Gilson is a refined but casual all-day diner. Open from 6am during the week, it works as well for post-Tan coffee (from Seven Seeds) as it does a meal with your parents, a date, a catch-up with a mate, a quiet solo breakfast or a loud one with friends.
Small tables dot the footpath out front, with the restaurant proper separated from passers-by courtesy of a terrace for taking in the Botanic Gardens, aperitif in hand. Inside you’ll be struck by the warmth of the space, from the pink clay floors to the wood-fired oven.
Chef John Paul Twomey was Andrew McConnell’s second-in-command for the better part of a decade. His menu includes distinctive items such as garfish and charred eggplant on toast (that’s a breakfast choice); and blueberry and ricotta fritters.
At night the sort-of-Italian menu includes potato focaccia with stracciatella; grilled octopus with eggplant caponata; Cone Bay barramundi in a light, herby broth and a roast half-chicken. Many dishes benefit from the kitchen's wood-fired oven, including two pizzettas.
The dynamic cocktail list includes creations such as the Garden Party, a mix of vodka, elderflower, citrus and parsley.
Disclosure: Broadsheet director Nick Shelton is a partner in the Domain Botanical Group, an investor in Gilson.