Jimmy Grants is the latest opening from the Made Establishment group (Gazi, Mama Baba, St Katherine’s, Hellenic Republic), bringing casual Greek food to Smith Street (well just off Smith Street). It is becoming clear that George Calombaris and compatriots are out to give Greek food a shot of adrenalin and offer an alternative for those growing tired of the taco and burger trends.
Where the recently opened Gazi fits the concept of casual restaurant, Jimmy Grants aims to drag up the quality of neighbourhood fast food by giving as much focus to takeaways as to eating in. The Fitzroy opening is one of three planned, with stores in the CBD and Ormond planned for the future, and delivery ‘coming soon’.
Named after the cockney-esque rhyming slang name for the Greek, Italian and Middle Eastern immigrants to Melbourne, Jimmy Grants sticks to its Greek roots and offers a short and to-the-point menu covering souvas, rotisserie meats, salads, sides and desserts.
The souvas (souvlakis, all under $10) offer a taste of Greek street food; a warm and fluffy wholemeal pita stuffed with meat, prawns or falafel, along with various accompaniments. The ‘bonegilla’ (named after the Bonegilla camp near Wodonga in north east Victoria, which temporarily housed refugees and, later, assisted immigrants from Europe after World War II and aimed to teach them to speak English and about the way of life in Australia) contains spit-roasted lamb shoulder and chicken, a mustard mayo (there could have been a little more of it), with chips for crunch, as well as onions and parsley to freshen it up. The souvas are tasty and moreish, the perfect accompaniment to a beer or wine; which works out well as the place holds an alcohol licence.
Free range chicken or slow roasted lamb shoulder from the rotisserie can be purchased with a side of tzatziki ($15-16), and you can add a choice of iceberg salad or 2 pitas ($5). The spit-roasted chicken is moist and tender, although some chunks can err on the side of being too salty, but this is easily balanced out by the thick tzatziki.
The salads range from a simple iceberg salad with oregano, lemon and olive oil to a honey and balsamic ‘hellenic’ slaw; but the real winner is the grain salad, well-known to anyone who has visited Hellenic Republic before. The combination of pulses, nuts and grains with a punch of lively parsley and unctuous Greek yoghurt is an easy highlight of a visit here, and a steal at $8.
The rest of the menu is made up of dips (taramosalata, tzatziki and hummus), pitas, their take on the Melbourne dim sim (the ‘jimmy dimmy’), and chips with garlic oil, feta, oregano. Desserts range from Greek doughnuts with walnuts and honey, to a Greek yoghurt, honey and white chocolate ‘choc top’.
Jimmy Grants aims to deliver quick and easy Greek food with minimal fuss, and expense, and it delivers. This is not about a reinvention of a cuisine or the Melbourne dining scene, but serving simple, tasty food to eat in or takeaway. The staff are warm, welcoming and clearly having fun, which is infectious and a world away from most people working in your standard neighbourhood takeaway.