Another Weeknight Special!
It'd been a bit of a rough day, so we had two options: one - go home, have the leftovers from the previous night and a quiet night in, or two - find somewhere in the city to go for dinner at short notice. After several picoseconds of careful deliberation we decided that out to dinner we should go. We've been wanting to try Gingerboy for ages, Ezard at Adelphi was one of the first restaurants we did after starting this blog, so trying the "second-tier" version was something we were pretty keen on. We rang 10 minutes ahead and were assured there'd be a place at the bar for us as the restaurant was fully booked, this suited us as a bar seat was pretty much what we were aiming for anyway.
Rather than eat in the front section, which is essentially just a bar/thoroughfare to the main restaurant, we chose to head to the upstairs cocktail bar which to me has a substantially more pleasant atmosphere. Although I could have done without the small group of chumps who decided standing between the bar and the wall was the place to chat, thus preventing anyone moving past without going straight through the middle of their little conference.
First came cocktails, this was a bar after all, and Gingerboy have some fine offerings. While I went with G&T and beers for the evening, Sarah sampled both the Thai Moon - a ginger, chilli and lime, vodka based offering (garnished with lemongrass and red chilli - and the Aperol, pomegranite and ginger sour - a much sweeter affair, eliciting memories of sherbet (the lolly, not the band). The beer list is mainly international or boutique - I went with the Mountain Goat.
The food is the same style as we've come to expect from Melbourne's dining bars, a selection of small plates of bite-sized goodies, followed by a few more substantial sized dishes to share. I have to say that Gingerboy does a better job of portion control than say Longrain, with the "larger" dishes being about right for two serves, as opposed to three or four from Longrain. We ended up doing two dishes from each section of the menu, and one side. We could easily have done more of one and less of the other, as the menu had plenty to tempt us.
First came a Wagyu and broken rice dish, which came with lettuce leaves to scoop the mixture into ($15 for three serves). It was truly delicious, but I do question the need to use Wagyu for everything these days, especially if you're mincing and mixing it with things. If I'm eating Wagyu I generally want it to be a steak, or at least the star ingredient (think Rockpool's Wagyu burger), here I think it could easily have been substituted with a lesser but still high quality beef and little difference would have been detectable.
Next tasting plate was the grilled lamb in la lot leaves with coriander and mint relish ($15 for three pieces). Again a damn fine dish, the flavour of the lamb shining through magnificently, and the relish a perfect accompaniment - which is saying a lot as I'm not generally a fan of coriander. It was after tasting this dish that I called the night, I liked this place.
From the larger dishes we selected a crispy braised pork cheek ($35) which came with red onion and blood orange salad and sauce. The cheek was sublimely tender, and the slight crunch from the skin on the outside a welcome textural counterpoint. The side order of double smoked bacon, tofu and Chinese cabbage ($8) had the most wonderful smoky flavours, and extremely generous portions of bacon.
Finally (we opted out of desserts) came the red duck curry. A colleague of Sarah's had suggested that this was superior to the dish of the same name at Pearl. Despite really comparing apples to oranges, she's wrong. Pearl has the better version, but that's not to degrade Gingerboy's offering, it's a perfectly good dish, it's just not as stand out as the comparison might have you believe.
We eventually stumbled out into the cold Melbourne air and made our way home, Moods greatly improved through the injection of great food, great cocktails, and the fun of another night at a bar watching the world go by. Highly recommended.
Two small dishes (wagyu and lamb), two large dishes (pork cheek and duck curry) and one side (smokey bacon and tofu).
G&T, beer, and cocktails