The Press Club has been reinvented as a casual Greek restaurant

George Calombaris, everyone’s favourite chilli-hating MasterChef judge, has reinvented the Press Club as a casual Greek canteen. And Melbourne diners are lining up to prove his decision a good one.

Gone are Press’s banquettes and fancy crockery, replaced by backgammon sets, a ceiling festooned with hundreds of upturned terracotta pots and fluorescent pink floodlit toilets. It’s like the louder, brasher Malia-loving cousin to Calombaris’s other Greek joint Hellenic Republic.

Food-wise they’re pushing the same sort of sharp, uncomplicated Greek gear, from satiny beetroot dips to big hunks of meat – here done spit roast-styles – but a big bar pushing cocktails ($6 espressotinis!) and plenty in the way of snacks means you’ll find as many fly-by punters downing Mythos beers and fancy souvlakia as those doing serious banquets.

That souvlaki is a winner – a pillowy flatbread enveloping the likes of juicy charred chicken, with plenty of mustardy mayo, wisps of red onion, parsley, and a bundle of salty French fries. It’s the souva you don’t try to forget.

The tasting menu is a good option so long as you don’t mind playing it safe. You’ll start with dips and golden slabs of fried saganaki boosted by bittersweet cumquat compote – stretchy, fatty, sharp – it’s everything you want from a plate of fried cheese. Hopefully you’ll get the king prawns too – soft-shelled and salty thanks to being braised with a dice of black olives and capers – followed by heaving plates of roasted pork in a crisp crackling shell and the sweet greasy wonder of honey-soaked doughnut balls.

But if you want the likes of the lamb’s brains (and you do), go à la carte. The spongy little organs are captured in a golden crumb crust with pickled grapes bringing a sweet acid kick at the end. It’s the sort of dish that shows they’re still taking things seriously in the kitchen, whatever a joke-heavy menu may imply.

On the drinks front, you’ll find plenty of Greek wines like the dry and briny Sigalas Assyrtiko and they’re pushing ouzo hard. There’s a whole trolley of Greece’s favourite grape-skin liquor, and if you’re feeling fancy-free you can get it by the 200mL carafe. Opa!

As expected they’re getting slammed, so we recommend making a booking (which you can do, FYI) as well as allowances for floor staff who are friendly, but still finding their feet.

Gazi is a fun time. The food is good and the price is right. We’ll be back.

Who won the Melbourne food awards?

First published on . Updated on .

By Gemima Cody   |   Photos by Graham Denholm

GAZI details

Address
2 Exhibition St, Melbourne 3000

Telephone 03 9207 7444

Open Daily 11.30am-late

GAZI website

GAZI map

Report a problem with this page

Restaurants and bars nearby

The Press Club

10m - It’s high noon, and just like the days of old, the Press Club is filled...

Cumulus Inc

101m - Andrew McConnell once did work experience in a hair salon. He asked us not...

Tom Thumb

109m - Tom Thumb is the brand new hole-in-the-wall espresso bar uniting the...

Felt

117m - Located on the ground floor of Hotel Lindrum, Felt (n amed after the green...

More restaurants and bars nearby

Other venues nearby

fortyfivedownstairs

101m - The uphill slog to the posh end of Flinders Lane is rewarded with a descent...

Adina: Flinders Street

106m - Just a block from Fed Square, the Adina Apartment Hotel comes equipped with...

Hotel Lindrum

117m - Its Art Deco neon sign has lit up the city’s skyline for years, but...

Arc One Gallery

121m - Situated in Melbourne's arty Flinders Lane, Arc One exhibits Australian and...

More venues nearby

You might also like

Take a selfie

Take a selfie

Melbourne has received its own unique wings at Southern Cross Lane

Best dishes

Best dishes

The very best things we put in our mouths this month

Readers' comments, reviews, hints and pictures

Community guidelines

blog comments powered by Disqus