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Restaurant Manx – Lame August 24, 2009

Filed under: Fine Dining,Food,Food review — Dobsessed @ 9:01 pm
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One of the most annoying thing is going out for dinner, hoping for a nice experience, and then getting something really mediocre, even worse than that.  The thing that annoys even more is when I open up a magazine, and read a glowing review about the place!

Such was the case when I went to Restaurant Manx recently for dinner.  The restaurant is in Portside, you know, it’s a flash, fine dining venue.  I did not have such a great experience when I was there however.

My friend and I were seated in the foyer near the entrance with really lightweight tables that would skid across the floor when you moved a bit, bad start.  The waitress that served us was really rough and spoke to us as if we’re in a café ordering coffee.  It was very casual and not altogether friendly.  I’m not such a snob that I expect to be spoken with in an uppity accent, but she was just…rough.

Manx-Mains

I ordered scallops to start which were cooked beautifully, but then were marked by absolutely tart and sour citrus fruits that were dotted around the plate.  The scallops were the only thing that was done well, because everything else was a disappointment.

My duck looked beautiful, looked pink and tender but were actually tough and dry. The skin was way too fatty and not at all crispy.  Didn’t have much flavour either, but I guess after you chew a piece of meat for about 12 minutes, you sort of start to forget what flavour it had.  The duck was supposed to be served with puy lentils, there were no lentils, all I got was some green peas.  And I don’t have any problems differentiating between puy lentils and peas.  The zucchini flowers – which I usually love, were soggy, filled with sloppy cheese and looked sad and pathetic on the plate.

Apple Tarte Tartin and Chocolate Souffle

Apple Tarte Tartin and Chocolate Souffle

My dessert didn’t end on a high note either.  The apple tarte tartin with ginger crumble came, looking rather sad, lopsided and fittingly topped off with melted ice-cream.  Just the thing to top of a rather disappointing dinner.  I have a sweet tooth, but even this was too sweet.  It felt like they’d didn’t make a decent caramel so decided to drizzle the whole thing with honey.  Not good.

Overall, I found the whole experience very disappointing, we were seated in the foyer, like we weren’t even allowed in the restaurant, the service was brusque, the food sounded exciting, tasted bad and I definitely won’t be going back.

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A sensory experience for your tongue: The Buffalo Club August 13, 2009

Red Velvet cup cake

Red Velvet cup cake

It was a Saturday.  No work and on this Saturday, I did everything I enjoyed on any given Saturday.

After having a first breakfast of noodles, I picked up my friend for our (my) usual weekend brunch ritual.  I have to say, there’s nothing I love more than a good brunch.  I’m not talking your basic bacon and eggs deal, I like a place that has injected some creativity in its breakfasts.

For example, I don’t mind eating the odd bacon and eggs if they have something different added to it…like maybe a great, savoury potato cake on the side…or even a really great tasting Mango (hold the bananas) smoothie – the best Mango smoothie (no bananas) I’ve had was back in the day at Salt in Rosalie.

Anyways, we went to Au Cirque for breakfast, I loved the mood of the cafe instantly, cosy, nice smells, homely, not overly trendy.  Greeted us with a smile (without seeming like we were a hindrance like some other breakfast places do) and seated us upstairs at the ‘bar’.  This was sort of like bar/bench facing the street (with windows). I liked it…great for people watching.  I wasn’t that hungry, having already had one breakfast.  I ordered a soy mocha which was beautifully frothed but had that funny over steamed soy milk taste.  I ordered gluten free toast with butter, organic honey and fresh rubarb and apple jam.  My toast came burnt, toasted to a crisp – looked like it was the dredge of the last slice too.  The jam was yummy, I liked the combination but the honey had started to form sugar crystals, definitely not a good look.  Overall, it was pretty casual and I’d go back again for a decent breakfast.

We then went shopping and ended up eating chips and aoili at the Depot in the Emporium (average – I would’ve liked crunchier chips) and also got a Red Velvet cupcake at poppy cakes – nice and moist, I liked the thick frosting, but not very chocolatey.  However, having attempted Red Velvet cakes twice, I know that the more cocoa you put in, the more muted the red becomes – less like velvet.

After the all day grazing, we ended up at the Buffalo Club, neither of us very hungry – thankfully.  We were greeted at street level by a smiling girl in fur and taken up in the lift to the Buffalo Club.  It had a gentleman’s club feel to it with leather club chairs and timber floors.  I quite liked the interiors, it had a really great mood, an open kitchen and a big bar.  They even had an elevated seating area practically in the kitchen.  I also like the huge windows at the far wall.

We were seated and presented with the menus and within seconds, the first snack arrived (we hadn’t even ordered).  It was like a bite sized prawn cracker (though it was probably called something else) but that single bite was full of flavour, the cracker sorted melted as it touched your tongue.  Good start.  We were then served ‘Snacks’ – which was Smoked beef jerky, avocado, peppers, wild rice, garlic, tomato, onion, shallots, basil, pollen. Yes.  Pollen.  Flowers would continually pop up throughout the meal.  It was a plate of bits and pieces, reminded me of a really hardy mixed grain muesli but once again, full of flavour, cruchy, mushy, all melting in the mouth.

We decided to go for the 15 course ‘degustation’.  I say ‘degustation’ lightly as the whole menu is really a taster, everything was small, and only required a few bites.

After we’d ordered, we were given a free cocktail – sorry, I can’t really remember what it is, but I did remember that the barman had a sexy accent, so I guess it did leave a good impression.

I won’t bother going through the menu because even reading it now (yes, they let you keep the menu) I can’t really tell you what some of the things are.  As each dish is presented, the waiter/waitress will explain each component of the dish including how it can be eaten.  I’ll give you an idea of what one of the ‘dishes’ were.  On the menu, it just said, Opah – Soy, Honey. When it came, it looked like a shaved pumpkin chip, but we were informed that Opah is actually a fish that’s be thinly shaved/sliced, dried until crisp – but taste like bacon with pearls of soy and honey on it.  Imagine that taste senstation in your mouth.  It was amazing.  Or the pink powder, served with the white powder which were actually boar and walnut (so imagine putting pink powder in your mouth and tasting meat – strange).

Another stand out? The Foie gra with marshmallow, cello, tamari and almonds.  The foie gra was rich, creamy and salty, great contrast to the soft mashmallow and then mixed with the very salty but crunchy almond.  Or maybe it was the Duck?  The duck was souvied so that it was really tender, I barely even realised it was duck, no tready bits…or maybe I should say smooth grained.  I also loved the Calotte (beef) – which was increibly tender with pureed garlic and pureed onion.  Did I mention I di dn’t have to salt anything, everything was full of flavour and absolutely delicious.

A palete relief came in the form of passionfruit soda and papaya.  It was sour – cleansed away everything. I’m ready for round two…

Manchego – Quince, Porcini, Cress, Garlic, Brioche – really hard to describe, but the ‘brioche’ was wafer thin and cracked as you ate it.  The remaining were pretty much desserts, a strawberry thing, sponge (soaked in coconut liquer – I think) with banana and chocolate, buffalo yoghurt – MUCH too sour for my palete and doughnut with caramel and vanilla…warm, sugary goodness.

Also, the cocktails we ordered were fairly potent so by the end of the three hour tasting experience, we were feeling pretty happy.

The Buffalo Club is definitely an experience and I would recommend that people should try it at least once. It’s not for everyone though…if you go in, expecting the Buffalo Club to be a steakhouse with 1kg steaks, you’ll be sorely disappointed.  It’s more about the experience of the taste and the flavour and the texture (I’ve never had so many powdered food in my life). However, if you were to ask me to choose between The Buffalo Club or Absynthe for a return visit, I’d choose Absynthe – real food …but that’s not to say I wouldn’t go back to the Buffalo Club.  I’m fairly sure their menu has daily tweaks too.

I’m lucky I didn’t go hungry though, despite my day of grazing, I left feeling like I could probably eat a couple of cheeseburghers.

The Buffalo club only does taster menus – 9 courses for $100 and 15 courses for $150, you can also do wine pairings which look very generous and they also have a nice wine and cocktail list.

The Buffalo Club | Lvl 1 Cnr Wickham St & Brunswick St | Fortitude Valley | 07 3216 1323