I’d hazard a guess that opening a restaurant, cafe, bistro, bar etc would be difficult in New Farm. Prime location, but how do you predict what people want in an area that is close to the city – easily accessible to night life meccas including the Valley and West End. Do you…open a bar and hope that people drop by for a drink or three before they head out? Or perhaps a restaurant for people to dine before calling it a night, or a cafe so people can drop by for some coffee? Or maybe the plan is to be a potentially prime breakfast venue? To me, it seems like Salon is having an identity crisis in an attempt to achieve all of the above.
Salon – European Dining is a little restaurant with a few tables inside and some covered outdoor seating outside (with gas heaters) has a breakfast menu (I’ve yet to try this), their summer menu which features tapas/entrees, mains, desserts, offers their venue for functions and even does a degustation, their cocktail list is impressive too (but they couldn’t make my friend’s request of Pina Colada – Fail).
The restaurant had a pretty good atmosphere, the music was loud enough to be noticeable not too loud that you had to raise your voice in conversation. Banquette seating lined one wall – wallpapered in textured red flock, with sheer white curtain separating each table. It was sort of nice as it made it feel like we were secluded, but it also obstructed my view to the rest of the restaurant and bar. Ceiling to floor shelving lined the opposite wall as part of the bar. I especially liked the red glow of candles in the shelving and the ladder that they had propped up on the side. The overall colour scheme was red, and I felt like it had a bit of a ‘study’ feel with their low tables and leather seating.
The menu had only about 4 or 5 mains with about twice as many tapas/entrees. The meals were really reasonably priced with their tapas ranging from about $10 – $15 and their mains, no more than $19.50. To start I ordered king prawns cooked with garlic butter and chilli with a herb salad (they should’ve put petit herb salad because there were barely 5 tiny leaves on my plate), my friends ordered zucchini fries with lemon aioli and crumbed brie with pears.
My prawns were cooked well, but as it sat in its own buttery broth, I wondered how one would share it? I wasn’t overly excited by my dish, instead of the taste sensation I expected, all I got was spice – which I usually like. The garlic was raw – not very palatable and none of the aromas came through, it wasn’t bad…it was OK (personally, I would be really upset if my cooking was described as only OK). The Zucchini fries weren’t really fries, they looked crispy and golden but they were all soft and soggy…it tasted nice though, but would serve better…in a vegetable stack or something. The brie was…it was brie (you can’t really hurt a fried brie could you?).
When we were done, the waitress (who must’ve been having one of those nights) collected all our plates, including our napkins and dropped us our menus. We were all left thinking…um, what about our mains? We had to tell her this when she asked us if we wanted dessert. The mains arrived quickly (probably because it wasn’t very busy – the restaurant didn’t have a ‘bustling’ vibe) I ordered a petit eye fillet with sweet potato mash and caramelised onion with red wine jus, my friend ordered mushroom risotto. The meal portions were all pretty small, my friend’s risotto look like the size of a tennis ball, or maybe a cricket ball. She thought it was pretty nice, the rice wasn’t mushy and still had a bit of a bite. Can’t say I was terribly enthused by the taste – wasn’t bad…it was…OK. My steak was cooked perfectly – medium rare, as I requested, so it was soft and tender, I did have to struggle through it as…the restaurant didn’t have steak knives. Seemed odd to me, but maybe that’s how Europeans do it? The sauce was unremarkable, the sweet potato was sweet but was pureed to an absolute pulp so I felt like I was eating baby food, the caramelised onion was…OK.
For dessert, (it was one of those places you could fit three courses in) I ordered creme brulee with almond biscotti (there weren’t many wheat free options), and my friend ordered churros with lindt chocolate. Oh…the waitress put down knives and forks for our desserts before realising that a spoon would probably be more helpful. My friend’s churros smelt great, you could really smell the cinnamon and she said it had a nice tang. My creme brulee was probably the most basic creme brulee you could find, I couldn’t even see vanilla bean flecks. The sugary top was nice, but I was totally bored by the custard, the almond biscotti tasted a bit stale too.
Overall, the meals were…OK. The meals were pretty cheap, helped along by our Entertainment card. I doubt I’d go back again (unless I had an Entertainment card) but the restaurant would probably serve better as a bar with tapas rather than attempting to be an actual restaurant – maybe a bar is hard in that type of inner city location? Despite all the little service quirks, the waitress was nice, didn’t have a snotty attitude and was attentive to some extent, she did, at one point, stop mid sentence and run off before returning. The menu definitely needs to be injected with some creativity…I have to say that I found the food incredibly boring and uninspiring. I liked the wall paper though.
Salon – European Dining | Shop 5A Cnr Florence, 110 Macquarie St, Teneriffe, Brisbane | 07 3252 3911