Located just across the street from the South Bank’s art and gallery precinct (including the GoMA, which is currently celebrating their 10th birthday), is a small and unassuming cafe/restaurant that produces a Michelin-star quality food at reasonable prices. Jerome Batten is the man behind Gauge, a role he juggles while also helming Sourced Grocer, a cafe and grocer in Newstead. For both, the focus is on local, quality produce – with each kitchen’s own flair for originality.
There’s a notable Japanese influence in some dishes – like our complimentary starter – Sliced Turnip on a rocket emulsion, coated in Wakame. Then there was the delectable Silken Almond Tofu ($18, pictured on the left below) with eggplant and caper leaf, sitting in a broth bursting with flavour. And, pictured on the right, is the Spanner Crab ($20) – a highlight of their seasonal menu – served with sansho pepper, kohlrabi (part of the cabbage family) and seaweed.
At the heart of every dish are Australian ingredients with Australian flavours. The Kangaroo Tartare ($10), is the sort of dish that sees the kitchen take Australian ingredients a step further with various other influences – it’s covered in quandong, aged beetroot (which you can see sliced in the centre image above, hiding the tartare below it) and smoked hazlenut.
Of the mains, we try the Spanish Mackerel ($28, pictured above), with kelp, salbush butter, peas and the surprising inclusion of oyster mayonnaise, which balances the dish out perfectly. My personal favourite was the Beef Short Rib ($29, pictured below), served beautifully (and perfectly) rare, which melted in your mouth alongside a serving of cabbage, capers and wagyu fat beurre blanc.
The sides were a must to try with the mains, and the highlight was the fried sebago potato ($14), with malt vinegar cream and smoked onion salt. Pair that up with the fish earlier and you’ve got one of the most incredible fish and chips you’ll find in the city.
Some dishes didn’t quite work for me – the Charred Red Cabbage with Spiced Pork Bolognese ($15) was overpowering for my palate, but was certainly a one-of-a-kind dish to enjoy in the room’s cosy surroundings. I also left unsure about one of their two desserts, the Beetroot Sorbet ($15, pictured below, right), served on a bed of white chocolate, yoghurt and fried rosemary. The mish-mash of flavours complemented each other well, but won’t be for everyone; I sat on the fence for it.
The other dessert option, however, was delectable. The Black Garlic Bread ($14) served with burnt vanilla and brown butter (applied with generosity), was a powerful, mouthwatering dish that left me wanting more. We washed all of this down with a stunning bottle of Patrick Sullivan ‘A Mother’s Love’ Pinot Noir 2015.
They also take their coffee very seriously – which attracts plenty of locals from its 7am opening time – and I’m also told their breakfast menu is divine. If the house sourdough with toasted sunflower butter ($7) is anything to go by, which we enjoyed with our lunch, I’m not the least bit surprised.
Their menus are seasonal, and the one we sampled was from October 2016 – so the menu you enjoy on arrival may differ from what I’ve recapped above. Though there is seating inside and out, this is a small establishment – so make sure to either make a booking or get in early. You’re not going to want to leave Brisbane without enjoying a meal here.
Address: 77 Grey Street, South Brisbane, 4101 QLD
Phone: (07) 3638 0431
The author travelled to, and stayed in, Brisbane as a guest of the Hilton Brisbane (190 Elizabeth St, Brisbane City).