Friday, 30 November 2012

Augustine's on George - old world charm

I love the Terrace Houses
There are some buildings in Brisbane that are quite unusual and dare I say it, out of place.  You would expect to find them in older, more established cities, like Sydney or Melbourne.  I grew up in Adelaide where terrace houses are the norm near the CBD and as such love the few pockets of Brisbane that are home to these stylish homes of yesteryear.  Today I found myself down the 'political' end of town in some terraces that house Augustine's on George.  The building is amazing with its deep red brick facade, intricate stonework, sweeping balconies.  stone arches and old world charm.

I was meeting with a former boss (PS) of mine who I consider to be one of the best bosses I have had in my career, with whom I now enjoy a friendship and (at times) mentorship.  What was ironic about today was that my GM was also having a working lunch at Augustines with her peers and it was just our two groups in the main dining area.

Augustine's was originally built for residential use during the Victorian era in 1889, it was designed by G.H.M Addison in a classic Italian style.  Being built for residential use, the restaurant is not your typical dining location and in many respects reminds me of Jacques Raymond in Melbourne, with small rooms for diners and a very homely feel to it.  Today, with only two groups in the main area, there was a distinct lack of a vibe and it felt very sombre.

Orders taken and catching up on the latest news and gossip, we were surprised with an amuse-bouche of Gazpacho was served.  Gazpacho is a vegetable soup which is usually served cold and originates from southern Spain.  The Gazpacho served was a traditional tomato based soup and had quite a zing.  It was cold and refreshing, but took quite some getting used to.  After our first tastes PS and I both reached for our drinks to cool down our mouths from the heat in the soup.  I was used to the heat by the time I finished, but in my opinion it was a bit spicy and took away the sweetness of tomato.

Gazpacho - spicy
By the time the entrees arrived my mouth and taste buds had had the opportunity to settle down.  PS went with a side of steamed vegetables, which were pretty boring but hit the spot.  I chose the Caramelised scallops, beetroot, fennel and orange walnut warm salad.  There were some good things about this dish, but also some elements that were disappointing.  Overall, the flavour combination of beetroot and scallops worked, but the execution of the beetroot was not faultless.  There were some cube of warm beetroot that tasted ok, but what appeared to be beetroot chutney was lumpy and did not taste very good.  The candied walnuts were delicious and added some great texture to the plate, but the fennel and orange in the salad did not work with the vinaigrette that was mixed in the salad.  Most disappointing of all were the scallops, which were perfectly cooked on one side and almost raw on the other.  This had the potential to be a great dish but some inconsistencies let it down and the chutney was not needed.

Scallops were a little undercooked

The mains came out and I could tell straight up that they would be a different proposition to the entree.  PS ordered the Lamb backstrap, warm couscous, salsa-verde and pereronata, which looked lovely.  PS asked for the lamb to be cooked medium to medium rare with a nice colour of pink and this was exactly how it came.  The first bite of lamb was the best with a deep caramalisation of the 'end piece' and that beautiful sweet lamb flavour coming through.  The piece I tried was from the middle and was a little tough but tasted wonderful.  The salsa-verde added a little acidity to the meat which contrasted well.  I am not a big fan of couscous myself, but PS seemed to enjoy it and there was nothing left on the plate by the time he had finished.

Perfectly cooked Lamb

Being the big fan of pork, I could not pass up on the Berkshire pork belly & loin, calvados apple, cabbage, apple & onion puree with jus.  There were some spectacular elements on this plate of food, but the look was not one of them.  It didn't look bad, it just looked brown and lacked a little creativity and could easily have been rescued with a little colour, perhaps using red cabbage instead and perhaps even a spanish onion puree.  Where it lacked in visual clarity it made up with clarity of flavour.  The pork loin was ever so slightly overcooked, but it did not detract from its deliciousness, sweet with great caramalisation and with the jus adding a depth of flavour.  Great contrast from the crunch of the cabbage and cute little apple balls, it was quite spectacular.  The pork belly took it up another notch with a delicate yet crispy crackling on top, soft fatty and scrumptious pork combined well with the onion puree and apple balls.  I think this could have been the perfect dish for me if the visual appeal matched the flavour.

Pork dish - just a little short of perfection

PS opted out of dessert, I think he was watching his waistline :) but I was not deterred and chose the Deconstructed peppered strawberry Eton Mess.  It must be the fact that we are coming into summer, but Eton Mess' are everywhere at the moment, this I understand, what intrigues me is that there are so many 'deconstructed' Eton Mess' about, which kind of defeats the purpose!  There is no doubt that this dessert looked pretty on the plate, but there was something not quite right about it.  The meringue was nice, but not great, the raspberry sorbet and coulis was nice but the berry jelly was terrible.  The saving grace on this plate was the wonderful strawberry mouse, which tasted great, but there was not enough of this to pull the dish together.  I still maintain that Eton Mess is not a dessert that should go through the deconstruction process.
deconstructed Eton Mess
This is the second time I have been to Augustine's on George in the last 12 months and definitely did not live up to my memory of the first visit.  There was great potential in the menu and our selections on the day but there were elements that just did not come together in harmony. 

Augustine's is one of the longest standing fine dining restaurants in Queensland having been serving Queenslanders since 1985 and has been a favourite for wedding receptions and special occasions.  Augustine's has taken on a new executive chef this year, Guillaume Bersweiler, with experience around Australia, Luxembourg and London, so maybe this is a bedding down period for the new chef.  While Augustine's has been around for a long time, it's never really claimed the accolades of some of the other restaurants in Brisbane.  I think it has potential but needs to find a little more consistency and just a little more 'completeness' in what comes out of the kitchen

Augustine's on George on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks very much for your comment, I really love and appreciate feedback and your thoughts


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...