My new healthy approach to life and project ‘SmallerFoodieBum’ means a restaurant with a bit of a walk involved is my new weekend destination. Anywhere with a good 5 – 10kms gets me up on a Saturday ready to get going and get up a pace with the promise of a little lunch and a sneaky glass of wine involved at the end. L’Hotel Gitan is a decent walk from South Melbourne, a lovely stroll through the park and up Commercial Road and we are soon there, perhaps a little red in the face, but we are there!
The old Max Hotel has had a bit of a lift and has an art deco feel to the big front bar, with comfy booths, plenty of high tables and then through to the more white table cloth, bistro area. In the middle is a huge open kitchen, thankfully full of solid professionals – we have been to a few bad examples of when open kitchens go wrong lately! But there is a calm air as the team are preparing for the dinner service including lighting the huge rotisserie and loading up the chooks for those lucky people tonight.
The bar menu offers more than enough to choose from for an little afternoon snack with your glass of bubbles, Moreton Bay bugs, crisp croquettes, chicken spare ribs and freshly shucked oysters. Those tempura Moreton bay bugs look well worth the walk.
Sensational big, fat, plump, meaty bugs in a light perfect batter coating and then a bed of smokey baba ganoush – more, more, more!!
OK brace yourself….. big call coming… The BEST oysters I have had in 2015! Firstly – perfectly shucked, completely shucked, no half arsed and then leaving me with a little fork to massacre them off the shell. Ready to slide off the shell and into my smiling,waiting mouth! Secondly – not nasty bits of shell, no picking anything out of my mouth or chasing some nasty crunch around my mouth ruining my beautiful, soft oyster. They were Oyster-licious!
Beautiful San Daniele Prosciutto – smokey, wafer thin sliced, packing a bit meat punch – just delicious. Not sure about the verjuice smear, didn’t want anything to detract from the hero of the dish.
The staff are great, that lovely level of service that you are never looking for a water refill or trying to find someone to order, they are busy getting it done and make sure they are watching to cater to you every need but never feel like you are bothered or need to order more.
We only had a small sample of what L’Hotel Gitan have to offer but it was definitely a sign we need to come back and enjoy much more.