The taste of Brisbane - Il Centro's Sand crab lasagne

It’s been on the menu for 25 years, a recipe developed to combine two of Brisbane’s great loves – Italian cuisine and seafood – using our exquisite local sand crabs to create sand crab lasagne.

I’ve caught crabs in waters around the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast for many years and the delicate, sweet white meat of a sand crab is favourite. Picking the meat out of the shell is not so much fun but sometimes there’s a price to pay for great food.

At Il Centro, you can avoid all the messy stuff and just enjoy the rich creamy yellow sand crab sauce that slides between oh-so-smooth pasta dripping with seafood essence that makes up their sand crab lasagne. It’s a masterpiece that Il Centro chef of the time, Gillian Hirst, can still be proud. The secret, I’m told, lies in the sea urchin roe in the crustacean-infused sauce.

Rightly Il Centro has put this dish front and centre for Global Flavours, Brisbane’s culinary celebration of our international-standard cuisine and local produce, coinciding with hosting the G20 Leaders Summit.

However, there is much more to enjoy here. Try the truffle and taleggio arancini with sautéed wild mushrooms or experience the wonderful lift that their simple lime and lemon zest dressing gives to half a dozen fresh oysters.

We also tried the braised lamb shank and crumbed lamb shank combo which came with a warm quinoa salad of baked ricotta and glazed dutch carrots lapped by a roast tomato jus.

The Eagle Street Pier location is another winner with plenty of activity to enjoy around you. I’d recommend eating inside if you are noise sensitive as the background noise level is high.

Bottom line:
Expect to pay city fine dining city prices with entrees around $15 - $20 mains averaging just under $40.
 Sand crab lasagne is priced at $27 entree, $39.50 main – an entrée size could be all you need of this rich dish.

Best tip: Parking is easy under Eagle Street Pier and costs $15 at night and after 6pm on weekdays. Head to Mr & Mrs G’s for a pre-dinner drink and the chance to enjoy the city lights.

Kerry Heaney

Disclaimer: Ed+bK was a guest of Il Centro