Saturday, 29 December 2012

Saké Restaurant & Bar - Irasshaimase

The Eagle Street precinct is awash with Hats and Stars from its many fine dining restaurants but only one of the restaurants in this little hub can lay the claim to operate in three states, with hats in in most.  Saké restaurant initially opened up in Sydney in 2009 and quickly gained a reputation as one of Sydney's finest restaurants.  Interestingly, Saké moved to Brisbane before Melbourne, and in 2010 the Saké opened at the top of the escalators in Eagle Street and has not looked back since.

Executive chef Shaun Presland has overseen the creation of Sake Brisbane, which this year saw the presentation of a coveted Brisbane Times Good Food Guide Chef's Hat.  Run locally by Head Chef Shinichi Maeda, Saké Brisbane has a distinct local flavour that sets it apart from it's souther counterparts with regional produce used to deliver a very Brisbane feel to the restaurant.

The last time I was at Saké, I was on my own with SC in Sydney for work (and attending Quay Restaurant for dinner), so it was a solitary affair for me and I didn't get the full dining experience.  This time, I was able to convince my mate 'Big Boy' to come along and share a lunch time experience between Christmas and New Year's.  Try as I might, I could not convince the BB to go with the degustation, so we ended up ordering a la carte.

It would not be a visit to a Japanese restaurant if you did not partake in a little sashimi and this is exactly what the BB and I did to start.  I went for a very traditional salmon (shake) sashimi, which came with 4 pieces of salmon from the tail.  The salmon was extremely fresh and of a high grade sashimi, and was delicious when dipped in the soy sauce that was provided.  There is not a lot to say about salmon sashimi, it's either good or not and this was very good.  BB likes a bit of rice with his raw fish, so chose the nigiri sushi which simply put is thin slices of raw fish over rice.  BB went for the scallops and the salmon which he very much enjoyed.  The scallops and salmon were very fresh and also tasted great, but noticed that the BB left a lot of his rice in the soy sauce bowl, which is precisely why I don't like nigiri!

Onto entrees and I had a severe case of food envy when the BB's wagyu new-style thin slices of wagyu beef lightly seared with hot oil, finished with ginger, chives & yuzu soy was delivered.  You could tell by looking at this dish that it was going to be spectacular.  The wagyu was sliced incredibly thinly, so much so I can't really understand how it could be sliced so thin and retain its shape.  I only got to eat a few bites of this but the portions that I sampled were incredible.  The ginger and soy complimented each other so well and there was a little bit of heat coming from the combination.  It was sweet and sticky as well, but you never lost the flavour of the wagyu itself.  Just devine and the best thing we had all day.

My entree was a little more mundane and in hindsight I wish I had been a little more creative in my selection.  Oh well...  I opted for steamed prawn dumplings, six pieces of Chinese-inspired shumai with spicy ponzu.  Where the BB's entree was light and delicate (and to be honest, not much to it) mine was quite heavy and plentiful.  As far as dumplings go, they were probably about average but were really elevated by the spicy ponzu.  It had all the elements you look for in an asian sauce, sweet, sour, salty and spicy and without this sauce, I would have been disappointed with my selection.  As it turned out, two of the dumplings were out of balance with too much of a doughy texture, but the other four were well balanced and had nice prawn flavour.  I ended up giving one of my dumplings to the BB for allowing me to try some of his wagyu and unfortunately for him, he picked one of the doughy dumplings.

Being a Big Boy at well over 6'5" the BB ordered an extra course which came out prior to our mains being delivered.  He ordered the Sushi Maki (cut rolls) wakame kingfish, golden flying-fish roe, cucumber & wakame seaweed, served with dashi jelly.  The sushi maki are like normal sushi rolls but in reverse, with the rice being on the outside and seaweed mixed with the filling on the inside.  The ingredients were all super fresh with the kingfish providing a nice sweet flavour.  The most interesting component on the plate was the jelly, which was very hard to eat with chopsticks.  Asked to comment on this the BB said it was good, but not a 'home run'.

For main, I chose galantine of quail stuffed with yama-gobo & shiitake mushrooms, coated with orange-soy glaze served with pickled golden beetroot, which was a bit of Japanese fusion with distinct french influences.  It was a very intricate and delicate dish and there was a high degree of technical excellence to produce this plate.  Quail is such a small bird with subtle flavours, it would have been very easy to ruin the meal.  As it turns out the chefs completed their wizardry and provided a well balanced quail dish that had bags of flavour from the stuffed mushrooms, but did not detract from the subtle yet gamey flavour of the quail.  The quail was cooked a number of ways, with the 'drumsticks' getting the KFC treatment and providing some extra crunch for the plate.  The sauce and accompaniments were cooked to perfection and overall this was a fantastic example of fusion cooking.  My main problem was there was just not enough, with possibly the smallest quail ever used for my meal.  Also, the timings for our meals were out with the BB almost finishing his meal before my plate was delivered

BB's main was a bit of a disappointment.  He ordered yellowfin tuna medium-rare tuna belly, edamame & jalapeño purée, sautéed shiitake mushrooms, asparagus spears & nori dressing.  It actually took us a while to confirm if it was the tuna or a plate was delivered in error.  After confirming that it was in fact his tuna by cutting into the fish, we could tell immediately that it was over cooked.  Tuna should have a nice sear on the outside, but the sear should not penetrate most of the way into the fish, which is what happened here.  It's a shame really as the sauces and remainder of the the accompaniments were all first rate.  We also suspected that the quality of the Tuna was not of the highest grade.  Both of our previous experiences with grade one Tuna provided a much cleaner tasting fish.  I guess if you want the highest grade, it probably costs quite a bit more!

The BB opted out of dessert but I was keen so ordered the very berry cheesecake with mixed berries, cinnamon dust and a mixed berry cumquat.  Most of the cheesecakes I have ordered of late have been deconstructed concoctions that little resemble a cheesecake and was quite surprised to see a relatively normal looking cheesecake.  There were layering of crumbly biscuit in between creamy and delicious cheesecake.  The berry cumquat was interesting and added some tartness to the sweet cheesecake and texture was provided by a solid biscuit.  Overall, not a bad cheesecake, but quite a small portion and I actually quite missed the more creative deconstructed cheesecakes that I have been sampling lately.  Go figure!

There is a lot to like about Saké, on the whole the food was pretty consistent and there were some very tasty morsels.  We couldn't fault the service from the wait staff, who were attentive and friendly However, there were a few things that could have been better.  When we first came into the restaurant, we were greeted warmly with the traditional 'Irasshaimase', which was great, but then were taken to the worst table in the restaurant.  This sucked as the place was practically empty and we had to ask for a better seat.  Not cool.  Also, the portion sizes were a little on the small side, so I left a little hungry.  Finally, there were some minor issues with overcooking the Tuna in BB's main.

If you are looking for a lovely Japanese meal with a hip environment  in Brisbane, then Saké is well worth the visit.


The Menu folds up and looks lovely on the table

The restaurant was empty when we arrived at 1200, but packed out fairly quickly.  It's a large space

The Kitchen in action

My Prawn dumpling was OK, but the sauce elevated

The Kingfish was pretty good, but hard to eat the jelly with chopsticks

Japanese French fusion with Quail Galantine 

Saké Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, 28 December 2012

Gerard's Bistro - best new restaurant of the year?

What an amazing year 2012 was for the opening of new restaurants in Brisbane, in fact, I can't quite remember a year like it.  While a number of southern state restaurants have opened up in Brisbane, it's fantastic to see locals opening up new establishments too.

Gerard's bistro is a bit of a departure from the Moubarak Brothers, who have primarily been involved in cool bars around town (Laruche in the Valley and Lychee Lounge in West End), and have now opened a quintessentially cool restaurant experience.  Opened in July and located in James Street, Gerard's is a little hard to find initially but after a bit of poking around and a short stroll down one of the newly created lane-ways, you will find it.  Gerard's is not a super large bistro, but it is a great space with funky decor and a great view of the bar and kitchen from almost every seat.

Running the kitchen is Head Chef Ben Williamson, who has garnered a heap of press lately by being listed at number 32 on QWeekend's list of Queensland's 50 bright stars.  Ben has worked at some of Brisbane's best restaurants including Urbane, 1889 Enoteca and Cha Cha Char (Organic Char).  Ben has created a really interesting menu at Gerard's that has a distinctly Middle East and Northern Africa (with touches of Southern Europe), which really highlights Ben's time working in the Middle East (Bahrain) for Gulf Air creating and delivering the in-flight menu for first class passengers.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

The Alliance Hotel - rise of the Gastro Pub

I really didn't know what to expect when we caught up with some mates for dinner at the Alliance Hotel in Spring Hill.  Being a denizen of the city, I am well aware of some of the more recent history of the Alliance and on the whole it has not been great.  I mean, this is a hotel that used to have a nightclub attached to it called the Hellfire Club!

Originally built in 1888, the Alliance is one of the few remaining 'old school' pubs left in Queensland and has not had great luck with successful ventures and it had been empty since the last failed venture until late this year when the new owners with a vision decided to turn the Alliance into a Gastro Pub.

In deciding to check out the Alliance SC and I immediately thought of our good mates DD, AT and MT to come along and dine with us.  We arranged to meet at 7pm at the Alliance and were surprised that our dinner guests had beaten us to the venue (this is a rarity as the guys are usually 'a bit late' when we catch up!).  We immediately noticed a huge difference between the front bar area and the bistro just behind, with a grand sweeping staircase and cool art on the walls, this was definitely a departure from the Alliance of old.

Once seated and with drinks orders away, we noticed that the menu was quite eclectic, with some traditional pub fare, but also some interesting departures from what one would normally associate with a pub.  My entree of Crispy Skinned Pork Belly, Scallops and an asian salad could have been considered pub food, but its also on many menus around town so I had high hopes of a brilliant start.  My plate consisted of two very large scallops, large square of pork belly and thin slices of apple that constituted the asian salad and it looked very pretty.  However, there were some major problems with the dish.  The scallops, while tasty, were severely under cooked and were raw in the middle and the pork belly was also severely undercooked, so much so that the fat had not rendered at all.  The pork was tough to cut through, the skin was not 'crispy', it was cold on the bottom and the fat was hard and gelatinous and not very pleasant to eat.  There were great flavours with the asian salad which would have worked well with the dish if it was just cooked more.

The rest of the group fared much better than I did with their entrees.  SC opted for a starter for her entree, which was Duck Spring Rolls with hoi sin and coriander pesto which was well presented and quite a large serving for a starter.  The spring rolls were very well cooked and the duck was moist and full of flavour.  There was a bit of a spice and heat to the sauce with the duck spring rolls and added a nice complexity to the duck.  DD and MT chose oysters natural with red wine and nahm jim, which were fresh, plump and completely delicious.  AT also chose a side to begin with and went with some Onion Rings.  The onion rings came out in a cool little basket and were lovely, with crispy batter and perfectly cooked onion inside.  At this stage, everyone else was super happy with the start of the meal. 

There were a number of specials attached to the menu and the 450 gram Rib on the Bone with Kipfler Potatoes, Asparagus and Swiss Brown mushrooms caught my eye.  This was a massive plate of food!  I asked for my rib to be cooked medium rare and this and it was delivered just right.  The meat itself was tender and quite tasty, but a little bloody (needed to rest for a while longer).  The asparagus were nicely cooked but the real stars for me were the swiss brown mushrooms, which added a rich earthy flavour to the meat.  Kipfler potatoes are always nice and these were cooked well, nicely seasoned and plentiful.  Unfortunately, there was quite a bit of fat and gristle on my steak, which was quite unpleasant. I think I would have liked this rendered down a little more, or removed completely from the steak.  Overall though, it was pretty nice and quite filling.

SC and AT chose Piri Piri Chicken with Sweet Corn Salsa and Acocado Cream and it looked to have been the pick of all the dishes.  The chicken was well cooked and had retained all of its moisture during the cooking process, but still had lovely crispy skin.  The Piri Piri had just enough bite to make it interesting without over powering the subtle taste of the chicken.  The sweet corn salsa was a welcome addition and provided some texture and contrasting flavours.  DD had less luck with his main selection in the Spaghetti with Local picked Sand Crab, Chilli, Garlic and Italian Parsley.  I had a big taste of this to help DD finish it off and it was not a good dish.  The pasta was undercooked (and tasted like packet pasta) and was too firm, but worst of all was the balance of the dish.  The garlic and chilli simply overpowered everything else, there was no taste of the crab at all (unfortunately).  MT chose the 200 gram Eye Fillet with Blue Cheese Souffle, wilted English Spinach and trussed Cherry Tomatoes, wich looked great and MT assured us also tasted great. 

After contemplating if we should finish or go on for dessert, MT and I decided on dessert and DD and SC decided to share a cheese platter.  I felt like something a little lighter and refreshing so chose the Hazelnut Meringue with Vanilla Cream and fresh Mixed Berries.  This was a simple dessert delivered in a martini glass with layers of cream, meringue and fresh berries.  The cream was sweet and creamy and was a great contrast to the hazelnut meringue, wich was a little bitter, and combined to have nice mixed texture.  The lots of strawberries, blue berries and raspberries included which added another level of tartness to the sweet cream.   I very much enjoyed the dessert. 

Dinner was finished and naturally we discussed the highs and lows of the meal.  We all agreed that there was a great menu at the Alliance and there was huge potential for the bisto, but were surprised with the prices of many of the menu items.  The Alliance is marketing itself as a Gastro Pub / Bistro, but we found many of the prices to be closer to what you would expect in a Fine Diner, with some of the mains in the $35 to $39 range.  The entrees were more reasonably priced around the $18 mark, but creeping up to $25.  I wouldn't mind paying these prices, but the quality and consistency of the food would need to be much higher than we received on the night.

We went for dinner on a Wednesday night and it was encouraging to see the bistro area packed out, with no spare tables.  There was a great vibe in the dining area and the service was really good.   It is interesting to see that the kitchen area is open so you can see the chefs at work and the care that has been taken in putting together a dining area that is cool and retro but does not take away from the natural charm of such an old pub.  I think that if the consistency of the food was a little better and the prices come down just a little bit, this is the type of 'local' I could see myself spending quite a bit of time in.

Lovely fresh and plump oysters with a spicy Nahm Jim sauce
The Onion Rings were superb, crunch on the outside and sweet onion on the inside
Unfortunately the pasta was not great.  The balance was out with the garlic and chilli completely overpowering
the dish.  The Crab as lost, which was a shame
Expertly cooked eye fillet with a blue cheese souffle and yummy tomatoes
The flowerless cake looked a little different to what we were expecting.  It was more like a muffin and was missing
a really rich chocolate flavour.
The cheese selection was cheddar and brie, wich SC and DD loved.  There was a slight pear taste to the cheddar
but the brie was creamy and tasted great with the accompaniments 
Clean lines of the bistro area with a large chalk board with the latest menu
A familiar sign for those who frequent the valley
One of the oldest pubs in Queensland has had a slight makeover

Alliance Hotel on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Restaurant Two - a menu to die for?

21st December 2102 - 10:11 AEDST..................  Phew

There has been a heap of media coverage about the ancient Maya and their calendar and in particular a certain prophecy that the world would end at 10:11 on 21/12/2012 (or 9:11 Brisbane time).  My thoughts on this....... Unlikely, but just in case, I thought there would be no better way to go than a last meal with my lovely partner over a delicious meal in one of Brisbane's finest restaurants.

Restaurant Two has been at the forefront of fine dining in Brisbane for around 13 years, which puts it in exclusive company in the Brisbane dining scene.  Of course it has awards, too many to mention over the years, but most notably it is one of the few restaurants that has a Brisbane Times Good Food Guide Chefs Hat as well as a Gourmet Traveller One Star.  Head Chef and owner David Pugh is passionate about his food and uses only the freshest local produce.

Located in probably the classiest part of town at the corner of Alice and Edwards Streets and right by the entrance to the Botanical Gardens, Two is in the heritage-listed Old Mineral House building which has been lovingly restored with large picture windows that overlook Alice Street and the Botanical Gardens with glimpses of the Brisbane River.  Its such a lovely spot and a favourite for brides & grooms to celebrate their weddings.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Euro - as good as its sibling?

I love the fact that there are a couple of restaurants around Brisbane that have a fine dining option but also have a more relaxed diner attached.  Era Bistro has Flight and Cha Cha Char has Organic Char but there is one establishment that has taken it to the next level.

t's not enough that Urbane Restaurant has two chefs hats but its little sibling The Euro also has a chefs hat, which is an amazing feat.  The Euro is less formal than Urbane but then when you think about it, there is not much in Brisbane that matches Urbane.  The Euro feels very European with a chic interior and a celebration of light, texture and colour.  There is a cool bar area between two eating areas (as well as a relaxed lounge section), but you can also eat at the bar once all of the tables are taken.

Interesting colours in the restaurant, which is long and thin

The Euro shares its kitchen with its big brother which is overseen by Argentine-born Alejandro Cancino who is the head Chef of Urbane.  I have written quite a bit about Alejandro in my recent Urbane post, so I won't say too much more here (check out the post for more info).

I was at The Euro with some colleagues from work and some vendor partners and it was our last opportunity to spend some time together before we all go our separate ways for the Christmas break.  We began by getting some share plates that included a Salumi board with pickled peppers, which had numerous cuts of ham, and Calamari fritti, preserved lemon aioli.  The calamari was cooked really well and the crumbs had a little peppery flavour to them.  The aioli was smooth and creamy and partnered nicely with the calamari pieces.

I was completely torn for my entree, there were quite a few items on the menu that I was interested in, but I finally opted for the Octopus with potato and paprika.  Octopus seems to really popular on the menus of Brisbane at the moment and I have been left wondering if there is an octopus 'season', maybe in the warmer months?  Also, I was really curious how this would look as I had a similar sounding dish at Ortiga recently, and was completely taken aback by the beautifully presented plate of food at The Euro.  Expertly cooked octopus tentacles were sliced nice and thick across thinly sliced potato circles with a paprika oil drizzled around the plate.  The octopus had a lovely texture and, mixed with the paprika oil and the pesto paste, was simply delicious with added texture from impossibly thin toast.  This was so very different from my Ortiga octopus and I think it was much nicer as well.

Main was the market fish of the day with tomato, shallot and caperberries with the fish being  John Dory, pan fried to a lovely colour with a delicious saffron sauce.  John Dory is a coastal fish and is a quite firm white fleshed fish that is also a little flakey.  Dory is often described as a buttery and delicate fish that is great for absorbing the flavours its cooked in.  I had two dory fillets, one being perfectly cooked and the other being a little over.  The combination of the dory and the saffron sauce was beautiful and it definitely had a sweet buttery flavour.  It was accompanied by a wide variety of tomatoes cut into different shapes and sizes.  I didn't think the tomatoes added too much to the dish, but there was a lovely salty taste that came from the caperberries.  A few of us had the dory and all agreed it was a fantastic main.

I was the only one of us that decided on dessert and I could not possibly pass on the Apple tarte tatin, vanilla anglaise.  The tarte tatin was the largest I have ever been served and must have been 20 cm in diameter.  The vanilla anglaise was delivered separately in a little jug and was pored around the tarte tatin at the table.  The vanilla and the caramel from the tarte mixed together to form a lovely looking sauce that surrounded the tarte tatin like an ocean around an island.  The tarte tatin was simply delicious and not overly sweet, which can be a problem at times.  The caramel provided a lovely bite as well as the sweetness and the vanilla anglaise provided a bit of a cooling influence over the very hot apple.  The apple was cooked wonderfully with an intense caramalisation which then gave way to the sweet and sour apple flavour.  Overall this was the second best tarte tatin I have ever had and well worth the visit alone.

There was an amazing vibe in the restaurant, which was quite empty when we arrived at midday, but was packed and pumping by the time we finished up.  The wait staff were friendly and efficient, but were a little run off their feet as the crowd built.

Over the years I had heard mixed feedback about the Euro and I have the feeling that in the past its largely been ignored in favour of its more highly rated big brother Urbane.  Given that The Euro is the 'second fiddle' restaurant in the pair, it was an extremely satisfying visit.  I think this could have a lot to do with the influence of Alejandro Cancino but also that it's developing an identity of its own, with the ability to stand alone as a desirable restaurant destination.

I am not sure if The Euro will ever overtake its big brother as the more accomplished restaurant, but I am pretty sure that this is not what The Euro is about.  Where Urbane is a class above, it's almost unaccessible to most, but The Euro has no such pretensions.  The Euro is beautiful food at reasonable prices (for a hatted restaurant) and is a diner that you are more likely to feel comfortable visiting for occasions other than the very special.


Linguini with spanner crab, rocket, parmesan and lemon.  The balance of the linguini was slightly out, with the
lemon flavoured sauce slightly overpowering the delicate crab.  There was a vegetarian version of this for
the vegetarian in the group.  It seemed a little better balanced than the version with the crab!
Grilled prawns with smoked tomato, chilli, bacon and coriander was a lovely looking entree.  The prawns were
perfectly cooked and the dish was well balanced
Free range duck leg with baby beetroot, apple, walnut and horseradish was an amazing looking plate of food.
The duck was perfectly cooked and pink and worked really well with the beetroot and apple
‘Cotoletta’ - crumbed milk-fed veal cutlet with lemon and slaw salad was probably the most disappointing main
of the day.  We all agreed that this could have been produced at any pub in Queensland.  There was nothing special
about it, including the taste. 

For the vegetarian in the group there was a pumpkin ravioli with fetta.  The Euro provides a separate vegetarian
menu so is very vego friendly.  SG really enjoyed this.

The Euro (Urbane) on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Restaurant Lurleen's - down at the winery is something speical

I don't get out to the countryside very often, not that many would consider Mt Cotton as countryside, but made an exception this weekend.  Knowing how much of a foodie I am, my fantastic team at work gave me a gift voucher for Sirromet which gave me the perfect opportunity to check out Restaurant Lurleen's.

I didn't really know what to expect when SC and I drove off to Sirromet, which is about 45 minutes southeast of Brisbane.  When I first moved to Queensland the first house my parents bought was just a few minutes down Mt Cotton Road, so there was a bit of a nostalgic trip down memory lane to contend with.  When we finally pulled into the driveway, we were completely taken aback by how big the winery is.  SC and I were debating if there would be grapevines on the property of if the grapes were transported in from Stanthorpe but it was settled once we saw row after row of grape vine.

View from our seat
Lurleen's is a restaurant that I have heard many great things about, and as always, I was keen to see if the food lived up to the reputation.  The kitchen is run by executive chef Andrew Mirosch, who has been a chef for nearly 30 years, running some of Queenslands best restaurants, having help set up Two Small Rooms.  Lurleen's has a host of awards including Best Restaurant in a Winery (won six consecutive years) and voted best restaurant in 2008 & 2009 by the Courier Mail Lifestyle Awards.  I had high expectations!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Riverbar & Kitchen - new kid on the river

Every once and a while something good comes out of something bad.

A while ago, Brisbane suffered through its worst flooding in over 30 years and many of Brisbane's riverside restaurants and bars were impacted.  The Boardwalk Bar and Bistro was one of the unfortunate restaurants that was not able to recover and the spot remained vacant for around 18 months.

Sometimes misfortune leads to opportunity and Matt Moran has taken that opportunity with both hands, picking up arguably the prime spot on the Brisbane river to launch his new establishment with partner Peter Sullivan.  This is the second venture for the pair in Brisbane, with Aria Brisbane now being one of Brisbanes best restaurants.  Riverbar and Kitchen departs a little from the fine dining of Aria and is a much more relaxed environment that has already become a favourite of the Brisbane afterwork set.

As luck would have it, I had two Christmas events in two days at Riverbar and experienced both the afterwork feel on Wednesday night and then lunch on Thursday, pretty serendipitous really.  Both times I have been at Riverbar and the numerous times I have been out for a jog and run by, I have never seen it quiet, in fact it's pretty much always packed.  There are not many new openings in Brisbane that can lay claim to that......

Wednesday night was an industry event and there were a heap of my peers from the Contact Centre industry gathered together to enjoy a drink and a feed to celebrate the year that was.  As usual it was great to catch up with people from my industry and share experiences and, on this night, share a meal.  The style on the night was to be big plates of share food brought out to the tables along with 'finger food' and there was plenty of it to go around.

First up were Cajun Chicken Pies with Avocado which were quite nice; creamy sauce with well cooked chicken and crunch pastry.  The avocado added a nice dimension and for a chicken 'party pie' it was pretty good.  The next finger food out was Peking Duck Pancakes with Shallots, which were OK, a little dry with no real sauce on offer to offset the dry ingredients.  The duck was nicely cooked and the pancakes fresh and tasty.  I had a couple of these and enjoyed them, but where was the dipping sauce?  Pizza was next and what better way to have pizza than on a 10 foot long wooden board with the pizza placed in pieces in a straight line?  Even better, my favourite, Margarita!  The pizza was pretty good, nice crispy base and a lovely rich tomato sauce and melted mozzarella.   It's amazing how may restaurants get a simple margarita wrong, happily Riverbar is not one of them.

My favourite bite of the night was the Salt & Pepper Squid, Coriander & Lime which were supremely cooked and literally melted in my mouth.  I have not had better cooked calamari and they had a lovely heat to them with a little chilli, just delicious (orgasmic with a squeeze of lemon).  It's amazing how a simple bucket of prawns can make you smile, but we had at least three buckets of prawns, so my smile was big!  Cooked perfectly and peeled for us, they went really well with the cocktail sauce provided, my second favourite dish of the night.  Sticking with fish there were deep fried shrimp which were not that interesting and I didn't really enjoy, they were a bit too much like a cheap Chinese dish.

Last of the dishes I tried was a bucket of fish and chips with tartare sauce.  I am not sure what fish was on offer tonight but it tasted OK, but the batter was a bit soggy with big tartare dollops on the fish.  Not a pleasant texture and the chips were the same, a bit soggy too and definitely the worst of the dishes tonight.

Because I loved them so much, I have included another photo of the calamari.  Seriously, get down to Riverbar and order some.

Next day was a celebration lunch for the project team I have been working with and was a more traditional sit down affair.  The menu at Riverbar & Kitchen is split into a number of sections;  Bar food (sampled last night which is pretty much share plates), Pizza, Salads and Mains.  Prices range from $28-$30 for mains and about $15-$18 for everything else.  Most of us decided to have mains, but a couple of the team shared some bar food (which I talked about earlier)

My selection for lunch was the Wood fired prawn, romesco sauce and lime and when the plate was first delivered my initial thought was that it was a generous plate of prawns.  The prawns were large and five of the six were perfectly cooked, with one of them being a bit under and a bit slimy.  The romesco sauce was delightful, with a rich tomato flavour that worked really well with the prawns, however, there needed to be more of the sauce to balance out the dish.  There was a lot of salad here as well, which as it turns out was used to 'pad' the dish, making it look more substantial than it was.  I think for the price, another couple of prawns would have been appreciated.

There is no doubt that Matt Moran is onto another winner here with Riverbar and Kitchen.  It's a fantastic spot and was crying out for another reasonably priced option in amongst the fine dining that surrounds it.  Overall the food was pretty good, but not without its faults.  My one under-cooked prawn was a shocker but probably the biggest issue was the timing of the meals coming out.  There were about 9 of us there for lunch and pretty much none of the meals came out together.  Some of us were finished before others had their food delivered.  Ours was not the only table that was experiencing this, with general comments and observations from other tables showing the same occurring.

I'm being a bit critical here as the Riverbar and Kitchen has not yet been open a week, but am positive that these teething issues will be resolved, after all, how many new restaurants are packed out so completely in the first week, with standing room only?

Riverbar and Kitchen is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week and there is no doubt in my  mind that it will continue to be a favourite for some time to come.  I think I will wander down over the weekend to check out the breakfasts!


BS had the Linguine, asparagus, pesto & herb.  Well cooked pasta and asparagus that could had done with some
more of the tomato to help balance out the pesto and herbs.  Quite a small size as well

KK had the seared kingfish, ginger, ponzu and miso.  This looked beautiful on the plate and was extremely tasty

Pretty much packed out everytime I have been by.  This is a great sign for the Riverbar and the Eagle Street
precinct in general

A definite nautical theme throughout, which is well suited to the river 

Riverbar & Kitchen on Urbanspoon


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