Each year, four of us celebrate each of our birthdays by going somewhere posh and extravagant. Each year my husband says he wants to go to Restaurant II (or Two or 2) and each year, they are always closed for a wedding. This year was no different but we tried our luck and were able to get in on a Friday night. So, after half a dozen years of waiting, expectations were rather high.
We chose so be seated at our table on the mezzanine, rather than have a drinks at the enormous bar the runs along the other end of this tastefully restored, former Victorian industrial workshop. Huge windows overlook the Botanic Garden on Alice St and the decor within is subtle and low key. It’s all about the food and service here. A quick peruse of the menu, a desire to catch up rather than spend time choosing food and wines and the distinct whiff of Christmas bon ami meant that we threw caution to the wind and handed ourselves over to Chef David Pugh and his brigade as we selected the 9 (yes 9) course Degustation with matching wines.
When four people order a Degustation at $200 a pop, a big siren sounds in a distant kitchen somewhere, the Head Chef breathes a sigh of relief and all staff are called to arms. White gloved waiters appeared at our elbows to lay out the first 5 courses of cutlery and when the Veuve Clicqout arrived, I asked the server if he was the Sommelier. ‘No’ he said, ‘I am the Manager and I will be taking you through the wines this evening’. And so the tone was set.
Each course was preceded by the arrival of the wine with a brief overview of it’s characteristics and how it matched the food. Meals arrived seamlessly with a murmured description of the elements on the plate and although it was a full house, there was little wait time between courses.
It was all good so, the highlights: The Moussaka of Scallops with the tender, sweet scallops supported by the umami of the miso and crispy onions; Juicy quail (sweet and plump) with a luscious Madeira jus; Orange Spatzle – the first time I have ever had crunchy spatzle and now I’m thinking they should always be that way; fantastically savoury, chalky Pecorino; and, a Fondant that tricked the eye by appearing to be a scoop of ice cream but in fact was a perfect little ball of oozing chocolate with a silky Amaretto ice cream and tangy plums. Best wine of the evening was a Pinot from NZ. It may have been Pencarrow but to be honest, it’s a bit of a blur.
The only near miss of the night was the Salad of Baby Beetroot. The sum was not greater than it’s parts so it remained a collection of vegetables, seeds, fruit and nuts on a plate. This dish is almost identical to one I had at Medusa and I leveled the same criticism. There was nothing intrinsically wrong with it, it just wasn’t very exciting. Grains, seeds and nuts are the next big food wave so I’m hoping that things pick up over the next little while otherwise it’s going to be a rather dull trend. Other than that dud note, the food, wine, setting and service were a triumph.
|The So-So Salad|
You get what you pay for and I’m sure that after we’ve slaved for a year, we’ll be back for more.
Mint And Grapefruit, Roasted Seeds & Hazelnuts, Sherry Vinaigrette
Taramasalata, Smoked Tomato Butter, Lemon Grass Braised Cherry Tomatoes, Crispy Onion Salad
Barley & Mushroom Ragout, Sage Butter, Madeira Jus
Date & Tamarind Chutney, Orange Spatzle, Honey Citrus Jus
Roasted Plums, Honey & Amaretto Ice Cream
2 Edward St
Brisbane Qld 4000
Visited: Friday 18th November – Dinner Service