A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published December 12th 2014
Southern comfort with soul
Girl with the.... what? Gris gris! I admit I had no idea what it meant and looked it up. Apparently it is 'an African or Caribbean charm or amulet', and it's pronounced 'gree-gree'. So, having got those important preliminary details out the way, let's get on with the real reason for this article!
Tucked away down Market Lane, at the Chinatown end of Melbourne's CBD, you'll find the Ding Dong Lounge. Billed as 'a bar where musicians come to hang out', the Ding Dong Lounge also serves great Creole and Cajun cuisine from its kitchen, which is called (you guessed it!), Girl with the Gris Gris. The well credentialed head chef is Louisiana's Chris Weysham, who, along with Melbourne music mogul, Bill Walsh, aims to turn Girl with the Gris Gris into THE go-to place for Cajun food.
Don't make the mistake of thinking of Cajun food as overly spiced blackened meat! Think instead of New Orleans staples, like spinach madeleine crab dip ($14), macque choux ($16) and shrimp étouffée ($16). If you want to know what these dishes are, have a look at the Girl with a Gris Grismenu.
On the menu, you'll also find a range of smaller (shared) plates, large plates, po'boy sandwiches (traditional new orleans sandwiches served with housemade potato chips), and soups.
Typical of the fare on offer - seared scallops with jalapeno relish and sweet potato and ginger purée
Chris Weysham's menu is inspired by traditional Cajun flavours. "In New Orleans people aren't afraid to get their hands dirty when they eat, and that's what we're bringing to Melbourne. It's a modern twist on those home cooked favourites that represent the soul and vibe of the south. We source everything locally, aside from a few ingredients that have to be shipped from Louisiana," says Chris.
Head chef Chris Weysham is straight out of Louisiana
The bar also boasts a range of imported Louisiana beers and New Orleans inspired cocktails like the Hurricane, a powerful combination of white rum, dark rum, passionfruit pulp, and freshly squeezed orange juice.
Also on offer is dinner and a show. Dinner shows include seasonal appearances by Brian Nankervis and members of the RocKwiz Orkestra in their performance of Dr. John's debut album, Gris-Gris, alongside a host of New Orleans classics from the 60's. For more information about the entertainment, see the website or call the Ding Dong Lounge on (03) 9514 4599.
Girl with the Gris Gris is open from 5.30-10.00pm on Tuesday to Saturday (closed Sunday and Monday). It's located at level 1, 18 Market Lane, Melbourne.