Apologies for abandoning the blog a little bit lately! In recent weeks I have been absolutely flat out. It’s funny when you eat out so much that you don’t have time to write about it all. At the moment I am suffering a little from writer’s block, food fatigue (apparently there is such a thing) and a horrible head cold from excess amounts of travel, alcohol and insufficient sleep. Please bear with me…
Anyway, when I was Brisbane for work the other day I was assigned the task of choosing a dinner venue. I had E’cco recommended to me on Twitter and I saw that it had placed number 10 on Gourmet Traveller’s list of top 10 restaurants by region, so we gave it a shot.
There was quite a reasonable selection of about six entrees ($24.50 each), all very interesting sounding. The lemon thyme poached bug tail with saffron mayonnaise was very tempting but I ended up giving in to the duck liver parfait.
Duck liver parfait
The parfait was served with sweet, rich quince paste, mulled wine poached pears, crispy brioche toast and cornichons. The balance of this dish was just perfect, with just enough variety in both flavour and texture to keep it interesting but still focused. The pears were soft and mild, cornichons tart and slightly crunchy, providing a great foil for the rich parfait. This was an absolutely stellar entree.
Both of my dining companions ordered the hazelnut-crumbed veal sweetbreads, which were served with shimeji mushrooms, truffled pecorino and candied hazelnuts. I got to sample a single sweetbread which was tender and wonderfully crisp. From what I am told the dish as a whole was quite good.
In past reviews I have repeatedly declared my affinity for duck and my general inability to resist it when I see it on a menu. However as I had ordered duck liver parfait as an entree, I decided that it would be best to choose one of the non-duck mains. Again it was a difficult choice but I settled for the pork belly. Mains were $42.50 each.
The pork was apparently liquorice-spiced, served with caramalised (sic) peach, onion jam and mustard kipfler potato. I am sad to say that it just didn’t work out for me. The first problem was just the sheer size of it. There were four very large, thick slabs of pork which were intensely gamey but didn’t taste of much else. They were absolutely crying out for some sort of sweet accompaniment. I assume that the caramelised peach was supposed to serve this purpose, however it was underripe and more like burnt on top and raw everywhere else than ‘caramelised’. There were about two teaspoons of onion jam smooshed on top of the peach which was nice, but just not enough for the quantity of pork. At least the crackle was good! The mustard kipfler potatoes were tender and creamy although again there was just way too much of them.
I of course couldn’t help but sample some of the duck, which came with grilled mango, duck fat congo potato and redcurrant jus. Unfortunately it was also a bit of a let down. The grilled mango was lovely but just felt completely out of place on the plate. The general feedback was that the duck and mango were nice, but only when eaten separately, which indicates a bit of a failure of concept. The purple congo potato was ok but didn’t have any discernible duck fat flavour.
(No photo, sorry!) The eye fillet with bone marrow, mushroom, broad beans onion rings and red wine jus sounded like a nice little twist on the usual steak-and-chips type meal. It was devoured heartily, however it came very well done when it was ordered medium.
We were so stuffed at this stage that the thought of dessert sounded almost unmanageable, however I felt as if no review would be complete without it. We ended up deciding to share one.
The cinnamon sugar-dusted doughnuts came with lemon cream and raspberry jelly. The cream and jelly were ok but nothing memorable. The doughnuts were very doughy on the inside, despite being quite small. Really, is it that hard to invest in a deep fryer with a thermometer? At $17.50 for three measly doughnuts, I would not have been happy had I been paying for these myself.
After such inspiring, well executed entrees, it was a shame to see calibre of the remaining dishes take a sharp dive. The mains were generous, considering the price, however they unfortunately seemed to observe a quantity-over-quality philosophy. Dessert was even worse, providing neither of those things.
The quality of my starter was enough to keep me feeling somewhat satisfied as I left, but as I said, I didn’t pay for it… Given Brisbane’s reasonably extensive food scene I’m fairly certain that there would be better offerings elsewhere for a similar price tag. Just don’t ask me where.E’cco 100 Boundary Street Brisbane, QLD