Friday, 18 January 2013

Lure - fish done fancy

There is a surprising lack of fine dining fish restaurants in Brisbane.  Having spent most of my adult life living either in the CBD and the inner Wester Suburbs, it's hard not to know about Lure Restaurant at the Coro.  All you have to do is drive down Milton Road and there is a huge sign advertising it, you know the one, the juxtaposition of a beautiful woman elegantly dressed losing herself in the moment of licking a bowl.  It's hard not to remember an ad like that.

It's amazing to think that Lure has won so many awards, in fact it won best seafood restaurant in Queensland 2005, 2006, 2007 & 2009 and was a finalist 2008, 2010 & 2012.  As I said, there are not a heap of seafood restaurants around but you have to respect the consistency over the years.  Head chef Peter Clark has put together an amazing restaurant using only the best produce with both restraint and artistry.

SC and I have been to Lure a few times over the years and it's fair to say that we have not had a bad meal there.  The restaurant itself has a really refined and elegant feel to it, with crisp white linen table cloths and silver cutlery on each table.  The kitchen is completely open and all seats in the restaurant have a clear view of the chef in action.  There is also a large fish tank filled with lovely seafood on display right in the middle of the kitchen area.  What really stood out on this visit was the warm greeting we received by the wait staff, we were really made to feel welcome by each of the staff that we spoke to throughout the night.

As you would expect from a fish restaurant, the menu had an amazing array of fish options available, with a couple of meat dishes thrown in, almost as an afterthought.  I have a saying, you don't order steak in a fish restaurant (or fish in a steak restaurant) so SC and I only focussed on the lovely looking fish options.

First up for me was a classic Lure dish, the seafood chowder with scallops, prawns, reef fish, smoked pancetta and crusty bread.  I have had the seafood chowder here before and it was delicious, and I really hoped that today's offering would live up to my memory.  The bowl placed in front of me looked quite different from last time, which was smaller and more refined looking.  This bowl was much larger and rustic looking, with large chunks of fish bits immersed in creamy liquid.  Initially I was really disappointed as there was not much flavour coming through, however once the chowder cooled down a little, the individual flavours of the seafood and soup appeared.  The chunks of seafood were really generous and you could taste the individual tastes of the prawns, calamari and scallops, although I could not place the flavour of the white fish.  It didn't quite live up to my memory of last time, but it was still very nice.

SC loves soft shell crab, so I was not shocked when she ordered the Tempura watermark soft shell crab with Chinese cabbage, carrot, chilli, coriander & lime mayonnaise.  There was a large pile of crab with a perfect tempura coating atop of a refreshing asian salad.  I am always amazed by soft shell crab, technically a crab that has recently shed its exoskeleton and the shell is only soft for a few hours after.  This was a great example with the crab being exceedingly sweet, juicy and delicious.  The lightly battered tempura worked wonderfully with the flavour of the crab and the asian salad added some acidity and a little hint of chilli complimented the sweetness beautifully.  A quick squirt of lemon seriously enhanced the flavour of the crab.  This was a really nice plate of food and SC completely demolished it.

I was really pleased with my main of North Queensland barramundi fillet & soft shell crab with cauliflower cream, peas, pancetta and a jus gras because it gave me some soft shell crab of my own.  As you would expect and hope, the barramundi was cooked expertly with a wonderfully crispy skin and soft delicate flesh underneath.  The pancetta provided some saltiness to the dish, which really worked nicely with the fish.  The jus gras was interesting, it was quite bitter and reminded me of some lobster bisques I have had before.  The fish was wonderful, but as great as it was, the real star of the show was the soft shell crab that accompanied it.  It was incredibly sweet and seriously delicious.  My soft shell crab was not cooked in a tempura, so it had a wonderful rich red colour,  yum!  Also, when combining all the elements on the plate into one forkful of food there was a nice harmony between the ingredients and great flavour combinations.  It was actually quite filling too!

SC picked one of the most expensive items on the menu for her main and it was quite an impressive sight to behold.  The Moreton Bay bugs & seared scallops with heirloom tomato, snow pea leaf salad with a saffron cream was an impressive looking plate of food.  The three large Moreton Bay bugs were cooked in their shell and artistically entwined on a bed of saffron cream and with some fat, plump scallops.  Everything on the plate was cooked extremely well.  SC started off by polishing off the scallops and mopping up the flesh in the beautiful saffron cream, then set about extracting the flesh of the bugs from the shell.  The wait staff provided a bowl for the shells which was on an interesting silver stand next to the table and a finger bowl to help clean her fingers, which was definitely needed by the end.  There was a heap of bug flesh on the plate and it mixed in nicely with the remaining sauce and salad.  There is not a lot of room to hide with a dish like this and it was lovely.

After checking with SC we decided that we would indulge in dessert (as if we wouldn't!).  There was a great selection of desserts on offer but I was dead set on having the dark chocolate fondant raspberry gel and a crème fraiche sorbet.  I love a good fondant, but have had some ordinary ones over the years.  I was really hoping to break through the chocolate and discover a lovely gooey centre and when the plate was presented and I cracked it open, I was not disappointed.  The rich dark chocolate that oozed out slowly was sensational.  Chocolate and raspberry are fairly conventional combination which worked really well together here, what really took this dessert to another level was the crème fraiche sorbet.  The texture was more like ice cream but the flavour was wonderful, with the cold crème blending nicely with the warm chocolate.  Add some crunch from the honeycomb and this was a seriously good dessert.

The White chocolate cheese cake with shaved coconut and mango sorbet that SC chose was quite a sight on the plate with the bold reddy orange of the sorbet really stark on the white plate.  As with the fondant it was artfully placed on the plate and looked very pretty.  The cheese cake was a fine example and SC really enjoyed the flavour of the white chocolate in combination with the sweet mango puree.  While SC enjoyed the cheesecake, she was not a huge fan of the sorbet, which did not at all taste of mango and was extremely sour.  She asked the wait staff when they collected the plates about the sorbet, and they shed some light on the flavour - it had star anise in it, which created that bitter taste. But she still thought it ended up detracting somewhat from the sweetness of the white chocolate.

Normally when I am typing up a post for my Blog the words come easily and I really enjoy writing about my experience and the food.  For some reason, I can't say that I enjoyed writing about our Lure experience.  It's hard to put my finger on.  The restaurant itself is lovely, with a real fine dining feel with the white linnen and the silverware.  The staff were so friendly and really helpful on the night and overall I thought the food was quite tasty.  I have eaten here quite a few times and always enjoyed the food and left with a good feeling.

Perhaps its the location and the fact that Lure is in a pub.  I'm not a big fan of 'pokies' and you need to walk past a big gaming room to get to the restaurant.  It kind of has an RSL feel to it and I think this impacted my overall experience.  When I stared writing the post I was quite perplexed as to why a restaurant can win so many awards over so many years but never win a chefs hat.  I wonder if the environment contributes to this lack of recognition by the Good Food Guides?  Sometimes it takes more than good food to have a great experience.......


Gooey chocolate escapes from the Fondant.  

Silver service and fantastic service from the wait staff on the night

An interesting room with the open Kitchen.  The restaurant filled up quickly

Heaps of awards, but no Chefs Hats?

Lure Restaurant on Urbanspoon


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