Earlier this year, J organised a surprise weekend away. I didn’t know where we were going. He had packed a suitcase, called an uber which took us to the airport, and we went straight through the security gate, and I still didn’t know where we were going! He finally let on that we were going to Brisbane for the weekend, a city we had both never visited. He’d booked us into a degustation dinner at Esquire in Brisbane city where we had the best seats in the house, overlooking the water and the Story Bridge that was lit up. I must say the restaurant was very dark – great for ambience but terrible for food photography!
The first dish to arrive was the buffalo jerky with pepper salami and an onion crisp. The buffalo jerky had been drizzled with a bit of wasabi mayonnaise. An interesting starter. I couldn’t have picked out the difference between buffalo and regular beef jerky if I’d tried.
Our waiter announced we were getting dessert first and presented an apple pie with truffle and celeriac that came served inside a neat little parcel. It was absolutely divine and still hot with plenty of gooey apple pieces inside, balanced with some savoury flavours from the truffle and celeriac. Delicious and I could have easily eaten another serve. Yum!
Next came a coconut sorbet with madras curry, Japanese chiffon cake and warm mandarin juice to clear out our sinuses. The coconut sorbet was wonderfully creamy, it didn’t taste like a sorbet at all. The almost translucent sauce it was sitting in tasted exactly like a curry with some dehydrated bay leaves. Together, the combination was amazing and tasted like a creamy coconut curry. It was completely unexpected and delicious. The Japanese chiffon cake tasted like any other version – light and airy. The warm mandarin juice was sour and a little bitter. It was too strong for me so I only finished half of it.
The agnoletti with Dutch cream, tomato sauce and pink peppercorns was one of my favourite courses. Each one was filled with the warm Dutch cream which melted in my mouth. There was a glorious cheesy sauce on the plate, as well as a drizzle of tomato so it still had that traditional pasta taste. The peppercorns provided a little bit of heat to the little morsels.
The smoked mackerel with bitter greens was next. The greens were terrible on their own, but mixed with the natural sweetness and fishiness of the mackerel, it did complement well. It was also quite a large chunk of mackerel.
One of J’s favourite dishes was the cherry tomatoes in shallot oil with fennel and garlic. It was a very light dish but full of flavour. That shallot oil was powerful! It was a nice and light dish to complement the heavier degustation dishes.
A malt sourdough was served with molasses butter which looked like caramel. I loved it! It spread on the bread so easily. And of course it was wonderfully sweet. This came with a turmeric and ginger soda which was a bit too strong for me so I didn’t finish this off either.
We were provided with an interval dish to break up the meal – deep fried mushrooms with abalone sauce and quail eggs.
The pork neck came out next in gravy and accompanied with a kumquat roll up. I didn’t think the pork was anything special, and found it was a little fatty.
The kumquat roll up was interesting – very sweet and sour at the same time. It really was like one of those fruit roll ups I had as a kid. The dish also came with a turmeric and ginger soda which was very potent and I could only take a few sips at a time. I didn’t finish it all as it was just too strong (of ginger) for me.
For dessert, we received slices of poached pear in a cold creamy milk. It was mellow enough to cleanse the palate from the earlier kumquat roll up.
Next was the dehydrated ginger on vanilla crème fraiche. I did not like this dish at all. The ginger was extremely powerful and spicy. Even with the vanilla to balance it out, it was too strong for my tastebuds and I left this alone after a few bites.
We finished off with small freshly baked raisin sponge cakes with ice cream – they were fluffy, warm and delicious. A great way to end the night.
Service was excellent – water was topped up regularly, we were checked on for drink orders, and each dish was explained once placed on the table. The 10-12 courses arrived within reasonable intervals after each other. We both liked the uniqueness of the dishes and drinks. The ambience was quiet, peaceful and enjoyable. The dim restaurant meant that it was great for couples on a romantic date (it was also the night J proposed!). I don’t actually know what the prices for the degustation were, but I’d say it’s definitely a special occasion restaurant.
145 Eagle Street, Brisbane City
Value for money 8/10
FPJ score 24.5/30
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