2 Exhibition St, Melbourne 3000
Date visited: 17th August 2013

It was only after doing our pre-birthday celebration post that I've realised how MIA I've been in the last month.  Hectic travelling lifestyle aside, it was to get off my ass and start eating out again.  

I had seen Gazi's name pop up a little while ago - the latest venture of George Calombaris, serving up Greek street food in the CBD.  How exciting is that.  MerlinFan and I love Gazi's sister, Hellenic Republic and have been back multiple times in the last year, so after perusing the menu online we decided it would be a crime to put off paying Gazi a visit a week longer.

Gazi is situated at the corner of Flinders and Exhibition St, where the Press Club used to be.  MerlinFan had made a booking online (so impressed with her initiative these days whilst I've been slack) for 11.30am - which was the only available time slot for this Saturday.  We arrived a bit early and were informed that they were not opened yet, so we were asked to wait for 5 minutes.  

It wasn't too long before they welcomed us in - the friendly waitress apologised and punctuated her words with a thousand watt smile.  

The first thing that caught my attention obviously was the gorgeous ceiling of hanging terracotta pots.  For some reason it made me feel as if I was in some mysterious underwater subterranean cavern - it reminded me of the coral reef the Nemo fishes were hiding in when we went scuba diving at Hamilton Island.

You can choose to have the 'Doing It Greek Style' which is a 10 dish sharing menu with your choice of souvlakakia or have the a la carte.  10 dishes is way too much for us, so going a la carte was obviously the way to go.  Our waiter explained the menu to us newcomers.  Basically, almost everything was for sharing except the Souvlakakia (small souvas) and the dishes on the Wood Fire Grill.

I loved their Mati a.k.a evil eye plates - they were symbols believed to ward off evil spirits and misfortune caused by the envy of others.  They sell the plates by Robert Gordon for $22 and keyrings as well by Sue Sensi for $12.

Our drinks came promptly.

Cucumber & rose mocktail (left) $8.50,
Pear vanilla mocktail (middle) $8.50,
Pear and vanilla Soda (right) $6
Mum had the Cucumber, rose water, lime and soda mocktail - I didn't taste much of the rosewater and the cucumber dominated, which is good if you like cucumbers.  I had the Spiced pear, vanilla and ginger ale mocktail which was like refreshing, pimped up ginger ale.  MerlinFan had similar, Pear and vanilla house soda.

First up, we had the Miso Melitzanosalata and pita.

Miso melitzanosalata $9.50
The dip was smooth and creamy with the robust flavours of eggplant and a punch of miso, interspersed with curds of creamy tangy cheese and salty capers.  Delicious.

As expected, the pita was just like the ones at Hellenic Republic (fabulous - now I don't have to go all the way to Brunswick to satisfy my pita cravings) - warm, fluffy with those wonderful charry lines.  At Hellenic Republic, they're $4.50 for a huge stack of them, but you have to order your dips separately.  Here, all the dips come with the pita for $9.50.  The pitas are cut much smaller and the portion about halved, but I suppose it works out similarly in price.

Of course, we couldn't not try the Saganaki with toasted pistachio and mustard glyko.
Saganaki $14.50
Out it came on a hot plate, bubbling away.  Yu-um!  Salty, chewy, crisp at the corners, topped off with currants and kumquat.  Pour and mix in the pistachios and it's a match made in heaven.  Saganaki, I don't get enough of you.

Our plates were cleared and out came our mains.  MerlinFan chose the Chicken Souvlakakia.

Chicken souva $8.50
The chicken souva smelt so amazing and garlicky coming out to the table.  There were chips wrapped inside the souva - yes, you heard right, chips.  The chicken was super crispy, however MerlinFan stated it could have been a tad saltier and the pita bread was thicker and did not quite have as much smokiness as the ones we had earlier.  She also felt that there wasn't enough mustard mayo in the souva.

Mum had the Marlin Fillet 180g, Bermagui, NSW.

Marlin fillet $15
The fish was fresh and nicely grilled.

I love my beef, so I chose the Blackmore Wagyu Blade, 180g, Alexandra, Vic.  Our waiter told me that this was a unique cut of beef, not like the usual soft, very tender steak - rather had a more chewy texture and was noted mainly for its flavour.

Wagyu blade $24.50

As promised, the steak had quite a bit of chew to it.  Mum tried a slice as well, and we both agreed It had big beefy flavours that were further enhanced by the perfect wood fire grilling.  A very nice cut indeed.

Instead of a salad, we also opted for a less healthy side, namely the Chips.

Chips $9.50
The fried potatoes were hot and crispy, seasoned with oregano, garlic oil and feta.

We were pretty full after our mains, however we had to order the Bombe Metaxa.  Now, MerlinFan and I have always wanted to try a Bombe Alaska but never got the opportunity to.  A Bombe Metaxa sounded like an equally good alternative to us. 

Our Bombe Metaxa was sprayed with brandy, then flambeed whilst served.

Bombe Metaxa $18.50
It was really sunny where we were sitting so I couldn't capture the flames when our bombe metaxa was set alight.  Oh well, this is the end product.

MerlinFan said the Bombe Metaxa was divine.  She and Mum loved the Italian meringue - it was soft, luxuriously creamy and silky smooth.  Inside was a beautifully bittersweet chocolate ice cream sitting atop tsoureki.  Dig deeper and in the middle we found a ball of white chocolate with a heart of salted caramel.  Keep in mind that although this Bombe Metaxa is meant for two, it can definitely feed three.  Or four.  Seriously.

Gazi is obviously popular and especially during a Saturday, I was impressed at how efficiently and quickly we were served.  We finished our mains in the first hour and had lots of time for dessert.  Staff were very friendly, enthusiastic and helpful with the menu.  We love Hellenic Republic, and Gazi is a nice alternative for pita and saganaki when we don't feel like travelling so far.  Besides, there are other interesting dishes on offer, like the Moussaka omelette, Baby Snapper, Pork belly and the Lamb that we missed out on because we were saving our stomachs for the Bombe Metaxa :P

Turkish Delight
P.S. BTW didn't try the Turkish Delight but I couldn't resist taking a photo of this gorgeous red studded tower on the way out.  Maybe next time...

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