Thursday, October 8, 2009

Restaurant Inspiration - Gill's Diner and Beetroot Carpaccio

Today I am beginning the first of series (which will no doubt be intermittent and unreliable) where I cook a dish I have eaten in one of Melbourne's stellar restaurants and set out the results here.

I have a few reasons for wanting to do this. The first is that I am bored with my cookbooks. As I have mentioned before, I have quite a lot, and there is really no excuse, but there you have it. The second is that I want to see if my tastebuds are on the ball. This means I have to properly taste and consider my food (no wolfing down). And third, it may provide a technical challenge. For that reason I may start small and build up to twice cooked essence of foam and fluff with a jus of par boiled philosophy.

Today, Gill's Diner, which has been around forever, well at least 2 years, in a little laneway off Little Collins Street in the city.
Owned by the wonderfully named and talented Con Christopoulos who also has the European, the Supper Club, Journal Canteen and (formerly) Benitos and Syracuse. And quite brilliantly, in today's day and age, it has no website. At all.

Here is are two images of its post industrial chic:

My main complaint about this restaurant is the chairs, which are identical to those I sat in for my maths class in 1979. Apart from that, lovely interesting simple food and extremely good service.

My dish was beetroot carpaccio with bits and bobs over the top.

You have probably noticed the carpaccio trend which has taken over the world, rather like confit. Anything that can be thinly sliced can be called a carpaccio. And wouldn't the painter himself be turning in his grave if he could see the use his name is put to.

Vittore Carpaccio 'Martrydom of the Pilgrims and the Death of St Ursula' (1493)
Recipe (for 2)


2 medium beetroot
About 6 celery leaves, picked over and cut into smaller pieces
Zest of one orange
About a tablespoon of walnuts
Goats cheese (about 1/4 cup) Note: this needs to be the crumbly goats cheese not the creamy one
Walnut oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Rubber gloves


Put on your gloves, and peel the beetroot. Then slice very very thinly (realistically the only way to do this is with a mandolin). Get two very large crisp white porcelain plates and place the beetroot slices on each plate. You can overlap them slightly. Whether you use up all your beetroot will depend on how big they were to begin with. And how big your plates are.

In a small glass, whisk together the walnut oil and balsamic vinegar, in proportions of 3 parts oil to one part vinegar (I have not given measurements as you may wish to make more). Season with salt and pepper. Get a spoon and drizzle the dressing over the beetroot. What you want is a very light drop here and there. If there is too much dressing the beetroot will bleed and your plate will look like a massacre has taken place. Let the beetroot rest quietly for a little while on the kitchen bench.

Just before serving, scatter the walnuts, celery leaves and orange zest over each plate of beetroot. Then break the goasts cheese into little crumbly bits and scatter evenly over the beetroot.

This is a very nice refreshing entree to have with a glass of chablis or reisling.

Gills Diner on Urbanspoon

(Images (1) Marie Lou at Flickr (2) Swellkh at Flickr (3) Mute Monkey at Flickr (4)


Anonymous said...

I adore beets so I'm definitely going to have a go at this recipe. I like this idea for a series - and the full disclosure that it'll be intermittent and unreliable! :D I'm the same way with my cookbooks. I have many but never seem to be inspired by them when it comes down to actually making something.

red ticking said...

yummie... i will love trying this recipe... wonderful blog... x pam

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

I have been eating beef carpaccio for years and, as you said, Jane, everything is carpaccioed(?) now. I've had Tuna, haddock, shark, and any meat you care to mention, but I have never experienced a carpaccio of a vegetable, so I think that your recipe could be very interesting. XXXX

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