Graze on Grey. Where to start?
The obvious beginning to this post might be to note that St Kilda’s 24-hour curb-crawling Grey Street has, in the past, not been the kind of place you might head to for a post-work drink, let alone a lazy evening of share-plate dining. And yet, last week, over a few delicately flavoured pork and ginger wontons bobbing in a chilli and coriander broth, we were instantly won over by the truly local charm of this bar and all-day eatery. Just a couple of doors up from Dr Jekyll, sitting in what was, as far as we can remember, an abandoned ex- Moroccan restaurant, this newcomer is really worth sitting up and taking note of. It’s the kind of place that makes you think you should return to as soon as you possibly can, because you will probably be let down if you try anywhere else.
You see, times are a changing round these here parts. Acland Street might still offer the cheap and cheerful Happy Hour parma or calorie-fest slice of cake, but head to Inkerman and Grey, or the already restaurant- peppered Fitzroy Street, and you will find a bit of a foodie renaissance going on. Newmarket Hotel, Miss Jackson, Mexican Radio (ok, Carlisle Street, but near enough), Fitzrovia, Baker D Chiroco and up-and- coming sourdough sensation Woodfrog Bakery, to name but a few.
Graze on Grey seemed to spring up from nowhere, and yet it has strong food heritage, not to mention a gorgeous fit out. It’s intimate and cosy up front with a bar that begs you to linger over a glass of wine and a few plates, a communal table in the middle room (seats 18) – with a great view of the kitchen pass – and a great the outside space. Surprisingly big it is bound to be rocking a good crowd come summer. Head chef Mo hails from Chris’s Restaurant at Beacon Point in Apollo Bay, before which he worked under Ian Curly at The Point and The European. Front of house, Neil has served at a number of our favourite London haunts and brings a confident sense of calm to the dining room.
The best bit about the drinks? Local is king. Great wines carefully chosen from VIC, WA and SA, with Mountain Goat and White Rabbit Beers. While the menu is all about seasonality and, surprise, grazing. Hooray for Victorian producers. Our advice – order a couple of dishes at a time, take it slow and savour the moment. On our visit, we tucked into:
The aforementioned pork and ginger wontons with chilli and coriander broth – an extremely tasty winter warmer – and how refreshing to get hearty chunks of pork in the wonton as opposed to grey mush (we have become to accustomed to lesser Little Bourke St establishments me thinks). The punchy, aromatic broth was the ultimate cold and flu remedy.
Alongside this we had the warm salad of grilled octopus with chorizo and kipfler potatoes. Another stunning seasonal beauty. Meaty, fishy and utterly satisfying. This is cooking where you can taste every element. A lesser version would see the sausage display too much paprika or oil, which would in turn overpower the delicate seafood and creamy potatoes. Not here. Balanced and thoughtful, and like everything else, a decent serve for the prince.
The next pairing we selected: pumpkin and feta ravioli with caramelised onion and hazelnut butter (featuring actual toasted hazelnuts in the sauce, a great textural contrast to the melt-in-the-mouth pasta parcels, which were salty and creamy all in one go)…
…and slow-cooked pork belly with truffle-braised lentils (again, perfectly handled – enough truffle for the immediate dining area to smell delectably truffle-infused, but not enough to cancel out the apple and fennel jelly – a far more grown up alternative to apple sauce).
We finished up with the warm flour-less chocolate brownie with white chocolate mousse (oh my god, could drink this stuff) and a raspberry coulis.
We wish we had room for more, but luckily, Graze on Grey is down the road, so we will be back to drink and dine to our hearts’ content. We can’t help but feel we have been let in on an incredible secret. Affordable, unpretentious and tasty. Who would have thought? Welcome to Grey Street’s latest addition.
And if you really like your wine and food, and who doesn’t, head to their monthly wine dinner, on the last Friday of the month – a seven-course ‘share-gustation’ with matching wines and a meet-the-winemaker session for a very reasonable $85.
Graze on Grey
103 Grey Street
St Kilda 3182