The Brisbane is an old stomping ground for me and is a consistently strong player in my mind. The last time I visited was for their Roast & Red night which was a generous and delicious event, so I was looking forward to seeing what Beer School would entail. It’s always great to receive invitations to events like this which are outside of my normal experiences!
Sitting outside in the beer garden we dove into the lesson while sipping on frosty cold glasses of their current single batch, the saison. It’s a pale ale that’s bubbly and floral, and has a higher alcohol content which I believe was somewhere between 6-7%. It goes down very easy and is the ideal lubricant to enjoy while learning all about the history of beer making before we give it a go ourselves.
Something you may not know about me is that my dad is an avid beer brewer – so we have a bit of an unlimited supply that he’s happy to give us whenever we want. So attending a fun, hands on lesson with the extremely energetic and engaging Little Creatures team was a great way to cement some of the learnings I’ve picked up on from chatting to my dad or watching him at work. I definitely walked away with a couple tips I’ll be passing on to him too!
After school is out, we’re all feeling rumbly in the belly so we make a move inside to an awaiting long table for dinner. While I definitely enjoyed the beer lesson, I won’t pretend I wasn’t eager to eat – and try the new dishes on The Brisbane’s Spring menu.
We start things off with another drink while a selection of share plates come out – ordered for us from our host and The Brisbane’s manager. I love share dining since it gives you more opportunity to try different things on the menu, so this is an ideal way to kick things off for me.
Seeing two plates of the chicken liver parfait with fig and pear chutney and thin crispy slices of baguette ($17.00) was enough to make me a very happy diner. I have such a huge addiction to parfait and pate it’s almost concerning… except I don’t want to address the problem. I just want to have more still!
The Brisbane’s version is soft and creamy; covered in a layer of butter which is a preference for me rather than the aspic jelly you find on others. It’s well seasoned and cool, slathering over the baguette slices with ease. I love the chutney which has that tang of flavour from the figs, with the resonating undertone of pear – it’s a really great accompaniment to the parfait and offers a nice burst of sticky sweetness.
The board of veal meatballs, chorizo, mixed olives and polenta chips ($23.00) has something for everyone, but my eyes immediately go to those golden and fluffy looking polenta chips. They don’t disappoint – offering a satisfying crunch when I bite down. I don’t know why but I’m really loving polenta these days, I love the texture and the way the flavour can be so versatile, and easily adapted with the addition of ingredients such as parmesan like these ones were.
The veal meatballs are light and fluffy, with a nice juiciness when you bite into them. I really like the flavour of veal and the tenderness, so it’s a tasty addition to the share board, as is the staple chorizo. It’s great to see a place that doesn’t just automatically char the chorizo to hell instead of a light grilling. I would have loved a bit of lemon to squeeze over the top but given we were sharing it probably was better to eat it this way and suit all tastes. I’m not an olive person but I’m told these tick all the boxes and they were all gone relatively quickly so I’m guessing they weren’t lying!
The pizza bianca is accompanied by three different house made dips ($21.00) which include capsicum, hummus and beetroot. The pizza bread is lovely and flavoursome from the nice kick of salt and sprinkling of rosemary. I actually didn’t try any of the dips, instead opting to use the bread to smear some parfait onto. I’m sure you’re not surprised!
The final share plate is The Brisbane’s staple, the salt and pepper squid with lemon aioli ($17.00). It’s been on their menu for as long as I can remember and has been consistent every time I’ve tried it. The squid isn’t as crunchy as ones you’d find elsewhere but the batter is lovely and light, allowing the flavour of the seafood to shine. It’s really well seasoned, and the lemon aioli is creamy and tasty. It’s a very moorish dish!
Not long after the plates are cleared, main dishes start to make their way to the table. We all seemed to have similar choice with many of the same orders being delivered. I have to admit, the 300g eye fillet with Italian coleslaw, fries and bearnaise ($40.00) definitely caught my eye. It was cooked so perfectly! And those that ordered were kind enough to offer me some chips so I could try the bearnaise. Both got a big tick of approval from me – the chips were exactly the way I like to eat them, crunchy and golden, and the sauce was tangy and rich. Yummy!
When it came to picking my dish I was torn between the homemade prawn and barramundi tortelloni with grilled tiger prawns and saffron bisque ($32.00) and the asparagus, lemon, baby pea and feta risotto ($26.00). In the end my boy decides on the tortelloni so I opt for the risotto. I immediately regret my decision the moment his plate is put down in front of him!
The tortelloni is amazingly generous – cooked al dente and jam packed with seafood goodness. The prawns are cooked just right, retaining a little snap when you bite down and fresh enough that we suck away at the meat happily (yes he let me share!). The real hero is definitely that bisque though – it’s well balanced between salty and sweet, and so rich in flavour. When he finishes his food I actually steal the remaining bisque and spoon it over my risotto! Definitely couldn’t waste any.
All of us are feeling pretty full but as we all like to say, dessert goes into a different stomach! Total things a little easy, all of us pair up to share a dessert instead of ordering one each. My boy and I choose the raspberry and pannacotta trifle with almond praline ($15.00) and thank god we did decide to share because this is a hugeeeeeee dessert!
The use of pannacotta instead of cream is a really nice twist on this classic dessert, though it definitely ups the richness! There’s a strong kick of alcohol in the sponge, balanced against the sweetness of the raspberry. I particularly like the almond praline – it’s perfect to crunch down on and get that pleasant nutty flavour from.
Another share dessert chosen was the pavlova with passionfruit, mango and double cream ($15.00). Like the trifle, it’s a big dessert and definitely designed for one hungry diner or two. I love how colourful and summery it looks, and it’s reported back as being damn good! I’ll have to try that one next time I’m back at The Brisbane.
There’s also another order of cheese – one hard and one soft (50grams of cheese for $10.00). It comes out with some wafer thin crackers, thin crisp bread and chutney. I’m offered a taste and of course I say yes because I love my cheese! The soft Le Dauphin is mild and creamy, with a texture described as melted ice-cream. It’s really delicious and oozy. No wonder they call it the Prince of Brie.
I didn’t actually catch what the hard cheese was but Jeremy had a taste and told me it was slightly sharp and had a really pleasant aftertaste. It’s slightly crumbly and perfect to pile onto those crackers with sweet chutney.
Having used to work only around the corner from The Brisbane for years until recently, I have to admit it definitely holds a soft spot in my heart. There’s been many a great meal over the years and this one was a wonderful reunion with my former local watering hole. A big thank you to the teams at David Gardiner PR, Little Creatures and The Brisbane for hosting such a fun (and educational) night!