Stoke Up The Heat
South Brisbane’s newest restaurant is sure to light your culinary fire, writes Carody Culver.
Stokehouse is a culinary institution in Melbourne, so the recent arrival of a Brisbane version was one of 2011’s most anticipated restaurant openings. With its prime position on the river at South Bank, the newest Stokehouse combines elegant cuisine with a sleek timber-and-glass interior and sweeping city views.
It would be hard to go wrong with all these elements working in its favour, but Stokehouse takes it to the next level. The cuisine showcases local Australian produce and Mediterranean flavours, which is usually a promising partnership. There’s an excellent selection of seafood and meat—standouts include Gold Band snapper with chestnut mushrooms, asparagus, and parsnip cream, and Riverina lamb loin with baby peas, candied pumpkin, and morels. I’m heartened to see some creative vegetarian options on the menu, particularly Spanakopita with shaved fennel, harissa, and lemon saffron yoghurt.
Possibly inspired by my enthusiasm over the meat-free fare, my companion has the green pea, lemon and spring onion risotto. Choosing risotto is usually a gamble, but this vibrantly coloured version is light and creamy, and has just the right amount of salt. My crayfish and reef fish tortellini are plump parcels in a subtle tomato and seafood stock sauce; our side dishes, the green beans with toasted almonds and the celeriac gratin, are fresh, full-flavoured accompaniments.
The portions are restrained, but that’s just as well, since the dessert menu boasts too much temptation to decline. There are some interesting choices here: the pumpkin and pinenut cake is moist and fragrant, and the vanilla bavarois silky smooth. For the less greedily inclined, there are even some delicate mini desserts on offer (including white chocolate crème brulee) for just $6 each.
The service is seamless and attentive—this is the sort of place where your water and wine glasses never seem to empty no matter how much you drink (arguably not such a good thing where the wine is concerned). Even my friend’s embarrassing lack of cutlery coordination doesn’t go unnoticed: when he drops a spoon on the floor, it’s replaced within seconds.
If you’re not worried about stretching the budget, Stokehouse should be next on your list of dining destinations. Brisbane’s riverside version of this Melbourne landmark marries casual class and fresh, simple food; it’s sure to become an institution of its own in no time.
STOKEHOUSE: Sidon Street, South Bank. Phone: (07) 3013 0333. www.stokehousebrisbane.com.au