I was unhappy when I realised I would be in the country for work on a Monday when I wanted to go to Naked for Satan and eat 50c pintxos in the evening. But in making the best of what was available to me I enjoyed a fine dinner with colleagues at Gigi’s of Beechworth.
I’d been there 3 years ago for breakfast and enjoyed it, and with limited options on a Monday night Gigi’s is the best choice in town. We started with Beechworth cider while reading the menu but this was in vain as the 5 course degustation with matching wines was too good to refuse.
The cider is dry and crisp and one of the better ones I’ve tried this summer. And the back label is cute.
The degustation menu (below) is modestly priced at $69 and the matched wine, at $59, is reasonable value considering the quality of the wine and its mostly regional focus. It’s a great way to try things you may not be able to get by the glass otherwise.
The opening course, blue swimmer crab with water cress salad and avocado and wasabi mousse, was visually lovely and delicately flavoured (there was more crab meat in the salad). Very good with the matched Chrismont savagnin.
The next course, a baked scallop with sweetcorn puree and blue swimmer crab flavoured crumb (below), was excellent, but the star was the Giaconda ‘Nantua Les Deux’ 2009 Chardonnay Roussanne. Utterly amazing.
Truffled goats cheese ravioli with zucchini pickle and champagne cream foam (below). The Pizzini sangiovese is an excellent wine but I am not sure I would have matched it with this dish. The richness of the cream sauce and the sharpness of the pickles could have been a good match with a slightly sweet white. The two of us that had this dish loved it. It was the best of the evening.
One of my colleagues is not good with cheese, and so asked for the ravioli to be replaced with something else, and she was very happy with the calamari (below).
The pork belly, confit peppers, zucchini flower and and cauliflower puree (below) offered a choice of wine, and I wanted to at least keep everything Victorian so I passed on the SA riesling and chose the Indigo pinot noir (they’re in the Beechworth area but the waiter told me the fruit for this wine is from the Yarra Valley). It’s an intensely floral pinot that offered the right counterpoint to the rich meat that I was looking for in the previous course.
The dessert was a simple and successful Eton mess with rosewater fairy floss that I wanted to keep sniffing before eating it. The staff were helpful with the menu and the wine, but with the restaurant mostly full they were challenged to coordinate the timing of everything. With each course our matching wines arrived a little later, so I had finished my dessert before my Pennyweight gold had arrived.
The little lioness delivered a mixed review in December last year, and Shane on the go questioned the service in June. A year before Where’s the beef had comparable concerns. Only last month Pingheng also criticised the service, and while it was friendly and earnest, it may have been the weak point of the Gigi’s experience.
We enjoyed our meal and would happily return regardless of the relatively minor service problems. There’s a big difference between imperfect service delivered with indifference (all too commonplace in the city) and that delivered with good will and enthusiasm. Gigi’s delivers the latter and the food is pleasurable and memorable. It would also be a challenge to find such a good meal on a Monday night in Melbourne (the service industry’s weekend), and that is something else to be well pleased with.
I am also trying to start a new practice in commenting on the accessibility of restaurants for people with disabilities, and I think Gigi’s is quite good. The outward opening door could be tricky but there is no step at the entrance, and if you booked asking for one of the front tables you would find sufficient room for manoeuvring a chair or walking aids. I did not try the toilets so I cannot comment on those.
Disclaimer: this meal was paid for by my employer.