Bianca: We aren’t going to lie, our entire Queensland trip was geared entirely around food. Esquire is just about at the top of every food list in Brisbane, so it was a very easy choice for us to make.
I came across Esquire’s chef and owner Ryan Squires at last year’s Gourmet Escape. After popping down $300 for a dinner at Voyager Estate I was left mostly unimpressed with the three course collaboration dinner. Squire’s offering of ‘Campari curds & whey’ with cheese ice-cream, dried fruit and super bitter notes didn’t exactly leave me wanting more. But my interest was piqued. Hence the Esquire visit.
Set on the banks of the Brisbane River and serving what I would narrow down to Modern experimental Australian food. With an open plan kitchen we were able to see the team at work and Ryan Squires at the pass. Service was rather abrupt and cold. And it was incredibly difficult to hear what the waiters were saying as they explained each dish. Alex got slightly poopy three-quarters of the way through dinner as they did not fill his water-glass for 50 minutes. Considering it’s a three chef hat restaurant service should be impeccable.
We started our $150 degustation with some snacks. Wild Buffalo Jerky that was slightly akin to chewing on a leather strap, sorry. Dill roots oyster which were slightly modified as I’m not a fan of oysters. Dried and roasted root vegetable stems ordinarily served with a green oyster emulsion. And our favourite of the bunch Madras Coconut lime skim milk skin. A thin pancake encasing cream with various spices, we both got major Indian vibes from that one bite alone.
The one dish I was most looking forward to was the Apple Truffle Strudel. Wait, we’re already at dessert? Don’t be fooled by the name. A clever play on the delicious dessert. With air-dried apple, shaved into paper-thin ribbons. A black truffle jam and Chantilly cream. Each bite left me utterly mesmerised as it played with the senses. They don’t call this a signature dish for nothing.
Everyone knows to quieten down a bunch of Italians you just shove a plate of pasta in their faces. Next up was the Orrechiette eugarie bisque basil. Gorgeously al-dente, the chilli oil really accented the dish whilst letting the pasta shine. You might think we’re weird but this tasted exactly like a pepperoni pizza. Just go with it…
Questioning the lack of carbs, I was extremely happy when the Malt croissant molasses butter was set before me. Basically the bread and butter portion of the evening, i.e. my favourite part of the meal. Unlike anything I’ve really had before. When it was placed before me I was almost fooled into thinking it was time for dessert. A thin long sponge like croissant/brioche that had the faint aroma of chocolate cake (from the molasses). I generously slathered the butter and enjoyed…every….single…bite.
Set down alongside the ‘bread and butter’ was the Raw & dried beef hollandaise. We were on a roll at this point, with each dish tantalising the taste-buds. The beef was served two ways, giving a discernible difference in textures and sandwiching them together was a buttery and velvety hollandaise. A play on a carpaccio that was sweet, salty and peppery.
And here’s where the meal took a nosedive. The Wagyu Tongue was a might too confronting for Alex and I. And had we been aware of the menu on the night we could have mentioned our aversion to offal. It was truly the perfect example of mind over matter, as the dish was delicious in tiny bites. But with every bite I just couldn’t look past what I was eating, we left more than half. A small bite of tongue alongside the fresh onion and the mixed herb puree muted the strong beefy flavour but not really to our tastes at all. It did however produce Alex’s singular line of the night to the waiter when he asked if there was a problem with the dish. Alex’s reponse? “It was good…but I’m not really a fan of tongue”. Oh Alejandro!
And the meatier portion of the meal ended with the Adolescent lamb back cardamom anchovy basil. A slow cooked lamb served with dried basil leaves and anchovies. The lamb was cooked beautifully, soft and tender. I didn’t get any anchovy flavourings at all which was great for Alex and I. Each element went together well but having a mouthful of the basil leaves by themselves was not a great experience at all.
Alongside the lamb was a small bite of Iranian lemon pineapple sage which was incredibly medicinal, quite sour on the palate and not one that Alex enjoyed at all.
Moving along to desserts it unfortunately didn’t get any better here. And EVERYONE knows that we lurve our dessert here at FSS. The Fresh curd native pepper & burnt grapes was a funny little thing. The burnt/dried grapes had an intense concentrated flavour, the fennel seed oil added that ani-seedy flavour (which I abhor) and the curd had an almost panna cotta like texture. Oh boy…
And to be our last course unbeknownst to us, the Porcini butter cake hay cream. No mention was made that this was our final course because after we finished we waited…rather impatiently for our actual dessert. There was a subtle porcini flavour, the cake was soft and moist and the hint of white chocolate gave a slight sweetness. But boy, what an underwhelming end to a degustation.
Bit of a mixed bag at Esquire, some outstanding standout dishes and a fair few that fell flat. Bill paid, we waddled out into the rainy Brisbane night and made the drive back to Surfers Paradise.
Photos by Alex