Friday, 25 April 2014

The Flaming Olive - another gem at the M&A precinct

It's interesting where you can get inspiration to visit a new restaurant.  I'd been keeping an eye on the new developments in the McLachlan and Ann (M&A) laneway precinct and had seen that the newest addition had opened.  It wasn't until I was sitting, strangely, in a McDonalds grabbing a quick burger between meetings that it hit me that I needed to get in and check out The Flaming Olive.  You might ask what on earth inspired me inside a McDonalds and that would be a good question!  I was actually flicking through Tuesdays edition of the Courier Mail and stumbled across "Kitchen Confidential' by Fiona Donnelly, who'd written a couple of articles - one about the Flaming Olive (the other was for the Foraging Quail).

Needless to say that I didn't enjoy my first McDonalds burger in a few years but I'd jumped on the phone and made a reservation for the Flaming Olive for later on that night.  Then all I had to do was convince SC that we'd be dining out that night, a task which was pretty easy!

I still find it amazing and concerning, in equal parts, that there are so many new restaurants opening up in Brisbane.  Amazing because there food scene in our city is maturing before my very eyes and concerning because I fear that supply will outstrip demand and we will see more restaurant closures.  M&A lane is leading the charge at the moment with heaps of new dining options (see posts here) but the Valley in general is about to explode with new building developments and dining options.  The Flaming Olive is the latest in that neck of the woods and I was interested in seeing how different it would be from its neighbours.

We had a relatively early reservation and were worried about where to park, so we found a street park around the corner in Robertson Street.  It was prior to 7pm, so we thought we'd do the right thing and get a parking voucher to get us to 7pm, which turned out to be the wrong time.  When did the Valley street parking run to 10pm at night?!  Anyway, another trip to the parking metre and a few more dollars saw us in a legal park only a short stroll to McLachlan and our destination.

The Flaming Olive is quite different to the other restaurants in the M&A precinct, for a starter, its actually on McLachlan Street and not in the laneway, but mostly it's much larger than its neighbours.  Its been set up like many of the newer contemporary restaurants of late with clean lines with wooden chairs and tables around an open style kitchen.  What sets it apart is the lounge area at the front of the restaurant, which is surrounded by scores of wine racks, and looks pretty comfortable.  There's also a large outdoor dining area and a very large open bar separating the outdoor dining and lounge space from the back dining room.  What I found interesting was the outside dining area was extremely well lit, while the back dining area was darker and more romantic.

We were given the option of sitting outside or inside and chose the more subdued and relaxed feel out the back and pretty much had our choice of seat.  We were given a couple of plastic laminated menus to look over for a bit and we were left to our own devices while our waitress attended other diners.  The Flaming Olive menu was split into a couple of categories, the very familiar starters and share plates, as well as the little-bit-different 'substantial' and 'something more'.  Overall the menu had a contemporary Modern Australian feel to it and I was really looking forward to some of the interesting looking dishes.

As expected with a name like the Flaming Olive, the humble little Mediterranean fruit features quite heavily. I've never ever liked olives but SC is quite the fan so eagerly anticipated her starter of breaded Spanish queen olives with pork rillettes and aioli.  There were six large and golden crusted olives presented surrounding an equally impressive mound of tasty aioli.  The olives had been stuffed with the pork rillette before being deep fried and was resulted was a beautifully crispy ball of saltiness, which was not as overpowering as you would think.  The pork had a subtle sweetness that balanced out the flavour which was further enhanced by the aioli. SC loved them and after talking me into trying a little bit of one covered in the aioli, I had to agree.  If someone who dislikes olives as much as I do can enjoy them, its a big tick.

I'm loving all of the slow cooked eggs on menus at the moment so naturally when I saw the lightly grilled grain-fed beef with a cured egg yolk, garlic chips with a ginger and garlic sauce, I jumped straight in.  The dish was beautifully presented with the grilled beef and an assortment of pickled vegetables surrounding a lovely yellow egg yolk that was covered in fried saffron.  The not only looked visually stunning, it tasted wonderful too with the ever so slightly cooked beef providing a nice strong flavour that was perfectly matched with the cured egg and the pickled vegetables.  There were lots of interesting textures on the plate too, especially from the wonderful little garlic chips, which all added to the enjoyment of the dish.

After thoroughly enjoying the starters, we moved onto our mains, which were much heavier than the starters and seemed to be aligning with the impending cooler part of the year.  After contemplating ordering the BBQ spatchcock SC surprised me with a last minute change to the Milly Hill lamb shoulder with celeriac remoulade, chimicurri, sea salt and lemon.  This was a huge piece of lamb that could quite easily have been shared between the two of us and SC struggled to get through, even with a little help from myself.  The lamb came in two pieces, one much larger which was cooked to perfection and a smaller piece, which was over cooked. Luckily there was so much lamb to go around, so SC didn't have to touch the over cooked lamb.  The sweet lamb shoulder fell apart and was supremely balanced with the vibrant green chimicurri and the sweet and sticky jus that came with the dish. 

I was also eyeing off the BBQ spatchcock but finally settled on a very wintery dish in the twenty four hour cooked beef short rib with pickled baby beetroot, smoked aubergine cream, aubergine ash and sticky pot jus. I really loved the humble presentation of the beef rib, which had been taken off the bone and had a splash of colour from the beetroot and garnish.  What was better was the incredibly soft beef rib which fell apart just by looking at it!  There was a rich and intense beef flavour which came from the visible veins of fat and that wonderful sticky jus.  The pickled beetroots were nice and added an earthy flavour that offset the slightly weird tasting smoked aubergine cream.  It was a delicious dish and one that is sure to be a favourite for many this winter.

We were stuffed from our substantial mains and SC almost decided against dessert...almost...  In the end, she went for the frozen passion fruit parfait with Sunshine Coast frozen yoghurt, passion fruit pulp and passion fruit glass.  It was a very pretty looking dish with incredibly thin toffee that shattered, just like glass, when eating.  There were two major parfait sets on the plate, one in a more traditional block on the plate and the other frozen into a half of passion fruit.  This was a very clever dish that was as light as it was fresh and was a perfect way to follow a very heavy dish.

I've been getting some beautifully presented desserts of late and my blueberry meringues with lemon curd, blueberry sorbet and Italian meringue was the equal to any I've seen.  I really loved the textures of the soft meringue which were enhanced by the caramelisation process from a blow torch.  This was also an incredibly light way to finish off a heavy meal and was full of blueberry flavour from the sorbet and the broken meringue.  The dish was a little sweet but the lemon curd helped bring the sweetness to a bearable level, but I'd have loved just a little more of the tart cured to bring it to a perfect balance.  I still really enjoyed the dessert because I've become a sugar fiend since starting my blog!

The Flaming Olive is the culmination of a life dream of head chef and owner Gordon Wu, whom after working in such incredible restaurants as Ortiga and Stokehouse Q, wanted to create an amazing space to call his own. I could see the influences of the amazing restaurants that Gordon had worked at in the meal we'd just consumed, there was the same attention to detail and creativity that ranks Ortiga (now closed) and Stokehouse amongst the best restaurants in the country.

It was a very quiet Tuesday night only a week or so after the opening of the Flaming Olive, so it was pretty quiet, but we certainly received fantastic service from the staff on hand.  We were sitting down the back near the open kitchen so could watch Gordon and his team in action, which was a pleasure.

It's a bit early to be making any grand statements about where the Flaming Olive will rank in comparison to some of the amazing restaurants that Gordon Wu has worked, but I can state how much we enjoyed our first visit.  The menu at the Flaming Olive will change every two months and will depend on what fresh ingredients are available at the time, which means that I'll be back to check out the new menu.  Having said that, there were some really interesting and delicious looking options that we didn't get to this time and I think that SC has her eye on the aptly named flaming green olives with chipolte...


Olives feature heavily on the menu and the breaded olives were really nice
The superb and delicious 24 hour slow cooked beef ribs
Contemporary and minimilist are ways to describe the back dining area
The Flaming Olive is a bar too and has an incredibly large and well stocked bar
A comfy lounge area near the bar and lots of wines on display
I'm not sure what this was, but I liked it
The M&A lane precinct is expanding yet again

Flaming Olive on Urbanspoon


  1. this restaurant is now closed. another one bites the dust is brisbane

    1. Wow, that's a shame, but I am not surprised. I walked by last night and noticed that it was not open...


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