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Aside from the view depicting my beloved and much missed South Perth foreshore, the food really caught my attention. Nope, nothing has changed despite my lack of recent updates. I’m still travelling and still nom nomming my way around the world!
What ultimately reeled me in, though, were the words “Adam Liaw” and “secret menu”. I know, right? Talk about knowing how to intrigue a Masterchef fan. And one who enjoys exclusivity, to boot.
Within minutes, I was on the Groupon website, trying to work out whether or not I could squeeze in a visit to the Brisbane leg of the Taste of Groupon deal between the 2 trips I had booked between October and November (yes, really!).
I was a tad hesitant when I saw that the Brisbane Taste of Groupon was being hosted by Artichoke Restaurant at the Gold Coast. Not only would it be a bit of a hike, but I’d also previously dined at Artichoke and had not been thoroughly impressed. Now, the food we’d been served at that time wasn’t bad. In fact, I was quite impressed by the presentation. It just seemed a little confused, almost like the chef was trying too hard. Think Indian spices next to Italian-flavoured risotto. Both elements perfectly acceptable on their own, but even for a world traveller and lover of fusion cuisine like myself, the entire degustation menu just lacked a cohesion and flow that would have elevated the meal from ordinary to memorable.
Luckily, I’m a believer in second (and sometimes even third or fourth) chances. Especially with Adam Liaw in the picture. Surely, this menu would be better…right?
I won’t lie, we did get off to a bit of a slow start, in more ways than one. Service is not the forte at this restaurant, so be prepared for rather long waits, or maybe order a few cocktails or a bottle of wine for the 2-2.5 hours that you’ll need for this meal. And be warned – if, at any point, you find yourself tempted to remind your waitress that you’re still waiting for your food, don’t. Unless you enjoy being tersely informed that they’re very busy, you know?
Anyhow, after an uncomfortably long wait, our first course finally appeared. The two pieces of fish (I think it was kingfish) wrapped in bacon looked limp and unappetising in their puddles of cream and beurre blanc. The portions were also rather small and did nothing to satisfy my increasing hunger. Looks and quantity aside though, the dish was actually rather tasty. The fat from the bacon and beurre blanc added much needed richness to the meaty texture of the cooked white fish, and the balance of salt and sweetness was spot on.
The second dish didn’t look particularly inspiring either when it was first placed before us. Consisting of foie gras on risotto with peas, all I could think at this point was, “Mush on mush on mush.”
Add to that a beetroot jus, and you actually have yourself a winner. This was one tasty risotto, and I could have easily eaten a whole bowl of it. The foie gras added a rich and creamy saltiness, while the jus brought a sticky sweetness that prevented the salt and fat from becoming overpowering. This was comfort food at its finest, and my only negative comment was that there wasn’t enough of it!
Next came barramundi with cherry tomatoes and fried whitebait. After the richness of the previous course, I appreciated the direction that the meal took towards lighter more delicate flavours. The fish was perfectly cooked with crispy skin and tender flesh. The consomme it was served in and the accompanying tomatoes were refreshing, and the whitebait added yet another satisfying layer of crunch.
The star of the show, though, was undoubtedly dessert. So impressive did the dish look served on a heavy duty wooden board and with a glass of port on the side, that another diner walked over to ask us what we were eating. A scoop each of squid ink, creme brulee, and cinnamon spiced ice-cream, that’s what. Now, those of you who know me know that I take my ice-cream very seriously. In my opinion, a good ice-cream is smooth as silk, rich and creamy, free of ice crystals, and is bang full of flavour. To achieve this with one scoop would be no mean feat, but in this instance, all three fulfilled the brief. I found myself moving from one flavour to the next alternately, trying to work out which one was my favourite, but simply couldn’t. This was quite easily one of the best desserts I’ve tasted since I moved to Brisbane.
The verdict? Not only am I glad I made the effort to get to Artichoke Restaurant, I actually think I got the better deal between this meal and the one served in Perth. I mean, fish vs lamb, foie gras vs octopus, three exceptional ice-creams vs banana cake – there’s simply no contest in my mind. If they run Taste of Groupon again next year, I’ll be there with bells on, that’s for sure.
What? Taste of Groupon is a special 4 course menu that’s currently still running in Brisbane, having made the rounds around Australia. The menu is created by a local chef from each state with input from ex-Masterchef contestant Adam Liaw.
Where? The Brisbane meal is available at Artichoke Restaurant, 3 Marina Precinct, Ephraim Island, Gold Coast; (07) 5564 2188.
When? Wednesday-Sunday lunch 12-3.30pm, Wednesday-Saturday dinner 5.30-11pm; until 30 November 2017, so be sure to nab the deal on the Groupon website soon!
Why? The risotto and that ice-cream.
How much? $119 for 2 or $238 for 4.
Have you tried the Taste of Groupon in Brisbane or another city? What were you served and what did you think of the meal?
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