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Madame Wu Restaurant and Bar

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by West End Girl (subscribe)
I'm an inner-city rambler who's happy to share my best finds with you. Subscribe to my articles to read interesting things and possibly win excellent stuff.
Published August 3rd 2014
A sleek Asian fusion experience
Madame Wu is a plush new hangout that's charmed me greatly with its saucy cocktails, fusion food, and knockout views of the Story Bridge. Not to mention a fitout that channels a little bit of Chinese lantern festival and lot of upmarket Hong Kong bar.

You can find Madame Wu in Riparian Plaza, up the big end of town. Surrounded by skyscrapers, this is a slick yet welcoming bar-cum-restaurant based on an Asian fusion theme. I'm generally sceptical about the fusion concept -- preferring the real deal in most cases -- but what I've tried of Madame Wu so far has pleased me.

At the official opening last week, I started at the bar with a frothy concoction of sake, gin, elderflower and lime juice -- named, fittingly, a 'Madame Wu'. Next came a Saigon Nights cocktail -- vodka, schnapps, lychees, etc etc.

Both were fresh, tangy, and expertly made by our smiling bartender. I'd happily go back and pay $17 for either again. For those who prefer a glass of something else, there's an extensive drinks menu with pretty standard bar prices. A wine cellar caters for those wanting to go more upmarket ($500 Grange, anybody?)

Then the tasting plates of food started emerging from the open kitchen -- pork dumplings, duck buns, taro cakes, crispy pork hock, braised beef cheeks, and more. All came with an Asian twist and were generally good.

Madame Wu's normal menu features some of these offerings, but also much else besides. Dumpling varieties include Moreton Bay bug, scallop, and wagyu, and range from $10 to $20 for share plates.

Entrees (again around $10-$20) include fresh oysters, chicken ribs, and tuna and kim-chi salad. Mains run from seafood dishes like five spice Mooloolaba prawns and stir-fried crab to tea-salted duck, sticky Kilcoy beef, and char siu pork collar. Expect to pay around $30-$45 for these.

Along with your meal you get a beautiful space that features Tiffany lamps, a gleaming bar, and soft lighting that makes everybody look that little bit more lovely.

My favourite retreat was a private dining room with a ceiling full of joyful Chinese lanterns. Add plush carpet and picture windows that frame the Story Bridge, and you have a fabulous setting for a special dinner.

Outside, balcony seating offers more views of the bridge, and flaming lamps to keep diners warm.

The staff are the final element of any bar or restaurant, and I liked what I saw at Madame Wu. Our bartenders were charming, the waiters helpful, and the kitchen staff took the time to politely answer my questions, even in the middle of preparing food for a couple of hundred people.

I can't comment on Madame Wu's full menu, given that I've only tried a tasting selection prepared for a large crowd. But the other pieces of the puzzle seem to be coming together there, and I'm interested in going back to try a full meal.

And if you just want somewhere to enjoy a heady cocktail in beautiful surroundings, Madame Wu definitely woos. (Sorry, I couldn't resist ...)

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Why? For a funky Asian fusion experience
When: Seven days, lunch and dinner
Phone: 3229 5070
Where: Riparian Plaza, 7 Eagle Street
Cost: Moderate to high depending on your choices
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