A lunch meeting in town is always a delight and all the more so when it provides an opportunity to visit somewhere that I haven’t been before – like Grand Central Park. I remember hearing about this place when it first opened. Their point of difference to other new bars and restaurants that have opened recently along the Terrace is that they offer an impressive range of champagne and feature the first pressured champagne dispenser in the southern hemisphere I believe. That means they can offer top end fizz by the glass! Bollinger, Moet, Veuve, Dom Perignon and Krug – take your pick!
Now on a weekday and for a work lunch I didn’t really have the opportunity to test out the delight of a quality glass of champagne and instead wandered straight upstairs to the restaurant section. The fit out is all very modern and in keeping with the entrance of Central Park, which you could see out the large expanse of glass windows. I was shown to one of the 4 seater tables near one of these windows and enjoyed some people watching while I waited for my dining companions to arrive. One comment I have is that the chairs are very high and quite hard to push closer to the table once you are sitting on them. Really not sure this makes sense but if you head there and have one of these seats you’ll know what I mean.
Soon enough I was joined by two cool cats for some lunch. Similarly to their champagne offerings Grand Central Park also has some top end wines available by the glass. As tempted as I was to partake in a $34 glass of Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay I decided the more modestly priced Howard Park Riesling would be more appropriate, so I went for that.
We decided we’d share one of the tasting plates to start. Included was Pork Belly, Porcini Mushroom Arrancini, Scallops wrapped in Prosciutto, Selection of Cold Meats, Persian Fetta and Ciabatta ($23.90). It looked ok. Probably wasn’t the most impressive tasting plate I’d seen before but hey the test is in the tasting. I love arrancini so I started with one of those. The flavour of the risotto was pleasantly mushroomy but there were a few grains of rice that were quite chewy, which was a little disappointing. The pork belly was nice and I quite like the sweet, sticky sauce that they had dramatically wiggled on the plate beneath it. There were only two scallops so I left those to the fellas to enjoy. It looked like they were wrapped in quite thick bacon. A bit old school and all the more so with the tooth pick holding the bacon in place. Perhaps they were going for retro chic. I’m a big fan of cold meats but there was nothing particularly wow about the selection that they had chosen. Really just tasted like regular salami from Coles and while I’m not entirely sure how they could have gone about making it present better I think they could have made it look more aesthetically pleasing than the pile that arrived. The toasted ciabatta slices were really nice though and especially with some of the melt in your mouth creamy Persian fetta on top. The cheese was my favourite part of this plate I’d say.
So I can’t say it had been an overly impressive introduction to their food offering and there almost seemed to be a bit of a disconnect between the beautiful modern venue and the style of food they were serving. For mains I opted for the Chicken, Pear and Macadamia Salad – Grilled breast, nashi pear, macadamias, parmesan cheese, rocket, red onion, cherry tomatoes, sweet balsamic and mixed berry vinaigrette ($17.90). It was a really good salad. Plenty of wonderful fresh ingredients and lots of lovely bits of chicken breast. I particularly liked the delicate thin slices of nashi pear, it added some refreshing sweetness to the mix. I thought the dressing was good too. Not overly heavy. In all, my salad had me back on side with Grand Central Park.
From when I had arrived I’d found service to be very friendly and I did like what they had done with the space. It meshed well with its location at the base of Central Park – had a very modern vibe to it. On the food front, while there seems to be room for improvement, I did really enjoy the salad I had chosen.
I hadn’t minded my first visit to Grand Central Park but there is stiff competition on the Terrace these days, so let’s see how it goes