Several hours before I jetted back home to Sydney on my last visit north of the border, I thought it’d be nice to sit back somewhere in town and enjoy a lunch by the river. The sun was out, the temperature was perfect and South Bank Parklands looked like an easy location.
Overlooking Brisbane’s compact CBD and manmade sandy lagoon is Ben O’Donoghue’s restaurant – South Bank Surf Club – featuring a menu heavy on the seafood and affectionately cooked-up in ‘modern Bris-Vegas’ style. Bens words not mine.
The setting is very south-east Queensland with trailing and blooming bougainvillea, wide and airy verandas and lush swaying palm trees. Seafood and wine – yes that’s all that was needed – plus a few members of the family to enjoy the moment, of course.
A few cold bevvies kicked things off nicely as did an interesting take on steak tartar (12.3). Mod Bris-Vegas? Mexican? Not quite sure with this one as I’ve never really had guacamole and corn chips with tartar before. Somehow it worked and the family even tucked in with gusto despite the fact they’d never previously eaten raw meat. There was meant to be habañero in there somewhere but it either missed the pass or patrons whinged too much and the quantity was reduced to nothingness.
Niece #1 struggled with her fish & chips (26.5) and when I went in for a sample I understood where she was coming from. Yes the fish inside was perfectly flakey but the batter around it resembled a sponge soaked in oil; thick and undercooked in places and steaming with oil. I love a good batter but this one missed the mark. The salt & pepper calamari (16.5) was perfect; tender and crispy in all the right places.
The sides on the menu consist of thick cut chips (on this visit they were more like shoestrings with a few thick ones stashed beneath), steamed broccolini, bbq corn, spinach & avocado salad and a spectacular caprese salad (10.5) with glorious buffalo mozzarella and basil.
Nephew #1 and myself choose the spice encrusted Cone Bay barramundi (29.5) and despite the hefty price-point with no more than a tablespoon of tomato relish and yoghurt as a side, it knocked all four of our socks off. Perfectly cooked fish and a crust worthy of applause.
I’m not sure about the ‘modern Bris-Vegas’ tag on the cuisine as I think gastro pub may be more apt. Fancy pub food in the sub-tropics.