Sunday, 22 September 2013

One Eleven Modern Grill - A new take from an old master

It's hard for me to believe that FoodMeUpScotty started it's life just one year ago.  What started out as just a little hobby has moved to an all consuming passion, one that has been extremely rewarding.  In a strange twist of fate, my very first post (see here) was about a brand new restaurant to hit Brisbane by a well known chef by the name of Philip Johnson.  Now, one year on and at the anniversary of my first post, I find myself again writing about the Philip Johnson restaurant, only this time the bistro has undergone a transformation itself.  

Bistro One Eleven is no longer, in it's place stands One Eleven Modern Grill.  The king is dead, long live the king.

Just over a week ago there was a call to arms of Brisbane's foodie and business community, there was to be an announcement about Bistro One Eleven.  Living in the same street and feeling that my blog was inextricably linked to Bistro One Eleven, I attended the event with a keen interest to hear what Brisbane cheffing legend Philip Johnson had to say.  Fearing the worst but incredibly curious, we were told the news that Bistro One Eleven was changing its name and its style to better meet the inner city dining market.  One Eleven was to become a Modern Grill in the fashion of culinary genius Wolfgang Puck's Cut.

Philip announcing One Eleven Modern Grill 
This was a bold move indeed.  I had loved the bistro format of Bistro One Eleven and had always been impressed with the menu and substance of the immaculately crafted menu and top notch cuisine.  I was also curious how the One Eleven Modern Grill would compete against some of the other well know grills in Brisbane?  There was only one way to find out, and that required a visit to the new Grill as soon as possible.

One Eleven is one of the inner city dining spots that I regularly visit, its conveniently located about 100 metres from my front door.  Even more conveniently SC works just across the street in Central Plaza Two, so we often meet there for dinner after a crazy day at work, when we don't feel like eating at home.  On the night of our first visit to One Eleven Modern Grill, I had arranged to meet SC at the restaurant and by the time I had wandered down the street, SC was already seated at the table scanning the new menu.

The departure from the old menu to new is quite stark, with a heavy focus on foods that can be cooked simply on the grill.  While there is a departure from the more intricate bistro style menu, it is still clearly a Philip Johnson inspired menu with his food philosophy clear to see.  Do as little as possible with  the best quality ingredients, simple and uncomplicated dishes that let the ingredients speak for themselves.

As usual with a Philip Johnson inspired menu, there are lots of delicious looking options that are hard to choose between but SC loved the sound of the Noosa spanner crab cocktail.  We had visions of a cocktail glass with bits of crab poking out all over the place but loved the look of the elegantly plated crab dish. There were large chunks of beautiful and fresh spanner crab immersed in a cocktail of fresh leafy vegetables on a bed of zingy cocktail sauce and croutons added for some texture.  Spanner crab is a delicate meat and there is a danger that it can be overpowered by other strong flavours.  On the whole the balance of the dish was wonderful, however there were times when one of the garnish toppings ran the risk of overpowering the delicate flesh and you needed to ensure you didn't get too much of it at a time.

I had a tougher time deciding on my starter but finally succumed to the call of the classic steak tartare with quail's yolk.  The tartare came presented with individual components stacked neatly around the raw beef like points on a star, with a quail egg resting in it's shell on top.  I love the concept of building your own tartare to taste and I first came across this in one of the best restaurants in the world on my New York trip (see post here).  Its a great way to get the balance just to your liking, but I went all in and mixed all of the gherkin, mustard, chives and spanish onion along with the quail egg together.  I think I was a little heavy handed with the mustard but a little extra heat doesn't worry me and I really enjoyed the experience and the tartare.

When you come to a grill, the natural inclination is to order a steak but SC defied convention and ordered the Rainbow trout with cucumber, avocado, sesame and mirin.  The three generous fillets of trout was cooked to perfection on the grill and sat atop of a green salad.  Trout flesh is delicate and and has quite subtle flavours and the grilling process helped bring out the most of the fish.  The skin was crispy and salty and the addition of the equally subtle flavoured greens really complimented the dish. This was the second time in three days that SC had had this dish, so I can only assume she loved it!

While SC disregarded the conventions of a grill, I went straight for the nicest sounding steak on the menu, which in this case was actually one of the specials.  There are some great sounding standard pieces of beef on the menu but the wagyu rump with a marble score of 9+ sounded irresistible to me. Of course when asked how I would like the rump cooked I deferred to the chef and the steak came out a perfectly cooked medium rare.  I was intrigued by the dish, on one hand I had an amazing looking and perfectly cooked piece of wagyu and on the other, there was a rather limp looking salad that came along with it, as well as some delicious hand cut chips.  I think I was just surprised to see the salad on the plate as salads usually come on the side so the steak can speak for itself.  I loved the rich fatty flavour of the highly marbled rump and polished it off in no time.  I even ate the salad with didn't taste bad at all.

I've always loved the desserts at Philip Johnson restaurants including those on the old Bistro One Eleven menu, so I saw no reason to think that the One Eleven Modern Grill desserts would not be equally fantastic.  When we asked our waitress what was good, she was quick to recommend the Pear tarte tatin with almond ice cream, so SC had no hesitation in placing the order.  The tarte tatin looked wonderful on the plate with swirls of caramel around the tarte, which had a large scoop of almond ice cream sitting atop.  Tarte tatins can be super sweet and this one was no different but the addition of the almond ice cream was genius, it was subtle and helped reduce the sugar overload that can sometimes come along with a tarte tatin.

My dessert of Lemon curd with  burnt meringue and shortbread crumble was essentially a deconstructed lemon curd pie.  Sometimes deconstructed desserts are counter productive, I've had a deconstructed Eton mess which really seemed beside the point.  It was not the case with this dessert, the components all spoke for themselves and were delicious, but when you put the pieces together and closed your eyes, it was all lemon meringue pie. I love lemon curd and there was a heap on the plate and was very sweet, but balanced out perfectly with a scoop of lemon sorbet.  This was an amazing way to finish off my meal.

While I was pretty excited to check out the new menu at One Eleven Modern Grill, SC had already got the jump on my by taking a friend to lunch a couple of days before we visited.  She had really enjoyed the first meal and equally enjoyed this one, so it seems as if the kitchen has landed on their feet with the new menu and are already getting the consistency right.  Head Chef Mathias Andersson has adapted well to the new menu and move from Philip's other diner, E'cco.

The food on the night came out pretty quickly, which signified the biggest difference between a grill and a bistro.  The food, while equally delicious, is much easier to prepare and get out to the dining customer.  Our waiter for the night was friendly and there when we needed her and was quick to offer a suggestion on the menu.

One of the things that makes Philip Johnson a great chef and an astute businessman is his ability to read the market.  You don't get to run one of the best restaurants in the state and arguably the county by accident, so it's hard for me to fault the reason for change.  As Philip explained it, a lot of business people who dine in the restaurant don't always have time for the (sometimes) intricate and detailed food presented in a One Hat bistro.

Only time will tell if One Eleven Modern Gill will be successful, while there's nothing quite like it in the Brisbane market, it is competing with the likes of Moo Moo, Cha Cha Char and Kingsley's in the area.  Based on my first impression, I would be pretty confident that Eleven Modern Grill will become a Brisbane institution.  I know I will be back and since it was my first post and now my anniversary post, it has clearly now become a tradition!

**I was a guest of Lucid Media and One Eleven Modern Bistro for this meal

We also ordered a side of caramelised beetroot with burnt butter, cincotto and walnuts which was was delicious
Not knowing that I would have chips with my wagyu we also ordered a side of hand cut chips with the meal
The table was awash with great food and the gentle glow of a candle
The design inside One Eleven Modern Grill has not changed but the addition of flowers and a splash of red is new.  Snuck into the background of this shot is another food blogger
Quite busy for a midweek dinner in the CBD
The kitchen hard at it
And the bar, everyones favorite spot on a Friday night
Bistro One Eleven on UrbanspoonBistro One Eleven


  1. Strange to have such a change so soon! Is it because Brisbane patrons need to have 'dumbed down' menus? If so, ugh!
    Desserts look good, but agree about that side salad - looks a bit bland.

    1. I think you are right but mainly because of the location. I also think due to E'cco being so close, they might have been cannibalising each others customers.


Thanks very much for your comment, I really love and appreciate feedback and your thoughts


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...