Girl With The Gris Gris at the Ding Dong Lounge in Melbourne promised us Cajan food, good Cajun food. And now, one year on, The City Lane was invited to see the result.
For those unfamiliar, the Girl With The Gris Gris is a restaurant that serves authentic New Orleans food, with owner Billy Walsh handpicking his head chef from the cuisine’s home in Louisiana. So with this in mind, let’s move straight onto the food.
In our case our dining options were less about choice and more about circumstance, as the food came out thick and fast to the hungry guests. So in this instance, I’ll just highlight a few things that were lucky enough to come our way.
Up first was the Jambalaya. Like many Cajun dishes, this contains a combination of chicken and sausage, along with black rice, although white rice was also offered. In many respects, this acts as a nice way to ease into the food here, and went well with beer or even with the Hurricane cocktails on offer. And if none of that gets your attention, it’s also gluten free.
For us these were delivered in small white bowls, but you might have a different experience. Inside was a Gumbo consisting of a spicy stew filled with chicken and sausage and served on a bed of white rice. This Gumbo was the Cajun variety (the Creole contains shellfish), and abstractly, it seems like such a simple dish, but I suspect that is probably part of the illusion.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed this dish. But it’s surprisingly filling, so don’t be confused by the small bowl.
Po-Boy (Eggplant and Pulled Pork)
While a few years ago the term ‘po-boy’ may have seem liked an abstract and confusing typo, with the rise of New Orleans meals in Melbourne, including popular restaurants like Po-Boy Quarter, these sandwiches are now almost commonplace.
Showing the French influence in New Orleans, these are presented using French bread and at Girl With the Gris Gris, the Po-Boys come in eggplant, roast beef, beef, and pulled pork. We had the eggplant and the pulled pork servings and found both to offer subtle style and a lot of highly more-ish qualities.
The atmosphere is chilled, of course, but combined with the Ding Dong lounge, the kitchen makes it a formidable live music venue. From the giant Elvis poster on the wall to the, by Melbourne standards, incredibly spacious stage, this is a venue that if not purpose built, is most certainly more than suitable for live music.
For their first birthday, we were lucky enough to be treated to music from an all star band, including musical luminaries Ash Davies, Matt Dwyer, Steve Lucas, Jerome Smith, and Chris Wilson performing an array of blues songs. As one fellow attendee remarked to me, she had never been to New Orleans, but with the food in her hand she imagined this is the music she expected would be playing.
And this is the point of the Girls With The Gris Gris. Having never been to New Orleans, I really don’t know if what I’m eating or drinking is actually authentic or even close to what I would taste with the real thing. However, the feel is right, and everything seems like it fits.
If you’ve been to New Orleans before, get down here, try what this place has to offer, and let us know in the comments what you think.
Girl With The Gris Gris at Ding Dong Lounge
18 Market Lane
Tue – Sat: 5:30pm to 10:00pm