Gramercy Bistro

164 Commercial Road, Prahran, Australia

Gramercy Bistro in Prahran.
There's plenty to like at this all-day wine and diner. Photo: Eddie Jim

Dani Valent

So, you know fried food is basically just steamed inside a crust? That's why I'm a connoisseur of the golden, crunchy, searing-hot and somewhat healthfulfruit of the deep fryer. Of course, fried isn't always fab: clean oil at a high temperature and watchful cooking are just as important as the quality of the gear that's dunked.

Gramercy Bistro, the diner at the boutique Cullen Hotel, has some good fried dishes on its New York-style menu of sandwiches, salads, sliders, steak and ribs. Jalapeno poppers are the most emphatic dish I tried: hot green chillies are stuffed with melted Monterey Jack cheese, crumbed and fried, turning them into power-packed taste bombs.

Spice-dusted chicken ribs are fried to a dark tan and served with creamy, peppery ranch dressing with grated celery. Because ribs are flat and slender (taken from the bone-in breast), they cook quickly: by the time the outer layer is crisp, the meat is done, making for juicy bites with a good ratio of crispy bits to meat, plus a built-in bone handle.

Fry high: Spice-dusted chicken ribs.
Fry high: Spice-dusted chicken ribs. Photo: Eddie Jim

Even I don't live on fried food alone, so it's lucky there are also soft-shell tacos slathered with smoky chipotle mayonnaise then layered with black beans, corn, guacamole and tuna ceviche. They're a fresh spring break.

Cold dishes include a chopped salad that tasted as though it had been chopped a little too long ago, and a decent Waldorf salad, with celery, apple, grapes and lovely candied walnuts. I was happy with the white-chocolate cheesecake, formed into a sturdy little cone and topped with crunchy crumbs.

The Reuben sandwich might be 10,000 miles from its New York inspiration, but it brought no shame to the canon. House-made beef pastrami was the linchpin of a towering rye-bread construction with mustard, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and pickles. It's a winner and, unlike some American versions, I could get my mouth around it.

As you would expect from a hotel restaurant, Gramercy Bistro is a please-all-comers place, rolling from big breakfasts to cocktails, and both at once if you like. Hard surfaces make it noisy but there's a sheltered terrace for aural relief (and celeb spotting).

When you do a bit of everything, it's hard to do it all brilliantly but there's plenty to like - fried or not - at this all-day wine-and-diner.

Rating

3 stars (out of five)

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164 Commercial Road, Prahran, Australia

  • Cuisine - American (US)
  • Features - Bar, Licensed
  • Cards accepted - AMEX, Mastercard, Visa, EFTPOS
  • Opening Hours - Daily, 6.30am-10.30pm
  • Author - Dani Valent
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2 comments so far

  • Last time Iooked at a chicken the picture shows WINGS not Ribs !

    Commenter
    Miss M of Melbourne
    Location
    Date and time
    September 09, 2013, 9:55AM
  • Gee, I love staying at the Cullen and I'm sure Gramercy Bistro serves up some tasty treats, but I just checked out the menu online - $20.50 for a cheeseburger, $6 each for a slider and $15 for a plate of tacos? Fuhgehdabowdit! Have just had dinner at a bar in SoHo - 3 delicious pulled pork sliders for $9US, amazing cheeseburger for $12US and $7US pints of beer. And this is SoHo, not the cheapest part of town to eat! C'mon Aussie eateries, I know you're struggling to make a dollar, but if your prices weren't so insane maybe people would eat out more often. Oh, and yeah, I "had" to leave a tip (about 20%) but far out, US wait staff are personable, helpful and professional. Too often at home there is no such thing as friendly service.

    Commenter
    Byrneseygirl
    Location
    SoHo / Elsternwick
    Date and time
    September 09, 2013, 10:23AM

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A capital restaurant capitalising on the unique character and flavours of the Canberra region.