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.

SC and I took our seat by the window and contemplated the menu to decide what to have on what was possibly our last meal before Armageddon :)  While we were waiting for our entrees to arrive, we were offered an amuse bouche of salmon tartare with caviar.   The tartare was so fresh and delicious and was amazing with the salty caviar.  My only gripe was that the amuse bouche was too small a bite!

It was an easy choice for me once I spotted the Squid Ink and Parsley Risotto, Grilled Cuttlefish and Prawns, Tomato and Fennel Salsa with Garlic Cream.  While it's not everyones favourite, I really love squid ink risotto!  Squid ink doesn't have a particularly strong flavour but does have a slightly salty taste of the sea and this risotto was a fantastic example of squid ink risotto done right.  The risotto was perfectly cooked and covered in sweet fresh prawns and slightly salty calamari.  The prawns were expertly cooked and tasted fantastic in combination with the risotto, but I found the calamari to be ever so slightly over.  There was a danger of the dish being too salty but the addition of the garlic cream balanced out the dish nicely.  Including the salsa was genius, and by adding some acidity to the plate and some different textures it took the risotto to another level.

SC is a huge fan of Crab and had to decide on two delicious looking crab dishes on the menu but finally settled on the Tempura Soft Shell Crab Tomato and Crushed Avocado with Preserved Lemon Mayonnaise.  This was a huge plate of food and SC was really surprised by how much crab was on the plate.  Tempura is traditionally used in Japanese cooking and is usually a very light coating, but in this instance the tempura was a little heavy.  While the tempura was heavy, it did not detract from the delicious and sweet soft shell crab.  There was a distinctive taste of the sea and the crab was cooked faultlessly.  The tomato and crushed avocado was a wonderful addition and was really refreshing and married perfectly with the tempura crab.  We were off to a great start.

There were a lot of options for our main but many of them looked quite heavy and after a big week of eating I wanted something a little lighter.  My choice was the Fillet of Barramundi, Tempura Calamari, Warm Salad of Barley, Asian Mushrooms and Greens, Ginger Soy and Green Shallot Dressing.  It ended up being an inspired choice with some intense and interesting flavours and absolutely faultlessly cooked barramundi.   The skin was crispy and the flesh soft and just a little bit flaky but very sweet and delicious.  The tempura calamari had a much thinner covering than SC's tempura crab and was more what you would expect from a tempura, it also provided a surprising hit of salt to the dish.  There was a distinct asian feel to the plate with ginger soy and green shallot adding a complex flavour to the dish, which was soaked up in the barley and intensified as the meal went on.  Added to the mix was an interesting array of asian mushrooms that, combined with the barley and fish, added a really interesting texture that I quite liked.

Once SC selected the Honey Glazed Duck Breast, Sweet Potato, Chilli Jam, Broccolini, Snow Peas and a Caramelised Peach Sauce I knew that I would be having Duck as a second main!  This was a very large and heavy meal for such a small person, so bonus for me!  The honey glazed duck was cooked just the way we like it, nice and pink, and was very tender and oh so delicious.  The honey flavour was quite subtle, but was complimented nicely by the other competing flavours on the plate.  There was a little heat from the chilli jam that was nice.  SC used the term nice a lot when eating this but would not have described it as amazing, but enjoyable none the less.  As I had suspected when SC ordered, I ended up eating the last of the duck.

It's a bit of a trend of late, I seem to be the only one with enough room left for dessert and SC's personal trainer was very happy to hear that she passed on dessert.  I knew that I would have to pay for this with an extra few k's on my run but I chose the Soft Centred Chocolate Fondant, Banana Tuile with Banana Ice Cream.  There were some excellent flavour combinations going on with this dessert, I really liked the deep and rich chocolate mixed in with the banana ice cream, the warm of the fondant and the cold of the ice-cream was wonderful.  The banana taste was strong enough to overcome the rich chocolate, so a well balanced dessert.  My only complaint was that the fondant did not ooze when I cut into it with my spoon.  It was gooey for sure, but no ooze.....

It has been around two years since we had last visited Restaurant Two, which had been a favourite of ours for a long time.  We stopped going after a couple of visits where the food provided was really quite bland and uninspiring.  We always loved the location and feel of Restaurant Two, but the main reason you go to any restaurant regularly is for the food.  So it was with some trepidation that we booked in again and after checking out the menu online things looked promising with some great options available.   We really wanted a fantastic meal.......

What we got was a fantastic experience.  The food was very well cooked, tasty and full of flavour.  The restaurant was full with an excellent vibe and the service was absolutely faultless.  As we watched the clock strike 9:11 and the world did not in fact end, we reflected on the meal and decided that if this was our last meal before the end, then it would have been a great way to go.


The restaurant was full and had a great vibe.  There were great works of art for sale around the room.  A
bit out of our price range (some going for $20k)
Large windows overlook the botanical gardens.  This is a lovely old building lovingly restored

Restaurant Two on Urbanspoon

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