|splendid glass frontage at the entrance|
|you can just make out the sparkly Story Bridge all a-glow|
(the old paddle wheeler looks ghost-like, doesn't it?)
My Melburnian cousin (and her mum) was up on business, and suggested we check out Aria. She has been to the Sydney version, so wanted to compare them. (Brisbane came out on top she said - of course). It was Monday night so we were a bit worried that it may not have been open but success! - Aria is open 7 nights a week. I booked for 6.30 p.m. (none of us like late nights and it was a "school" night).
We were welcomed warmly and led to a table which had fabulous views over the river. Our waitress quickly provided us with sparkling water, which was kept filled all night. My cousin and aunt were having plain water; the staff cleverly did not forget for one minute which was which. Gorgeous little wooden rounds were soon on our table, displaying the amuse-bouche. Sadly, I have forgotten what it was exactly, but there was a squid-ink element to the crispy prawn cracker base (?), and I can just say it was delicious!
|delicious if mysterious squid-ink amuse-bouche with a creamy dollop of unknown nature:)|
Well, we wolfed that down and waited in anticipation for the dinner to come. My cousin and I had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from the Yarra Valley ($14). My aunt and Mr P. stuck to water (the Coke he ordered never came).
|sour dough and butter were very tasty|
|I chose oysters naked and juicy $4.50 each|
|buffalo milk haloumi with date, witlof and and lime salad $33|
Mr P. and the Cuz both had this, and found it "bloody good", quoting Mr P. He said the haloumi was smooth and flavoursome, and probably the best he had ever had. (I am quoting here).
|hand cut chips $9-of course delicious!|
|roast duck breast with greens and toasted buckwheat $52|
Delicious duck with a crispy skin, and flesh just a teeny bit too well-done for me but still fabulous.
|smoked Wagyu short rib $54|
Sauces for the beef came along separately in small dishes; the diner chooses which one (s) they want. The Cuz and aunt enjoyed the tender and perfectly cooked beef. My aunt was very happy that there were no quibbles about her wanting it well-done. I was informed very nicely that the duck came out medium-rare which is my preferred option anyway. It was a leetle overdone for me, as I often find when restaurants insist on a certain way, ironically:)
|Mr P. had King Salmon with broccoli, and rye puree $53|
I had a small taste and found it a bit dry, but Mr P. liked it. He said the presentation was beautiful, but he felt there wasn't quite enough on the plate. The fish itself was tender according to Mr P., and the flavour spoke for itself - i.e. - like salmon, which he enjoyed.
|steamed greens with sherry vinegar and Chinese sausage $12|
I didn't get around to trying the greens but I assume they were tasty as I didn't hear otherwise. Another time I would love to try the truffle mash; it sounds decadent. We even managed to squeeze in dessert; well, it was our duty really:)
|I had the Hazelnut dessert-with caramel and popcorn ganache and hazelnut ice cream $23|
I was a little uncertain of my dessert; I am not a big fan of popcorn, and felt that it did not really fit in with the dish. I was not super-keen on the ganache either; it was a bit gummy, and surprisingly not very flavourful.
|Valrhona chocolate pave w/- banana and choc sorbet, and salted caramel peanuts $25 |
The Cuz liked her dessert, and clearly had none of the reservations that I had. I think it looks more tantalising than mine; my own fault really for picking a popcorn dish.
|what do you call the amuse-bouche at the end? Anyway it was so delish that I had to snaffle hubby's piece of sweet crispy thing!|
The crisp was flavoured with peanuts, and I think black sesame seeds (or Nigella seeds?). I instantly thought I had to try making it at home, so you may see it in a later post.
|this cute box with tiny macarons was given to each of us at the end of the night|
They made a fabulous breakfast bite the next day! We all thought this was a lovely touch to finish off our night. Service was very friendly and impeccable (except for the missing Coke); the food was flavoursome and well cooked, and overall we had a really enjoyable evening. We wrapped ourselves in coats and scarves (can you believe there was a cold wind blowing down the street in sunny Brisbane?) and headed out into the night, well fed and content.
Aria has an award-winning wine list, changes their menu regularly according to the seasons, and also offers a tasting menu at $125 for 4 courses and $165 for seven. There was a function in the private dining room on the night we were there, which we were sitting very close to, but there was no extraneous noise or bother at all. In fact, the whole restaurant was beautifully peaceful and quiet, thanks partly to the carpeted floor. How lovely not to have to yell at each other as you often do these days in the hard, concreted spaces so many cafes and restaurants inhabit. You can book online very easily, and you can even buy Matt's books at the restaurant. I have read some reviews which suggest that Matt plays it safe with his menu, but who said that is a bad thing!