George Calombaris must be a busy man. In the couple of years he’s opened up Mama Baba in South Yarra, transformed fine dining establishment the Press Club into souvlaki bar Gazi, and St Katherine’s is now undergoing rework to become Hellenic Republic Kew. You have to commend his efforts; in an age where fine dining is losing its shine he has certainly tried his hardest to keep up with the trends, ditching more traditional dining settings in favour of the casual, fast-paced eating that consumers are demanding.
Jimmy Grants (rhyming slang for ‘immigrants’) focuses on Greek-style street food, harking back to George’s Aussie/Greek childhood. Souvlaki, of course, feature prominently on the menu.
Bob goes for ‘the Bonegilla’, with chicken and lamb ($8.50). The lamb is slow roasted and the chicken is done on the spit. As I’m not a lamb fan I chose the rather nice sounding ‘Nonna Maria’ ($7.50), which I can picture being put together with the loving hands of a Greek grandmother.
The bread is thick, soft and fluffy: it is immediately memorable. The meat is tender and smoky, matching well with the zingy, acidic mustard aioli.
The grain salad ($8) was texturally interesting with a good balance of herbs and zest. It was not unlike my own freekeh salad recipe.
I have often said that no review is complete without dessert – so we succumbed to the temptation of a ‘Jimmy’s wheel’ ($6) on display at the counter. Based on the classic wagon wheel, ‘Jimmy’ adds a creamy peanut buttter layer to the marshmallow and jam filling.
There were a few complaints on Urbanspoon about the portion sizes and inclusion of chips in the filling. Those who’ve been to Greece have informed me that souvas are traditionally served like this, rather than the over-sized, garlicky things we’re used to. It reminds me of when the Mexican trend was just getting off the ground here: those who grew up on Old-El-Paso kits complained that everything was bland and lacking in sour cream. If you’re looking for a dodgy grease-fest then this is not the place – perhaps try Stalactites, or your local kebab van.
Personally I thought the souvas were tasty, filling and good value for money. I’ve heard the chips are amazing too, so I must go back and try them.Jimmy Grants 113 St David St Collingwood