner of long, thin slices, surrounded by a tangle of rocket leaves; lightly cured, they were fresh and clean tasting The char-grilled cotechino was sticky with deep flavour, sitting atop a bed of earthy puy lentils and encircled by a green watercress sauce that lacked the peppery pungency of this herb.

The mains which passed by included a piece of fish with giant couscous, swimming in fragrant juices, a hearty wet beef stew, married to roast potatoes and the dish that probably best summed up the simple nature of the food, a lonely breaded chicken breast served only with garden fresh peas and a lemon wedge, even a scattering of fresh herbs would have lifted the dish.

A generous slice of soft, creamy La Bouche cheese with thin slices of new season pear and dried muscatels was well received, but could easily have been the home made gelato or mud cake with double cream. An excellent coffee was served with amusements of almond bread and a fruit paste studded with hazelnuts.

It's a great place to grab a quick good-value meal in stylish surrounds, but the food, while well cooked and executed for the most part, needs a bit more thought to bring it into line with the quality that is obvious all around.


I think you can see why restaurateurs may prefer the former review, there is only room to state the obvious, with no space for even gentle criticism, but that is doing them no favours, you can't address what you don't know about. That's a service being supplied by bloggers, upon which the public have seized through the agency of Google. Bloggers are saying what they feel, unfettered by the limitations pressed upon journalists, who, despite the strictures, come up with regular good copy, which, through no fault of theirs, sometimes might not say exactly what they think.

It's all about the choice.

Labels: ,

  posted at 7:49 am

At 3:09 pm, Blogger Ed said...

And that's why I prefer blogs. Nicely put

At 8:18 am, Blogger neil said...

Your post on the subject was excellent, sorry mine took so long to put up.

At 10:36 pm, Blogger thanh7580 said...

What a great example of the limitations that traditional media has.

At 2:42 pm, Blogger Jack said...

Neil, I was equally torn while doing the same course. Though my experience at The Grill was on a different date, it sounds somewhat similar. My piece was a little harsher... I just mised 'the love' in the food.

At 2:18 pm, Blogger Jon! said...

What a great piece to read. I used to see trad media (ie. the GFG) as the bible to eating out, before I discovered blogs and have now seen how heavily limited such forms are. Blogs allow one to braodcast the full details of an experience and are such a useful source for information and a third-party perspective. Always love reading your pieces Niel.

Happy eating,

At 11:16 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi thanh, thanks!

Hi jack, I was told I was much too gentle on the food side of things, sounds like you were much braver.

Hi jon, I guess we really tell it like it is, sometimes I wonder if part of that is because we rarely know the owners or chefs and can say what we feel as we aren't constrained by friendships.

At 3:32 pm, Blogger Ed said...

Jack, I wassaying to Neil in an email that I reviewed the grill for the GFG last year. What appeared was so different to the experience - possibly the worst in a while. The worst, table, 20 minutes for water and a menu, lousy food apart from one dish and lousy service. I wonder if these guides have lost the plot.


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