I had been meaning to find time to properly visit Gorski & Jones on Smith Street ever since we went to their suckling pig event one Tuesday evening several weeks ago (a piggy banquet for $35/person), but with so many new places popping up in Fitzoy, I just hadn’t had the opportunity. This charming place is sitting almost next door to Cavallero – which we once loved but has served up a few too many disappointing breakfasts so we have given it a wide berth of late.
Gorski & Jones came into being when Paul and Linda Jones (of Brunswick Street Alimentari fame) joined forces with colleague Meaghan Gorski. It’s a well planned marriage as the front of the restaurant draws you into a space with high ceilings, many different textural surfaces and a great addition of the greenhouse out back, which is a large exposed deck that works in any type of weather and enchants in the evenings with colourful fairy lights. Like that outside space you always dreamed of creating for yourself one day.
We have yet to dine in Alimentari but from talking to others that have, you would be comfortable enough to dine solo or with a large group and graze to your heart’s content. They have managed to recreate this atmosphere here and serve largely Mediterranean, which includes antipasto and cured meats. The chefs excel at cooking up robust rustic dishes and they make good use of the custom-built wood-fire oven, which takes pride of place in the centre of the very open kitchen.
I started off with a Cocchi Americano cocktail while WordMonkey dipped straight into a carafe of the 2010 Tim Smith Mataro Grenache Shiraz. The drinks list is one of the most inviting with a small number of cocktails, craft and European beers, and all wine served by the glass, carafe or bottle – so you can keep your drinking options open.
I had starved myself all day to make sure I was ready to take on the menu and we hit things off with cured ocean trout, pickled cucumber, beetroot, horseradish. This was a hit – tangy, fresh and a very generous serve. With a great crunch alongside the oily, smooth fish.
For a meaty contrast we opted for the chicken liver pate, with interesting but well matched sweet and sour onions and thin slices of toasted lavosh. If I was fed the chicken liver pate for the rest of my life I would be a very happy camper. It was super creamy, perfectly smooth and didn’t have any of the metallic taste that you sometimes get in other foie gras-ish offerings.
Moving on to the larger dishes on the menu we had the two pastas land on the table at the same time as requested. The spaghettini with seafood, chilli, garlic, olive oil and parsley is one of my favourite seafood pasta dishes in Melbourne. I have tried many times to get the balance of flavour and a warming chilli kick in my own dish. At Gorski, I realised I still had a way to go to achieve the dizzy heights of salty clams and gutsy chunks of garlic all lovingly caressed by al dente pasta.
But if it’s a winter warmer you are looking for then you won’t want to go past the pappardelle with super-rich duck and mushroom ragout. Thick ribbons of pasta are sizable enough to keep the ragout clinging to it, while chunks of tender meat and equally meaty mushrooms are earthy and satisfying.
Getting quite full we pushed on as I was keen to see their take on braised beef ribs, red wine, fennel, parsnip puree. Yes, maybe we didn’t need it but the dish was one of the standouts and was up there with the Shed 5 slow-roasted lamb neck that we had recently. Superbly cooked with a nice layer of gelatinous fat just to make things interesting.
Never one to turn down a dessert we shuffled onto the chocolate and hazelnut semi freddo with Florentine wafer – delicious and put us in mind of a deconstructed / posh take on a Cornetto – especially with the crumbled nuts on top. Tasty decadence that takes us back to childhood? Why, don’t mind if we do.
The tiramisu was exactly what you would expect from a place doing outstanding Med dishes – a creamy, boozy caffeine hit to really send you over the edge and put us into a food coma.
It would be easy to shrink into the background when sharing a street with the likes of Huxtable, Rockwell & Sons and Hell of the North (location of a new spring season of Scarf Dinners), luckily Gorski & Jones is bursting with personality. We love it.
304 Smith St
Collingwood, VIC 3066
Ph. 03 9417 7779