Saturday, 27 April 2013

Moda - Spanish excellence in Edward Street

Tucked away at the end of Edward Street in the 'Paris' end of Brisbane is one of Brisbane's most enigmatic restaurants, Moda.  There are so many elements of Moda that are just done differently to most other Restaurants in town.  To start off, almost the entire dining area is part of a courtyard that, while not open to the elements, gives off the feeling of being purely an outside dining experience.  When in Moda, you get the feeling that you are dining in the countryside somewhere, with a large hedgerow enclosing the restaurant.  This is perfect given Moda's proximity to the botanical gardens.

Another element that adds to Moda's mystery is how it became Moda.  Head Chef Javier Codina had one of the most successful and long standing business partnerships with Gianni Greghini in what was at the time one of Brisbane's most celebrated restaurants Gianni's.  Then at the hight of Gianni's popularity they decided to part ways and do their own thing.  In what turned out to be a blessing in disguise, this allowed the creation of Moda and unleashed the Catalonian within to unveil one of Brisbane's best Spanish restaurants, Moda.

Javier is one of Brisbanes best known and well respected chefs, not only for his wizardry in the kitchen but for his charity work around town, often donating his time for charities including the Starlight Foundation for the annual Five Chefs dinners and has created the Next Generation Chefs charity lunch.    
Recently Javier partnered up with Francois Le Saveant to take control of the front of house, who has brought a wealth of experience from running some of Europe's great restaurants, which has all Javier to focus on his true passion, producing fresh and exciting food for his loyal customers and anyone else that wants the finest of Spanish cuisine.

While Gianni's was one of the more awarded and decorated restaurants in Brisbane, the creation of Moda has also brought it's own accolades, with an Australian Good Food Guides Chefs Hat under it's belt.  This recognition is largely on the back of Javier's approach to cuisine, which is sourcing the best products and then using them in the most creative of ways.  The menu at Moda reflects Javier's passion for food and keeping the diner guessing at 'what's next'.

There is a great cross selection of entremeses (essentially Tapas) at Moda and you have the option of selecting any of the menu items as a traditional entree or as part of a share plate, so sample a cross selection of bites.  SC and I chose the share platter for two, gave us a choice of three entremeses.  Our first selection was the Jamon Serrano with fresh figs.  SC and I love Jamon, there is just something about the texture and the saltiness of the cured ham that appeals.  There was a generous helping of Jamon on the plate along with the promised fig.  The figs were a great combination with the salty Jamon, and provided a nice contrast of salty and sweet.

The second of entremeses was Manolete Chorizo Sausage and Padron peppers, with the Manolete chorizo being perhaps the nicest I have ever had.  While normal chorizo can be quite firm and spicy, the texture Manolete Chorizo was much softer and when you ate it had a wonderful feel on the palate.  The flavour was supreme and if all the chorizo I ate tasted like this, I would possibly only eat chorizo!  The story that accompanies the Padron peppers is that one in ten is very hot and spicy, with the other 90% being subtle flavoured.  I think we broke the odds on the night with three of the peppers I ate just about sending me into meltdown.  Phew, when you get a hot one, it's HOT!  As hot as some of the peppers were, they were still delicious and were a good foil for the sweet and delicious chorizo.

There were many appealing options in the list of entremeses but we had to be ruthless in our selection so the last of our selections was the Half Shell Scallops with Cauliflower Escabeche.  The scallops were large and plump and baked in their half shell and were well cooked.  There was a minimal amount of cauliflower on the plate but the addition some crispy Jamon, which worked really well with the scallop.  The scallops were a bit firm for my liking, but the flavour combination with the dish was fabulous and I really could have done with another couple!

With many of the dishes that Javier produces, you are never quite sure what you are going to get on the plate, so SC was intrigued to see what the Moreton Bay Calamari with Pork Sausage and White Onion Purée would look like.  What was delivered was very different from what we pictured, with the pork sausage cooked inside a whole calamari, sitting on a bed of puree and sauce.  The plate looked delightful but tasted even better, with the perfectly cooked calamari ensconcing the pork sausage.  The contrasting textures of the soft calamari and the firm sausage were interesting and required precision cooking to get them right.  The light jus that accompanied the dish was lovely but the star of the plate was the white onion puree and the way it worked with the pork sausage.

My main was the Duck Breast with Wild Rice and Fig with an Orange Sauce, which when presented was poles apart from what I had envisioned the dish to be.  There was a lot of duck on the plate and the wild rice, which upon investigation was Canadian wild rice, was black.  I have not had wild rice before but I really liked it, the texture was really hard and completely different from normal white or brown rice.  The duck was amazing, with well rendered and crispy skin and perfectly pink flesh that was devine.  The element that brought it all together though was the sticky orange sauce, which was infused through the rice and covered the duck.  It was delicious and unusually when I have duck, I was not still a little bit hungry buy the time I finished!

Feeling pretty satisfied after our mains we were keen to sample some dessert and asked for the menus to be brought back over.  It seems as if the restaurant was having some troubles in the kitchen as we were informed that a couple of the dessert items were off the menu due to a freezer malfunction, which meant no ice cream, sorbet or the bombe!  This was not a problem for SC as she had already decided that she would be having the churros for dessert.  There were three large churros presented with a thick chocolate sauce.  The churros were perfectly cooked and had the right amount of cinnamon covering and were delightful.  The rich chocolate sauce provided a great contrast to the sweetness of the churros and they were soon devoured.

The lack of a freezer did impact my dessert choice of White Chocolate Mousse with a Strawberry Sorbet, with the obvious removal of the strawberry sorbet.  Instead of the sorbet, the dessert came with stewed strawberries and fresh raspberries which worked really well with the creamy white chocolate mousse.  The mousse was extremely light and the white chocolate flavour was wonderful and not overpowering.  There was a lovely sweet curved tuile that added some texture to the dessert and overall I didn't really miss the sorbet on the plate, although an extra texture could have been interesting.

Moda and Gianni's before it is one of the restaurants that I always think about going to for a special occasion but always seems to get bumped by another restaurant and I'm not sure why.  I have always had exceptional meal there and find the creativity of Javier's menus to be really exciting.  The service on the night was exceptional and our waitress professional and friendly.  This could have had something to do with her boss Francois sitting at the table next to us, but I think she would have been fabulous regardless.

Interestingly, the restaurant was not packed but had a steady stream of customers dotted around the courtyard dining space.  There have been many times when I have walked past Moda mid week and seen very few people dining, so I was pleased that on this weeknight there were quite a few diners. What I love about the courtyard dining space is the feeling that you are not in a city location, there are lots of plants and a really luscious feeling to the dining area, its like you have your own personal courtyard dining area at times.

SC and I had a fantastic meal and enjoyed every element of our evening, the food was creative and the atmosphere of the restaurant was perfect for us.  I think in future when we are considering a special occasion restaurant, we will need to bump the other choices for a change and come back to Moda.

Moda is hidden away in Edward Street behind an Iron Fence and a Hedgerow
Great selection of wines and champagne 
SC loves spanish wine and this tempranillo was superb
We ordered a side of chips which were delicious, but went largely uneaten.  There was a lot of food!
You feel like you are in a garden courtyard!
Through the Iron Gates

Moda Restaurant on UrbanspoonModa Restaurant

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