My birthday meals have always had a high standard. You could even say that they have criteria they need to meet. Last years Buffalo Club dinner set exceedingly high expectations and I wondered if I would ever have a birthday meal close to that magnificent one. The results have been recorded… Esquire passed with flying colours!
First of all, I must confess. My visit was on the 22nd of November 2012 and I have been very busy and have not turned my notes taken from the meal into a review until just now. I do know that most of the dishes I have reviewed are still on the menu they are currently using.
The inside of the restaurant has a distinctive Scandinavian feel. This ambience has become popular throughout the world after the rise to world fame by Noma. Noma has received the most prestigious award in the industry, 3 times in a row (the world’s best restaurant according to the S.Pallegrino Guide). Esquires setting isn’t the only thing deriving from ‘The World’s Best Restaurant’, Executive Chef Ryan Squires and Head Chef Ben Devlin have both had stints at Noma as well as many other renowned restaurants overseas.
Esquire took Brisbane by storm winning the prestigious best restaurant in Queensland as well as picking up three stars, cementing them in the top restaurants in Australia.
The table setting was unfamiliar to the usual misen place. The knives and forks had no sharp edge and while they were long the shortest part of the knife was metal blade. The waitress said that sharp cutlery was not needed until the last savoury dish.
As I was persuading Dad to order the 7 course menu, the 1st amuse bouche arrived. Inside the large organically textured bowl appeared two pieces of Kim Chi, air-dried beef (basturma?) and two ‘kettle’ chips – one salt and vinegar and one barbecue flavour. They were very tasteful and crispy.
We had just decided on the 7 course menu when amuse bouche number two arrived. The waitress was very happy when we told her our final decision. The amuse was served on a natural slab of wood, again going with the organic theme that was pronounced throughout the meal. The snack was called truffle and itchi bai. Itchi bai is also known as Roy de Valles, which is a French cheese made from a mix of sheep and goat milk. The cheese was sandwiched with truffle and jamon iberico in between two rye crisps. Without a doubt the best cheese and crackers I have ever had!
1st course was presented in high-sided organically textured bowls with both bowls bearing a different colour. On the menu it was written as Blue Swimmer Crab- Macadamia and Coffee but explained as steamed blue swimmer crab with macadamia milk and coffee soil. The coffee had graininess but not a strong flavour. The milk was subtle and soaked into the coffee and crab. The crab was juicy with a lovely tenderness. Overall, a stunning opening course.
Course 2 was served in the same bowls as the first course. It read as Scallop- Orecchietti and Bisque. This time a chef presented us with the dish. Similarly with Noma chefs act as waiters now and again to provide a personal experience. He explained that the scallop was lightly smoked, the bisque dehydrated and the orecchietti cooked under al dente for texture. The addition of English broad beans gave the meal a splash of colour and texture.
Course 3 read as Murray Cod and Mustard Leaf but explained as Chinchilla Murray Cod cooked over charcoal with green mustard puree, green mustard seeds and an Asian cabbage. On the right of the main kitchen is a charcoal cooking station where Ben Devlin was working on the day. Cooking with charcoal gives an even and clean outcome and lets the ingredient reach its full potential. The fish skin was nice and crispy and maintained a delicate flesh. The dish slightly resembled the commercial mustard taste though with pronounced flavour. The dish was soft and delicate and didn’t have to be cut.
Below is a picture of the charcoal cooking station.
My favourite came next. It read as Lamb Belly- Eggplant and Cavolo Nero. Cavalo nero is also known as kale and was transformed into a puree. The eggplant was cooked in a water bath which resulted in it being soft and flavoursome. The best lamb I have ever tried! It was cooked for 36 (?) hours and then glazed in its juices to ensure caramelization. The final product was a sticky and tender slice of high quality lamb that makes my taste buds yearn just talking about it. The beautiful garlic flowers provided stunning colour. The bowl which I think was a Glenn Tebble bowl made a great backdrop to the well planned and executed dish.
The last savoury course was presented with new cutlery that had a sharp edge. The dish read as Coal Roasted Highly Marbled Beef- Parsley and Horseradish. The perfectly cooked coal roasted beef came with parsley puree, horseradish yoghurt and onion bouillon. The beef cut was the deckle, which has a lovely tenderness to it when it is cooked perfectly as it is an underused part of the cow’s rib. It certainly was cooked to perfection with a rare inner and caramelized outside. The parsley puree was smooth and complemented the horseradish cream stunningly. In all, another fantastic dish!
Next up – a cheeky representation of popcorn. It was grilled sweet corn parfait with caramel popcorn dust sprinkled over and a touch of tarragon oil. It was so fun to eat and surprisingly didn’t melt. What a good idea!
Next to the popcorn were two cocoa and coconut rocks. They became a powder when bitten. They looked very cool as they were presented in a coconut shell.
The final course read as Campari- Orange, Curds and Whey. The dessert chef presented the dish to us and spoke quickly, nevertheless we managed to hear campari sherbet with orange sorbet and curds and whey ice cream. An intriguing dish which tasted amazing with tangy, creamy, fruity and just plain amazing texture and flavour.
This was the view of the kitchen from our seats.
Esquire provides an intimate and personalized experience with food that lingers on your mind long after the experience- it makes you wonder how these things could happen. With an extraordinary view, an intimate setting, personalized service, an experienced kitchen team, a stunning natural and organic theme and a handful of renowned awards, this restaurant is shooting for the stars.
Who knows, maybe one day I’ll return for work experience. I would love to get an insight into how this magnificent restaurant works from behind the scenes.