Saturday, 3 November 2007

Era Bistro

Era is a great example of what can be done with food in Brisbane. Era offers a choice of venues.

First there is the cafe, if you are after breakfast or brunch. If you're planning on having a glass of wine with your brunch, then there is a wine list to accomodate you.

Next is the bar, where not only is there a great selection of wine and beer, but the tapas sound delicious. It would easy to get stuck here for a few hours munching on tempura soft shell crab or peking duck pancakes with hoi sin sauce.

But we were here for a celebratory dinner, so it was the bistro we were after. Calling Era a bistro is probably a bit of a misnomer. The food is definitely a higher standard than what you'd expect from a bistro. As far as I'm concerned, its some of the best food I've had in Brisbane this year.

Its a fairly modern, stark room. There isn't much of a view of anything, other than the road outside. So no-one is going to be there for the amazing views. But don't let that put you off, because the food is something else altogether.

After choosing a couple of glasses of wine, a selection of bread were brought out to the table, which is always a nice touch. Then it was time for the entrees. I had the seared scallops, braised oxtail, cauliflower & feves with braising jus ($22). It was one of the more interesting sounding options. It was a good entree, although I am not convinced that the scallops really paired well with the oxtail. The oxtail was a big, rich flavour, which completely overwhelmed the scallops. Each part of the dish was declicious, however the overall taste was a bit disjointed. My dining partner, a vegetarian, had the warm salad of baby beets, goat cheese, wild rocket & blood orange ($18). This was a terrific dish, which had us scraping up the beetroot and goats cheese. If anything the other parts of the salad were a bit hidden by the mass of rocket, but the taste was excellent.

Time to order another glass from the great wine list, then on to main course. I asked our friendly waitress about how the tasmanian ocean trout, Queensland red claw & baby vegetables ($31) was cooked ‘en Papillotte’. After being told it basically meant they were all cooked together in a plastic bag, which didn't sound particularly appetising, I still went ahead and ordered it. I am glad that I did, as this dish was spectacular. The trout in particular was beautifully succulent, its delicate flavour not overwhelmed by the other parts of the dish. Overall this was a very clean, bright seafood dish. It really was memorable. Our other main course was the artichoke & mushroom pithivier with wild mushrooms and cep consomme ($26). This was a much richer, earthier dish that was very good. There was a great depth of flavour with all the mushrooms and a good contrast of textures from the artichoke.

So far, the night was progressing very well. It was unfortunate that it was let down by our desserts. As it included a number of my favourite dessert items, I went for the
white chocolate semi freddo with roasted strawberries & balsamic and glass biscuit. The semi freddo was ok. The strawberries however were just overpowered by the balsamic, which tasted really thin and just too vinegary. I quickly swapped my dining companion for her lemon verbena scented crème brulee, mandarin sorbet and coconut tuile, which was better. The creme brulee itself was of the good, shallow variety with a great crunchy top.

Service throughout the meal was excellent. Our waitress was very friendly and approachable, but also highly knowledgeable and professional. She had the perfect knack of being at our table when required, whilst otherwise leaving us to enjoy the high quality food.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the wine list, which in my opinion is great. There are plenty of wines by the glass (from $6 for a fino sherry to $19.50 for Louis Roederer NV) and also a whole page of local and imported beers. The wine list here should keep everyone happy. It has a few fairly safe choices, but there are some great options for the more adventurous, such as the Salomon gruner veltliner ($49) or the Pérez Cruz reserva carmenère from Chile ($64). The mark ups aren't as noticeably unreasonable as some other CBD restaurants.

And if, at the end of the night, you haven't had enough wine, then check out the great Era bottle shop. Pick up a few bottles that you didn't get to try during your meal and you'll get 10% off with your restaurant receipt.

All up, Era Bistro is a very welcome addition to the Brisbane food scene. If the quality of food can be kept consistent, Era should quickly attract a solid following. We will certainly be back to graze on their tapas menu with a few glasses of wine.

What does all this mean? Very good modern Australian food, washed down with an excellent wine list.

Food Bling Ratings

Food - Great
Service - Top Shelf
Ambience - Modern, Minimalist
Value for Money - Good
Wine - Great

Vegetarian - Good
Gluten Free - OK
Other - Entertainment Book, Great Bar

Era Bistro
104 Melbourne Street
South Brisbane
P 07 3255 2033

Era Bistro on Urbanspoon


pea & pear said...

I just stumbled across your blog today & I was very interested to read your brisbane reviews. I used to be a chef there so I was very pleased to read this review. The chefs at Era work their butts off so I am glad it was appreciated. Pity about the dessert ;)

food bling, Brisbane said...

the ocean trout, red claw & baby vegetables ‘en Papillotte’ was one of the best dishes I had anywhere last year. it was fantastic. I still tell people about it. and i love the wine shop at era.