Little plates, made with a little love. This cosy modern restaurant tucked quietly away in the back streets of Burleigh makes for a refreshing change from the noisy bustle of the James Street eateries.
All the dishes we tried had been carefully created by people who genuinely understand flavour and texture. Even in the case of dishes that you may not personally love for whatever reason, you were able to taste and appreciate the craft that went into them. The interior of the restaurant is warm and stripped back yet elegantly crafted, a perfect metaphor for the understated food design that allows the ingredients to speak for themselves.
Among the highlights were the surprisingly light and delightfully tasty crumbed zucchini and cheese fritters, which came perfectly nestled on a bed of creamy cauliflower puree. For a dish which is usually pedestrian at best, I was enormously pleased with the subtlety of flavour and clever combination of textures in this delightful snack. The flavour of the tomato broth in which the black lipped mussels were served is now going to be one of those things that I attempt, yet fail miserably, to replicate in my own kitchen for the remainder of my existence. Let's hope the chefs who own the Little Plate aren't going anywhere anytime soon!
I would advise those seeking an intriguing meal to avoid the chicken fatoush salad. It was perfectly fresh and light, but lacking in oomph, much like the excitingly named lemon curd cannoli on the dessert menu, which was difficult to cut through instead of light and crisp, and contained a curd that was decidedly un-lemonish (it's a word!). These were the only disappointments of the evening though, and they were small ones.
The ubiquity of salted caramel on every second restaurant's dessert menu can only mean that it is still very much enjoying its "shiny new toy" status in culinary circles, a fact I am yet to begrudge. What does annoy me, however, is the tendency for pastry chefs to refer to what, to me, tastes like nothing more than regular caramel as salted caramel, simply because they've popped a few indiscernible grains of table salt in it. It's all far too safe. Salted caramel is supposed to taste a bit salty, dammit! Am I saying something controversial here? Fortunately, the salted caramel bread and butter pudding at the Little Plate was exquisitely balanced and the perfectly charming comfort food ending to a perfectly charming evening. Based on the rest of the evening I expected them to deliver, and wasn't disappointed.
Although a meal at The Little Plate will set you back less than at a fancy fine dining restaurant with little to no compromise in quality, it doesn't set you back SO much less, that you would be eating there every night of the week. Nor should such rich and ever-changing cuisine be allowed to become humdrum through familiarity. Save it for a special occasion, or a romantic dinner. It's definitely the perfect spot for both.