You know how it is. You meet your friends at 3pm for a quick drink to catch up and the next thing you know, it’s 7pm and your starving. After a blazing Sunday afternoon, sitting on squat stools on the balcony of the Powerhouse to catch and shoot the breeze, talk turned to food. Maria said she had a fantastic Goat Ragu at Bar Alto some years back and hoped they might still be serving it. Despite slim odds, a quick peruse of the menu indicated a ‘yes’ so it was four for an impromptu dinner.
It’s been years since I’ve been to Bar Alto and it appears nothing much has changed. I remember sitting in the same odd, minimalist room that seems tacked on at the back of the restaurant and out of keeping with the overall industrial theme. I also recall that soundproofing was an issue then as it is today. The menu may have changed but at least some of the dishes remain the same such as the Goat Ragu and thankfully, the Zucchini Fritters. Oh, how I have dreamed of those fritters. Not actually fritters bur rather, wafer thin slices of zucchini in the lightest of batters that are flash fried, producing a crispy, salty puff of zucchini scented air. One of the greatest tragedies in life is that you cannot buy them as part of the bar menu. As a Sunday afternoon regular, I would order those fritters every time.
Service was efficient if not very friendly, orders were taken and meals dispatched quickly. The requisite Goat Ragu was ordered by two of us. The egg pappardelle was aldente, served with large chunks of meat in a tomato sauce. The portion (entree size) was generous and sufficient for a small main. The ragu was rich and tasty, the goat tender and mild in flavour and could easily have been the more traditional veal. I’m not quite sure whether using goat made it any more special but hey, I can say I had Goat Ragu! The main of Porchetta with a perfect pairing of fennel and orange was enjoyable. Modern diners should be aware that this is not slow roasted pork belly with crispy crackling that is so popular on menus at present. This is good, traditional Italian fare, slow cooked and served with a jus – no crackling in sight!
The thing is, nothing much has changed at Bar Alto in 5 years and now, there’s a lot more competition in the nearby precincts, doing sharp new menus (and probably still average service). Let’s face it, Bar Alto has a captive audience. Anyone visiting The Powerhouse has only two dining options. I’m sure they are packed to the gunnels before the many excellent theatre, comedy and music performances on at the venue. The food is well cooked, the service is middling and the views over the Brisbane River are great but I can’t imagine I’ll be spending my restaurant dollars at Bar Alto again, any time soon unless they start serving those fritters on the bar menu.
119 Lamington St
New Farm Qld 4005