450 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Here’s to the last blog post of 2021! (Yes, I like to work with a bit of a backlog.) If there’s one lesson the last 2 years have taught me, it’s that if you expect nothing, you won’t be disappointed. And whilst I can hardly say I’m ready to see what 2022 has to offer, at very least I can take solace in the hopefully-unchangeable fact that I will finally be starting work as a bona fide (and very scared) doctor, which means plenty of money to eat good food, provided I can find time for it!
So what is a worthy meal for the send-off of yet another long and strange year? Unsurprisingly, I settled on a mixture of my two favourite things – wine bars and sandwiches. Greta is a little bit retro, and a little bit European; it’s easy to imagine its transition from café to wine bar by the early afternoon, though no one here will discourage from ordering a glass of vino and some olives before lunch either.
There’s no coffee menu here – they trust all the Melbourne coffee snobs to know what they want, and it certainly seems to working out perfectly fine for them so far. My Flat White ($4) got the job done; it was robust and flavoursome without being bitter. Not the most outstanding cup ever, but definitely good enough to keep said coffee snobs happy.
And what’s the ideal accompaniment to a morning coffee? A plate of Deli Cuts ($15) of course! Because as our waitron said, why not – it’s December! Despite the easy-going price tag, this was generously sized and an absolute treat. The salami was meaty and studded with fragrant fennel seeds, and the prosciutto smooth and nutty. No trouble had been spared for the accompaniments either; the picked guindillas had a delightfully tangy bite and a hint of heat, and the crostini were crunchy without being tough. All up, an excellent snack plate.
The obvious sandwich to order here is the Beef Cheek ($18); you can even get it with a glass of ‘very good vino’ for a neat $30. This may be a simple sandwich, but it really is about as good as it gets. The warm, crusty baguette is layered with oozy mozzarella, a smear of pesto, and a thick slice of slow-cooked beef cheek.
But what really sets this sandwich apart is the accompanying Napoli dip. Rich, summery, and good enough to drink with a spoon, the sauce clings to the dense baguette, making each mouthful of sandwich a cheesy, saucy Italian flavour bomb. This is a high quality sandwich that manages to feel simultaneously classy yet comforting.
However, maybe, just maybe, my heart belongs to the Fiore di Burrata ($17). This sandwich is so pretty I dare you not to fall in love with it. Between the pillowy, golden focaccia is the lush green of grilled zucchini and baby kale, its colour all the more vivid against the milky creaminess of the stracciatella.
And I’m happy to report that this tasted as good as it looked, if not even better. The combination of stracciatella and zucchini is a classic for a reason, the sweetness of the summer harvest brought out by a light char on the grill, and dollops of milky cheese. The handful of thinly-sliced baby kale adds a bit of body to each bite, whilst the house made Greta Verde provides freshness and a slight heat. This sandwich is the epitome of summer with its light, clean flavours; I could eat this every day.
Good sandwiches are a dime a dozen these days (woohoo!), but despite the stiff competition, Greta still manages to stand out. I appreciate their approach of using superior ingredients and techniques in order to turn a classic sandwich into something restaurant-worthy. Throw in a snack or two, and you’ve got the makings of a long, languid lunch.
Rating: 15/20 – the second coolest greta.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.