Monday, May 16, 2011

Urbane, Brisbane, QLD

I absolutely hate dining out when I’m sick. But since we had already made a booking for Urbane two weeks in advance, I had to go, even it if meant I wouldn’t be able to properly taste some of the food. I read that Urbane had recently received 2 Stars in The Courier-Mail 2011 Food + Wine Guide, Queensland. Having also read other foodies’ reviews of this restaurant, I went in with pretty high expectations – almost as high as what I had for Shannon Bennett’s Vue De Monde in Melbourne. 

We had the degustation menu and it was a real shame that I had to eat with a half blocked nose. But from what I managed to taste, it was rather enjoyable. I must say though, from all the fine dining restaurants I have eaten at so far, the dishes at Urbane are one of the prettiest and more comparable to Vue De Monde (in terms of presentation and food quality) than most other restaurants I have been to. 

The ambience at the restaurant was also really nice, along with extremely attentive staff and a knowledgeable sommelier. I would really like to visit Urbane again for a special occasion when I’m actually feeling well; so that I can truly appreciate each and every one of the dishes on the degustation menu (maybe when they have a new menu, perhaps? Haha!). But for now, let me allow the photos to do the talking.  
Chevre de Poitou, baby beets and fossilised pear, onion petals, salad leaves, honey vinaigrette

Hiramasa kingfish, grape juice and pickled onion, Apple gel, strawberry aioli and potato crisps (Very fresh kingfish; plump and firm texture)

Coral trout, squid ink and samphire, scallop paper, fennel and peach (I was amazed by the scallop paper! So creative and flavoursome)

Foie gras, almond milk curd and jasmine, gingerbread and honey glazed figs (My favourite dish of the night!)

Crisp pork belly and tail with black bean, pineapple and clove, mustard green and daikon (Very Asian inspired)

Wagyu rib fillet, black cardamom and garlic, nettle and onion, barley and shoots (That splash of black on the side is the black cardamom garlic which is supposed to be eaten with the rib fillet!)

Goats cheese mousse and frozen powder, herb sorbet, Green fruit, basil and celery (Goats cheese mousse had such a strong, but pleasant flavour)

Licorice ice cream and foam, olive oil sponge, Sarsaparilla granita and fresh pear (Loved all the elements in this dessert!)

Urbane on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Lab Bar + Restaurant, Brisbane, QLD

Having previously visited The Lab Bar for a friend’s birthday and enjoyed our experience, I decided to make another visit, this time for my own birthday! The Lab Bar has received many awards over the years, with the most recent being one of the winners of the 2011 Australian Good Food & Travel Guide – 1 Chef Hat restaurant.

We quickly decided on our dishes and our entrees arrived promptly soon after we had devoured the complimentary dinner rolls (the dinner rolls that restaurants serve are always so tasty, aren’t they?) I think we did fairly well at selecting a variety of different tastes from the menu.
Our first entrée was the pork belly with prawns. This definitely a Thai inspired dish, as the green papaya with chilli, peanuts and mango tasted just like a papaya salad I have had before - loved how the papaya was nice and fresh. The pork belly had a crispy crackle and the meat was tender. While the prawns were fresh, it was a little bit disappointing to see they were slightly overdone. It would have been better if they went a bit easier on the seasoning as it was quite salty when eaten with the papaya salad.  
 Free range pork belly, prawns, chilli, mango purée, green papaya & peanuts

Next came our scallop entrée. I have had this before and it was great, but I wanted to order it again for my guests to try. Luckily they were pleased about it. The scallops were seared to a lovely golden brown colour but still soft and tender on the inside. I love it! The onion tarte tatin gave the scallops a nice sweetness, which, when eaten all together with the rocket salad, made it a light but satisfying little dish.  
 Scallop, onion tarte tatin, goats feta & rocket

Time for our mains.
One of the fussier guests had his heart set on a lamb dish which he expected to be perfectly cooked, and that was exactly what he got. The lamb rump was cooked to medium rare, still with a slight tinge of pink in the meat. I watched as my guest nodded his head in approval as he worked his way through his dish. The lamb wasn’t seasoned very much, but it was fine, as the accompaniments were full of flavour, and if the lamb was also fully seasoned, it would have been overkill. I loved the blue cheese gratin too! 
 Lamb rump, blue cheese gratin, confit beetroot, poached garlic purée

I wouldn’t usually order ‘fish & chips’ at a restaurant, but was tempted as they were serving sea perch which I have had before and really liked. The pea & mint purée sounded interesting too, so why not. The perch was grilled to a golden brown and the firm, flesh with subtle flavours from the perch itself was a delight.
 Grilled market fish (sea perch), hand cut chips, spiced herb salt, pea & mint puréeaioli

Honeyhype ordered what turned out to be my favourite dish of the night. A platter filled with mixed seafood (fish chunks, grilled prawns, seared scallops). Everything ingredient used was just so fresh, and tasty with a generous amount of everything – a thumbs up from honeyhype!
Grilled medley of seafood, asparagus, kipfler potatoes, gremolata, orange foam

Our last main was the roasted duck. It was roasted with a crispy skin and the meat inside was soft and tender. However this dish was a little bit light in taste for my liking, especially when the taste of everything else in the dish were rather light, but the cannellini beans mix containing tomato puree, herbs and bacon pieces, that came with it was a great match with the duck.
 Burrawong Farm duck cassoulet, figs, croquette, lemon oil

By the time we had finished our mains, everyone was too full to order dessert, but we ‘had’ to order something, even just to share! I was worried the brownie would turn out too rich and sweet, but I was pleasantly surprised when I took a bite of it, only to discover that it was made from dark chocolate! Mrs. Omggimmenow is a big fan of dark chocolate so she was very happy to help finish the entire dessert. Mr. Omggimmenow loved the yoghurt sorbet, and took ownership of it, so everything was gone in no time!
 Chocolate, date & pistachio brownie, pomegranate & yoghurt sorbet

As the waitress found out that it was my birthday, I was given these lovely chocolates, compliments of The Lab + Bar restaurant. They were good quality liqueur chocolates too!
 Liqueur Chocolates

 Our dining experience at The Lab + Bar restaurant was rather pleasant. The waiters were very polite and offered great service – we were definitely well looked after throughout the night. Even the fussiest diner at the table commented on the food being rather nice, even when it was their fine dining experience! Will recommend this place to friends in the future for sure.
Thank You =)

Lab Bar on Urbanspoon