Four times a year, we head out on the town to celebrate four friend’s birthdays. It’s a chance to really splash out and enjoy ourselves. This time it was Bronlynn’s birthday and her choice is Malt Dining in the CBD.
Tucked away on Market St, it’s in one of Brisbane’s oldest buildings dating from 1865. Like many restorations, it’s a blend of old Victorian and clean modern lines. Warm wood matches well with the original red brick and soaring ceilings that gives Attic Restaurant upstairs an industrial feel. The bar on ground level is welcoming with low lighting and a beautifully back lit wall full of tempting elixirs. On this very warm evening, we eschew wine and go for a carafe of Pimms to start. Perfect to freshen the palate whilst we catch up on gossip. We have an unusual booking time of 6.45pm as they don’t do 7pm. I suspect it’s something to do with the booking system but 6.45pm is bit early to eat so we linger on our drinks for as long as we can before heading upstairs. The restaurant is spacious with big windows so I expect the light floods in during the day. I’m happy to see carpet, something you don’t see a lot of in restaurants nowadays and it certainly helps to absorb the general restaurant chatter.
With a wine selected we peruse the menu that has 4 – 6 entrees and mains each as well as 4 vegetarian options that can be served as either. I opt for the Goat’s Curd & Ricotta Stuffed Roast Zucchini Flowers from the vegetarian menu and Anthony orders the other dish I was keen on, the antithesis of vegetarian, Braised New England Rabbit Tart. The two zucchini flowers have a small zucchini still attached and are served with the classic pairing for goat’s curd on a puree of beetroot. There’s also a scattering of dried olive and some clever olive oil caviar. The flowers are fresh and the filling is simple. It’s an enjoyable dish but not a knock out. The Rabbit Tart is served on a puree of artichoke with pistachios and is a disappointment. The taste is there with a rich gravy but the rabbit is dry and tends towards stringy. You don’t see rabbit on the menu on a regular basis so it’s a shame that this dish falls flat.
What you do see on almost every menu is Pork Belly and I have no complaints about this. So the Kingaroy Berkshire Pork Assiette is ordered by two at the table as well as Sou Vide Grimaud Duck Breast & Leg and, the Market Fish of the Day. The Pork comes as pork belly, blood pudding (made in the kitchen of Ortiga) another piece of pork and ham hock tossed through lentils. All are enjoyable, the crackling crisped well on the sticky belly and the ham hock a perfectly smoked, salty match for the lentils. The Duck comes two ways – as a sou vide of breast and a confit of leg. The breast could be pinker but real issue is with the leg. Confit is a technique where the meat is immersed in oil and cooked for a long time at a relatively low temperature. As a result, the meat should be tender and almost falling from the bone. This duck leg is stringy with no hint that it will fall away. So, 0/2 for Anthony in his meal choices.
Assiette of Pork
We share a pair of desserts and a cheese plate. We select a Rhubarb, Pear & Walnut Crumble served with a Blond Valrhona Sauce whilst the others go for a ‘Malt’ Brownie with Salted Caramel and Peanut Brittle. The crumble is reminiscent of something your mum or grandmother may make if they got their hands on some Valrhona chocolate. Sweet and tart fruit with a nice sandy crumble of top. Comfort food at its best. The Malt Brownie is very impressive when it comes to the table with large shards of brittle sitting atop a layered brownie. They are polished off in record time and it’s on to the cheese. I ask the waiter what cheeses are on offer and after a brief pause for consideration, he advises there’s a chevre, cheddar, brie and blue but no hint of styles or provenance. We opt for the chevre which turns out to be quite a hard style and a gooey brie served with excellent bread, fruit and muscatel accompaniments.
There is a Grand Piano upstairs in the restaurant and we’re surprised that a few times during the evening, a pianist provides the background soundtrack to the night. Surprised because I can’t remember the last time I went somewhere to eat and there was live background piano. It’s vaguely reminiscent of going for a ‘proper lunch’ to David Jones with your grandmother and this is further emphasised by a melody of easy listening classics such as Fleur De Lys (Richard Clayderman) and Blue Eyes (Elton John). A strange throw back to the past in an otherwise contemporary dining space.
The evening runs at a leisurely pace and overall the service is excellent though it does tail off a little towards the end of the night. Despite starting at 6.45pm, we are nearly the last ones to leave the restaurant, having seen several tables cleared and re-seated, which is perhaps what they were hoping of us. The experience is enjoyable but for the number of meals eaten and the money spent overall on the bill, it is disappointing that there were some noticeable stumbles in the kitchen as after all, the meal is the main reason you are there.
28 Market St
Brisbane Qld 4000
Visited: Saturday 10th August 2013 – Dinner Service