Esquire is a fine dining food experience that challenges all of your senses. From the exciting menu right through to the woodfire smoke aroma (carried around by wait staff) that wafts around the room. The décor is vaguely Nordic in style, contemporary but warm with soft lighting and beautiful views of the Brisbane Story Bridge.
So much of a wonderful dining experience hinges on professional and friendly wait staff and Esquire has assembled a team they should be proud of. They move around the tables delivering and explaining dishes like a team of skilled artisans. It’s gently theatrical despite the very occasional head bump of the low hanging pendant lights.
You have two choices, the short or the long menu. We choose the long menu. Both menus start with six amuse bouches. Six, I hear you say? The wait staff gave a warning they’d be delivering them at rapid fire and they did. It’s almost like an assault on the senses. I would have preferred them come out a little slower but Al loved the fact you were bombarded with little morsels of tasty treats so beautifully presented.
- Kettle chips and truffle cream
- Jerusalem artichoke chips and parsley cream
- Kim Chi and air dried beef
- Scallop Nigiri
- Ike Jime Coral Trout
- Blue Mackerel
Next to arrive was Blue Swimmer Crab and Macadamia with a malt crumb. Sweet, sweet crab married with such delicate flavours. This one was a winner. Keeping with the seafood theme, we enjoyed Squid with English peas and lemon. Again delicate flavours and melt in the mouth squid.
One of our lovely waitresses, Jess, then appeared at the table with a soda fountain filled with the most delicious Pink Lady Apple soda as a palate cleanser, which she foamed into glasses.
The richest dish of the night followed our soda. Truffle, Barley with grated Itchi Bai (hard ewes cheese). This dish vaguely resembled a truffle risotto. It had a dark earthy flavour that was comforting but extremely rich.
The menu doesn’t give a lot of explanation about what to expect on the plate and for me that was really exciting. The menu expressed the flavours you’ll experience but it’s a super surprise when the dish actually appears in front of you. None more so, then the simply named Bone Marrow and Bread. Delivered by four waiters, each holding the ends of two large pieces of thin black cardboard, it’s unrolled between each couple to reveal a hearty bone and fresh bread.
The bread is the hero. A small loaf of house-made organic sour dough and a full bone carved length-ways to reveal a soft bone marrow, topped with crunchy red onion. I’ve never eaten bone marrow and was pleasantly surprised. You dig into the soft marrow and spoon onto your bread. Simple and perfect.
Delicately cooked corned beef followed. This was accompanied by a Cavalo Nero emulsion with quark, a type of low-fat curd cheese. According to the menu, we expected Popcorn for the next course. What appeared was a clear glass bowl of grilled sweet corn parfait, popcorn crumb and tarragon. A dish that would sit comfortably as either savoury or sweet. According to Miss P, her favourite of the night.
Our last savoury dish of the night was Calotte, onion and juniper. The Calotte is the part of meat wrapped around the rib eye that butchers mostly discard. It had a delicious crusty exterior and was cooked rare, unfortunately mine was almost blue but Al, M and Miss P declared it a success. It was served with an onion jus and juniper oil with salt and vinegar cress.
I always read the dessert menu first, so I was looking forward to the final two courses.
- Pear, walnut and licorice
- Campari – orange, curds and whey
For me the pear, walnut and licorice wasn’t a complete success. I’m not a fan of the licorice flavour so this most certainly detracted from the beautifully poached pear and walnut foam. Waitress Jess described the next course as a ‘party in the mouth’ and it certainly was. This was my dish of the night. Curds and whey ice-cream, campari sherbet, and orange. It was a tingly, zingy taste sensation and a gorgeous way to finish what I thought was quite a rich degustation meal.
If you love trying new flavour combinations, then I think you’ll love Esquire. It’s innovative cooking and totally deserving of the three hats it recently received in the Brisbane Good Food Guide. The service is equally as impressive and the décor is sophisticated and warm making for a very memorable dining experience. It was also refreshing to not see a roasted or mashed potato in any of the courses (the potato only made one appearance as a Kettle chip, and yes, it was delicious!).
Lovers of wine won’t be disappointed. The small but impressive list has some interesting labels if you want to try something different. There are also plenty of ‘by glass’ choices and a substantial cocktail list.
At the end of the night it was lovely to chat with head chef, Ben Devlin who came to our table to give us our final taste treat of the night, Lamingtons. Apparently July 21st was National Lamington Day. Who knew? He had made little lamingtons, which turned out to be chocolate encasing cream and coated with coconut. Again, not at all what we expected. Ben was happy to share his time with us for a chat and graciously signed my menu.
The full Esquire experience isn’t a cheap night out but if you are looking for a ‘dining experience’, then I highly recommend it. If you want to sample innovative food, and are short on time, then try Esq. at the front of the restaurant, open for lunch.
Finally, just want to make special mention about the dinnerware. It was probably the most beautiful I have eaten from. Heavy and organic in shape, it came in several different muted colours. It was sensual to the touch and truly enhanced the dining experience.
Each of us left Esquire with a beautifully packaged Esquire chocolate sheaf and long-lasting food memories.
145 Eagle St, Brisbane