Champ Kitchen and Bar is a relative newcomer to the Brisbane foodie scene. In prime position, at the end of the ABC building, near the cultural forecourt of Southbank, I thought the food was sensational but front of house needs some settling in. Owned by Justine Whelan who is responsible for The Gun Shop and Anouk, the Champ kitchen is run by Lucas McMillan and Mike Kirwin.
We arrived right on time for our 7.30 pm booking. Our friends arrived 7.50 pm after having battled the traffic in Grey Street. Al and I had plenty of time to study the menu and the wine list but when our friendly waiter offered to take our order before our friends arrived, that rang a few alarm bells for me.
All four of us ordered main meals at 8 pm. Unfortunately they didn’t arrive at our table until 9 pm. As we were heading over to the 9.30 pm show in the Spiegeltent this didn’t give us a great deal of time to fully appreciate the meal or even consider ordering dessert. Apparently our order had been misplaced. Granted, it’s Brisbane Festival time, Southbank is buzzing with people but I didn’t think the restaurant was busy enough to have misplaced our order. Our waiter seemed inexperienced, so we were ok with it, although with the restaurants close proximity to QPAC, I expect many diners will want very prompt service when seeing a show.
The senior wait staff were full of sincere apologises and admitted to some teething problems. Not to worry, although this was a shame, all four mains were spectacular. Our delicious side dish of green veggies (Asparagus tips and green beans in a lemon oil) didn’t actually arrive until we’d finished eating but this was taken off our bill, along with some drinks.
What we ate;
Bound quail filled with chestnut, mushroom and foie gras with English spinach and jus
Crispy skin tea smoked Barra with slow cooked Jerusalem artichoke, mushroom duxelle and fennel cream
Crunchy pork belly and butter-poached shellfish with baby winter veggies, calvados jus and drizzle of tarragon butter sauce.
Kashmir rack of lamb with garam masala, celeriac mash and tzatziki
My choice, the Barra, was one of the most delicate fish dishes I’ve had in a long time. Beautifully cooked and tasting delicious. What really stood out for all of us was the artful presentation. Nothing better than looking at beautiful food that doesn’t let you down when you taste it.
Other main choices included: Capellini pasta tossed in sea urchin butter with Moreton Bay bug, Ikura caviar and truffle cream; Duck confit with potato Lyonnaise, spiced porcini and sweet and sour jus; Wagyu skirt and braised ox tail with carrot puree, mushroom jus and jamon crumbs.
As we were preparing to leave, we were offered a dessert to try, free of charge. Lemon meringue in pieces with popcorn ice cream, salted caramel and raspberry dust. Again, we couldn’t fault this dish. Perfection.
Other desserts that I would have loved to try included: Strawberry doughnuts with liquid panna cotta and mint salad and Pear tart with macadamia parfait, tangelo curd and Earl Grey tea jelly.
Champ is value for money. On the bottom of the menu they claim “Extraordinary food that won’t break the bank”. I’d have to agree. Champ is a lovely addition to the Southbank food scene and I’ll certainly be back to sample more of its offerings!
Champ Kitchen & Bar
Ground floor, ABC building, (behind the wheel)
114 Grey St, Southbank
Ph: 3844 4470