The meaning of degustation comes to relish or savour – with care. Translated directly from French, degustation refers to sampling an array of small dishes served one after the other while savouring food – with all the senses. This could mean anything and everything where skill is concerned: from appreciating the ingredients, the chef’s skills and the good company. And with the utmost attention paid to each component and aspect.
The greatest thing about the menu is they allow chefs to showcase their signature dishes and techniques. This could be their annual magna cater. And then, there might come a time in a lucky chef’s career when they meet a bartender or sommelier with a shared vision of taste; and together, there is magic. Then, this lovechild is The Degustation. This four to eight course affair is a masterpiece that comes as a multi-parent affair. Many a degustation has been raised by by multiple parents, but the end result is always a combination of time, passion and creative genius – and care. The degustation is the fine-art of food. Each dish is carefully considered, and you can be sure that there is a piece of the chef’s soul in every bite. Although degustations generally follow the same structure, every one is different in their own way. Sitting down to several hours of savouring beautifully crafted dishes should be a regular point on the to-do list of every foodie, especially those who love to try something different. The best thing is, with Brisbane’s booming hospitality scene, you don’t even have to plan a getaway to enjoy one of these extravagant meals: there are plenty of masterchefs waiting right under our nose. Add a wine or cocktail matched to each course: foodie heaven is here.
And in Brisbane, for a restaurant to reach a landmark age is a huge affair. So inspired by Restaurant Two’s recent celebration of their 15th birthday and the release of their Loyalty Degustation Menu – that is, six courses of taste sensations – MyCityLife looks at the top degustation experiences in Brisbane. Because someone has to do it.
Restaurant Two kicks off proceedings with their Loyalty Degustation Menu: Rabbit and Truffle Soup for starters; the harmony of beetroot and chocolate before finishing with a Sweet Potato and Orange dessert. Truly, vegetable components have never been sweeter.
If it’s choice and variety you’re after, head to Urbane Restaurant, and choose between five or eight courses, both with vegetarian options. Regardless of the length of your meal, or the presence of meat, you’re sure to be impressed. And in the true spirit of choice, even the accompanying wines are optional – although that wouldn’t be a personal choice.
Alchemy Restaurant and Bar on the river shows off the best of Australian produce in their degustation menu. Crispy Courgette Flowers from the Noosa Hinterland, Kingfish from South Australia and Slow Cooked Pork Belly from Kingaroy are all standout dishes that are truly brought to life by the accompanying multicultural wine menu ranging from New Zealand reds through to German whites and finishing with Pedro Ximinez with dessert. Across the way, the three hats of Esquire stand out with its incredible layout shining the spotlight on proteins: whether lamb tongue, buffalo or holmbrea chicken.
Lab Bar + Restaurant from Treasury Hotel Casino understands the significance of a good palate cleanser when embarking on a degustation evening. Their offerings feature hearty meat dishes that leave a romantic mark: Lamb Backstrap with Soubise and Rosti Potato and Pork Assiette with a Skinned Belly on a Julienne of Vegetables share the main stage while their Citrus Cheesecake with Candied Orange and Campari Sorbet are sure to delight the whole table.
For personalised selection and incredible décor, Bacchus, Southbank rules the roost this side of town. No one even comes close to taking the crown; set against the backdrop of the rooftop pool at ever picturesque South Bank, Bacchus’ degustation menus are mighty in range and execution: from Petite to Vegetarian, Vegan to Chef’s Selection, Dessert, and the Dom Perignon. The Fennel and Goats Cheese Panna Cotta with Wattleseed Biscotti and Pernod Vinegairette, Bacchus style Bugtail, Kingfish, Rabbit and Lamb as individual mains, and wrapping up with Almond Scorched Sticky Lemon Polenta with Butter Milk Ice Cream for the grand finale and perhaps some surprises in between. But the absolute best of the best is Bacchus’ Petit Degustation: with valet parking, four plus courses and matched wines personally selected by Head Sommelier Andrew Giblin, the price beggars belief. Beggars.
|DEGUSTATIONS OF THE THIRD KIND|
But look outside-the-box where there are degustations of the third kind.
Navala Churrascaria’s Brazilian BBQ Degustation too explores outside the boundaries. The unlimited Brazilian BBQ Degustation is served up Rodízio Style for an epic all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of South American rotisserie cuisine. Indulge in an array of pasture fed beef sirloin and rib, whole brisket, whole short ribs, lamb forequarter and whole legs and pork belly, served from the bone, right off the cooking spit.
Asian fusion style degustation comes with Sake Restaurant, with two degustations to choose from: the Brisbane Chef Selection, and Sake Signature Menu. Both menus share the same inspirations yet are still different enough that you’ll want to visit twice. One look at the Nihon Nemesis – a super chocolaty affliction with green tea gel, umeshu jelly, chunky chocolate rocks and raspberry sorbet – and the Brisbane Chef Selection has to be the true path.
Tucked away amongst the hustle and bustle of Brunswick Street in New Farm, Anise Wine Room sees a unique degustation, second to none. Beetroot and gin cured kingfish and fennel salad ending with mango and passionfruit bavaroise/ Bavarian Cream with short bread, borders on reserved hedonism.
Head away from The River and fly south for the Winter. Deer Duck Bistro in Auchenflower means their multiple course Chef menu comes as a vegetarian or meat lover affair. Their five to eight course degustation, also matched with wines, while accessible, is purely ambitious. This hole-in-the-wall piece of gastronomy takes us to 1990s Modern Europe where The Wall came down; from behind that exposed wall of rough brick wall, gorgeous spots of rustic beauty are revealed as verdant and refined all at once.
Or take a warm French feel from the menu: Montrachet in Paddington features pan seared quail sitting on toasted brioche layered with wilted spinach, truffle oil and foie gras finished with Madeira jus; to the point where you can truly separate and enjoy the multitude of flavours being delivered to your mouth. For a genuine escape to a surburban oasis, Moga Izakaya & Sushi in Rosalie have a Sake Degustation to transport you to the sake distilleries of the rising sun. Fly further South for the Winter, flying deeply south into Toowong with 85 Miskin Street, where French techniques meet Australian fusion. Duck liver pate, port syrup fig preserve & toasted brioche, the sumac spiced kangaroo, beets, goats curd & toasted faro and pistachio, salted chocolate caramel, burnt almond crumb and vanilla bean ice cream, all matched to fine wines, feels like an exploration into another land: so far away, but utterly worth the trip.
Photo Credit: Lady Lex