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brisbane cbd, fine dining, pricey, restaurants and cafes

HOT: Aria, 1 Eagle St Pier, Brisbane

If you get a Christmas bonus from the boss this year, seek Aria is the place to spend it.  I’m struggling to think of a better in venue in Brisbane when it comes to food, check service and scenery.

If you got sucked into the reality TV extravaganza that was MasterChef Australia, then you’ll know that the original Aria is Matt Moran’s signature restaurant in Sydney.  I was so excited to hear that he was bringing Aria to Brisbane – who could justify buying flights to Sydney just to experience fine dining from some dude who helped make Average Joes famous?!

Aria in Brisbane has taken over residence from one of Brisbane’s most well known seafood restaurants, Pier Nine, down on the Eagle Street Pier.  For some reason I have always found the vast interior of this venue a little bit sterile and overall ambience boring, but that certainly didn’t dampen my Aria experience.

My table of four had an early sitting in the dining room after sharing a bottle of Billecart Salmon Brut Rose in the bar – we were celebrating a 35th birthday and Christmas after all.  I was delighted to see they stocked my favourite champagne and it was a great start to the evening, overlooking the spectacular Brisbane River and lights of the Story Bridge.  The wait staff were well presented, well spoken, and had exceptional knowledge of the wine list and dinner menus.  We all agreed it was one of those occasions that probably wouldn’t be repeated in the near future due to the cost, so we went all out on entrees, mains, desserts and we weren’t shy with the vino.

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The range of entrees made it near impossible to make a decision.  I decided on the scallops entrée – pan fried with sweet corn puree, cauliflower beignet with caper and sultana dressing.  I never order scallops because I am so fussy with how they’re cooked – I couldn’t fault this dish however and the combination of flavours really was a taste sensation.  MM chose the sashimi special – yellow fin tuna sashimi and tartar tasting plate, decorated with green beans and a delightful anchovy mayonnaise.  We are sashimi snobs and this was possibly the best we’ve tried.  My female companion K chose the gnocchi and beef ragout special which almost made me regret my entrée choice.  This was all washed down with a deliciously smooth yet flavorsome Coonawarra Balnaves Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Onto the mains and again the choice wasn’t easy, which really troubles me because I am notorious for my poor menu choices and drive MM crazy as my fork spends more time poking around his plate than my own.  The snapper dish caught my attention as it was flanked by pippis, ginger, shallots, baby bok choy and black bean sauce.  The black bean sauce was gentle and didn’t over power the favour of the fish and complemented the pippis perfectly.  A sigh of relief from my friends as they realised I wouldn’t be pilfering their mains.  MM and J both chose the special – pave of beef with a side of mash and roasted vegetables.  The beef really did melt in your mouth and like most men with a juicy slab of meat in front of them, they were very reluctant to share.  K enjoyed her 200g Blackmore Wagyu rump and we shared a generous side of the garlic and chilli broccolini.

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I didn’t have much room left in the dessert pocket, but thought it rude of me to sit and watch everyone else indulge.  MM and I chose the Valrhona Chocolate delice with chocolate sorbet and J chose the doughnuts with strawberries and cinnamon ice cream.  All faultlessly presented, the doughnuts were the pick of the two dishes and regrettably I really was too full to enjoy my rich, chocolaty tart.  It didn’t stop there though – we were surprised when a complimentary plate of petite fours arrived with our coffees, which would have been ample dessert for all of us…if only we’d known.  The turkish delight and macadamia nougat were perfectly textured and I was heart broken that I couldn’t fit more than one (or was it two?) of each in my overloaded belly.  Unfortunately Aria is not the kind of establishment that you can pocket your leftovers and save them for later.

We had our waddles on as we said thank you and goodnight to our friendly wait staff.   If I had to make a negative comment about our time at Aria it would only be that it’s a little too perfect – it’s not a venue that copes well with rowdiness or banter and at this time of year (or is it me and my friends?!) it’s a little hard to avoid that festive spirit.  This aside, it really was an exceptional experience.

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Discussion

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  1. worth the money ..u reckon?

    Posted by thatssoron | March 13, 2010, 11:10 pm
  2. Hi thatssoron

    For a special occasion, Aria is definitely worth the money. Expect high quality service, expensive ingredients and fancy presentation.

    Jetsetting Joyce

    Posted by Jetsetting Joyce | April 4, 2010, 7:04 pm
  3. Went there last year and it was definitely not HOT. The restaurant was freezing and it lacked atmosphere. The service was ok but it had the feel of a training centre about it. The food was at best good and for $200+ per head I would have expected a lot more. I won’t be rushing back. Maybe they’ve improved in the last 12 months or so.

    Posted by Jude | April 27, 2010, 8:57 am
  4. Hi Jude

    Sorry to hear that you had a bad experience. I’ve heard generally good reports of Aria so it must have been frustrating to pay so much money for so-so food and service. There does seem to be an increase of fine-dining options in Brisbane now so perhaps Aria has lifted its game.

    Jetsetting Joyce

    Posted by Jetsetting Joyce | April 27, 2010, 10:06 am
  5. From a Masterchef addict, I have to say that looks delicious!

    Posted by Mandy | July 22, 2010, 2:31 pm
  6. It’s a shame you need a Christmas bonus to go there…..

    Posted by Claire Chadwick | August 24, 2010, 8:51 pm

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