Aria, CBD, Brisbane

It was yet another day when Brisbane's sky opened and the rain fell in an avalanche.  Roads flooded, cars floated, chairs drifted away but I was safe in the bar at Aria hoping my daughter made it home safely after dropping me in town. (Thank you sweetie!)

The people from Orient Express were in town to talk about their new product and when only the best will do, Aria was the natural choice.

We sat in the bar and watched the rain and shuddered as lightening cracked around the city towers waiting for those who weren't able to make it before the storm.

Aria is the sort of restaurant where you expect and receive something special - anything less is disappointing.  Our lunch choices were certainly not disappointing.  The flavours were strong, the presentation imaginative and the combinations exciting to the palate. Even the torrential rain did not dampen our enthusiasm.

My main was a roasted fillet of barramundi with confit fennel, asparagus, marinated calamari, brandade and fennel pollen. I loved the decorative treatment of the barramundi skin which also tasted deliciously crisp.

The Peking duck consommé with duck dumplings and mushrooms was another beautiful dish. I even enjoyed the hint of five spice, of which I am not normally terribly fond.

Of course, someone ordered the beef - not one of the famous 200 gm $72 Blackmore wagyu, marble score 9+, 600-day grain fed rump steaks but the slow cooked daube with beetroot purée, horseradish, pistachio and orange crumble (there's a photo below).  It was pronounced delicious.

We ordered chippies in case any of the dishes needed extra veg - they didn't - and these were probably my least favourite dish.  No wow factor and probably a little over done.

I was the only one to order dessert again.  It's all in the name of research I say!  I loved the sound of the jam donuts with strawberries and cinnamon ice cream.  How was this going to be interpreted as a restaurant quality dish?  Well, the result certainly satisfied my curiosity and sweet tooth.  A medley of exquisite tastes that were delicious on their own but outstanding combined.

The other guests had to make do with a selection of small tastes included salted caramels.  They also were delicious.

Next time I'll line up for the banoffee - banana brûlée with caramel, almond praline and toasted almond milk ice cream or the peanut butter and jelly -  peanut butter parfait with raspberry jelly and salted caramel peanuts.

Kerry Heaney

Aria Restaurant Brisbane
www.ariarestaurant.com1 Eagle St
Brisbane QLD 4000
(07) 3233 2555