Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Iceworks - New Years Eve Dinner

Iceworks is certainly not the first restaurant around town that you would consider as a destination for a New Years Eve dinner, but this is where I found myself with a group of friends on the last day of 2012. When negotiating our NYE destination there were many things to consider but paramount were location (easy to get to) and cost (not too expensive) and had to have some options for a pescetarian, so after looking at the options available the pre-set NYE dinner at Iceworks was the winner.

NYE dinner was a late option as we had planned a little bit of a party at DDs and ATs house over at Woollowin, but this was cancelled for a more intimate affair with a few close friends and family.  There were seven of us in total, which is a great number for a little dinner party.

I had heard many mixed reports on Iceworks, so was not too sure what to expect on the night.  SC has been there a couple of times for functions and has enjoyed it both times.  Trying to do a little more research, there was precious little on Urbanspoon to go buy, so I was going into dinner with few expectations.

The set menu looked very interesting and there was plenty of options that I would have opted for but for entree I chose the tea smoked ocean trout fillet, red vein sorrel leaf, crispy congo potato, quail egg and lemon balm dressing.  What surprised me most was how amazing this dish was and how it got better with every mouthful.  Expertly cooked ocean trout with just the right balance of flavour from the tea smoking was offset perfectly with the lemon balm dressing, an extremely well balanced combination.  Everything on the plate worked, there was texture from the crispy potato and some sweetness from the quail egg.  This was a brilliant start to the meal.

The other options on the pre-set entree menu was a slow cooked pork and sage tart with apple, watercress, pineapple salsa and game jus and a roasted quail, fetta, orange, pumpkin and watercress salad with game jus.  Both of the dishes looked lovely.  The bite of the quail I had was yummy, with a great gamey flavour and in combination with the orange was a wonderful entree.  The pork and sage tart was  really well cooked and looked a treat.  There was a rich porky flavour wich worked well with the game jus.  One major issue was that of the four tarts on the table, only one of them actually had the jus, a real mistake as the tarts were greatly enhanced buy the jus.

SC and I both chose the same main course, which was lavender glazed duck breast, chestnut and soft herb risotto, slow cooked quince, black trumpet, duck sausage, almond crumble and game jus. There was a lot of different and competing flavours on this plate and there was a real danger that there were a couple of ingredients too many, but surprisingly they all worked well in combination. The key component of the dish, the duck, was masterfully cooked with pink and delicious duck breast underneath the crispy skin and the duck fat was rendered beautifully.  The quince and duck sausage was an intriguing combination but again worked really well together.  For me, the one weak component of the dish was the herb risotto, with was painfully over worked to the point where the rice was almost like a mash.  The texture was unpleasant and I found it difficult to separate the duck and the risotto.  SC was more forgiving than me and thought the risotto flavours were great with the duck and to a point she was correct, but I really struggled with that gluggy texture.  If the risotto was cooked right, then this would have been an amazing dish.

Once again there were three options I would happily have had and the other two were pan seared barramundi, sautéed jerusalem artichokes, vine tomatoes, baby corn, finger fennel, baby leeks with a beurre balnc sauce and a roasted lamb rump with sautéed kipfler potatoes, black pudding, baby courgette, spinach with a pumpkin puree.  I did not get a taste of the lamb rump, but AB polished off the plate in no time and assured us all that it was delicious.  The lamb looked a little under for me when AB cut it in half, but being such a large piece of lamb, I think slightly undercooked would be better than over.    I did get a taste of the barramundi and it was amazing!  The beurre blanc was creamy and buttery and added wonderful flavour to the perfectly cooked barramundi.  The acidity from the tomatoes helped cut through the richness of the sauce and there was a nice texture from the crispy skin and the baby corn.

The barramundi was cooked expertly and tasted amazing with the beurre blanc
The lamb looked beautiful
DD and I both agreed that the big let down for us was the dessert.  We chose the strawberry pannacotta with marinated strawberries, mint oil and pistachio tuile.  The problem was with the pannacotta itself, it clearly had too much gelatin and therefore way too firm as well as having almost no sweetness at all to it.  There was a little bit of sweetness to the plate with the marinated strawberries, but most of the sweetness had been cooked out of the strawberries too!  The berry coulis as well as the mint oil added little to no flavour to the overall dessert.  I am kind of old fashioned with my dessert and want that sweetness to tell my brain that the meal is over and I really missed it with this dessert.

The strawberry pannacotta was just not quite right
There was only one other dessert on offer, as well as a cheese course.  SC was the only one in our group who opted for the cheese course and I think she probably had the pick of the options.   There was a decent serving with  three cheeses provided, a camembert, a blue cheese and a cheddar all accompanied with an assortment of chips, apple and raisins.  SC quite enjoyed the lot, but there was more than enough for one person.  The other dessert would have been the pick if it were not for one of the components.  The chocolate hazelnut tart, fresh raspberries, marshmallow, orange sherbet and chantilly cream looked beautiful.  The chocolate was rich, creamy and delicious but orange sherbet was abysmal.  AT played a trick on me by cutting off a sizeable chunk and asking me to taste it.  It was all I could do not to spit it out and in the process, the faces that I pulled (apparently) were priceless.  This was worse than sucking on a lemon and had no place on the plate at all.

Chocolate hazelnut tart looked wonderful
Cheese Course

We finished our meals with about an hour to go until midnight and the onset of a new year.  The plan was to stick it out but alas AT had to work the next day at 9am and was feeling a little tired so we called it a night.  While standing around out the front of Iceworks, we all reflected on and discussed the meal we had just completed.  All of us were really surprised about how good the food was, with only minor complaints from a few of us throughout the meal.  The service was amazing, with the wait staff being extremely friendly and helpful throughout the night (no mean feat to be working on NYE).

Iceworks had never been restaurant that I had planned on visiting anytime soon but I am really pleased with how our meal and night went.  I have been very focussed on the high end restaurants around Brisbane that I have forgotten that there is plenty of good food available at reasonable prices.  Perhaps it's time to expand my 'must visit' list a little

The tea smoked trout was superb
Perfectly cooked duck breast with lovely flavour combinations
The restaurant was busy all night and the service was really good

Iceworks Bar Lounge on Urbanspoon

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