A sign of the changing times?

In some circles dining at Melbourne’s Grossi Florentino may be a common occurrence. I don’t live in those circles so when the opportunity arose to have dinner there with some good friends recently, it was enthusiastically embraced. The plan was to experience this Melbourne institution by partaking in a 5 course dinner with matched wines. The only drawback was my concern that the wines would be wasted on me. If only the beer revolution had reached establishments like this and they would match beers instead! Well, ask and you shall receive.

After a few email exchanges to explain the situation and ensure the management didn’t think I was just some lager lout who wanted to have endless VB while sampling their exquisite food, it was agreed that appropriate beers would be matched for those who choose this option. I was a little skeptical that his would be taken seriously but was reassured when I was told that local craft beers would be used wherever appropriate.

On arrival we were asked about a pre-dinner drink. Sparkling white was suggested. I identified myself as the beer enthusiast and asked to see the beer list. It was suggested that I should have an asian lager so as not to ruin my palate for the food and beer to come. This seemed entirely reasonable. My confidence was rising.

We were then presented with the menu and any lingering doubts immediately disappeared….

FREMANTLE OCTOPUS

YOUNG VEGETABLE “GIARDINIERA”, GOATS CHEESE CROQUETTE, ORITZ ANCHOVIES

RED ANGUS PILNSER

CALAMARI, BACCALA, PEA FILLING, LEMON, MARJORAM, PEA SHOOTS, ONOIN CREAM

HIX BEER PALE ALE

LOBSTER RAVIOLI, OSETRA CAVIAR, PEAS, LEMON, COLATURA

KOOINDA BELGIAN WITBIER

SLOW COOKED WAYGU RUMP CAP,

PICKLED VEAL TONGUE, SHALLOT AND POTATO “SALTATE”, FENNEL AND ROSEMARY PRALINE, SALSA VERDE

BRIDGE ROAD CELTIC ALE

VALRHONA CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE

MALT ICE CREAM AND CHOCOLATE SAUCE

BRIDGE ROAD ROBUST PORTER

It was clear that some thought had gone into the beer selection. I had had a pleasant introduction to the Hix Pale Ale only a few days earlier courtesy of  my local beer supplier and the Robust Porter is an old favourite.

I won’t attempt to describe the meal here (mainly because I was having too good a time to take any notes) but rest assured it was superb. The service was excellent and the staff knowledgeable about the chosen beers and breweries.

I believe we must be at a craft beer tipping point in Melbourne when such well established classic restaurants happily match beers rather than wines to their magnificent food. It wasn’t a novelty event or a special occasion (for them anyway). It was an acknowledgement that there is great quality, complexity and variety in local beers and that this can be appreciated by their customers.

If we all keep asking, it won’t be long before a good beer list is a must at any self-respecting restaurant.

Thanks to Sue-Ann for the organising, my fellow diners and to all at Grossi Florentino for a very memorable night.

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