I found it difficult getting to sleep a few nights ago. I didn’t get home until ten-thirty that night as I had been at ARIA devouring their new autumn tasting menu with a group of stylish foodies. My mind was intrigued by the amount of good food that went into my stomach in the space of a few hours. My mind kept running until eventually I went into a state of what I believe is called, food coma.
We had an elegant table at the back of the restaurant with a panoramic view of the glistening river and the beautifully lit Story Bridge. Placed on the table in front of everyone’s seat was the autumn tasting dinner menu and it was designed to impress.
Everyone’s eyes widened upon the arrival of the amuse bouche. Presented on a small plank of wood was the squid ink prawn cracker with hommus and chorizo chips, and if the amuse bouche provided a glimpse into the chef’s approach to the art of cuisine, then it would be safe to say that we were in for a fabulous night.
Call me crazy but I have a simple theory about butter offered at a restaurant and I believe that the quality of butter directly correlates to the quality of the dining experience that follows. I loved the butter at Vue De Monde and the dining experience was amazing; I loved the butter at Le Bernadin and the dining experience was spectacular; and I love the butter at ARIA and yep, the dining experience never ceases to amaze me.
We had everything from cured and scorched kingfish with miso, cucumber and radish to smoked Wagyu short rib with daikon, spinach and paprika, not to mention that they also spoilt us with smoked duck liver parfait and foie gras with maple and apple, as well as steamed snapper fillet with fennel, mustard and red onion in between. Is your mouth watering yet? Every dish was presented as a work of art. Head Chef Ben Russell, who has been with ARIA (Sydney and Brisbane) for almost ten years, took the time to explain each dish to us, and his passion and knowledge for cooking and food transcended through his words. There was be a moment of silence every time when everyone settled into their dish while sipping on the particular wine that had been perfectly paired by the Head Sommelier Ian Trinkle. It was hard to pick a favourite dish, although the general consensus was that the smoked Wagyu short rib tasted almost orgasmic. The lightly smoked meat was so tender that it melted in my mouth, it tasted so…comforting, l wanted to curl up with that Wagyu in front of a fireplace and cuddle it to sleep. Having said that, the smoked duck liver parfait and foie gras was a luxurious indulgence for its creamy texture, sweetness from the maple and ever so slight tang from the apple. To be honest, it was hard to remember the taste of each dish as my memory from the previous one was overwritten by my amazed reaction to the following dish.
By the time when they brought out the dessert - poached rhubarb with ricotta ice cream and beetroot marshmallow, everyone looked so satisfied but I suppose quality food does that to you. The dessert wasn’t overly sweet which was what I had hoped. It was such a pretty ending to the autumn tasting dinner menu that most of us didn’t want to touch the plate and ruin its presentation. The pastry was crusty and buttery while the ricotta ice cream was silky smooth.
I mean, can you really go wrong with ARIA? Mention “fine dinning” to anyone in Brisbane and ARIA always without fail pops up. It is the quintessential dining experience in Brisbane. What are the secret ingredients to a well-balanced seasonal menu at ARIA? The freshest local and Australian produce, a stellar cellar selection, impeccable service and a passionate team, just to name a few.
So what are you waiting for?
Disclaimer: DolceBunnie was an invited guest of ARIA Brisbane, however my opinion is as always, my own.