Gimlet at Cavendish House


Gimlet continues to glimmer seductively on Melbourne’s dining scene, a stalwart destination for beautiful food, wine and comforting old-world charm.

To question Gimlet’s beauty is like pondering out loud whether the sky is blue. One foot through the door into the Trader House team’s almighty fine diner and you’re swept into an era of astonishingly impressive 1920s glamour. The handsome, plush curved booths invite you to settle in and share a bottle of Champers with a friend, uniformed staff skate around the floor with ease and warm light dances off the grand chandeliers overhead. It’s undeniably fabulous, but also cosy at the same time – less ostentatious ‘razzle-dazzle’ and more hearth-y and heartwarming somehow, even in all its magnificence.

A Gimlet cocktail is the first thing you should start off with at Gimlet. There is no better take on that juicy gin and lime invention in Melbourne than the classic one you can drink here. Refreshing and expertly balanced with moscato and a touch of Geraldton wax, it’s pure sophistication in a glass. We also knock back a Punch, a playful concoction of Jamaican rum, pomegranate wine falernum, hibiscus tea and pomegranate yoghurt. It’s a sublime start to the evening.

The Gimlet gilda, a punchy skewer of olives, fresh smoked tuna and pickled mussel, is a delightful foray into Basque tapas territory, but the remainder of the menu skews French. Our wood-roasted garfish comes bathed in a soup of rich caviar sauce, tender and silky soft. Fat glistening rings of calamarata pasta are tossed with fleshy prawns and celery and the ultimate seafood sauce: a creamy tomato-orange Américaine. And our Gippsland strip steak is a tender marvel, popping with bulbs of spring garlic and a cheerily piquant salsa verde. 

You can, of course go all out at Gimlet and dine on lobster, caviar service and exxy bottles of wine all night, but this taste of a few dishes here and there is truly a lovely way to experience the restaurant, which tends to feel welcoming and adaptive no matter how much you’re willing to splurge.