Saturday, 30 March 2013

Moo Moo Restaurant - the raging bull

It was 5pm on the Thursday night before the Easter long weekend and there was no way we were cooking at home for dinner.  SC and I had a cursory look through the few remaining restaurants available to us in the Entertainment book and decided that it was time we visited Moo Moo Wine Bar and Grill.  Between the two of us we have been there many times, but never together, so it was high time we actually ate at the restaurant together.

Moo Moo, which is a great name for a Steak Restaurant, opened up in Brisbane in June 2010 after its counterpart on the Gold Coast had been running successfully for five years.  Moo Moo is located in the historic Port Office building at the Stamford Plaza and filled the void that was left when one of Brisbane's landmark restaurants, Siggy's, closed down.  The Port Office building is a magnificent example of old world charm and Siggy's was a perfect fit for such a charming old building.  Moo Moo has taken the old world charm and turned it on it's head.

You know things are going to be a little different when you first approach the entrance and are greeted by the Moo Moo bull, a 220cm long and 500kg amazing and lifelike bull sculpture.  It's pose is challenging, intimidating, as if daring you to enter the restaurant and partake in a meal.  Once safely through the doors you are confronted with a contemporary and stunningly designed entrance with an elegant stairway that takes you up to the restaurant proper.  The surprises don't stop there, as you are taken to the main dining area past the open kitchen, there is a wall of meat in open fridges that gives you more than a hint of the speciality of the restaurant (as if the raging bull outside was not enough).

SC and I took our seats in a dimly lit but contemporary dining room that was very different from the old school feel of Siggy's.  There was a floor to ceiling 'wall of wine' stored ready for diners to enjoy right next to us which was amazing and intimidating at the same time.  Our waitress brought us over our menus and the wine list, both of which felt like leather bound books in our hands.  SC commented there was a great selection of wines available on the list, with her only gripe being the lack of quality pinos available by the glass.

We contemplated the menu for some time before deciding on our entrees and mains and shortly after our order was taken a little amuse bouche was brought to the table.  The little spoons of almost raw wagyu with fresh mayonaise was a wonderful start to the meal, with the beef incredibly tender and tasty and the mayonnaise adding some creaminess to the little bite.

Knowing that I would order a heavy steak for my main, I opted for a light entree of seared sea scallops, lemon grass and a coconut + galangal broth.  I generally have a rule that you don't order fish in a steak restaurant, but I am comfortable ordering scallops as an entree in one.  I was really pleased that I did, it was magnificent.  Three large and expertly cooked scallops sat in a delicious broth of lemongrass, coconut and galangal (like ginger) and transported me to Thailand with their fresh and distinctive flavours.  The balance of flavours coming from the dish could only have been put together by a master chef and the caramelisation on the scallops, which was perfect, only confirmed this.  Overall the dish was a winner.

SC just can't seem to get enough carpaccio at the moment and even though there were some other wonderful looking entrees, she decided on the organic tenderloin carpaccio with radish, eschallot, parmesan and grissini with black pepper.  This was not the best carpaccio that SC has had recently but it was very good.  What was really amazing about it was how thin and tender the beef was, it literally fell apart under the knife (we think you could have cut it with the breadsticks it was so tender).  The thing that could have elevated this dish to amazing was the balance of flavours, it really just needed a drizzle  of olive oil to take away some of the dryness, and some pickles, which would have added a little extra punch to the dish.  Still, SC enjoyed it very much and the little mouthful that she shared with me was devine.

SC was really pleased she had such a light entree once she saw the size of her main.  It was huge!  The crispy Byron Bay pork belly with chilli caramel, apple + celery salad with a fennel puree was a sight to behold.  The colour of the chilli caramel sauce was amazing and the flavours intense and sweet, with just a little hint of heat from the chilli.  The sauce was a perfect match for the incredibly tender and very well cooked pork belly, which had lovely crispy skin but soft and tender flesh.  The fat was rendered to perfection and every mouthful that SC had was pure pleasure.  With such a large piece of pork belly, it was inevitable that I would eat a fair chunk of it, but it was so intensely flavoursome, that I struggled as well (especially after my main).

Moo Moo is like most fine dining steak restaurants nowadays, so when you order a steak, you are normally just getting the steak and a sauce to accompany.  I think this is a bit rich really, when you are spending big dollars on a piece of meat, I think the restaurant should at least provide a basic accompaniment to go along with it, some carrots or tomato.  The steak that I chose for the night was the 300 gram Wagyu rump with a marble score of 6-9.   I chose the rump mainly because it is a part of the animal that works hard and as a consequence is a little tougher, but full of flavour.  The rump came a perfectly cooked medium rare and was full of the beefy flavour I was expecting.  There was a wonderful char around the steak that added to the flavour and in combination with the bĂ©arnaise sauce was a delicious meal.  I did order a side of oven roasted portobello mushrooms with Qld goats cheese and rosemary crumb, but in hindsight this was too much food and I left most of it.

After eating so much food with our mains it was difficult to think about dessert, but I really wanted something a little sweet to finish the meal.  After winning the internal debate about whether or not to order dessert I went for the rosewater and white chocolate Pannacotta with raspberry compote and aniseed.  It was a great choice.  The pannacotta was not too heavy and was set almost perfectly.  I think that if it had come out any sooner it might have collapsed.  There was a hint of rosewater through the pannacotta which was a lovely subtle flavour.  Pannacottas are very sweet, so the tartness of the berries that came with the dessert ensured that the dessert was in perfect balance.  It was a fabulous way to finish  the meal.

There is a lot to like about Moo Moo restaurant.  The service we had on the night was fantastic and the staff were on the whole very friendly.  I did have one small gripe about the service!  When I booked (admittedly very late on the day) I was advised that we would need to vacate our table by 8:30 for the next sitting.  SC and I never linger in restaurants, so I was perfectly OK with this and stated it when booking.  However, when we got to the table and seated, we were (I thought) quite aggressively told that we would need to be out by 8:30.  OK,  I get the point!

It was perhaps the only detractor from a wonderful night.  The food was first rate and the ambiance of the dining area was amazing.  It is a very different look and feel to Siggy's before it, but to tell the truth, I think Siggy's was looking dated.  There is a very modern feel to Moo Moo and while it's had its fair share of bad luck (going into receivership at one point and being impacted by the 2011 floods) I hope it remains on the Brisbane dining scene for a long time.

Oven roasted portobello mushrooms with Qld goats cheese and rosemary crumb - a side too many!
The meat is stored in open fridges on the way to the dining area

There was a wall of Wine, it was almost nonsensical 
Grand entrance and stairs to the dining area - a very modern feel
The kitchen hard at work
Love the Moo Moo carpet at the entrance

Moo Moo The Wine Bar + Grill At The Port Office on Urbanspoon Moo Moo The Wine Bar & Grill BrisbaneMoo Moo The Wine Bar + Grill on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. I like the name of the restaurant. Found your blog on G+. Love the "food me up Scotty" in the header. Look forward to more posts.


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