When George Calombaris and his team temporarily closed the doors on The Press Club in March this year, food-loving Melbournians nervously held their breath, what could possibly replace this much-lauded temple of Hellenic gastronomy?
Fortunately, when their all-new Gazi restaurant opened on 17 May, it was met with an almost audible sigh of relief.
The antithesis of polished gastronomy, Gazi is yin to The Press Club's yang. It's all about down-to-earth, accessible Greek street food - with a mouth-watering souvlaki menu, wood-fire rotisserie and wood-fire grill.
As Calombaris says, "it's about having fun; about picking up food with your hands, and licking your fingers afterwards."
"It's food without pretentiousness. It's about yumminess. Affordability and speed," he adds.
Owned and operated by Calombaris, George Sykiotis, Tony Lachimea and Joe Calleja, Gazi is the first part of a three-phased re-launch of The Press Club, which received The Age Good Food Guide's "Best New Restaurant" award in 2008.
Later this year, the team will launch Press Club Projects - a creative kitchen "lab" in which Calombaris can pioneer new dishes then in the third phase the re-launch of The Press Club which will re-open in a much smaller space.
Calombaris admits he was very excited to revamp The Press Club.
"I wanted to take The Press Club to a new place, and couldn't do it in the space where we were in, it was just too big. So, moving will give us a 30 seat restaurant and allow us to take the food to an even better place," he says.
In creating Gazi, Calombaris was inspired by the actual place, Gazi - one of the hippest zones of Athens, which he visited on a recent trip. It's an area "known for its street food and food vans", he says.
While Gazi's menu is unquestionably traditional, it also has a very contemporary and Melbourne twist - with stand-out dishes like soft-shell crab souvlakakia, grilled short ribs, and a "Doing it Greek Style" 10 dish sharing menu.
As well as the food, the fit-out, by Melbourne firm, March Studios, is equally appealing; a stunning tribute to the restaurant's down-to-earth, Hellenic roots. The ceiling is a wave-like construction made from approximately 4,900 terracotta pots, and the interior is warm and communal.
When it came to fitting-out Gazi's most important arena - the kitchen - Calombaris naturally turned to Moffat - opting for the very sleek, stylish and contemporary Waldorf Bold series.
"It's all Moffat equipment. The entire fit-out," he says.
"Being a proud brand ambassador, it was very exciting to see what Moffat brought to life for us here at Gazi. The kitchen is designed for speed, and it's very ergonomic in terms of the way it's been set up. Of course, it also includes all the latest and greatest equipment," he adds.
While the contemporary aesthetics of Moffat's Waldorf Bold Series make it ideal for a restaurant like Gazi, importantly, it also delivers speed, power and efficiency. Each of the Waldorf Bold units installed in Gazi's high-speed kitchen are also incredibly robust - finished in thick gauge, high-grade stainless steel, with fully framed doors, welded seams, and polished steel surfaces.
Fast, fun, and incredibly tasty, it's clear Gazi already lives up to the hype. So if you haven't already done so, be sure to follow Calombaris' advice, and "get into Gazi". As soon as possible!