Last updated on February 26, 2020
*Jimmy Grants Robina is now closed.
Jimmy Grants is a George Calombaris venture, and the Robina outlet marks the first of his restaurant openings in Queensland. The first Jimmy Grants branch was in Melbourne’s hipster centre, Fitzroy, where it became known for casual, but hearty, Greek food. They have aimed for the same, but in the more urbane settings of the new Kitchens at Robina Town Centre.
The restaurant occupies prime position just at the main entrance to The Kitchens (if you come from the road or carpark side). The Kitchens itself is an impressive build, with imposingly high ceilings crafted with waves of natural wood. Jimmy Grants takes up a similar theme, with slats of wood seeming to form spiraling stalactites descending from above. In the indoor seating area, blue tabletops and seats with stripes of varying shades of blue make one think of the seaside. The blue lighting isn’t the usual tint used in an eatery (think warmer hues that make the food look more appetising), but perhaps the aim was to give it a more modern, cool feel. Behind the counter where you get drinks are black and white photos of people relaxing in their bathing suits, to go with the seaside theme.
You place your orders at the service counter, then go in to the main part of the restaurant to find your own seats. The menu board above the service counter is actually quite hard to read, and not well lighted, but there are paper menus at the counter as well.
The food is divided into sections of Souvas, Snacks and Dips, Salads, Plates, and Sweets. While souvas seem to be what the Melbourne branches are particularly known for, we couldn’t go past the comparative value of the Family Affair. The Family Affair comprised a whole lamb shoulder (900g), roasted potatoes with garlic and rosemary, salad (choose any from their salad menu), pita bread, and a dip of choice for $69. For $1 extra, we got all the dips.
We filled glasses with bubbly water from the self-serve taps, from which you have the options of room temperature water (who wants that?), chilled water, or chilled bubbly water. We then found ourselves seats in an area that had enough space for the food that we anticipated would be brought out, although the lighting in any of the indoor seating areas was pretty poor (hence the less than great photos).
The indoor area is air conditioned, but open to the outside, so it was sort of lukewarm tepid rather than cold or hot. Music was playing at a comfortable volume, initially easy listening jazz, then chillout.
It wasn’t too long before the food was served. The presentation wasn’t artistic, but simple and neat. Given its branding and food style, elaborate plating wasn’t part of the deal. Take this as an explanation for why the food photos aren’t particularly pretty..
The star of the show, the slow cooked lamb shoulder, was perfectly cooked. It was melt-in-your-mouth tender, juicy, nicely seasoned, and beautifully aromatic from the rosemary and blend of other spices sprinkled over it. The fat was appropriately rendered down. Some parts of the skin took on some crunch. It was some of the best cooked lamb we had had in a long time.
The fluffy quarters of warm pita bread were slightly powdered outside, and soft and light on the inside. This was a good contrast to other places where they can be too thin and doughy, and wind up like a fat burrito wrap. These had enough substance to seem filling, but had pillowy airiness so that it didn’t seem to take up too much space, considering the significant serve of meat in the meal.
The dips with it were hummus, tzatziki, and taramosalata (or taramasalata as spelled elsewhere). The hummus was quite mildly flavoured, compared to other places that give it a more garlicky and lemony pop, but it had a reasonable earthiness. The tzatziki had a good dill flavour, and wasn’t too sour. The favourite though, was the taramosalata. It was creamy, rich, and had the right amount of umami seafood flavour, without being too fishy.
The beet salad had roast beetroots, lemon, tahini yoghurt, and smoked almonds. It was quite mildly flavoured overall though, without the zing expected from the lemon or yoghurt. The beetroots were tender, as if they had been boiled. Not bad, but in comparison with the other food, it just wasn’t tasty enough.
The roast potatoes were the runner up to the lamb in the flavour stakes. They had just the right amount of saltiness, and rosemary herbiness. They had crunchy skins on the outside, with a sweet-salty taste from the Maillard reaction, and were buttery soft on the inside. One could well eat a large plate of those potatoes..
We had the Family Affair again on a second occasion. The lamb shoulder was slightly overcooked that time, unfortunately, so some of the edge sections were tough and dry. It was still tasty though. We had the Grain salad instead of the Beet salad. It was more substantial, with pulses, nuts, herbs, and Greek yoghurt. It had a better mix of textures between its components, and as might be expected, had a nutty flavour.
Their takeaway bags, by the way, give the explanation of the name. It is a very summarised story of many, “Jimmy Grant” being the rhyming slang for “immigrant”. Whether you were from Greece, Asia or the Middle East, we were all just called “Jimmy Grant”. Perhaps particularly relevant in this day and age, it serves as a reminder that cultural infusion can bring about some very positive outcomes.
Waitstaff were friendly, and helpful when it came to suggestions for the changeable parts of the meal (dips and salads). They also made sure that we had dishes for sharing the food, and came by to check if we needed anything else through the meal.
Overall, Jimmy Grants is definitely a place we would go to (yet) again. Souvas aren’t a special, singular dish, what with places like Zeus Street Greek and The Yiros Shop offering similar at a similar price. The Family Affair though, is something different, and something delicious. Of note, however, although they were supposedly open till “late”, staff were closing up by 2030. Get there early if you want food..
Price point: Souvas $9.50 to $13.50. Salads $8 to $10.50 for a full serving. Family Affair $69, feeds three people with leftovers, or four less greedy people.
Value: If you get the Family Affair, great.
Address: The Kitchens, Robina Town Centre, 19 Robina Town Centre Drive, Robina
Phone: 07 5631 8888
Website: Jimmy Grants