I recently had the fortune to visit Brisbane a couple of months ago, with good friend iMac. She had wanted to see Driving Miss Daisy, and the marketing people had told her it wouldn’t be coming to Melbourne. Ahhh… sneaky little marketing people… because, of course, it came to Melbourne – but by that stage she had bought tickets and airfares!!
Never ones to let a minor technicality get us down, we looked forward to the getaway. Included in this magnificent weekend away, was dinner at Aria. It took all of 2 sips of champagne, and 30 seconds to decide to do the degustation!
The amuse bouche was a gazpacho soup with some goat’s cheese and powdered olive. That got our tastebuds dancing!
Tuna: Seared and tartare with pickled cabbage, enoki mushrooms, pear and black sesame
2012 Lark Hill, Grüner Veltliner, Canberra District, NSW
This first dish was one of my favourites, two types of beautiful tuna with accompaniments that made the fish sing. Divine.
Jamón: with tomato, dried olives, shaved jamón ibérico and toasted brioche
2011 Chateau de Segries, Grenache, Tavel, France
This jamón just melted in the mouth – it was amazing. A truly magnificent rendition of a cured meat that can sometimes be disappointing. Served at the perfect temperature, it was just lovely.
Crab: Spanner crab salad with avocado mousse, ginger, and puffed rice
2004 Frankland Estate, ‘Poison Hill’ Riesling, Frankland River, Western Australia
I love spanner crab – and this dish proudly presented it in style. It was a delicate dish, but with the crab as star of the show. What I liked about this dish was that the crab did not make a token appearance, but graced the plate in beautiful moist morsels. A quenelle of avocado mousse sits proudly on top, and the puffed rice adds a textural contrast to the dish.
Consommé: Peking duck consommé with duck dumpling, shaved abalone and mushrooms
Henriques and Henriques, Rainwater, 3 Y.O, Madeira, Portugal
Duck dumplings! Hello!! Who can say no to that??? The dish was served with a bit of theatre, as the consommé was brought to the table and poured deliciously over the ingredients. Again, not sure about that abalone – I still find it over-rated, but it didn’t detract from the dish. And I loved the pairing of a beautiful madeira – great touch.
Pork Belly: Twice cooked sweet pork belly with green tomato, jalapeño and celery salad
2012 Domaine Lucci, Sangiovese, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Pork belly is another weakness of mine – and this rendition was fabulous. Gorgeous, unctuous, fat layered, tender meat was paired beautifully with a refreshing salad.
Beef: Roast beef fillet and braised beef cheeks, asparagus, gnocchi and red wine jus
2010 Koltz, ‘The Pagan’ Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia
I guess this dish was the main event – very rich but portioned so that you didn’t feel overwhelmed. A tender beef fillet was paired with shredded beef cheeks and accompanied by gnocchi and asparagus, and lovingly caressed with some red wine jus. Ah – mazing!
We were presented with this amazing cleanser – gorgeously presented in an egg shell, it was a delicate lemon custard. So divine.
Salad of melon with white peach purée and passionfruit sorbet
2011 Massolino, Moscato d’Asti, Piedmont, Italy
And something light and clean to finish off the evening – the “salad” was fresh, subtle and rounded out the evening of indulgence.
Some peppermint tea was now in order to help us digest all of our sins! But…. Ooh la la… what should come along but some lovely petit fours. It would have been rude to leave them…
Our wonderful sommelier
Aria is a wonderful restaurant – we had a fabulous night, and were well and truly spoiled by our sommelier and server. If you get the chance – just go, enjoy the food, the ambience and the view of the Brisbane River – it’s a fantastic way to while away a few hours.