Gills Diner

Posted on October 14, 2010


What an unassuming name: Gills Diner (360 Little Collins Street, Melbourne VIC). Perhaps I’ve been overexposed to American TV shows/movies and the like, but the word ‘diner’ conquers up images of a slightly rundown roadside house that would typically serve up tepid filtered coffee and soggy hamburgers off a dingy old grill. The look would be complete with a grumpy and overweight dude manning the grill, the obligatory ciggie hanging off the side of his mouth, oh and don’t forget the bored blond waitress gnawing away at a piece of gum.

Gills could not be further away from that. I wish I had my camera on me so I could capture the look because it is quintessentially Melbourne to me.

  1. While the street address is Little Collins Street, it’s actually tucked just behind the associated Commercial Bakery and opens up onto Gills Ally.
  2. It’s not too obvious, you just have to know it’s there behind the two big white doors.
  3. The decor has a very utilitarian appeal. It’s been described to resemble a school hall but I didn’t really get that feel.

I’d been meaning to try this place because it got a pretty good write up in The Age and a friend sang high praises of it. But having read through a few other reviews, I became a bit wary about Gills. People seem to be quite divided, some love it and others hate it. I found it be really quite good, service was friendly and efficient (bread and butter appeared on the table moments after we ordered) and the food was tasty.

It was a very decadent lunch, we shared 2 dishes, 1 of which was the special of the day – the roast spatchcock with goats cheese mash at $34. The chicken was lovely, still moist and tender with juices oozing out as we cut into it. The mash was creamy with a nice hit of saltiness from the cheese. The dish was finished off with a herb oil (I think) which was rather nice with bread. You’ll have the excuse the poor quality of the next 2 photos, it really doesn’t do the food justice. I didn’t have my camera on me and the one on my phone isn’t that great in low lighting.

Next was gnocchi with duck at $28. 2 of my favourite things: game meat and starch. How could I go wrong? In all honesty, the gnocchi probably wasn’t as fluffy as it could have been, but it was still flavoursome without being too dense and the duck was nicely cooked. I enjoyed the dish, but my companion found it a bit too ducky.

Ok, so it may be called a diner, but don’t expect diner type prices. It is a little on the expensive side of things, but I think it’s fairly reasonable given the quality of the food and serving sizes. We definitely walked away feeling sufficiently stuffed. They may have a small menu, but they seem to do their dishes very well. Gills comes recommended from me and I wouldn’t mind going back to try a few of Commercial’s baked goods either.