After taking over the lease of the adjoining shop late last year, suburban favourite Gang Gang Cafe in Downer has revealed its newly renovated space – and it’s nearly doubled in size.
The renovations have also increased the size of the kitchen, bar and storage facilities, allowing the team to start a regular dinner service. Gang Gang is also a popular venue for live music, and the renovations include a raised stage.
Sam Conway – who co-owns Gang Gang with his brothers Max and Riley – says they were absolutely blown away by the support they received when they opened up for dinner service last week.
“We had a really busy first weekend after such a big and stressful renovation. There was something really special about seeing the place full of people with a live band playing,” he told Region.
The kitchen is headed up by Jasmine Sawa alongside Chris Lenard, both of whom previously worked at Acton restaurant Rebel Rebel with Chef Sean McConnell. The pair have written a produce-driven, seasonal sharing menu that’s big on flavour.
“Being a super community-focused venue, we just wanted to lean into that so the whole menu is designed to share. We wanted it to be accessible to the whole community,” Sam said.
The dishes are split by size, with a full third of the page dedicated to pizza. Start with snacks like house-marinated olives and then share a mix of dishes.
Buffalo ricotta with charred heirloom peppers is a beautiful small plate: the cheese is crumbly and far more complex than your average ricotta and the sweetness of the peppers complements it nicely. The high quality of ingredients would recommend pairing this with some rosemary focaccia.
The pizza menu has a mix of classic flavours and inventive combinations. Sam said they were initially looking at a wood-fired pizza oven for the space but, after some research, decided to go with an electric option.
“We wanted a wood-fired oven, but they just didn’t really fit with the sustainability angle of the rest of the venue.”
Sam explained that the quality of electric pizza ovens is so good these days that the difference between electric and wood-fired pizzas is negligible. The pizzas are certainly excellent: thin, crispy bases with a chewy crust. A minor gripe is that the extra dusting of flour on the base tends to stick to your hands unpleasantly and has a slightly burnt taste. But this would be easily remedied by using a coarser semolina instead.
The mushroom pizza is topped with a generous topping of tangy taleggio cheese. The quartered button mushrooms are juicy and tasty, with confit garlic, thyme and hot honey rounding out the flavours.
The zucchini pizza has a mix of caramelised and fresh zucchini on a base of pistachio pesto. Pickled red onions cut through the oily richness of the pesto and fior di latte cheese (similar to mozzarella). It’s a great dish that celebrates the seasonal peak of zucchini.
In fact, many of the dishes on the menu are seasonally driven, with produce sourced from local producers. Sam explained that when their renovations were delayed, the availability of some ingredients changed, so they’re already updating dishes to account for what’s in season.
“I think that’s going to be an exciting thing. We’re working with some really cool local producers to get whatever’s good.”
Dessert is also excellent: dark chocolate and olive oil mousse topped with grilled figs, hazelnuts and praline. The mousse is light and creamy, the figs are perfect and the nuts add exactly the right amount of crunch.
There are many vegetarian dishes on the menu, many of which can be made vegan on request.
Even though it’s early days, the dinner menu at Gang Gang is already set to become a regular favourite.
Gang Gang Cafe is open seven days a week from 7:30 am. From Monday to Wednesday, they close at 3 pm, and they are open for dinner from Thursday to Sunday until late. Follow Gang Gang on Facebook and Instagram.