Drift, Milton

I don't like comparing apples to oranges, especially when my favourite fruit is strawberries.

But that's exactly what I felt I was doing yesterday when I visited Drift Café Jetty & Events, Milton, winner of the Brisbane and Darling Downs Region 2010 Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering Awards for best New Restaurant (over 100 seats) award to check out why it captured the judge's attention.

The finalists in this category were so diverse I struggled to find any common  ground apart from the number of seats and  I'm sure the number of seats in a restaurant is one of the last things on my mind when I'm thinking of a place to dine.

However the die has been cast and the results are in. Drift, a relatively unknown restaurant has beaten widely acclaimed Aria, nominated in two categories for the 2011 Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Awards. Other finalists included The Apple Tree Restaurant Cafe Bar, Kenmore where I haven't dined and Vapiano, Brisbane. Vapiano is a great Italian restaurant in the heart of the CBD. It has no pretensions to fine dining and does good cheap Italian well for families and friends.

So what has Drift got that the others haven't?  Well they score top marks for location and parking.

Positioned so close to the Brisbane River you almost feel you can reach out and test the temperature of the water, Drift is a wonderful river showcase. Granted this part of the river is not as busy as the city reach but the city cats zoom up and down regularly and the water is just beautifully relaxing to gaze upon.

Parking is another bonus for Drift. It's just a quick walk under Coronation Drive from dedicated parking in the John Oxley Centre in Lang Parade. Very easy and no cost, great news for a close-to-city location.

I enjoyed lunch with two other foodies and we shared three entrees, two mains and a dessert. We asked for them all to come at once because of a tight time frame and the kitchen was happy to oblige. The service overall was friendly and prompt.

Coffin bay oysters with lime and sea salt

Gladstone scallops, chorizo and crisp pork belly

honey glazed duck

 seafood and mushroom risotto - after I cut up the tempura crab to share.

exploding blood orange custard

Our Tasmanian shucked oysters, which were actually from Coffin Bay according to the waiter, were billed as kaffir lime and sea salt.  I was expecting a green-tinged salt to sprinkle over the oysters but they came with a slice of Tahitian lime and some salt.

The Gladstone scallops, chorizo and crisp pork belly dusted in cumin with quince paste was not a huge hit. Consensus was this dish needed a little more flavour - it was underwhelming and the pork was not crispy enough.

The Crumbed goats cheese, zucchini flower and asparagus on cauliflower puree (top photo) was a bit the same for me, a lot of goat's cheese with not much to contrast it against but it looked great and the others enjoyed it.

Our mains were honey glazed duck breast with cinnamon and blood orange sauce and wilted spinach and seafood and mushroom risotto. The risotto was full of seafood - bug, prawns, scallops and mussells and topped with a good serving of tempura soft shell crab.  I liked the consistency of the sauce and rice and tucked into my serving with gusto. After a few mouthfuls my palette started to tire a little and again, the dish needed a bit more spice or herb flavour to carry it through to the end.

The duck was very thickly cut but tender and the sauce, although pleasant, also lacked zing.

Our dessert was an exploding blood orange custard with chocolate pan forte - basically a citrus curd tart with hot rocks on top.  The green colour of the rocks was a little unusual but the mouth explosions were interesting.

I'm being picky here because this restaurant has won a coveted award and should be displaying standards to which others would aspire.  It was a pleasant meal, not a memorable one. Maybe that's not part of the judging criteria but it should be.

I like my taste buds to do some dancing when I dine out and I also like to discover combinations I have yet to experience. I'm still waiting after dining at Drift.

Bottom line: Pleasant dining with a great view of the Brisbane River.

Drift, 330 Coronation Drive, Milton
+61 73368 1866

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