Sunday, 3 November 2013

Statler & Waldorf - Gastro Pub

It was a Saturday night and the girls had arranged to visit one of Brisbane's many cemeteries as part of a ghost tour.  It used to be that the boys were also invited to go along for ghost tours as well, but after a number acts of bastardry, we are no longer invited.  I guess that's what you get when you try to scare the bejesus out of your friends in dark and spooky spots.  So instead of hanging out with the girls at the South Brisbane cemetery, we decided that we would have a boys' night out and hit one of the many restaurants around town.

In a clear case of irony, we ended up hitting a new gastro pub in town called Statler and Waldorf, or for those of you who are not Jim Henson and Muppet fans, a place named after the two crabby old bastards that would shout abuse to the entire Muppet crew (see clip here).  While I wouldn't normally consider myself a bastard (defined as objectionable person), something comes over me when I'm in a dark and spooky spot with girls who are easily scared....

There are multiple cultural references to Statler and Waldorf, both names also reference quite well known hotels in the United States, with the Waldorf being one of the most recognisable hotel names in New York. Aside from the cultural references, Statler and Waldorf is is just a really cool name for a gastro pub and it conjures up all sorts of images about a stately and stuffy building.  Nothing could be further from the truth, with the new gastro pub located in Caxton Street pretty much being a hipster hang out.  

I was hanging out with DD on this night, who it must be said has a little bit of a hipster gene himself but is always a heap of fun to talk to.  As we walked through the front door of Statler and Waldorf we were greeted by a sea of beards and moustache wax that signified that we were entering a 'cool' zone.  Given we both have beards, albeit neatly trimmed beards, we didn't seem too out of place and soon found ourselves sitting at one of the tables looking over a menu and the specials board.  As we made our way over to our table our greeter for the evening made the bold claim that everything on the menu would blow us away, so were pretty excited to get some food on.

One thing I have not mentioned, DD is a pescetarian, so I thought his choice of a gastro pub was an interesting one.  As a gastro pub, the menu at Statler and Waldorf is pretty short and is split out into two sections, Bar Food and Mains.  As we looked over the menu, all of the dishes that DD had spied when doing his research online had changed and he ended up struggling to find something that stood out for him.  Being the trooper he is, DD decided that he would bravely order some items that he would normally avoid and hope for the best. We still had the ringing endorsement from the staff in our ears and the options available looked like quite inventive takes on pub food.

As with normal custom in a gastro pub, we made our way to the bar to order our meals with the plan to get some bar food to begin with then get a couple of mains.  What we didn't anticipate was that all of the food would be delivered at the same time, so we had two courses each all arrive at once.  DD's first order of roasted sunchoke, pumpkin and fennel rosti with charred zucchini, goats cheese and olive roll was not at all what he was expecting.  Instead of a lovely golden fried rosti he had what amounted to a rosti burger served with a side of fries.  The flavours from the rosti were quite nice but the way the dish was presented with the salad on top and in between the olive roll turned the rosti quite soggy after a while, not what you want to see from a rosti.  I thing this would have been better promoted as a vegetarian burger with a rosti patty, which is what it was.  The string fries that came along with the 'burger' were great and very more-ish.

In what turned out to be another complete surprise my starter of the half pint of school prawns with a sweet chervil mayonnaise was not what I expected.  In hindsight, I probably should have expected the 'popcorn prawns' but I was more hoping for fresh prawns with a nice dipping sauce.  I had a few of the crispy prawns but there is just something about eating prawn heads that I'm not into, so I ended up leaving these for DD, who thought they were the best course of the night.

DD had been contemplating two dishes, the fish and the pasta, both of which had changed on the day of our visit.  In the end he went for the pasta because the fish was cider battered and he was a bit worried about getting a greasy mess.  When the fresh made pappadelle with roast capsicum, chilli, garlic, preserved lemon and chervil was delivered, he was quite hopeful that it would be a great dish.  Unfortunately it looked as if the pasta had been ready before some of the other dishes and was waiting around before being presented. The pasta was a bit over-worked and with the dish sitting around for a while longer while we ate our starters, it went pretty gluggy.  The other issue with the pasta was that with some pretty strong flavours included in the dish, it was actually a little bland and really needed some seasoning to make the flavours pop.

There was only one real choice for my main once I saw that there was duck on the menu and the pan seared duck breast with devilled brussel sprouts  and vincotto sounded great.  Duck is hard to get right even in the best of restaurants and I knew as soon as the dish was placed in front of me that the duck was well over.  You normally like to a decent amount of pink in the breast and this was totally brown.  Even though it was over cooked and a bit tough, there were some pretty interesting flavours on the plate and the duck fat and skin were really quite nice.  The devilled brussel sprouts were a mixed bag for me, the bacon wrapped around the sprouts was lovely but the sprouts themselves were rock hard and pretty difficult to eat.  All in all the duck main was OK with some minor errors detracting from the overall dish.

I was feeling quite brave and decided that I would try the dessert, which was a special of vanilla curd with grapefruit slices, shaved white chocolate and honeycomb bits.  What a revelation, this was an amazing dessert and was easily the best thing out of the kitchen tonight.  There was an incredibly sweet curd on the plate that on it's own would have been overpowering but with the addition of the grapefruit slices was incredibly well balanced.  The two flavours worked beautifully together and were enhanced with the addition of the texture from the white chocolate shavings and the honeycomb.  I would have this dessert again any night of the week!

It was a bit of a mixed bag for the two of us for dinner which started with an unanticipated menu change and perhaps the wrong choice of venue for a vegetarian (pescetarian), I mean a gastro pub is all about the meat! Possibly the biggest impact on the night was when all of our food was delivered at the same time and not as starters and mains.  We were pretty clear when we went to the bar to order that this was how we wanted our meals to come, but it just didn't happen.  As a consequence some of the food was sitting around for too long while we ate our starters.  There was also some confusion on our behalf about some of the dishes, which I think we need to take responsibility for - we could have asked!

The venue itself is a pretty cool spot, it's not huge inside with just two rooms, but there seems to be a large outdoor area out the back that would be great for parties.  There is a rustic old world charm with the exposed brick walls and quaint open bar that really works.  We found the staff to be super helpful and friendly but DD and I had a bit of a chuckle when we were told that all of the food would be amazing, talk about putting pressure on yourself!  The old saying is under promise and over deliver but unfortunately, it was the reverse on the night we visited.

Statler and Waldorf has only been open for about a month, so they are really just finding their feet.  Probably the biggest highlight of the night for DD was the wonderful pale ale that was on tap, which were regular visitors to our table for the night.  A gastro pub by it's very definition has to be more than about the beer and just as much about the food.  Statler and Waldorf has a good base to start and is a great place to hang out.  

At least the girls had a fantastic night visiting the ghosts of South Brisbane!

I ordered a side of the beer battered chips which were superb
The curd dessert was amazing, one of the better desserts around Brisbane at the moment
Quite an eclectic assortment of diners.  I think I can spot the original Statler & Waldorf in this photo!
Right in the heart of busy Caxton Street
The boys in the kitchen hard at it
A little bit of old world ambience 
A gastro pub is a pub and there were lots of beers on tap
The pub side of the venue
Normally you see pickled eggs at a bar, right?
The red door leads to the booze!
The two old cronies that the gastro pub is named after

Statler & Waldorf Gastronomy Pub on UrbanspoonStatler & Waldorf

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