Friday, 23 November 2012

Esquire Brisbane - Buffalo Club on Steroids

It has been a wild and wanton few weeks since I made a post on this blog and there is certainly plenty to write about. I can assure the readers that I have been out punishing my liver and ingesting far too many kilojoules all so that more content can now be added in a fury in the lead up to the happy Christmas holidays.

This is the first of a series of a two part blogging special on two of my favourite restaurants in Brisbane that I had the pleasure of frequenting when I was in the Sunshine State the other week when I was up watching the Cricket. This will be first proper review of a restaurant outside of Melbourne on this blog. I do realise that people do attend Brisbane and there are some readers in Queensland, so please forgive the change-up.

Esquire which is located at Eagle Street Pier, the majority of which flooded during the Queensland Floods of 2010, is the bastard offspring of the now defunct Buffalo Club. Years ago when Buffalo Club was operating in Fortitude Valley, chef Ryan Squires was named Young Chef of the Year whilst at that place. Not long after receiving the award, he parted company with the Buffalo Club. Just over a year ago, he opened the aptly named Esquire and it wasn't long after Esquire started trading, Buffalo Club shut its doors.

Buffalo Club was my favourite restaurant when I lived in Brisbane and I am happy to see that its legacy lives on with Ryan Squires emulating what he started so many years back but taking it to the next level in a restaurant with water views, smooth colours and quirky touches.

Upon entering the restaurant, my cultured friend and I were shown to the bar. From here we were able to observe the open kitchen and take advantage of the personal beverage service in a very hospitable setting by Brisbane standards.

After being led into the dining room, we selected the seven course degustation menu with matching wines ($190) and promptly were served Ryan's version of amuse bouche which were house made Kettle chips of sorts. They were much better compared to anything you would find in a bag sold at Coles.

Blue Swimmer Crab with Macadamia and Coffee matched with 2002 Eden Valley Riesling followed. Avid readers of this blog will know that Blue Swimmer Crab is one of my favourite things to eat. This dish certainly does not disappoint. The flavours, all when blended certainly enhanced the experience with the crab and even now writing about it, I am salivating.

A Tomme de Chevre with Apple and Almond matched with a 2011 Terlan Pinot Gris was followed by Murray Cod wisely matched with a 2010 Paco Lola Albarino from Spain. The fish literally melted in my mouth and the flavours, which were enhanced by the wine, made this perhaps my favourite dish.

The Lamb Belly with Eggplant and Cavalo Nero matched with a 2010 Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon was the first red wine matched dish. Sometimes restaurants get carried away with how Lamb Belly is served but not in this case. What I thought would be a tedious match, being the eggplant, turned out to be delightful, all the more enhanced by the selection of wine.

The Coal Roasted Highly Marbled Beef served with Parsley and Horseradish was good however I felt that different cutlery was needed to slice the beef since you were left to your own devices to cut it. The standard knife on offer forced you to slice it thicker than you probably should have. A small complaint but nothing that really distracted me from the tasty dish which was matched with a 2010 Maronga Mataro from the Barossa Valley.

Perhaps the most intriguing and playful dish was the dessert. Campari - Orange, Curds and Whey matched with Moscato. It certainly cleansed my palate but was also a beautiful and elegant way to end this adventure in wild Brisbane.

We were amazed that such quality and artistic elegance was able to be compressed into such an inexpensive tasting menu.

Although the restaurant is beautifully designed, I noticed as more tables were seated that the place inevitably got much louder than really anticipated. It did not distract from the enjoyment of the meal though.

One of my biggest annoyances with restaurants in Brisbane is that the service is far too relaxed. Even when I visited Aria in Brisbane, the server actually was boasting about how nice it is to be able to work at a more casual pace compared to the Sydney location. Although service remained professional, I did notice the casual approach alive and kicking at Esquire. Fortunately because this was a degustation and we were enjoying our casual relaxing afternoon, I had no problem with this theme on the day but others may be put off by it if they are epicureans in Brisbane (yes, a few do exist) or are visiting from Melbourne or Sydney.

Esquire Brisbane, Eagle Street Pier
145 Eagle St  Brisbane QLD 4000
(07) 3220 2123
My Rating: 15.50/20
Service: 3.25/5
Ambiance: 3.50/5
Quality: 4.25/5
Value For Money: 4.50/5
Comment: Degustation - great value for $

Twitter: @epicurean3006
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com

When I made this post originally, 77% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon liked Esquire.

Esquire on Urbanspoon