For a family celebration, I made a booking at the Grand Hotel Dining Room.
I had picked this place based on two reasons. One, it was in the Entertainment Book (that always helps!), and two, I liked the look of the menu - it had dishes that were different from the usual steak, pork loin, pan fried chicken, salmon, etc. In particular, I liked how the GHDR does regional Italian dishes.
From the outside, it's not much to look at. But inside, it's an intimate but spacious dining area. It's decorated simply in dark wooden furniture, textured wall paint, crisp white table cloths, statement chandeliers and bold, but simple, artwork. The place feels polished yet rustic at the same time.
To start off, we got some drinks and they also served some lovely bread and olives.
Given that we all wanted different things, some of us ordered off the a la carte menu, while others opted for the two course lunch deal.
The entrees came out soon after the bread.
I got the beef carpaccio w parmesan and cress. This was reasonable, nothing to complain about, but I've definitely have had better. I think I would have liked it if the mouth-feel of the beef was more creamy - possibly with more marbling and/or a poached egg to give it that richness.
Beaker got the char-grilled calamari w parsley, capers and anchovies. This was very nice. I liked that it was a whole calamari.
Mother Hen and Mr Strong both got the pancetta prawn w corn puree. This was probably the best dish of the day. Very impressive to look at and incredibly tasty. The big prawn had lovely smokey flavour from the pancetta, the meat was juicy and succulent. The corn puree helped bring out the delicate flavour of the prawn.
While GHDR doesn't have an actual kids' menu, they did offer to make up any dish (e.g., pasta, pizza, fish and chips). Bubba Chuck opted for the fish and chips which was reasonable size fillet of white fish in a light, beer batter.
While the entrees came out in a reasonable time, we waited for over 30 minutes for the mains to come out. I don't know what happened here - I suspect the kitchen forgot or underestimated the time to get all our dishes ready. I get the concept of having a leisurely lunch, but this was taking it to the extreme. We got to the point where we'd prematurely get excited that our mains were coming out, only to realise the dishes were for another table. I even had to go move my car because the whole lunch was taking so long. Even Bubba Chuck was getting restless as she wanted to go home even before we had our mains. Thank god Bubba Chuck's meal came out with the entrees and that we had asked for extra bread for the table while had our entrees.
Finally, our dishes came.
Beaker got the baby goat basied in white wine, olives, lemon, rosemary and tomato, served w charred polenta. A very generous serve (as with all the other mains). The baby goat was a tad goaty in flavour than I personally liked. However, it was very tender and I liked how the other ingredients were still quite chunky.
I got the Ligurian rabbit stew w tomato, olives, thyme and homemade gluten-free tagliatelle. I quite liked the flavours of the dish. Lots of tender rabbit and it had a nice deep-flavoured sauce. However, the big let down was the pasta. It wasn't cooked through...it could have done with an extra 3-4 minutes. But I was so hungry that I couldn't be bothered sending this back to the kitchen.
The Lawyer got the wild boar and porcini ragout w taglatelle. A very deep flavoured dish, which the Lawyer thoroughly enjoyed. I liked how the wild boar was actually in chunks, instead of the minced wild boar that you usually get in other restaurants.
Mr P got one of the specials, which was rib eye w baby rhubarb and salsa verde. A very sexy steak with the lovely chargrilled marks. Mr P was very happy with his steak.
Mother Hen and Mr Strong both got the pan fried snapper w green beans. Two very decent chunks of snapper fillet. It was fresh, simple and tasty.
We also got some shoestring fries and the iceberg lettuce w truffle oil and parmesan salad for the table. I got the salad because I read the reviews that this was good. While I'm not a fan of iceberg lettuce, I wanted to give it a try. The salad was simple, savoury and light. I liked it, although I'm not sure I'd ordered it again.
Food – 8
Ambience – 8
Service – 6.5
Price – 7.5
If you want to experience proper regional Italian food, I'd definitely recommend GHDR. For the price you're paying, you're definitely getting value from the quality of the food and the quantity. We all struggled to finish our mains.
The front of house staff were excellent. Friendly and prompt. However, they were let down by the kitchen staff, who just took forever to get the mains out.
Propz also to GHDR for letting us use more than one Entertainment Card despite the fact that some of us had ordered off the 2 course lunch deal.
Grand Hotel Dining Room
333 Burnley Street
Telephone: 9429 2530