Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Peasant - tapas at the barracks

I love the development of the Barracks precinct, but it's an area I have almost totally ignored.  I used to eat there a little bit, long before it was developed and the Hog's Breath steak restaurant was the only restaurant in the area.  Back then the barracks were a dilapidated eyesore and I always asked why such a prime spot was in such disrepair.

Fast forward to 2008 and the development is completed with the Barracks being redeveloped to a eating hub and the cinemas and shops open for business.  SC and I have walked to the Barracks many times over the last few years, more just to walk around Brisbane and surrounds to see whats changing, but never together to eat.

The perfect opportunity came to me during the week after winning a couple of movie tickets to see a film at the barracks.  For the record, the movie was 'Step up to the Plate' a film about Michel Bras handing over his 3 Michelin Star restaurant to his son Sebastien (all in French, of course).  I had been eyeing off the tapas restaurant Peasant for ages and this was too good an opportunity to pass up, so SC and I arranged to meet at the Barracks after work and try it out before the movie.

Peasant has only been around for a few years but in a short period of time has gained a reputation for delivering traditional Spanish tapas.  It's already been named Best Overall Restaurant in Brisbane at the 2011 Savour Australia Awards for Excellence.

We picked an awesome day to walk to Peasant and fortunately the forecast temperature of 39 degrees did not eventuate, but it was still a very hot 37 degrees at 5:30 when we arrived at the restaurant.  We were seated outside in a shady spot and SC ordered a beer to help cool down and I settled for a bottle of Brisbane's finest water.

The menu handed to us was a chalk board with all of the tapas listed and it looked as if the menu changes quite regularly as there was a bit of a difference from the menu on the web site.  After perusing the menu for a bit we settled on a few dishes that looked pretty interesting.

First out was the Pork & Duck Terrine, Duck & Pistachio Rillettes, Pork Scratchings and a Parsley Salad.  On a hot summers day around 37 degrees it turns out that a cold pork and duck terrine is a perfect way to start a meal.  A terrine is usually layers of meat served cold or room temperature and is often served square but today was round.  The duck and pork worked well in combination, with the duck being a slightly softer texture and the pork firmer, when you added some the duck and pistachio rillettes to the mix, there were really interesting textures going on.  The whole thing achieved perfect harmony when you added some of the quince paste and placed it all on the toast.  Taste and texture combined to deliver one of the best terrines that I have ever had.

Pork and Duck Terrine was delicious

I am pretty sure that I have mentioned in my blog that I love chorizo so it should be no surprise that the next two selections from the menu both contained some of the spanish sausage.   Pan fried Chorizo with Harissa and Crispy potato was the first of the dishes that we dug into and let me tell you this was hot, spicy hot.  Normally chorizo has a little bit of a bite to it, but this dish had a tomato based sauce that brought on the sweat (not that 37 degree temperature didn't help a bit too).  Big chunks of well cooked chorizo mixed in with a spicy tomato sauce was enhanced by some additional texture from crispy potato which was cut into perfect little matchsticks (julienne strips).

The hottest chorizo I have eaten

The final dish was Baby Squid with Chorizo and Giant Beans which helped cool down the heat from the tomato sauce in first chorizo dish.  This was more like a stew with different cuts of squid and what looked to be baby octopus (could have been baby squid) with a bean and chorizo base.  The chorizo in this dish was a much subtler flavoured chorizo, that had all the paprika and smokey flavour that you like but none of the heat.  This was good as it would have thrown out the balance of the dish and destroyed the flavour from the squid.   Unfortunately due to the different size pieces of squid, some of the squid was over cooked and a bit chewy while other pieces were really well cooked.  A dash of lemon over the top and this was transformed into a beautifully balanced plate of food which we both really enjoyed.

Chorizo, squid and giant beans (but no beanstalk)

We still had time before the movie started so decided that there would be time to indulge in dessert.  When in a Spanish restaurant can you really pass up on Churros?  We didn't think so either.  The Churros were a bit different to what I was expecting, which are normally long straight(ish) donuts in the traditional star shape.  What we were served were much smaller and twisty churros.  While they looked a little different from expectations they hit the mark for taste.  They were crispy on the outside and soft in the centre, were covered in cinnamon and really sweet.  The chocolate sauce that accompanied the churros was rich and dark and had a slight bitterness that offset sweetness of the churros themselves.  Really delicious and I wished there were more of them!


Last up was the Crema Catalana which is essentially the Spanish version of a Creme Brûlée.  A little research on the difference between a crema catalana and a creme brûlée was able to confirm that the crema catalana is normally flavoured with cinnamon and lemon, instead of vanilla.  While the crema catalana was totally delicious, I was not really able to discern any lemon flavour and it really just tasted like a creme brûlée to me.

Crema Catalana

Dinner was finished in record time (we got though all this in just over 45 minutes) and we were easily able to make it around the corner to the cinema in time for our movie.  Even though we didn't sample a heap of different tapas on this day, I was really happy with the meal and our choices.  Even though I love chorizo, my favourite dish of the night was the duck and pork terrine which was one of the better plates of food I have had in a while.  With the perfect combination of textures and flavours it was a winner.

I was feeling very content from the lovely setting and meal that we had just consumed and started to wonder why we did not eat up at the Barracks more often......

I guess I will have to come back!


Plenty of shade and the perfect setting for a 37 degree day   

Spanish beer went down very easy for SC

Step up to the plate - the reason for our visit

Peasant on Urbanspoon

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