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HOT: Bar Alto, The Powerhouse, 119 Lamington St, New Farm

Many a Sunday session has been had on my favourite bend in the Brisbane River – whether it be footy in New Farm park, viagra order a BBQ and beers at Merthyr Bowls or a people watching, sickness bubbles-sipping sunset at Watt Modern Dining.  Another venue to add to this favourites list is Bar Alto at The Powerhouse.

What set out to be a casual, drugs brief Sunday lunch with good friends ended up as a long, boozy and hilarious culinary extravaganza which crept up on us with sheer stealth.

I suspected the culinary side of things was always going to be enjoyable as I’d heard nothing but glowing reports of the menu at Bar Alto .  What I wasn’t expecting (or perhaps wasn’t prepared for) was a constant stream of energy-fuelled patrons entering the restaurant and bar; banter-filled wait-staff with beaming smiles and slightly flirtatious attitudes; a buzzing kitchen in the public eye for all to see and to top it off a never ending glass of Tin Cows pinot noir from the Yarra Valley ($38 per bottle).

Our table of 6 held prime position in the centre of the venue with a great view of the kitchen, so we could check out the team’s handy work.  We could also see all the action at the bar – these guys know how to pull a crowd.

After much deliberation and debate over which of the mains each of us would decide on we finally made some progress by way of the ciabatta with olive oil and balsamic ($2 per serve), but that was as far as we got for some time….

On his fourth or fifth attempt, our waiter finally got some sense out of us, but not until after he provided some interpretation of the Bar Alto menu items (it would seem that our Italian was a little shabby, but perhaps the wine had something to do with it?).

MM and Aunty both chose exceptional meals of venison-filled parcels in rich mushroom and olive oil sauce ($24); the pasta parcels were thin and light, allowing the flavour of the venison to shine in this dish.

CC had the best-dressed plate of the day with the Venetian style crespelle filled with ricotta, pumpkin and burnt sage butter ($17).  I was jealous – this dish was my second option…how good do these little parcels look?

AJ was feeling fishy, so opted for the pan seared halibut with prawns and wilted spinach in a tomato and seafood bisque ($23).  The fish was cooked perfectly with a nice crispy skin and the bisque was subtle yet flavoursome.

SM took a huge gamble with the squid ink risotto ($23); the dish certainly didn’t have much appeal to look at, but somehow these squishy, inky creatures worked well with the perfectly gluggy rice and greenery on the side.

I chose the strozzapreti with prawns, squid, tomato and black olives ($23).  This was a little disappointing to be honest as there was only scarce pieces of seafood to the dish and it presented as a very large pile of no-frills pasta, with what looked and tasted like bolognaise sauce with a hint of spice.  It was tasty, but nothing outstanding like what my fellow diners had the pleasure of enjoying.

The meals were all very filling but a few of us kept some room in the dessert pocket, mainly to try the chocolate budino with panettone ice-cream ($12) dish that we were witnessing being made by the tray-full.

This dessert is obviously a house specialty as they must’ve put a hundred of these things in to bake while we were there.  The pictures say it all really….

Our lunch was definitely in the long category by now and after such a lovely couple of hours we really weren’t ready to leave, so we moved our little party to the alfresco area.  There is no bar service on the Bar Alto balcony, but it is the best seat in the house, overlooking the river as the sun sets over the waterfront homes on Norman Reach and Bulimba.  By now the line up at the bar was 4 or 5 deep but with the spring time vibe in the air everyone was more than happy to queue up and have a chat.

The food alone makes Bar Alto a winner, but when you add the ambience and the scenery, it makes for a really enjoyable experience and I can’t wait to lock in another Sunday sesh with the crew to do it all again.

  • Bar Alto, The Powerhouse, 119 Lamington St, New Farm, +61 7 3358 1063

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  1. wow … that looks pretty good

    Posted by thatssoron | September 25, 2010, 6:01 pm

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