There is an exciting new venue in town. It has been around for a few months now and judging by the full house we saw when we visited last night, the vibes are exceedingly good.
Dan Arnold and his charming wife, Amelie, returned from Europe after a number of years of working in France and have set up their restaurant by the same name at 959 Ann St. It is bright and light with tasteful modern furnishings, big windows and an open kitchen that you can see as soon as you walk in on your left and an inviting bar on your right.
Dan and Amelie
This young and ambitious couple have brought skills from working in a Two Michelin Star Restaurant in France home to Brisbane. They are using local produce and Australian flavours to create a dining experience which is noteworthy, utterly delicious and innovative. Would I recommend this restaurant for a night out? Without hesitation.
The restaurant offers a number of degustation menus, so there is a choice about how much you might want to eat and how. There is an experience with three courses which costs $72 or five courses which costs $98. There is also something called Carte Blanche, which sounds intriguing and costs $160 with matching wines for $90. The restaurant suggests you need to allow for three hours for this dining experience.
We had the five courses this time but will return for the three. You can have matched wines for an extra amount of $42 for the three courses or $68 for the five courses. Given the price of bottles of wine these days, both prices are attractive and worth taking up as the wines have been beautifully matched to go with the food.
If the amuse bouches are anything to go by, they will tantalise your palate and prepare you for what is to come. From a gentle hot croquette with fennel and potato to a delicate beetroot tart these little mouthfuls, the first popping, warm and wonderfully delicious, the second eye-catching, crunchy and earthy, will certainly set you on a culinary journey. There was a third with quinoa and daikon but the first two were favourites.
As with any degustation menu, the portions are small but their size is perfectly balanced to go with the overall experience.
We started with thin slivers of the freshest Kingfish, gently lifted with native finger lime caviar and a garden pea with shallot salad and horseradish cream. That came with a French wine from the Langeudoc region which was lovely.
The Tomato tartare and consomme with scallop was just the height of simplicity and freshness with a great depth of flavour. This was coupled with an organic wine from Margaret River.
Then came the riesling and I have to say my first thought was this was quite a strong oaky wine but I had to eat my words because when the snapper arrived with chorizo oil and a vermouth emulsion the sensation of the two was sublimely paired.
The Black Onyx Flap, Angus Beef to you and me, was served with an accompaniment of potatoes in cream and gravy and a lovely roasted king brown mushroom coupled with a Bordeaux red wine.
Now we could have foregone the cheese course but as soon as I saw the trolley coming round I was transported back to France and I was not disappointed. The selection was varied and had the depth of flavour that I long associate with good French Cheeses. They are charged separately so you can have as many or as few as your budget will allow.
We finished with a chocolate cake which our guest thought was a brave choice. There is so much on offer with chocolate and it can be hit or miss. Having tasted it though, he felt it had the perfect balance of something chocolatey but not too heavy, and with the hint of verbena and an accompaniment of yoghurt sorbet, it was just the perfect end to our menu.
The service was excellent, the fresh wine glasses arriving just as we were emptying the last. As we were waiting for our first-course warm crunchy sourdough and a citrus butter arrived. The time between courses was just right to allow us to savour what we had in front of us and to chat about the subtleties. The explanations of each course by the staff perfectly pitched and to the point.
I was sad to see Esquire close its doors last year but I think I have found a new favourite degustation restaurant now and I am already looking forward to making my next booking. Menus change every few weeks so the excitement of the unknown beckons as well as the promise of more delicious food.