9 June 2008

Giuseppe, Arnaldo and Sons (GAS)

Crown Casino
8 Whiteman St, Southbank
Ph: (03) 9694 7400
Open: daily, noon until midnight

It's had a lot of rave reviews so when I was invited to lunch at GAS by a friend, I admit I was excited. The restaurant's "no booking" policy saw us do a midday lunch. I got there 10 minutes early just in case. Missing out was not an option. On a Wednesday there was nothing to worry about with plenty of seats on offer.

I relinquished a seat on the stylish banquette seat to enjoy the view out the windows to the Yarra and city beyond.
Like Rockpool, GAS has its menu on paper which also double as placemats. Pastas, antipastos, meats, including an extensive selection of salamis, featured amongst the comprehensive and original list.

We sought assistance from the waiter. What did he recommend?

For starters: the baby beetroot, goat's curd, young black cabbage and beet juice salad ($18); raw ox "Alba" style, finely diced, pickled Swiss brown mushrooms and grilled bruschetta ($16); raw hand-dived wild Hervey Bay scallops with dwarf peaches, lemon and young Rocket ($15) .

We went with two out of three with the baby beetroot and raw ox, as we needed to save room for the main. A superb choice.

The beetroot salad was a stunning mix of texture and flavor. It could easily be eaten as a main, it was so good. The raw ox was similarly fabulous with its unusual mix of ingredients.

I was keen on pasta and our very friendly helper suggested the Lumarche (a shell pasta) with broccoli, anchovy, garlic ($21).

My lunch date ordered the "Coteletta" crumbed milk-fed veal cutlet ($29).

For sides we had potatoes with rosemary, garlic ($8) and a pea, shallot, mint, basil and air-dried ricotta salad ($9).

It was all accompanied by a lovely pinot noir from the Bellarine Peninsula, again a recommendation from the attentive and charming waiter.

From the word go, everything was delicious. The bread basket offered the most divine mix of breads dipped in stunningly fresh, vibrant Australian olive oil.

We were given a fair break between our delicious starters and main, so we probably could have squeezed in the scallops. Next time.

My pasta was a surprise. It was covered in a green sauce – a puree of the anchovy, garlic and broccoli, looking completely different to what I expected. But it delivered big time with beautiful flavor and a smooth texture.

The veal cutlet was the mother of all cutlets, filling the entire plate. My lunch date devoured it, giving it the tick of approval.

No room or time for dessert unfortunately. But let me tempt you with some options:

The baked chocolate pot with chocolate pearls, served chilled ($14), fresh raspberries, rose-flavored grappa with a vanilla mascarpone tart ($18); the "Canolli", three ways with sweetened ricotta, mocha zabaglione and vanilla custard ($15); strawberry chianti and yoghurt gelato with pistachios ($15); gelati affogato with organic egg vanilla ice cream, hot coffee and chocolate sauce ($17) or Italian chocolate including Manjani flaky coffee chocolate ($12). Yum!

Melbourne is lucky to boast yet another top notch restaurant. GAS is fabulous. I’ll be back to try more of its interesting menu and lap up the great vibe and service.


- kate


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