A plan had been made to visit Brisbane mainstay Montrachet, in its new digs in Bowen Hills. Unfortunately, we had not banked on it being so busy in the lead up to Christmas, and couldn’t get a booking. This is how we found ourselves at Atelier for a Friday lunch.
Atelier is a newish opening in King Street. A classic brasserie and wine bar with European leanings, there is something to appeal to all. The menu features classics such as Vegetable Mille-Feuille and Steak Tartare as well as an ever changing pasta, fish and creme brulee of the day. My choice though, was always going to be Steak Frites. This standard item on French menus is a benchmark (for me at least) for brasseries and bistros serving European classics.
Nowhere to Hide
Steak Frites is of course, steak and chips. A simple dish that demands perfection. It requires quality ingredients, cooked perfectly. There is nowhere for the chef to hide behind. My steak was generous in size, particularly for lunch, well seasoned and cooked as requested (medium rare). The Bearnaise sauce was served in a small pot on the plate. It was warm but not warm enough and had thickened considerably in the pot. The fries were warm, not hot and probably from the freezer. The shared basket of fries on the table were also lukewarm. Had the fries been been pre-cooked and spent time in the kitchen, waiting for orders to come in? Sure, they are only chips but when they are a key component of the dish, you want them to be hot, crisp and leave you wanting more. I left most of the chips and sauce on the plate. These aspects of the dish were a disappointment.
My colleagues fared better, in particular, the Saffron Cream Gnocchi of the Day and the Duck Maryland. The duck was moist, falling from the bone. It married well with the classic match of sweet potato puree. The gnocchi not only looked spectacular on the plate (dish of the day) but were little flavour bombs in each mouthful. A garnish of bitter radiccio and crunchy Parmesan crisps were a good foil from the creamy sauce.
Fennel As A Dessert
I’m a huge fan of fennel and was delighted to see it in a dessert as part of a Fennel & Almond Tart. Little swirls of sweet fennel puree and Italian meringue, atop an almond frangipane. This tart was perfect after a heavy steak, being neither too sweet nor rich. The Creme Brulee of the day was Rhubarb & Ginger. Tangy rhubarb and ginger pieces cut through the the sweet, silky custard. The lacquered burnt sugar top had the requisite ‘crack’.
I have mixed feelings about my meal at Atelier. The Steak Frites was a disappointment. The rest of the food though, was good. Service was also good, with water and wine topped up at regular intervals and plates cleared efficiently and unobtrusively. Perhaps it was a misstep in the kitchen but at nearly $40 for the Steak, I expected a high and consistent standard across the meal as a whole. Would I revisit Atelier? Probably. Would I order the Steak Frites again? Unlikely.
Dietary requirements such as gluten free and nut free are catered for. Vegetarians are also catered for, though you might need to look a little harder.
Visited: Friday 7 December 2018 – Lunch Service