ARIA Restaurant – A taste of Matt Moran Brisbane

Built with ceiling to floor windows, the window side table view of Eagle Street Pier was breathtaking. My expectations were especially high, not only because I follow Masterchef Australia religiously but also because I could finally sample Matt Moran’s creations.

“I follow Masterchef Australia religiously”

As it was Valentines Day with a preset menu, I did not have the pleasure of ordering from the a-la-carte menu. The choices were quite straightforward and definitely fell under the Modern Australian category. Not as fancy as I expected.

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Entrees

Oysters
six freshly shucked oysters served with cucumber and ponzu dressing
Quail
grilled breast and crisp leg with milk panna cotta, jamon and a sherry dressing
Burrata
salad of tomato, burrata, green olive tapenade and basil*
Tuna
seared and tartare with picked cabbage, enoki mushrooms, pear and black sesame
Pork Belly
twice cooked Bangalow sweet pork belly with green tomato, jalapeno and celery salad

Main Course

Beetroot
roast and pickled with lentils, green beans and coddled egg dressing*
King Salmon
seared fillet with pink grapefruit and spanner crab salad, radish and sorrel
Barramundi
roast fillet with eggplant, shitake mushrooms and XO clams
Lamb
roast cutlet and confit breast with caponata, baby peppers and spinach puree
Beef
roast fillet with confit potato , leeks and mushroom fricasee

Dessert

Custard Tart
with fresh figs, apple and candied walnuts
Banana
banana and brown sugar parfait, banana sorbet with toasted marshmallows
Black Forest
chocolate delice with mascarpone sorbet, cherries and chocolate jelly
Salad
of melon and white peach puree and passion fruit sorbet
Cheese
a selection of Australian and international cheese

Coffee and Petits Fours

*indicates dish is or can be modified to be vegetarian
******************

Choosing the main course was the most difficult decision of my Valentines experience at ARIA.
I asked the waitress for her opinion andfelt like she wasn’t the slightest bit concerned which concluded in her giving me a swift computer generated response. It went along the lines of “do you prefer salmon or beef?” If you read the menu above/looked at the sub categories, you will understand that salmon OR beef are two obvious stated options.

Between the two of us dining at ARIA, we went for the tuna and quail for starters, the king salmon and lamb for mains and the cheese platter and black forest for dessert. Doesn’t it sound like simple choices you’d find at a non-celebrity chef restaurant? I kept my fingers crossed regardless for the final outcome.

Tuna
seared and tartare with picked cabbage, enoki mushrooms, pear and black sesame
 Quail
grilled breast and crisp leg with milk panna cotta, jamon and a sherry dressing
 Lamb
roast cutlet and confit breast with caponata, baby peppers and spinach puree
King Salmon
seared fillet with pink grapefruit and spanner crab salad, radish and sorrel
Cheese
a selection of Australian and international cheese
Black Forest
chocolate delice with mascarpone sorbet, cherries and chocolate jelly

On the whole I think they could’ve done much better with presentation styling. I was quite unimpressed with the scattered leaf-like stems here and there and the spinach puree designs used on both the fish and meat dish. Possibly a different puree for the lamb? Maybe something exotic like carrot-peach or cranberry-kiwi would have added an impressive touch of fusion for the whole ‘Modern Ozzie”theme.

“something exotic like carrot-peach or cranberry-kiwi”

The pear and sesame dipping sauce for the tuna entree was a very refreshing delight on the tastebuds. I enjoyed the fact that the chef had prepared both seared and tartared tuna for a different kick in texture. I don’t quite understand how ‘enoki mushroom’ can make such a statement in the menu description and only appear with two strands on the actual dish. On a very positive note, the black chinaware did bring out the colors of the sauce and fish immensely.
Quite insulting, but I felt that the quail could have easily been prepared at Kentucky Fried Chicken.
If they would have breaded it a more lighter fashion it could have a more elegant touch to it.
The random concoction of miniature sprouts thrown on top was most unappealing, the sherry dressing was almost non existent and the jamon was quite hidden because the piece was so small. , The quail was salty, so was the jamon. They possibly added the milk panna cotta to mellow out the saltiness but it just didn’t seem to work.
On a more positive note, the lamb was juicy and united well with the caponata (Sicilian aubergine).
The King Salmon had a very interesting combination of pink grapefruit and spanner crab on the side. I really appreciated the eruption of bitter, tangy-sweet & salty all at once. The crispy radish was also excellent, it was done so it looked and felt like a potato chip, certainly something different and exciting. The salmon itself was a bit bland and could have done with an deliciously bizarre sauce.

“I really appreciated the eruption of bitter, tangy-sweet & salty all at once

I have no idea what came over me when I decided to choose the cheese platter as my dessert. The assortment of crackers that was provided reminded me of the packed supermarket ones. Sadly, my favorite part of the cheese platter was the fresh green apple slices. The black forest on the other hand was pallet stimulating as it included chocolate jelly – something less traditional.If I could choose my choices again from the beginning, I would really have loved to try the pork belly as an entree as I am very curious of the jalapeno-celery combination, barramundi for my main – to understand how the flavors of roast fish and XO clams can go together and finally, the banana sorbet as a dessert.
I will return here on a non-occasioned night or to try out their lunch menu. I was not as satisfied as I hoped to be but not fully disappointed either. A second chance is definitely in line. I must also mention that the bathroom decor was very dull, sort of reminded me of a common airport bathroom.
Valentines evening ended by receiving an ARIA printed boxset of two macaroons and a friendly goodbye from the doorstaff. Thank you Matt Moran!
ARIA Restaurant (Brisbane) 1 Eagle Street

Eagle Street Pier
Brisbane 4000
Tel: +61 7 3233 2555
(Also available in Sydney, review coming soon!)

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