Yep. JP, you have officially lost your marbles. Or have I? When people are throwing around concepts like Italian Yum Cha, it’s time to merge languages. Ni Hao + Ciao….you get me? Yep, quite clever really….maybe.
Italian Yum Cha, you ask? What happens when a hatted restaurant decides to take their 9-year-straight-hat off, go a little cray cray and take food fusion to the next level. As part of Good Food Month, the Grand in Richmond thought they’d add a little Mario & Luigi goodness to the art of Yum Cha.
I’m all for it. 1. Because the food was damn delicious. 2. Because you can eat many, many portions and noone’s judging coz they’re doing exactly the same. Welcome to Italian Yum Cha.
I ventured to the Grand on Saturday for a lovely grazing lunch with Fiancé and our tummies were growling with excitement. Barnie, owner of the brilliant Grand greeted us with those pearly whites and we went on a mini tour upstairs.
Upstairs is a fantastic space for private dinners, birthdays or even a hens party which was taking place on our tour. No naked men there though. Nawww. My brain was also trying to pick numerous events I could have dinners in the dark, old school rooms and feast on the Grand’s best dishes.
We were soon seated in the Dining Room for our meal and from the get go, service was brilliant. Sorry to say I don’t know our waiters’ names but they were all fantastic. And there’s nothing better than ordering Italian dishes from someone who knows the language. Fantastico.
We ordered a Prosecco (because it’s Prosecco) and a beer (because it was a stinker of a day) and perused the menu and drooled over food arriving on the tables around us. First off, love the concept and was so appreciative that the waiters walking around etc didn’t mess with the atmosphere of the place, still a fantastic space to dine and have a brilliant afternoon. We were very spoilt throughout the meal and received many dishes on the house, but trust me, that didn’t sway my ‘judgements’ at all. The food was all just that good.
Whilst perusing and sipping, we also received the ‘italian answer to green tea’, aka of course, an Aperol Spritz. This took me back to my Italian travels and sitting in little courtyards in Firenze, sipping on Aperol Spritz for a couple of euro. Mhm. That was the life. This is too!
We started off with the Kingfish ceviche with enoki mushrooms. Loved the flavour of the fish paired with the texture of the mushies. Mhm. Delicious. This might take the gong from Chin Chin as my favourite Kingfish dish. Oooooh. Big call, JP, big call. Nothing beats fresh fish in my books. This was done brilliantly and they let the fish do the talking. Oh that sounded rather lame but you get what I mean.
In my books, you can’t have an Italian meal without some kickass cured meats, and so when that arrived at our table, I was one happy little pretend-italian. 2 words for you my friends, wagyu Bresaola. Delicious meats. What more do you need? Well we of course ordered more but yes could definitely have just had 15 plates of Prosciutto and Bresaola.
House baked bread. Drool.
Another thing I can’t possibly go without for more than a few hours, is bread. And when pane della casa is offered with olives and a chickpea & rosemary tapenade, well, my mind is made up for me! Side note. Rookie mistake on ordering the bread. Yes of course it’s brilliant and I probably would have missed it if it wasn’t there, but after the 10th or 11th dish, the bread was looking like a bad choice for tummy filling space. Buttt, don’t regret it. I didn’t like the fresh baked bread, said no one ever.
Damn delicious suppli
I told you. It just keeps getting better and better. We were offered Suppli di fungi porcini al tartufo aioli and I immediately started drooling. Simple words – porcini mushroom arancini of sorts with, wait for it, truffle aioli. I’m just going to let that sink it.
I loved these. The suppli were packed full of mushroom flavour with a crisp, thin outer coating on the outside. I tried to go all foodie on Fiancé and tell him why I like them so much, but he was too busy trying to steal the third piece without me noticing. Eagle eyes here mister, you got no chance.
Rabbit raddichio ridiculousness.
Next up upon a recommendation of the waitress we went with the Insalata di coniglio e radicchio.Aka the bugs and radicchio salad complete with popped parmesan and walnuts. I rarely have rabbit, and the smell once again took me back to lazy dinners in Italy. I really liked the flavour of the poached rabbit and the bitter radicchio was a great addition. I’ve become a big fan of the purple leaf thanks to the Grand actually. Had a calamari, radicchio and plum salad a while back in the pub area of the Grand which was delicioso. Loved the popped parmesan too.
The food kept coming and after reading through the epic wine list, I settled on a Barbaresco Nebbiolo Langhe. My favourite of the red wine varieties and this label was no exception. Fantastic wine from Barbaresco complete with beautiful glassware. Definitely a fantastic wine for a Christmas present if you’re searching. Yep, I’m now a gift suggestion provider as well. So many hats.
I’ll just let you stare for a while.
Aside from the suppli, we hadn’t even looked at the hot food options as yet so we next decided on the Guancie di bue con polenta. Beautiful braised ox cheek for those playing at home. Now I have never been a huge fan of polenta since being on exchange in Firenze in high school and mistaking polenta for mashed potato and wolfing it down, only to realise it was actually maize. HOWEVER, sit in with some braised ox cheek and you have a winner. The ox cheek was just melt in the mouth perfection and the polenta was baked just enough to give it almost a crust. Ooo yeh. That’s the only phrase that can describe it. Ooo yeh.
Because I’m a sucker for a good meatball, we also ordered the polpette di vitello. I say ‘we’ ordered, but let’s be honest, Fiancé knows that I’m going to just go ahead and order and it works out pretty damn well! These weren’t just average meatballs, the flavours were so rich and cooked perfectly so as to not dry out the meat. Bravo to the chefs, again.
Oh mio dio, the food just keeps coming. It was like a silent agreement that Fiancé and I had that we would definitely need to order at least 2 pasta dishes. Hey, it’s Italian Yum Cha. It’d be rude not to.
First up was the Instagram-acclaimed Gnocchi al burro e salvia. Potato Gnocchi goodness with brown butter and sage. These were like the best little pillows money can buy. I would sleep on them if I could. But then I would get butter in my hair or maybe just eat my pillow, and then I wouldn’t sleep well, which would make me tired the next day, which would bring on hangry pains early and no one would win. So let’s just keep them on the plate.
I don’t often order gnocchi but oh so glad we did. So delicious. Al dente. Potato perfection. Can’t rave about these little fellas enough. I thought I had found my favourite dish of the day. But I was yet to meet the next player.
Duck and fresh pasta. Mhm.
I admittedly could have ordered absolutely any of the pastas on the menu but the agnolotti d’anatra con cavolo nero, uva e grappa definitely caught my eye. Duck Agnolotti with black cabbage, grapes and grappa. Not your average pasta dish and it definitely didn’t taste like your average meal either. Once again, pasta was al dente, meat was delicious and the additional of the cavolo nero rounded out the flavour. My dish of the day. Ok my savoury dish of the day. Fantastic.
More pasta? If we must.
The final savoury dish that came out on the waiter’s recommendation was the pachetti di mollica con granchio. Breadcrumb pasta parcels with spanner crab. Once again everything was oh so well cooked, but must admit this wasn’t up there for me. Think it was definitely the texture of the crab with the breadcrumb pasta that just didn’t appeal to me, but hey, Fiancé loved it! The crab was so well cooked and you knew it was fresh as, bro. They did look fantastic on the plate as well. Just made you want to dig in.
Meanwhile, the Nebbiolo was going down oh so nicely and we were enjoying the people watching in the room. A gorgeous little girl had seemingly grown tired of her pasta and was staring at us for a solid half hour. Tried to play a staring competition with her but she won, hands down.
When I relinquished the title of staring competition champion, it was time to engage that 2nd or 3rdstomach and get ready for dessert. It’s italian food. The dessert is going to be amazing. Oh, and in case you were worried, it was de-vine. No words.
Nougat Semifreddo. I’ll take 7.
First up was the semifreddo al torrone. Nougat semifreddo. Haven’t had a semifreddo in a long, long time and it was very welcomed. Delicious texture, not too sweet. Rather heavenly really. Enough crunch to add another texture but not take over. Mhm. One to try for those playing at home.
Ahhhhhhh. (Angels sound)
You drooling yet? If you’re not, I’m afraid we can’t be friends. I bombolini. Aka JP’s new vice. Ok not really my new vice. Donuts and I have had a love hate relationship since I was a little tacker drooling over the cinnamon donut machine at Donut King. PLEASE do not think I am comparing these glorious balls of heaven with Donut King. Once again, mio dio/ermagherd. Delicious.
The bombolini were filled with crema pasticcera and oh the glory of it all. They were incredible. So good in fact, we ordered them again. Yep, we are those people. Hey, you try them and tell me honestly that you don’t want another one.
I’m sitting her drooling. Such a good look, JP.
Overall, a spectacular afternoon and it was all topped off by the amazing service of Barnie and his team. Nothing better than good service and it enhanced the whole experience. Damn delicious italian food. Not much more I can say. Make sure you get there when it returns to try all the things. All of them.