Sunday, 10 February 2013

Bar Barossa - a slice of the Barossa in Brisbane

It had been completely insane at work over the previous 10 days or so and most days I had barely had the chance to grab lunch, let alone get out and enjoy some down time.  So it came as a shock to me to realise that after a few meeting cancellations I had a two hour window open on a Friday afternoon.  I sure knew how I wanted to fill that two hours, so emailed a regular lunch buddy, CN from work, and set a time to get out of the office and enjoy a nice meal.

I really wanted to go somewhere new and it had to be close to work, just in case we were called back for an emergency (which was entirely possible).  There was a place in the CBD that I walk and drive past at least a couple of times a week that I was keen to try out.  It's had some good reviews and feedback and SC had been there a couple of times and really enjoyed the meal.  So with this in mind I booked into Bar Barossa, which is a restaurant and wine bar.

As the name suggests, Bar Barossa showcases much about one of Australia's most loved wine regions in South Australia.  Much of the produce on the menu and most of the wine comes from the Barossa Valley, including a 300 strong wine collection.  While Bar Barossa is not one of the CBD's better know restaurants, it has a strong following and a new head chef, Damien Davidson-Kelly (previously executive chef of Moo-Moo on the GC).  It also has a coveted Australian Good Food Guide chefs hat, so I was very excited to finally be checking the place out!

When walking into Bar Barossa, you get a sense that this place is a little different.  Sure there is the homage to the Barossa with a huge landscape painting of the region, but also huge decals that look like bunches of purple grapes on a vine.  Purple is a dominant colour in the restaurants, along with rich reds and clean white lines.  It's not a large space, but it feels quite relaxed and modern with an open bar (which you would expect in a wine bar!).  I immediately felt right at home when we were warmly greeted and offered our menus and a drink.

Looking through the menu you notice that it is very heavily based around fresh produce and clean tastes, there is much on the menu that I really wanted to try.  I ended up selecting the ravioli - salmon, prawn and spanner crab with tomato consomme, salmon pearls and baby spinach.  This was an incredibly pretty looking plate of food, which was served with the consomme in a little pot and was poured over the single large ravioli at the table.  The tomato consomme was perfectly clear and really refreshing.  The ravioli pasta was rolled really thin and cooked perfectly.  The filling of salmon, prawn and spanner crab was delicious, you could taste each of the individual flavours and they worked wonderfully in combination.  The salmon roe added a little saltiness to the dish.  This was the perfect starter to the meal and was simply stunning.

CN went for something a little more gamey with the pork belly - crispy twice-cooked pork belly, master stock, apple puree with a watercress and green apple salad.  The pork belly came out a little differently to how we expected it, sliced thinly instead of a big chunk of pork.  It looked really refined on the plate and best of all, because it was twice cooked was crispy all over, not just the top.  While the outside was crispy, the pork itself was expertly cooked and very tender and very very tasty.  Pork and apple is always a wonderful combination and the addition of watercress added a little bit of peppery spiciness to the dish.  CN's only complaint was that there was not more of the pork!

With so many wonderful looking main options, I was again torn but I decided on spatchcock - roasted crown, confit legs, potato fondant, golden shallots, baby carrots with asparagus and a fig jus.  Again this was a beautifully presented plate of food, with a generous helping of spatchcock.  The presentation and aroma and from the plate was extremely appetising and I could not wait to start.  The spatchcock breasts were cooked nicely and were soft and tender, but the legs for me were a little over, the confit process perhaps a few minutes too long.  The fig jus flavour was very intense, a little too intense for me, but added a depth of flavour to the dish that was quite spectacular.  I shared one of the legs with CN who loved the intensity of the fig jus, so it was probably just my palate on this occasion.  The vegetables were perfectly cooked and the roasted onion on the plate was delicious.  I was really very happy with this selection

CN was a little envious of my selection and this perhaps impacted his view of his selection, which was the snapper with white onion puree, root vegetables, baby spinach, leek and sauce vierge.  Continuing the theme of the day, the plate was artfully presented and looked amazing.  The flavour combinations were good, with the white onion puree working well with the snapper.  CN and I both agreed that the fish was probably slightly over cooked, not so much as to ruin the dish, but just a bit short of perfection.  The fish could also have used a little more seasoning.  While this snapper was not fault free, it was still a very accomplished main.

We were running a bit short on time but decided to grab some dessert anyway, it had been a pretty tough week and this would be a great way to wrap it up.  The theme of today was multiple options for each of the courses, so again we had too many choices for dessert.  Although there was a lot on offer, I was deliberating between the tarte tatin and the brûlée, but after quick chat to the waiter about the better dessert settled on the pear tarte tatin with cardamom and condensed milk ice cream.  Wow, this was amazing and continued a run of amazing desserts I have been having lately.  Perfectly cooked with sweet caramel with a hint of that burnt flavour you love so much.  The condensed milk ice cream was an inspired choice to go along with the tarte, just lovely.  I also loved the hot and cold textures in each spoon full.  For me, this could not have finished my meal, or the week better.

We had waited quite a while for our desserts to be delivered and were getting to a point where we might have to leave without them.  As CN and I talked about this I suspected that it was my tarte tatin that was the culprit, but when our desserts were delivered the waiter informed us it was the chocolate ganache with vanilla bean ice cream that held us up.  It was worth the wait.  The ganache was perfectly cooked and was rich and delicious.  The dessert was very artfully presented on the plate with an intricately carved up strawberry.  CN really enjoyed this and polished it off pretty quickly (plus we had to leave quickly)

I was really quite surprised with the quality of the food produced and presented in our visit to Bar Barossa.  The restaurant has a reputation as a great wine bar but surely should be better known for its food?  Each of the courses were really well put together and on the whole cooked beautifully.  We were also really happy with the service and the wait staff, who were very knowledgeable and helpful.  All of our questions about the meal when ordering were answered with no fuss and with confidence.

It was fairly quiet in the restaurant for a Friday afternoon, but there was still a nice little vibe happening.  I have driven past this place on Fridays before and it has been packed, but this is usually after work around dinner time.  With the introduction of a new head chef and new menu, I suspect that Bar Barossa will continue to build a fantastic reputation as more than a wine bar but as a first rate restaurant in its own right.

Bar Barossa on Urbanspoon Bar Barossa Wine Bar & Restaurant Bar Barossa Wine Bar & Restaurant

Quite a small space with lots of reds and purples throughout 
A chandelier that looks like a bunch of grapes - pretty cool 
The bar area
Wine barrels for that Friday afternoon drink 


  1. The Barossa is only a 45 minute drive from where I live (I live in the CBD) and I visit the region at least once a year. I think this place is awesome and I love the idea that Brissy people can sample what I practically have in my back yard whenever they want (although visiting the region would be a better experience). Great post :)

  2. Cheers, I grew up in Adelaide so know the area pretty well also. It was an easy one to write and the food was super awesome :)

  3. awesome... look amaaaazziiingg.. beautiful norfolk.. --5mins.

  4. Thanks, it was amazing and the food was brilliant - cheers


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