Thursday, 20 November 2014

Jamie's Italian, Brisbane

"It's good," said a passer by on the street as I stopped to take a photo of the entrance of newly opened Jamie's Italian in Brisbane.

Facing Edward Street, just over the road from Queen's Plaza, the restaurant is much bigger than it looks with two levels of dining accommodating up to 240 guests stretching right back into the building, the historic Rowes Arcade.

You might know the spot as the former Rosie's Tavern, scene of many a memorable Brisbane night, but there's no doubt that the stage is now set for many more memorable nights to come. The decor is funky urban with scrubbed back brick walls, leadlight highlights, pink leather bar stools and a grand chandelier overseeing the lot.

Dominating the top level is the antipasti bar hung with all manner of delectables and a production engine for the popular signature planks. The plank is a great way to work yourself through the menu with cured meats, season vegetables and cured and crispy fish options available, all on a per person basis.

If you've eaten at any of the other Jamie's around Australia there are no surprises on the menu but that doesn't take a way from the quality of the dishes I tasted just two days after opening.  Even with a new team in the kitchen and on the floor, the restaurant was churning out high quality food which will delight Brisbane diners.

My top 10 tastes from the menu were -

  1. Crispy arancini balls stuffed with mozzarella and accompanied by a spicy arrabbiata sauce
  2. Cured and crispy fish plank
  3. Mushroom and smoked mozzarella risotto - so creamy
  4. Lamb and ricotta tortellini - touches of lemon and mint made these my fave
  5. Grilled Angus rump steak - oh so tender
  6. Rainbow slaw with shredded seasonal vegetables
  7. Baked swiss brown mushrooms with buffalo mozzarella
  8. Zuchini fritters - turns a hard-to-sell veg into a must try
  9. Epic brownie - truly epic
  10. Tutti fruitti lemon meringue pie - awesome inclusions of limmoncello and pistachio brittle
Arancini balls

Cured and crisp fish plank

Lamb  and ricotta tortellini

Mushroom and smoked mozzarella risotto

Zuchinni fritters

Epic brownie

Tutti frutti lemon meringue pie

There's no doubting the freshness of the pasta with two bring red Ferrari pasta extruders located in the middle of the floor for everyone to see.  They'll be turning out hundreds of kilos of fresh pasta every week.

Children have not been forgotten with a special children's menu designed especially to intrigue youngsters or the young at heart.

Bottom line:  There's a huge range of prices starting from $12.50 for a quick pasta up to $36 for fillet steak.  Desserts are around $10.  It is ideally set up for sharing but you could have a single meal with some dishes.

Best tip:  This place is going to be busy so plan your arrival outside peak times and book ahead.

Kerry Heaney

Disclaimer:  Ed+bK was a guest at the launch of Jamie's Italian.

Jamie's Italian on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Degustation delight at Restaurant Two, Brisbane CBD

It's the intriguing idea of hay-infused mayonnaise, pea ice cream and a wattle duck breast combination that tantalise my taste buds while I'm anticipating Restaurant Two's mid week degustation.

Competitively priced at $60 per person (even numbers only), this is a mid week dining treat that's perfect for celebrations large or small or just because you deserve it.

Portion sizes are packed with flavour but not in size so the end of the meal arrives and you are not left feeling like you've been eating for Australia.

With 15 years of experience running Restaurant Two, chef/owner David Pugh certainly knows how to devise a menu.  It starts with a slice of sour dough accompanied by cultured butter that is so appetising I want to eat the loaf.  There's also  a small amuse bouche with cream cheese and the thinnest slices of cucumber.

Asparagus soup with chicken, mushroom and hazelnut tastes a lot better than it looks or sounds.  The vast expanse of green soup is infused with earthy chicken flavour that demands to be contrasted with the small snippets of hazelnut, mushroom and slice of chicken.  I want to lick the plate.

Soft shell crab is one of my long time favourites and Restaurant Two's dish lives up to the promise. Crisp exterior, soft crab inside with the opportunity to combine it with a wide selection of fresh salad items.

Pugh is a great mentor to young chefs and two of his young stars feature on the degustation menu.  The veal tartare with celery, potato and hay is dish managed by 19-year-old Ben Kay-Smith who has worked at Restaurant Two since the tender age of 14.  He's heading off to the United States for two years of training next year and Pugh says he will be sorely missed.

I really enjoyed the contrasting combination of textures in this dish.

The duck breast with pumpkin, mandarin, chevre, wattle and jus was another well constructed meal presented with perfectly cooked pink medallions of tender duck breast.

For me dessert is always a highlight and the opportunity to talk to the young chef who constructed the dish adds excitement.  His pleasure in explaining the techniques used to create the masterpiece, strawberry variation, sheeps milk, orange and pea,  is contagious.

There are matched wines available for each course which perfectly complement the flavours.

Bottom line:  Good value for high quality food and surroundings.  A special experience at a budget price.
Best tip:  There's street parking available right at the front of Restaurant Two if you are there early. Otherwise the nearest parking station has a $15 a night offer.

Kerry Heaney

Disclaimer:  Ed+bK was a guest of Restaurant Two

Restaurant Two on Urbanspoon
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