You Melbournians may not realize this place was a sight for sore eyes back in the day, it bridged the massive gap of cow paddocks of woop-woopville Victoria with the promise (and a drink or two) that the city wasn’t too far off. That said, the pub was also a hot spot for all the dapper locals of the 1880s, not to mention being known for some back alley raucus and controversy!
But it’s 2015 and not 1885, and no, we’re not going to the back alley on this particular night <wink>.
Hubby bear Shawn and I approach the iconic building on a cold, rainy winter’s night; lured by the sights and sounds of hospitality that literally glowed through the windows – I kid you not. This is the sort of place you want to be inside of.
Shawn opened the door and as I stepped through, I swear I heard the building whisper, “See? I’m still f-n’ awesome you little hipster wannabe!” Okay, so it wasn’t a whisper, maybe more like a raspy heckle. Sure, sure, the building didn’t really talk to me, but the feeling I got once inside made me smile nontheless.
|Bake and Co + The Three Piece Suit make a lovely birfday table…|
Almost at once we were greeted by the Grand’s brilliant team, given appropriate drinkage to start the night, then fell into easy chatter with them and the sociable crew from Zomato, who so kindly invited us to the Grand’s birthday bash. After looking around it became very clear the owners of the last 13 years have respectfully restored this amazing building to shine with both historic pride and modern convenience by way of tweaking the layout and adding tasteful decor.
Not long after our cheeks started to glow red from the warm fire in the front room and our empty wine glasses, we were led upstairs to a cozy communal area which ties their trio of private event rooms together…and that’s when we all got down to bid-niz.
But before I go any further, let me get this out right up front: The Grand Hotel know how to host an event. And not that chinsy confetti and paper mache style of event. The sort of event that you’ll remember for many (many!) years to come. “How so?” I hear you ask? Well, let me answer, my friend!
From the start of this night, alllll the way through to the finish, GH ensured there was an array of fun things to get and stay involved in, from creating our own mains and encasing them in terra cotta clay to bake (thank you Chef Federico for the wrapping lesson!), to widening our eyes with a most dazzling private dining room organized by The Three Piece Suit, to keeping our A-D-D personalities diverted with an array of finely presented & tasy dishes, engaging conversation and storytelling, and even a game of ‘Guess The Ingredients’ of a mystery dish! And no, I didn’t win that super-sized Moet prize! Damn it taste buds! Why did you fail me that night? Oh, and let’s not forget the massive lit up table sprinkled with goodies from Bake And Co. tempting us all night long…
|The “Mystery” course in a specially made ice shot glass.
What was it? An ice cream version of tomato, basil and mozzarella.
Anyhoo, onto the food. It’s all about the food.
While we mingled, large ovals of canapes encircled us and Shawn LOVED the cured ocean trout with citrus and berries – unbelievable flavour he says! What’s more, he even loved the Poached Veal Tongue crostini with salsa verde, until he found out it was tongue! Nah, he still loved it, but just chased after the trout after that! What about me? The veg? I had a couple of delictible mouthfuls of Tomato & basil bruschetta. Oh yeah, a classic and a winner – everytime!
|cured ocean trout with citrus and berries|
|Poached Veal Tongue crostini with salsa verde|
|Tomato & basil bruschetta|
We were diverted into one of the event rooms that was set up for us to play with our main meals. No really, we played with our food! But then Chef Federico got us on track by showing us how to properly dress and season our mains, then wrap them tightly like little pottery burritos for him to cook and present to us later. That was all sorts of awesomeness, but I would honestly prefer someone of Federico’s standard to do this for me – as I had very little confidence my main was going to come out as nice as Shawn’s. Anyhooo, after all the fun and games, we’re whisked away into the dining room across the hall, where we remained the rest of the evening!
|My setting once inside the private dining room… a lolly jar with my name on it? Hmmm…|
|What an amazing sight to see!|
To whet our appetites (aka. tease), Shawn dug into an incredibly tasty Pepper Crusted Venison Carpaccio with goat cheese mouse & beetroot that was delicately presented, but bold in flavour. My vegetarian counterpart was a lovely little Quinoa Salad – super tasty and probably one of the stand outs (for me) for the evening.
|Pepper Crusted Venison Carpaccio with goat cheese mouse & beetroot|
|Best Quinoa salad EVER!|
Mouths now sufficiently watering, the next dish couldn’t come out quick enough! ha! Shawn said the combination of flavours of the Agro Dolce quail with procini mushroom puree was brilliantly done. While I was practially shocked out my seat when I tasted my veg dish of Brussel Sprouts, quail egg and black truffles – I don’t even like mushrooms (it’s a texture thing), but I promise you I ate this all by myself! I enjoyed it so much I didn’t want to give Shawn a taste (but I did, hey – 16 years of marriage – you gotta make some compromises! haha!).
|Agro Dolce quail with procini mushroom puree|
|Brussel Sprouts, quail egg and black truffles|
By now, I’m happily jigging in my seat, tummy getting happier by the moment by the exciting dishes being presented. What’s next? Broad bean, pecorino & mint risotto. Yeah, I hear you, risotto can be a boring ‘meh’ meal sometimes, but this wasn’t the case, this was truly a rock star dish of flavour! That pecorino does wonders!
|Broad bean, pecorino & mint risotto|
Now, while Shawn enjoyed little morsels of Mortadella cappelletti in brodo, I got an incredibly tasty Burnt Butter & Sage Gnocchi. Oh goodness, do these people know how to pack flavour into food!! Gnocchi is another personal favourite of Shawn’s, so yes. Sharing happened again. Lotsa love here peeps, lotsa love.
|Mortadella cappelletti in brodo|
|Burnt Butter & Sage Gnocchi|
Then, the drum roll please – the dishes we seasoned ourselves appeared baked in their little shells like a hardcore Christmas pressie! Shawn clearly seasoned and accompanied his Barramundi like a pro, because when he broke his terracotta encasing and unwrapped it, it looked amazing! And its taste fell nothing short of that adjective as well.
Trying to act not particularly impressed with Shawn’s tasty looking morsel, I broke mine open hoping and praying the Gods would have somehow intervened with my preparation and made my lovely stack of eggplant, capsicum and other veggies taste more than just the salt, pepper and olives I put on them. But they didn’t, they just let me go to pasture on this one. But that, was my own fault 😉 So what did I do? I ate the incredibly yummy side salad of rocket & spinach that had rad little caramel covered nuts in it! Sweet! Saved by the salad!
|Cracking open my terra cotta encased meal!|
|My Creation (don’t covet it)|
|My Saviour – the Side Salad was delicious!|
But no need to get sad, there was dessert still! And it was most welcomed when it came out: The Lemon Delizia. All lemon, but in varying levels of intesity – and incredibly yummy. A great palate cleanser, but for me – there was a little too much of the lemon zestiness, a little on the tart side. But if you’re a citrus lover, this is the dessert for you.
|The Lemon Delizia|
After all the good times, it’s no wonder these guys keep getting award after award. They tick the boxes in what I call “The Holy Trio” (of Foodie Heaven) which is:
(1) Amazing food,
(2) Amazing Customer Service, and
(3) Amazing Atmosphere
Don’t dawdle about reading this anymore, get to The Grand to experience what I’m talking about!
Flavour: ★★★★★ ✔
Quality: ★★★★★ ✔
Service: ★★★★★ ✔
Value: ★★★★★ ✔
Atmosphere: ★★★★★ ✔
PS. We jam packed our lolly jars with every single one of these amazing sweets!! Big love to you all at the Grand Hotel Richmond for such a rockin’ night!!
|Every sweet tooth’s dream by Bake And Co. at The Grand Hotel Richmond|