How would you like your steak tartare? Raw or uncooked?
Flash back too many years and I'm sitting in the same dining room with my Dad, an adventurous for the 70s eater, and he's tucking into raw mince for dinner. Now I'm about to do the same - thanks Dad for sharing your spirit of food adventure with me.
The Walnut Restaurant & Lounge Bar has been a Brisbane institution since Royal on the Park Hotel opened in Brisbane in 1969 with a huge fan fare during the Joh Bjelke-Petersen days.
Over it's more than 40 year history, the restaurant has spent some time in culinary darkness, but the lights are well and truly on at the Walnut Restaurant with the current team pumping out a great menu of culinary classics plus a few of Head Chef Rhian Rodrigues' personal favourites and family recipes.
The Filet steak tartare, ground to order and served tableside with fries and a simple salad is a treat. I love the subtle drama of the service as Restaurant Manager Rudy Cheong displays and explains the components including Rhian's special sauce. It must be the sauce that does it as this is steak tartare like I've never tasted before. Fresh, flavour-filled meat in a partnership of spices, sauces and condiments mixed together before my eyes and turned into a perfect round on my plate. Rudy would be a top pick for your hamburger making team.
This is a dish to devour slowly, letting the flavours roll around your mouth as they highlight and combine. The fries and simple tossed salad are the perfect accompaniment.
My companion, Richard, indulges in his love of seafood with roast garlic scampi with lemon and saffron fettuccine and lobster bisque.
When it comes to dessert, Rhian has another treat on the menu. Channelling Heston Blumenthal, he has created a deconstructed chocolate melting moment with Valrhona white and dark chocolate in different textures and a soft, exploding centre. Trying the elements in different combinations adds another level of entertainment to eating but it's hard to pick a favourite for me as it's all good.
We are dining from the a la carte menu but there's also two and three course set menus which offer great value at $55 and $65 per person including house wine, beer, soft drink, coffee and tea. Free parking while dining (one car space per $100 spend) is another not inconsiderable extra thrown in with dining at The Walnut.
It's a bit wild, but we try some Moet Ice with lunch. Holding the stylish but definitely plastic white glass I'm feeling like the beach at Saint Tropez is only a wave away, but must confess to liking traditional Moet a little better. I'm a Sunshine Beach girl at heart!
You don't have to have dined there in the past to enjoy the cuisine on offer at the Walnut Room. Although their theme is traditional elegance, they are not shy of introducing modern touches such as a menu complete with excellent photographs on iPad available for the table. A simple but effective way to introduce diners to the menu. More restaurants could take a tip here.
The Walnut Room and Bar has been delighting visitors and locals for years and will for many more to come.
The Walnut Room and Bar, Royal on the Park
Bottom line: Try some of the retro favourites on the menu
Best tip: The parking offer is unbeatable.
Disclaimer: The Walnut Room is an advertiser on Ed+bK