Saturday, 10 August 2013

Chester Street Bakery & Bar - Bakery, Bar and Restaurant

A little while ago I was invited to a 'behind-the-scenes' look into the early development of Chester Street Kitchen, another Newstead dining option from Damien Griffiths.  Damien has slowly been building an empire in the Valley district and is best known for Alfred & Constance, the Limes Hotel and more recently Alfredo's Pizzeria.  After much hard work and perseverance, the Chester Street Bakery & Bar is just about to open.

Damien's approach to opening a new dining establishment is to come up with a great idea for a spot, then get the right team together to develop and finally test, test, test.  It's this approach that is making the Griffith dining spots so popular in the Valley and surrounds.  It's with this in mind that the Chester Street Bakery & Bar has been running 'test' kitchens all week to iron out any final 'kinks' and make sure he delivers a great dining experience from day one.  I was lucky enough to get along to one of the final test kitchens to give the menu a dry run.

Last time I checked out the Chester Street spot, it was still under development and was pretty much a shell with a huge purpose built baking/pizza oven.  I was keen to check out the finished product and was delighted to see a contemporary yet funky little dining spot that had lots of clean lines, yet still focusses itself around it's distinctive blue oven.  As the name suggests, there is a well stocked bar, which will be a great focal point as the weather turns warmer and the little alfresco area gets a workout.  There is plenty of room for casual dining, but also a great spot that could be used for larger groups or parties, also conveniently located near the bar.

It was time to give the test kitchen a run and looking over the test menu, there were a heap of delicious looking options available.  The menu is split into bar eats, main plates and dessert, so to kick off we ordered a few items from the bar eats section.

We started off with the spring creek mountain duck fat chips with truffle salt, which was always going to be like an irresistible siren call for SC, with two out of three of her favourite ingredients in the world combined (the last being bacon).  The wedges were light and crispy on the outside yet fluffy on the inside, just the way they should be.  The truffle salt gave off a great earthy twang to the chips and gave them a delicious flavour.  Yum!

After just coming back from New York and eating a heap of burgers there (see post), I surprised myself by asking for the Chester Street wagyu burger with avocado, provolone and tomato relish on a brioche bun.  I now consider myself an expert on burgers :) and thought that this was pretty good, the wagyu was cooked a lovely medium and the avocado gave it a unique freshness while the relish gave it a bit of a punch.  There was a slight moroccan flavour the beef that gave it some great additional flavour.  My only minor gripe with the burger was the brioche bun, which was a bit firm and dry, I would have loved the bun to be a little softer.

SC loved the sound of the duck and field mushroom pie with farmhouse pear chutney and the pie that was presented looked very appetising.  The pastry was perfectly cooked and a lovely golden brown and was extremely crisp and crunchy.  The pie was perfect for a cold winter's night and the duck and gravy were not overly heavy and were full of flavour, although it wasn't too gamey.

The team from TwoPlumpPeacocks were sitting at our table and I managed to sneak some of their pan seared chicken wings with tomato kasoundi.  The chicken wings were really tasty, with a great char on the outside to give some great texture and add to the flavour.  Chicken can be a little bland at times, but the wings were moist and full of chicken flavour, which improved considerably when you dipped them in the sauce.

For main I chose the seared cone bay barramundi, cavolo nero and crushed potato, which came rustic style.  The barramundi, which was supremely cooked, was moist and flaky and had a wonderful flavour that worked well with the slightly tangy cavolo nero.  There was interesting textures added to the fish with some roasted almonds covering the barramundi skin, although I prefer the skin to be crispy, the textures were pleasant to the palate.  I really liked the soft and flavoursome fish.

I also had a bit of a sample of the other main on offer for the night, which was a pork cutlet, salsa verde and buttered sugarloaf cabbage.  The pork cutlet was huge and had a lovely glaze from the searing in the pan.  The pork was cooked well and tasted slightly sweet and a bit salty, which was perfect, but when you added some of the sticky jus on the plate, it was heavenly.  There's something about pork fat that is just right and there was plenty of pork fat with the cutlet, so I really enjoyed my sample of this too.

There were four desserts on the menu and five of us at the table, so we decided to get each of the desserts for the table and then share, which is a great way to get a taste of everything.  My favourite on the night was the passion fruit tart, which had a passion fruit curd (not unlike a lemon curd) that was much sweeter than it looked, but balanced out beautifully with the slightly tart fresh passion fruit seeds.  The tart itself was nice and short and was really crumbly and with the addition of a  dollop of fresh cream, became the perfect dessert.

The other dessert I really enjoyed was the strawberries, vanilla cream and crushed meringue, which very much reminded me of an Eton Mess.  The strawberries were fresh and just a little bit tart, while retaining their natural sweetness, which worked great with the meringue pieces and freshly whipped cream.  I normally associate this type of dessert with Summer, but still really liked it.

The chocolate coffee and almond cake with espresso cream was rich and a little bit decadent, it had an ever so slight coffee flavour but the chocolate was the predominant flavour.  The espresso cream had a slightly stronger coffee flavour and was a good match with the dense cake.

The last dessert of toffee coated navel oranges with dark rum syrup and orange cake was was almost too much!  There was an overwhelming flavour of orange on the plate and when you mixed the cake, orange and syrup, it was like visiting an orange orchard.  The toffee was fun to crack into and added a little bit of texture to the dessert.

Chester Street Bakery and Bar is an interesting concept, it's a bakery by day and a bar / restaurant at night.  There are not too many places around Brisbane where you can get the freshest of bread in the morning and then head back later on for a great cocktail and then have a sit down meal.

It's the type of spot where you can feel quite comfortable and relaxed and could easily while away the hours on a Saturday afternoon having a few drinks, then meet up with some mates for a pretty relaxed dinner.  Like most of the Damien Griffith spots around town, the desserts are pretty spectacular and well worth the visit on their own.

Being one of the newest joints in the ever growing Valley / New Farm dining scene, Chester Street Baker and Bar has a lot of stiff competition.  The fact that it's a little bit different from the other offerings in the area and has a couple of different options throughout the day and into the night, should see it become a must visit dining spot.


**I was a guest of Lucid Media and Chester Street Kitchen for this meal

The desserts were stunning
Creamy hummus with spiced lamb and pine nuts with olive sourdough.  I'm not a fan of hummus so gave this one a miss...
The spring leaf and herb salad was lovely and refreshing
The oven centerpiece of the restaurant
The fully stocked bar ready to go
The large dining table is ready for large groups to enjoy 
I loved the colourful down lights over the table
Lots of bread to remind you that this is a bakery as well as a restaurant and bar
A little cool outside in winter, but this will be a great spot on a hot summer night

Chester Street Kitchen on UrbanspoonChester Street Kitchen Bakery & Bar

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