Gris-gris is one of those flirty, phonetic words that sounds like a food group or getting it on, but actually means a voodoo amulet which is believed to protect the wearer from evil. So it’s fitting that Bill Walsh’s NOLA inspired restaurant serving up authentic Cajun and Creole dishes is called Girl with the Gris Gris. The evening began with good ole Danggers hospitality; A warm welcome by the hosts Simone and the friendly door staff, a New Orleans potent cocktail on offer; the Hurricane, heavy on the rum and fruit juice and a green beaded Mardi Gras necklace to wear around one’s neck. Shortly after loitering and schmoozing near the bar, patrons are lead to their seats, some are lucky enough to sit in cozy, padded booths whilst those with tables are seated closer to the stage.
First course is Oysters Rockefeller, warm, soothing, plump, chargrilled oysters with a tasty spinach and brandy sauce. My companion has chosen the lighter and refreshing, Watermelon Salad with rocket (arugula), watermelon pickles, goats cheese and cucumbers with mimosa vin. Chicken & Sausage Gumbo follows and packs a punch of flavour. The gumbo is dark, rich and mooreish, with smoky anouille sausage and generous pieces of chicken, a standout dish of the night. The Cochon consists of spicy, tender pulled pork, on top of grilled, caramelised pineapple, with southern BBQ sauce, dirty rice and coleslaw and is the highlight of a meal that evokes The Big Easy. It’s no surprise that head chef Chris Weysham hails from New Orleans, Louisiana.
Brian Nankervis’ slide show of New Orleans gets the audience in the mood for some NOLA tinged R & B and psychedelic rock, with the Rockwiz orchestra playing Dr John’s 1968 album Gris Gris in its entirety. Nankervis is in fine form, warming up the crowd, replete with witty anecdotes and requests for rare first gigs from the crowd. The winner was had seen Peter, Paul and Mary circa 1960’s, and scored a double pass to the next taping of Rockwiz.
Drummer Peter Luscombe, and bassist Mark Ferrie are joined by special guests, guitarist Ross Hannaford, Vika & Linda Bull, Ray Pereira on bongos, Bruce Haymes on keys and former Sacred Cowboy on vocals Garry Gray.
Vika & Linda are belting out beautiful harmonies and Vika delights us with her vocal gymnastics, whilst Garry Gray’s gravel-tinged vocals ensure the right amount of mystery, as they transport us to the late 60’s with the song “Gris Gris Gumbo Ya Ya.” The atmosphere is comfortable, easy, and inspires many patrons to get up and boogie to the album and the NOLA classics that follow.
If you’re after a chilled out vibe, with authentic, Cajun and Creole inspired cuisine even better than that of NOLA and a killer live band, look no further than Ding Dong, and you may experience a beloved Continental Club flashback.
Stay tuned for alligator on the menu at the next dinner and show with Tony Joe White (1/04/2015).
To find out more about future dinner & shows online at:
Call (03) 9514 4599
Level 1, 18 Market Lane, Melbourne 3000