A submission from Food-trekker @britsinthecity
How does one choose where to celebrate their two year anniversary? You ask your foodie Canadian friend for advice! After receiving a solid list of recommendations, a name cropped up that I’d heard twice before from friends saying “it’s amazing, you must go there!”. And that name was Gingerboy. The name doesn’t give too much away as to the genre of food it serves and to be honest I didn’t even look at the menu before I booked a table. I thought, if three separate people have mentioned this place then it’s worth a try.
First of all I tried the online booking system but as I was trying to get a reservation for the Saturday night of a bank holiday weekend, I gave up and went old skool and picked up the phone. I managed to get us a spot at the bar upstairs and after a bit of research I discovered this meant that the space upstairs was actually called ‘Upstairs’…..if that makes any sense. It’s separate to Gingerboy but the same menu, they just call it a different name. I was a bit dubious as it was our anniversary and I wanted it to be special but as I was desperate to try the menu we went for it anyway. I’m so glad we did as it didn’t disappoint. Not one bit.
We were 15 minutes early but were seated at the bar straight away. It actually worked to our advantage as we were sat on the end of the bar and no one ended up sitting next to us all night – all the action was at the other end of the bar. But that was OK by us as we were in our own little zone absorbing the gorgeous menu and the solid cocktail menu that was at our disposal. We also had the pleasure of one of the nicest, most helpful waiting staff I have come across so far in Melbourne. His name was Purusha and he was marvellous. Extremely friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. He was everything we could have wanted from a host and gave us excellent guidance when it came to our menu choices. But more on that later, back to the cocktails…
First up I had a Tokyo Rose (pictured above) which they describe as “an elegant mix of vodka, lychee, pomegranate, finished with rose lemonade”. It was the perfect aperitif and so refreshing. My boyfriend had the Pawpaw and Coconut Daiquiri which when I think Daiquiri I think of those pre-blended, slushie machine ones you get to sit by the pool on your holidays. This one couldn’t have been further from that (in an amazingly good way) and the description of “a tropical holiday in a glass; white rum, coconut, citrus and fresh pawpaw” sums it up nicely.
For some unknown reason, I didn’t take any pics of our ‘street food’ starters which is a shame but I can talk you through them one at a time. The satay spiced swordfish tataki, turmeric coconut dressing and chilli peanuts was incredible. It was nothing like we imagined it to be yet was melt in your mouth and the chilli peanuts added great texture to the dish. Yum. The pork nam prik ong, lettuce cups and crispy garlic is always one of my favourites. You know the one, where you have a piece of iceberg lettuce and put the mince inside it and wrap it round so it’s ready to scoff. Pure heaven. Purusha recommended to us that we try the salt and pepper chicken spare ribs with tamarind hot sauce as he said it was the best thing on the menu. We went ‘sure’ without really thinking (or reading) the description as we overlooked the key words to that description. Hot sauce. Any of you who have met me or my boyfriend know that we have an aversion to spice. We are not designed to consume it in any way, shape or form. When they arrived we looked at them with trepidation but he went first and his eyes went wide. But not in the ‘bloody hell that’s hot’ kinda way. In a ‘man these are ruddy delicious’ kinda way. I then tucked in and had to agree that yes even though they had a kick to them, I could totally handle it and it left the most magnificent flavour in my mouth. Usually spice will hurt my senses and mean that I can’t taste any food that I’d eat afterwards but this was not the case here. It added to the rest of the meal and the cocktails went down a treat along side them. Perfection.
The cocktails pictured above are the Cloudy Mountain Flower and Gingergirl. The former was what we both wanted but I made my boyfriend try something different so we could taste more of the menu. When mine arrived I saw the look of envy in his eyes. It was a mix of “gin, elderflower, vanilla and cloudy apple, sipped through a cinnamon sugar rim” and man alive was it insanely good. He can’t handle drinking gin so really I was doing him a favour……even though he says he can handle gin in cocktails…….he’d be wise not to listen to me next time then wouldn’t he! That being said, his Gingergirl was also delicious (that sounds a bit wrong don’t you think?!) and was a “refreshing mix of vodka, ginger, pineapple and mint”. It had big pieces of ginger in it which were a bit wow.
The premise of Gingerboy is to share your food which I’m not usually a fan of (think of that episode of Friends where ‘Joey doesn’t share food’ – I’m a bit like that). The main dish that we shared was the red duck leg curry, thai basil, coconut cream and lychee served with jasmine rice. Purusha gave us yet another excellent recommendation by saying we should accompany the curry with the “crispy fried sweet corn cakes”. He struck gold yet again. The idea was to pull them apart and dip them in the curry sauce. When you pulled them apart, they were so light and fluffy in the middle. They also happened to taste phenomenal.
We were too stuffed for dessert but managed to fit in a stanton & killeen ruby port (my choice – in honour of my sister as she always picks port as her after-dinner drink) and my boyfriend went for an oban whisky as he has a bottle of that whisky that he bought in Scotland so it made him a bit nostalgic. It was the perfect end to the perfect evening of great company (Purusha included), fabulous food and heavenly cocktails. I can’t recommend Gingerboy highly enough. Make sure you book in plenty of time as they book up quickly. If you get offered the bar area you should definitely go for it. There was a lovely relaxed atmosphere and we were showered with attention. What more could you want.