Sunday, 9 November 2014

G20 Global Flavours - Restaurant 2

If you're in Brisbane and you've not heard about the G20, then you've probably been in a deep coma in one of the City's fine hospitals.  For most of us who have been hearing about it non stop, or if you work or live in the city, have been involved in many briefings about the event, it could seem like its big and scary event.  

There is more to the G20 event than the leaders of the world coming to our fair city to discuss, well I'm not really that interested in what they plan on discussing, but there is more going on than meets the eye.  Given that the eyes of the world will be on Brisbane, it's a huge opportunity for us to showcase our fair city and all that it has to offer.

In conjunction with Brisbane Marketing, many of Brisbane's best restaurants have joined the party by participating in a month of foodie celebrations.  Global Flavours the the culinary celebration of Brisbane's international-standard cuisine and local produce.  I've been asked to help promote this once in a lifetime event by doing the tough job of visiting some of the restaurants that are involved - yeah, I know, but someone's gotta do it.  You can also get involved by visiting one of the city's participating restaurants and enjoying the best that Brisbane has to offer during the month of November.  See the complete list here.

My first stop of the #GlobalFlavours trail was one of Brisbane's most iconic dining spots, Restaurant 2 on Edward Street.  The classic fine diner by David Pugh is perhaps one of the best known and most loved restaurants in Brisbane and a restaurant that I've been to many times (see post here).  In one of the most beautiful old buildings on the corner of Edward and Alice Streets, the botanical gardens are the backdrop for the 'Two' dining experience.  With massive windows, reminiscent of New York park dining, Restaurant Two delivers on style and substance.

The #GlobalDining meal presented by Restaurant Two was a magnificent five course degustation, which at a very special sixty dollars for November, is almost a steal.  We commenced the meal with some sour dough and house cultured butter topped with salt as well as an amuse bouche of ocean trout rillette with lemon.  I love the idea of small bites to whet your appetite and the perfect little quenelle of trout with a dollop of preserved lemon puree looked beautiful.  The exquisite balance between the salty trout and the bitter lemon provided a memorable start.

Our first course of asparagus soup with slow poached chicken, mushroom and hazelnut was presented with a little flair.  The bowl came first, highlighting the skill in preparing the chicken with the soup being poured around, making a little island in a sea of green.  The soup was intense, with a concentrated flavour of asparagus that popped on the palate and had a wonderfully consistent texture. Every now and then, you'd get a hint of the mushroom flavour and the crunch of the hazelnut.  The chicken was expertly cooked and paired nicely with the soup, almost calming down the bold asparagus flavour.

We were excited about the next course!  Soft shell crab with a mango, chilli an apple salsa was presented and the lightly tempura crab was generous in proportion and spectacular in flavour.  A lovely little sweetness prevailed that was enhanced by the salsa, in particular the apple and mango, while every now and then, a flush of chilli heat would punch through.  There was a spicy mango chutney on the side that when used sparingly, added a nice contrasting heat.  If anything, the soft shell crab dish was even lovelier than the asparagus soup.

As a huge fan of tartare, I was highly anticipating the veal tartare with celery, potato and hay.  The perfectly cubed veal, celery and potato sat atop a puree that had the subtle flavour of smoked hay and was topped with a celery leaf that helped permeate the flavour of celery throughout the dish. Lastly, there was a toasted celeriac that provided some contrasting texture.  A lovely sweetness from the veal was the highlight but the ever present celery helped tone down the sweet meaty flavour.  For me, it had surpassed each of the preceding dishes and was setting a trend for the night, each dish was building and tastier than the last.

I was a little nervous about the final savoury dish of the night.  Simply put, I've never been a fan of pumpkin and it was a major component of the main part of the dego.  The duck breast with pumpkin, mandarin, chevre, wattle and jus sounded perfect in every way except one, the pumpkin. When the dish was explained to us, there were three types of pumpkin on the plate, pickled, pureed and roasted and I wasn't sure how I'd go.  I'll start off with the duck, which was incredibly well cooked, with a sweet and gamey flavour that signifies well cooked duck.  The skin was crispy and the fat wonderfully rendered, it was a triumph!  I was able to balance out the gamey flavour of the duck with the chevre (goats cheese) and the pureed pumpkin and the combination of flavours was great.  I was even able to eat the pickled pumpkin, which was presented as dual cones on the plate and I quite enjoyed the flavour.  I simply wasn't able to eat the roasted pumpkin, which has always been my nemesis.  Overall, the plate was beautifully presented and delicious.

It was time for dessert and the textures of strawberry with sheeps milk, orange and pea provided a contrasting set of flavours that I'd never come across before.  Most notable was the pea sorbet, which was as unique a flavour as you'd expect from a sorbet.  Peas are sweet for vegetables, but how would they go as an ice cream?  As it turned out, pretty darn good, especially when combined with the textures of strawberry that included a puree, a marshmallow foamy substance and a leather strap.  I loved the subtle flavour of the dome of sheeps milk jelly and the sharpness from the mandarin puree. I love that a fresh strawberry was included to showcase the primary ingredient on the dessert.

Each of the courses of the degustation were superb and what made the meal more enjoyable was that each course was presented by the chef who'd created them,  I really respect what chefs do and the dedication that's put in to make a dish come together.  Interestingly, each of the chefs had a different style of presentation, some seemed almost embarrassed to be explaining their creation, while others were clearly proud as punch!  Executive chef and owner David Pugh also came around and chatted at the end of the meal, explaining the philosophy behind the meal and the execution from his team.

As always, the vibe in Restaurant Two was of restrained exuberance and as the restaurant filled, the dining room came alive.  It's a beautiful space, there is no doubt, but what I really love is the different pieces of incredible art that seems to grace the walls every time I visit.  The type of art that I'd love to have on my own walls.

If you're looking for that special occasion spot, then Restaurant Two has to be on your list to check out, but don't wait for that special occasion, check it out during the #G20 #GlobalFlavours event - I'm not sure there is a much better deal around town - a Restaurant Two degustation for sixty dollars - yeah, that's special enough on its own.

** I was a guest of Brisbane Marketing and Restaurant Two for this meal

The very special degustation menu for the night
I really love the setting and the art at Restaurant Two - it's so refined
Just the one glass of wine for SC
A beautiful and elegant setting
Restaurant Two is also a bar-  a very well stocked bar
A scene that could be anywhere in New York but is here in Brisbane

Restaurant Two on UrbanspoonRestaurant Two

1 comment:

  1. Love the small bites! What's your favorite small dish? Share it to your besty List!


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