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!

Walking through the restaurant to our seats I was amazed at how big Lurleen's was, it could easily seat 200 guests.  I was also impressed with the fact it was silver service, with lovely white tablecloths and immaculately dressed wait staff.  The amazement continued when we looked at the menu, which held way too many delicious looking options.  After an agonising few minutes trying to decide our meal for the day, we eventually made out choices.

After a lovely little amuse bouche of salmon mousse on toast, my Grilled Hervey Bay scollops shucked and served in the half shell, topped with vine ripened tomato peperonata was placed in front of me.  The scallops were well cooked, although a little on the thin side, and had that beautiful sweet taste you expect.  They were accompanied by peperonata (which is a fry up of bell peppers, tomato and onions) and I was quite surprised at how well it worked with the Scallops.  There was a lot of sweetness in the scallop and peperonata, but not overly so.  We were off to a great start!

If SC had not selected the Parmesan & Lemon gnocchi, Gympie redclaw tail, king prawns, scallops with a lobster & asparagus cream sauce, I would have.  It sounded great on the menu and was matched in every way in its delivery.  There were a couple of very large fried gnocchi pieces interspersed with lovely seafood.  Each of the seafood bites were expertly cooked, which was no easy task given the wide variety and tasted wonderful.  What really brought this dish together was the lobster & asparagus cream sauce, which looked and tasted like a bisque.  There was an intensely rich lobster flavour with the sauce that was amazing.  The asparagus that came with the plate gave some contrasting colour and textures.  SC really enjoyed this entree and I must admit to being a little disappointed I did not get to eat more of it.

My main was on the 'specials' menu and there was a lovely story behind it.  The waitress explained that it was an award winning dish from one of the previous female head chefs at Lurleen's, that had allowed her to beat a number of other female chefs to take out the award for best dish from a female chef.  We were also told that it is pretty much always on the specials menu and there would be an uproar by regular diners if it was ever removed.  The stack of fresh local hand picked sand crab meat and Moreton Island king prawns, Lobster & Moreton Bay bug meat, mango, avocado, frisse salad and citrus mayonnaise was simply breathtaking.  On a hot summer's day overlooking the property with a gentle breeze blowing, this meal will forever be in my memory.  The large perfectly cooked prawns along with the other fresh seafood meat was piled upon avocado and mango and was delicious.  There is nowhere to hide with such a simple dish and it was delightful.  The pieces of mango throughout added an extra dimension to the plate and took it to another level.  Simply stunning.

SC chose a much heavier option for main and I ended up eating about a third of it, which was awesome because it tasted so great.  The Byron Bay pork fillet wrapped in prosciutto, with Sirromet apple cider cream, polenta disks, tiny portobello mushrooms, baby carrots and sugar snaps was a very complete meal.  While the pork was perfectly cooked and very tasty, the prosciutto added a nice salty flavour which complimented well.  Interestingly, the star that brought the whole dish together was the portobello mushrooms, which were incredibly well cooked and tasty.  I also really liked the apple cider cream and when all the components of the dish were added to one mouthful of food, it was heaven.  The whole plate was topped off with a lovely and tasty piece of pork crackling.......  Perfect!

We were both extremely full by the time entrees and mains were devoured, but there were a couple of items on the dessert menu that needed to be explored.  I selected a Strawberry Souffle with Lemon Sorbet.  I have had a couple of poor souffles recently and was really hoping that Lurleen's would restore my faith in the delectable dessert.  When the souffle was placed in front of me, I knew immediately that I was onto a winner, it had risen to the moon!  My first mouthful was a dream and it got better with each bite.  The strawberry was not overpowering and the texture of the souffle was light and airy, just the way a good souffle should be.  There was quenelle of double cream with some berries on the side, and I added a little cream to each spoon of souffle to balance out the sweetness, which enhanced the dessert.  By the end of the souffle I was pretty happy to have the lemon sorbet as a palate cleanser and was feeling very satisfied.

SC decided on the Old fashioned apple pie, caramel custard, cinnamon ice cream and streusel biscuit.  The apple pie was so cute on the plate, with pastry cooked just right.  The caramel custard was sticky and sweet and contrasted wonderfully to the pastry and the slightly acidic apple chunks from the pie.  As nice as it was, SC could not get through the whole dessert but made sure she finished off the streusel biscuit which SC assures me was amazing.

Its hard to find any fault at all with the meal we had today.  The wait staff were professional and extremely helpful, the setting was stunning.  We had one delicious dish after another with serving sizes that were very generous.  Lurleen's is not cheap, with entrees around $28, mains around $39 and desserts over $16, however this is offset by extremely cheap wine prices (as you would expect at a winery).  You are paying for a fine dining experience and this is exactly what you receive.

Being quite a way out of my normal stomping grounds, Lurleen's is not a restaurant that I would have visited if it were not for the lovely birthday gift from my team.  After visiting and experiencing what can only be described as a first rate meal, I am left wondering why Lurleen's does not have a more recognised award such as a chefs hat or star......

Perhaps, like me, the judges will need to go a little further afield to experience a truly wonderful meal.


view from the bar across the restaurant into the kitchen
Such a lovely open space
The vineyard view from our table
If you like a glass this is where you get to sample
The wine is stored underneath the restaurant

Restaurant Lurleen's on Urbanspoon


  1. totally agree but at the same time, selfishly, I don't want too many people to know about it.


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