Level 1, 18 Market Lane
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Gris-Gris (noun): an amulet or incantation used chiefly by people of black African ancestry. How cool is that?
For the 1.7 people out there who follow my blog religiously, you’ll remember that I attempted to have dinner at Girl with the Gris Gris a couple of months ago, only to be thwarted by recently changed opening hours. So, PSA to everyone out there: Girl with the Gris Gris is open Wednesday through Saturday.
Like its name, Girl with the Gris Gris is downright funky, throwing together the culture of Melbourne with the southern vibes of New Orleans. There is a bit of everything to it; the leather booths and soulful wallpaper of a 1930s jazz lounge, the glam grottiness of live music in a dive bar, and the outdoor beer gardens that are a regular haunt for Melbourne hipsters. It all comes together surprisingly well.
The Mama Leah’s Roast Beef Po-Boy ($17) was really something. The soft white bread roll, smeared with mayo and mustard, was stacked high with tender braised beef shoulder. There is only an obligatory amount of vegetables, so that you can better focus on the way the juices from the beef soak into the bread.
The Shrimp Etouffee ($16) was a tiny tiny serving… or so I thought. Turns out I spoke too soon. The nutty roux base meant that the thick stew was almost indecently buttery, the richness tempered only somewhat by a complex array of spices and crunchy diced vegetables. The accompanying prawns were plump and pearly, and the fluffy white rice turned the stew into a bowl of pure comfort. (Beware though – the amount of butter made my tummy feel funny for about 12 hours afterwards, something that didn’t even happen with the street food in Malaysia.)
Not much to say about the American Soda Float ($8.5). It’s that artificial cherry flavour I love so much, with a scoop of ice cream on top. Pretty expensive though.
All in all, Girl with the Gris Gris is a very likable place. The staff were extremely friendly and accommodating, the atmosphere relaxed and convivial, and with a chef straight from New Orleans, everything on the menu is flavoursome, soul-cuddling goodness. Just remember: leave your diet at the door.
Rating: 13/20 – diet-buster.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.