Monday, 23 April 2018

E'cco Bistro - Review

It was hubby's big birthday last week.  I mean big - I mean, how the heck am I married to this old dude?:=)  Clearly, he deserved a big treat for hanging around so long, and surviving the fatal diagnosis he got from doctors years ago.  So we headed to E'cco, a Brisbane institution, which has just moved to a new location in trendy Newstead.  Foolishly, and I admit this is my fault not theirs, we went to lunch rather than dinner.  I should have known better!  Lunch is full of businessmen doing deals, and showing off their big ... well, you get the picture.

I shall get the whinges out of the way first.  The waiter, nice lad though I'm sure he is, managed to drive me just that little bit crazy.  Did he really feel it necessary to explain what a jowl was, even though I said we had no questions about the menu?  Did he have to tell us how the menu was divided up into various sizes and prices?  And what about the noise level?  Mr P. being the sensible designer that he is, checked the decibel level, which was way over the comfort zone for humans.  Just imagine the noise at dinner, when the restaurant is full!  Those poor chefs and waitstaff will be deaf by the time they're 40.   

reflections in the glass

A fairly minimalist entrance, which surprised me a bit.  Not sure what I was expecting.  Or perhaps I should call it lean and sophisticated?  

Tasmanian sparkling water $10

Some lovely Tassie water from the windswept cliffs of north-west Tasmania.  Cape Grim is also where cattle are grown to become beef.  Tassie - how we adore you:=)  

sourdough bread with French butter $8
This was deliciously tasty bread, as was the butter.  I think there were half a dozen pieces of bread, so not a bad deal for the money.

ginger ale or ginger beer? $4

Mr P. ordered ginger beer, but the receipt said ginger ale.  Whatever it was, hubby really enjoyed the strong gingery taste.

oysters $5 each - with fermented chilli mignonette

The waiter seemed to query my order of 3 oysters; not sure why.  I told him that hubby doesn't eat them, (true fact)  just to assuage his disquiet.  He came by later to ask which sort of oyster I wanted.  As it was so darn hard to hear him, I went along with his suggestion for the Clair de Lune (?) ones.  I love oysters, and these were fresh and briny and plump.  The spicy condiment went very well with them.  

Brussels sprouts $18

Mr P. chose the sprouts for his entrée, though it was more of a side dish really.  Hard to tell when the menu isn't entirely clear as to what is what.  (Sorry folks, sounds like I am whingeing again.)  These were very crispy.  I do like a crispy veg., but these were erring perhaps just a little too much.  Otherwise, they were very tasty with a soft egg and fried onion on top.

see the sous-chef/underling straining his cabbage?:) 

I think this fellow was a wee bit unhappy straining his cabbage.  But I had a lot of fun watching him.  It got quite heated after a while, when he started to toss it into plastic bags bare-handed, with the strength of ten men:=)

duck breast $42   (sorry, slightly off-putting photo of the sauce)

The duck was superb; tender and mouthwatering.  And the walnut tarator was really a wonder; full of flavour and went so well with the duck.  The crunchy walnuts and the sublime fig were delightful with the soft meat.  But I could happily have lived without the greenery.  Okay, I am about to whinge again so jump ahead if it offends you - 2 small strips of breast?  Really?  Truth to tell, I was still hungry after this.  And the waiter had suggested sharing.  Sharing?  I felt there was a bit of cynicism here; charging a substantial amount for such a tiny amount of food.  I understand the huge costs that restaurants face, but!   

pastrami brisket with fennel $38 

Mr P. on the other hand, chose a nice chunk of brisket.  This was reminiscent of beef cheek; nicely shredded, tender meat with a creamy fennel accompaniment.  I enjoyed my wee taste of this dish, and hubby was happy with it too.  He was satisfied with the quantity, and loved the taste and texture.

chocolate marquise $17

Chocolate marquise with caramelised white chocolate and pecans was our last dish of the day.  This was so delicious.  A crunchy little crumble and a few colourful leaves decorated the plate.  I kindly gave Mr P. a few bites.  This was a mousse-y, light but rich chocolate delight.


forgot this!

We had finished lunch, and got up to pay when the waiter came rushing by to tell us he had a surprise for us.  Et voilà - this cute plate with 3 sweet little macarons.  A thoughtful gesture for Mr P.'s big day.

All up, we had a pleasant lunch with some fantastic dishes.  Love the open kitchen; enjoyed watching the chefs do their thing.  But -  there is a but: neither myself nor hubby can quite define what we found troublesome here.  There just seemed to be a general lack of warmth and joie de vivre.  Service was fine, timing was fine, and the meal was superb for the most part, but ...  The words perfunctory and mechanical come to mind.  I will leave it to you, dear fellow diners to find out for yourselves.

63 Skyring Tce., Newstead 
Ph: 07 3831 8344

E'cco Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 


  1. Happy birthday to your hubby. I went to Ecco once years ago when it was in the Valley, I think. I was very young and felt like a fish out of water. I ate rabbit for the first and only time in my life. Your duck looks good- shame about the portion size. And the dessert- yum!

    1. Hi cakelaw
      The food was pretty fantastic but a little less than generous for my main. Just a bit odd, the whole thing. Cheers S

  2. Happy Birthday to your husband! What a nice way to celebrate. LOL at the chef watching-I guess with open kitchens it's easy to forget that people are watching.

    1. thanks lorraine. i enjoyed the chef-watching; such fun!

  3. After having spent a couple of weeks dining out in Melb I’ve come to the conclusion that in general, the hospitality industry in Brissy lacks passion. I think diners are to blame, we accept mediocrity rather than demanding excellence from both the kitchen and waitstaff. We all need to lift our game. I’ve waiting to hear an opinion of the relocated Ecco. I think I’ll let the gloss of the new premises wear off before I give it a try. Happy Birthday Pete

    1. Pete says thanks! yes it was a bit disturbing at Ecco. just not as memorable as we had hoped. we had a very loud frenchman next to us telling his companion about wine. oh dear. and the waiter - his heart in the right place - i think but!...

  4. Happy Birthday to Hubby! Sounds like a pretty good meal, but I know what you mean about the lack of warmth. And no, having the waiter walk you through the menu doesn't add warmth (even though a lot of restaurants think it does). And noise level! That drives me crazy in restaurants. I've read that some restaurants actually design their restaurants to be noisy -- supposedly high noise = more energy = bigger appetites. Or something like that. Not for me. :-( Anyway, fun post -- thanks.

    1. hi KR,
      thanks for dropping by. I read the other day that too much noise is the biggest complaint about restaurants- and yet, they do nothing about it. weird! We just eat and bolt in a loud place. No coffee, no dessert. so they are missing out on our money. cheers S

  5. Your doubts and hesitations add up to an interesting portrayal of a place where each item seems fine, but the whole is less than the sum of the parts? I had to look up the Australian $ -- it's around US $.75 -- which means these prices seem quite high to me, especially for small portions. Maybe that's part of the doubt.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY to him!

    best... mae at

    1. Hi Mae
      I know it’s difficult and expensive to run a restaurant but I feel they should make it a great experience for their customers. This was just a bit lacking in ambience. Cheers S

  6. I just don't get why restaurants have to be noisy! Conversation is all part of the eating out experience. Birthday blessings for hubby :)

    1. thanks tandy. he had a great birthday. cheers S


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