Saturday, 17 May 2014

The Eatery - Hotel dining at the Fourpoints by Sheraton

I've mentioned in my blog before that I love wandering about Brisbane and watching all of the new developments take shape.  There had been a really, really big hole in the ground in Mary Street that was vacant for a long time and had a few development, most notably Vision, fail due to the Global Financial Crisis.  The site next to that big hole has been developed and over the last 18 months, I've been avidly watching the new building take shape wondering what who the tenants would be.  As it turns out, it wasn't a commercial or residential building, but a much needed boutique hotel, Fourpoints by Sheraton.

As you'd expect in a Sheraton Hotel, a couple of new restaurants opened up and I was invited along to check out the main dining area, aptly called The Eatery.  Many of the better hotels in Brisbane now have restaurants that have seafood buffets and The Eatery is no exception but I opted to get along mid week and check out The Eatery's a la carte dining options.  Executive Chef Desmond Carneiro is the man in charge of the kitchen at The Eatery and has brought a wealth of experience to the new venture having worked in the prestigious Sheraton on the Park in Sydney.  

Walking out of the elevator to the dining area, we were confronted by a very modern and clean looking restaurant that had overtures of an informal cafe, which I think was the result of the highly colourful chairs.  Any other similarities are quickly dispelled once the contemporary open style kitchen and pink cherry blossom wallpaper came into view.  

The menu for the night was a cut down version of the full a la carte offering with the option of getting two courses for $40 or a full three courses for $50.  

All of the available entrees looked pretty good and SC had to toss up between the mushroom risotto or the salmon and tuna sashimi with wasabi and soya.  The sashimi won out and an old style slate was presented with a very generous amount of salmon and tuna, which looked incredibly fresh and inviting.  The colour of the salmon was a deep orange and it glistened and just screamed out to be eaten, as did the tuna which was a deep pink.  Both species of fish were beautiful and fresh and extremely tasty but we found that the pieces were just a little thick and the dish would have been much better if the sashimi had been more delicate.

I'd opted for the pan seared scallops with a cauliflower puree and pickled pineapple, which seemed like an odd mix.  I'd had scallops with cauliflower puree before and the combination works well, but I just wasn't sure about the pineapple.  What a revelation, not only did the combination work, it was a stroke of genius.  It helped that puree was superbly smooth and creamy and the scallops, while slightly undercooked, had a nice caramelisation but without doubt the pineapple transformed the dish.  You'd think that the sweet ingredients of scallops, pineapple and cauliflower puree would have made the dish too sweet overall, but they actually complimented each other extremely well and made for a delicious and very pretty start to the meal.

When it came to mains, SC only had eyes for the chicken with gnocchi and a cream white wine reduction, which when presented looked pretty simple on the plate.  With such simple dishes, there is no place to hide and errors really stand out, but on this dish each of the components was cooked beautifully.  The chicken had a lovely crispy skin that was well seasoned and the flesh was still moist and it partnered very nicely with the gnocchi, which was also wonderfully cooked.  Most importantly, the white wine sauce had a lovely texture and flavour that really enhanced the flavour of the chicken.

I thought about choosing the veal steak with chocolate jus for my main but went for a much safer option of eye fillet with mashed potato, vegetables and pepper jus.  I think I made a mistake.  Not that there was anything terribly wrong with the steak, it came out a perfect medium rare, as requested.  It's just that it was a little boring and perhaps a little under seasoned and the vegetables were, well just steamed veggies.  Next time I think I'd need to be a little bolder.

It was dessert time and there was a choice between two tarts and a trio of ice creams.  SC chose the lemon tart with vanilla ice cream and I was a bit dirty that she got in first, I was really wanting the lemon tart for myself!  The tart was picture perfect but came with an unannounced helping of macerated berries, which was the specific reason why SC went for the lemon tart, she really doesn't like berries.  After scraping off the offending berries, she got stuck into what was a very, very good lemon tart.  There was a lightness of the pastry that was superb and the slightly bitter yet still sweet lemon curd was wonderful.  We both thought that the vanilla ice cream was a little out of place on the plate and would have been better served with my dessert.

I'd chosen the chocolate tart with anglaise and macerated berries, which with the benefit of hindsight was the better of the two, which is saying something because the lemon tart was great.  My tart actually looked as if it was going to be heavy and very chocolatey, but it was surprisingly subtle.  The chocolate pastry was light and very short and the chocolate filling was creamy and very smooth.  I thought the berries were nice with the tart, but after scooping some of SC's vanilla ice cream onto my plate, the dish was instantly elevated to greatness.  Needless to say, I devoured the dessert in record time.

I'll admit to being a little surprised by the quality of the meals that we'd had.  After walking into the dining area and seeing such a utilitarian looking restaurant, I'd thought that the meals might also have been utilitarian.  Sure, there were a couple of things that the kitchen need to iron out, in particular having a little more finesse with the sashimi and perhaps providing a little more seasoning when preparing the steak, but it was a really lovely meal.

The night that we came along, there seemed to be a couple of industry type of events on because we saw goodie bags being handed out (whilst secretly wondering where ours were!) and the restaurant was reasonably full.  There was a bit of an empty feeling to one side of the restaurant where we were advised the seafood buffet normally resides on the weekends, so that felt a little weird.

The Eatery is a little out of the way, unless you know where it is and it might be considered just for hotel guests, but I can assure you that it's very much open to the public.  I thought the prices were reasonable and I was certainly taken aback by my scallops entree, which was inventive and quite delicious.  I think I'll have to come back another time to see what the deal is with the seafood buffet, I quite like the idea of all-you-can-eat prawns!

**I was a guest of FourPoints by Sheraton for this meal

The cherry blossom wallpaper
A utilitarian and almost cafeteria like feel to the restaurant
Its quite a long room and a long kitchen
Which is open style 
There was a huge share dining table at the front of the dining room
A new hotel has hit town

The Eatery on UrbanspoonThe Eatery

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