What a week this has been! So many things are happening at the moment in Brisbane and with perfect weather it’s been the perfect opportunity to go out and enjoy the cultural offerings.
Firstly, I must share my excitement over seeing Kevin McCloud at QPAC last Wednesday! I have been a long time Kevin fan and dedicated watcher of Grand Designs as well as his various documentaries including Kevin McCloud: Slumming it (so fascinating) and his ecologically and sustainability inspired series Kevin McCloud’s Man Made Home. Armed with that quintessentially British dry humour, Grand Designs – An Evening with Kevin McCloud was an interesting and amusing fusion of autobiographical insights, stand-up comedy and informative architectural seminar. He entertainingly conveyed an obvious passion for art and beautiful architecture and shared his appreciation for not only aesthetics but also the function and form of some of the best (and worst) Grand Designs.
Champ Kitchen and Bar
As an added bonus, Mama (a fellow Kevin and Grand Designs fanatic) decided to visit for a few days so she could join me, which meant we required a dinner reservation and I had the perfect place in mind. During past visits to Southbank I had seen a charming but very modern looking restaurant right behind the Wheel of Brisbane called Champ Kitchen and Bar. Furnished with hanging vines, lush greenery and industrial style lighting with a sleek open kitchen and well-stocked wine fridges, the whole environment looked incredibly inviting.
We arrived early for our pre-show meal and were seated right by the window – perfect for people watching and observing the hustle and bustle on a balmy Wednesday night. After looking through the menu (simple, select and clearly developed with a focus on fresh ingredients and interesting flavour combinations) we debated over a number of options. Luckily our waiter saved the day by revealing another mains option of crispy skin barramundi topped with Canadian scallops and baby spring vegetables in a lime beurre blanc sauce. Well that was that. The lovely sommelier then matched our fish with a crisp Margret River Chardonnay for Mama and a light and fruity Italian Pinot Grigio for myself.
The barramundi came out perfectly perched on top fat, firm and juicy green beans and wilted spinach dotted with large succulent scallops impeccably caramelized around the edges. Cutting into the crispy skin and hearing it crunch was music to the ears and the flesh just fell away from the knife. The flavour of the skin was wonderfully salty and slightly tangy with added depth. The scallops were divine – buttery and luscious they went down a treat with the still slightly crunchy beans and mopped up by the spinach soaked in the lime beurre blanc. The whole meal was filling but light, fresh but full of complex flavour combinations and allowed for a review of the dessert menu.
A quick browse and we were sold on the marquis – a valrhona chocolate and peanut butter mousse served with raspberry sorbet, freeze dried raspberries and crushed fresh peanuts. This decadent dessert arrived looking like a giant pink jewel was sitting dramatically in the middle of chocolate opulence.
One spoonful of this mousse was like plunging straight into a jar of Nutella it was that thick! Dark chocolate and peanut butter goodness melted onto the palate – it was incredibly rich and oozing chocolate bliss. Thankfully the tart, zingy raspberry sorbet cut through the intensity and the crunchy chunks of peanuts added dimension. It was a fabulous combination of textures and temperatures on the tongue. A big 5T’s on the Must Try scale and a recommended destination for anyone who needs a pre-show meal in the Southbank district.
Next stop will be Anouk Cafe in Paddington run by the same guys behind Champ Kitchen and Bar…looking forward to the next foodie adventure!