From the archive: This post was published on our original site, MyCityLife back on 24 May 2014
As Food Me Up Scotty, Anthony Clark is is one of The City’s top foodie bloggers extraordinaire.
Whether by accident or by design, it seems as if seven is a lucky number for one of Brisbane’s most enduring and acclaimed restaurants. Alchemy Restaurant + Bar’s Brad and Angelica Jolly have been weaving their magic at their riverside fine dining establishment for seven years. To celebrate the changing of the season, Head Chef Brad Jolly has put together an astounding new menu. What better way to celebrate seven years, than with a seven-course degustation?
Brad Jolly has been one of Brisbane’s most influential chefs, incorporating his philosophy for exceptional service with the highest quality products. It’s a philosophy refined throughout his career, seeing him working alongside culinary giants Marco Pierre White, Eric Chavot and Jamie Oliver. It’s this search for perfection that has made his French-inspired Modern Australian restaurant one of my favourites to dine in our fair city.
A new season means opportunities for creative new menu items and Brad has worked hard to produce a menu that is ingredient-focused but light, with full-bodied flavours. Where Brad is concerned, he believes it’s ok to experiment, but when it comes to the end product – even if some of the ingredients sound like they won’t work together – everything on the plate is there for a reason.
While I missed the liquid nitrogen sweet gastronomic nibbles, the Noosa Hinterland crispy courgette flowers with herbed goats cheese and truffled honey started my meal, looking light and inviting on the plate. The smell was enough for me to salivate. The subtle flavours of the goats cheese worked well with the deep-fried courgette flower; the truffled honey lending sweetness and earthiness to the plate and setting my taste buds alight.
I was excited by the presentation of the Tasmanian salmon ceviche with citrus, glazed beetroot, horseradish and white chocolate crumble. The salmon was cleverly presented as a circle of fish standing tall and proud amongst the micro herbs and glazed beetroot. The unusual pairing of white chocolate crumble worked surprisingly well with the sweet beetroot and fresh and delicious salmon. There was a mix of textures that worked playfully on my palate, but there was no doubting that the star of the show was the light ceviche salmon with just a hint of citrus flavour.
The stunning presentation continued, with the stark contrast of the Hervey Bay scallops, crushed peas, goats cheese and lemon dressing. I enjoyed the freshness of a dish that saw two perfectly seared scallops sitting atop crushed peas and broad beans. To finish the look, a circle of pea puree surrounded the scallops and added some symmetry to the plate. The plump scallops were sweet yet combined perfectly with the equally sweet peas and slightly bitter broad beans.
Scallops and pork belly are wonderful combinations, so it was a pleasure to take in the Northern Rivers pork belly with yoghurt spiced aubergine, apple salad and crackling. Unusually, the pork belly was served with the crackling to the side, though what remained was a perfect square of pork that was soft and jube-like. The perfectly rendered fat had an intense sweetness while the apple salad with spicy aubergine balanced out the richness of the pork; the generous serving of crackling adding a wonderfully crunchy texture to the dish.
I’m a sucker for venison and definitely for the oven-roasted venison loin with celeriac puree, chocolate coffee crumble and dark chocolate ganache. It was the second course of the day to feature chocolate in a dish though in this instance, chocolate and venison are a well-known combination. The medium-rare venison was expertly cooked and incredibly tender, but it was the herb crust encircling the venison that really enhanced the flavour. The rich gamey taste of the venison was matched by the dark chocolate ganache, creating both a challenging and rewarding combination.
While I was feeling full and sated, dessert was still to come. The soft set buttermilk panna cotta with rhubarb and basil ice cream came last, looking wonderful in its plain glass. Different textures of rhubarb were on display, contrasting nicely with the green of the basil ice cream and stark whiteness of the buttermilk panna cotta. Though my preference is for a more traditional set panna cotta, it was easy to like this dish. The combination of textures and flavours were perfect; before too long, my glass was empty.
As a regular at the restaurant, I’ve seen the menus develop and change, very much enjoying the journey. Alchemy is certainly a mainstay in the Brisbane dining scene with a consistency that is the envy of many. With its exciting new menu, it won’t be long before I find myself back in the dining room to discover what other incredible taste sensations there are to explore.
Photo credit: Anthony Clark