The red chairs are ready, the silverware sparkling and the kitchen raring to roll out a new modern French gastronomy menu at one of Brisbane's favourite restaurants, Montrachet in Paddington.
With more than 80 awards and medals, Montrachet's new owner Shannon Kellam is odds on Australia's most awarded chef. Established by Thierry Gallichet in 2004, this is a restaurant with a pedigree and the unusual distinction of being the city's only suburban restaurant closed on weekends.
With 21 years of cooking history, Kellam took over from Gallichet just over two months ago and, with the kitchen now well bedded, has released his own menu. As the current Australian candidate for the international Bocuse d'Or world final in Lyon, he brings innovative precision of an exceptionally high standard to his food and modern French style to Brisbane.
Gone are the heavy sauces replaced with dishes that combine just a few very special flavours very well with vegetables in a staring roll. Around half of the vegetables are selected personally be Kellam from small local producers working ahead to take advantage of the seasons bounty.
From ice cream and butter to bread and even puff pastry, nothing is bought into the kitchen or pre made. Kellam has filled his kitchen with four chefs from three star Michelin restaurants amongst the six staff in the kitchen.
Montrachet favourites, including steak fritters, beef carpaccio, crab and gruyere souffle and the creme brûlée still there for your dining pleasure.
First on the table was an interesting concoction with artichoke milk gnocchi with black olive on top of a hand blown glass tube filled with Jerusalem artichoke consomme.
The amuse bouche was foie gras for two - a duck liver parfait with orange marmalade accompanied by mini brick brioches fresh from the oven.
It's a tough call, but my favourite dish was the confit lobster and prawn with citrus and garlic marmalade, celeriac 'ravioli', petit pois, all in a clove butter broth.
Kellam collected the banksia pods used to smoke his Tasmania lamb from the beach at Coolum. The lamb was accompanied by variations of butternut squash and a deliberately split buttermilk and lamb jus dressing.
Star of the lunch was Kellam's award winning dessert chocolate de passion. It's a Grand Marnier brûlée with passionfruit curd, chocolate hazelnut praline mousse and strawberry sorbet. At $20 it's not cheap, but worth every cent. It's also one of the restaurant's most popular dishes with 80 to 100 sold every week.
The second dessert was a mandarin cremeux on a crisp feuilletine base with lemon meringue ice cream.
There are some things that definitely won't be changing at Montrachet, and that includes the decor and weekend trading - it's not going to happen. Do expect some smart new crockery made especially to order.
Kellam has introduced a new wine machine which means bottles can be opened without removing the cork while the space left by taking out a glass of wine is replaced by gas. I enjoyed a glass from two imported French wines, one of which sells for $138 a bottle.
Recommended for: Lovers of fine food.
Best tip: Friday nights are now back at Montrachet as Supper Club, a night when the chefs can show their gastronomic style with creative food. The menu changes weekly based on the chef's late night Monday inspirations. Expect one sitting and a five course degustation priced at $99 per person. You'll need to book well ahead.
Bottom line: Entrees $12 to $32, Mains $32 to $42, Desserts $12 to $20.
Ed+bK rating: *****
Disclaimer: Ed+bK was a guest of Montrachet.