Jimmy Grants is rhyming slang for immigrants. It's also the name of George Calombaris's new street food venture on Saint David Street in Fitzroy. On a busy Saturday night I found myself following my nose towards a delicious aroma of what I thought was wood-fired pizza, but ended up being Greek souvas.
The exterior is a rough red brick cubed building that would be inconspicuous without a neon blue cross lighting the way. To the side, a small courtyard appears grungy with graffiti tags and stainless steel tables and chairs. An automatic glass sliding door allowed us entry into this casual dining spot. The street, minus the grime, has been brought inside. Graffiti murals themed on immigration and travel are splashed across the walls telling the past.
Black and white grafiti signifies our memories of the past - at Jimmy Grants
An open plan kitchen with eating bar allows you to watch your food be prepared and also helps you decide what you want as a queue of salads and pita wraps flood past. At the front end there is a service area to order. The canteen style design of windows that lift upward instantly reminds me of a food truck. I wouldn't be surprised if Jimmy Grants opens one in the future. Opposing the kitchen is a polished wooden bar stocked with Mythos and Ouzo. Mediterranean-blue stools are neatly lined against it.
Jimmy Grants' is brimming with a decidedly hipster crowd. However, a few families are in the mix which I assume is because this is not a break the budget kind of place. Due to the mass of people and a long waiting line we decide to order to go. Our selection is the "homer" souva for $7 each. These pitas come stuffed full of falafels, Greek yoghurt and the house Hellenic slaw. It takes almost thirty minutes for our name to be called. We watch hungrily in anticipation as plates of food continue to head out to the crowd.
Finally we receive our order, wrapped tightly and placed into small brown paper bags. We head out into the crisp night air and inhale them ravenously. The falafels are soft and herbaceous on the inside and lightly browned and crisp on the outside. They are delicious. The slaw is a refined balance of cabbage, honey and tasty balsamic mayonnaise. But the pita bread steals the show. It's better than anything I had in Greece. While managing to have a slight oily component it also remains light and fluffy and very flavoursome.
For the meat eaters there are numerous souvlaki choices to make. Mr Papadopoulos is filled with lamb, mustard, chips and herbs. The Patris has an attire of prawn, attiki honey & cucumber. There are also a couple of chicken choices and a kid's souvla. Plates of slow roasted lamb shoulder or free range chicken from the spit start from $15. If you are feeling in the mood for a snack you may opt for the dips (tzatziki, hummus, tarasomalata) and a beer.
The prices, the taste and the vibe of Jimmy Grants drew me back in earlier this week. I chose a quiet afternoon post-work to enjoy the atmosphere and check out the details of this bar, diner and takeout combo. A peak in the toilets proved that this is not some greasy Souvlaki Bar, with Swisse hand wash and hand moisturizer provided for the fussy fingers and fabulous lighting fixtures adorning the walls.
The whole outfit is clean and modern with sleek lines. The staff make you feel comfortable with lots of smiles, energy and a willingness to explain the menu and to help in any way. I couldn't resist trying the homer again and the second time it was even better. I also ordered the grain salad this time. It was no disappointment and had a perfect balance of pulses, grains and herbs. I could identify almond slivers and pine nuts, lentils and pearl barley, sweet currents and refreshing herbs of parsley, coriander and Spanish onion. A generous dollop of Greek yoghurt atop combined with a light citrusy dressing serves up a mouthwatering dish that will keep me coming back for more.
At the waiters recommendation I left with one of the plastic wrapped wagon wheels sneakily placed on display at the service area. Think chocolate covered pink marshmallow laced with jam and salted peanut butter - and sigh.
For street food fare, George Calombaris has certainly lifted the game and the competition with prices that make eating out easier again. Jimmy Grants fits into the beating heart of Fitzroy with ease, but get ready Melbourne because this joint will be expanding with new stores opening soon. In the meantime I'll be back and curious to try the much raved about chips with garlic oil, feta and oregano. Expect to see this place on the Best Cheap Eats lists soon.
The food looks good, but I'm not keen on the venue. The outside looks like a some make-shift emergency first aid building, and the inside looks like an unfinished warehouse with crates and boxes waiting to be shipped off.