Walk into Deer Duck Bistro and you'll immediately understand why, when I first met the owner Nicholas Cooper, he was obsessed with finding antique fish knives.
We were part of a group travelling through the north of New Zealand's south island researching salmon production and Nicholas was mainstreaming antique and bric-a-brac shops in every town. Luckily, he did find his fish knives and now I finally know why they were so important.
Some call it 'Nana shit', but I think of the decor at Deer Duck Bistro as eclectic antique with a touch of whimsy. It's a visual feast of walls filled with ornate gold frames and feature pieces on period furniture. Antique collectors will find it hard not to turn over their plates to check the maker's mark and they will definitely admire the bone-handled fish knives!
It's certainly interesting and creates plenty of private spaces for drinking, dining and enjoying good conversation.
|Deer Duck Bistro Chef Anthony Hales|
The decor contrasts well with the food from head chef Anthony Hales which is fresh and earthy with simplistic plating. He draws inspiration from his time in Japan and his wife's native country, South Korea. Ever in Anthony's mind is the restaurant's sustainability ethos.
His style was rewarded with a Chefs Hat for Deer Duck Bistro in the 2016 Brisbane Times Good Food Guide Awards.
Start your evening at Deer Duck with a pre-dinner drink as we did in the cosy bar area which feels just like someone's lounge room.
Tuesday to Friday the restaurant offers two or three courses or a degustation but Saturday night is the seven course Chef's Degustation only with a separate vegetarian menu.
Our meal started with a stupendous but small slice of thick cut bacon. The aroma that wafted through the room was magnificent and translated into a rich bacon flavour in the mouth.
Wine matches were offered with every course including the concoction of mussel, carrot and dill which practically leapt off the plate to dance around my taste buds. I don't think carrot has ever tasted so good.
I'm always confronted by the thought of sweetbreads (the thymus or pancreas of a calf) but the skill of the chef made the onion, thyme and veal sweetbread course a winner.
Delicate Cone Bay barramundi with shitake mushroom came next with the contrasting texture and crunch of black rice.
A chicken wing with char-grilled corn and tarragon followed.
The chef got a little excited by having a bunch of food writers at the restaurant and threw in an extra duck course. This meant we all waddled out the door a little over full at the end of the evening. These might look like small dishes but they sure do add up.
Simply described as beef, pumpkin and onion, the next dish included a slow cooked, absolutely tender piece of meat.
Dessert came in two stages - A rockmelon sorbet with honey and pistachio and a chocolate, pear and hazelnut dish that was full of earthy chocolate flavour without being overly sweet.
Ed+bK Five Star rating: **** Many memorable dishes and interesting decor.
Best tip: If you just want something light, you can order food from the bar menu while seated in the bar.
Recommended for: Romantics (it's a great date spot), antique lovers and those who appreciate good food.
Bottom line: Two courses at $55 a person and three course are $75 per person. The seven course degustation costs $120 per person with matching wines at $60 a person.
Disclaimer: Ed+bK was a guest of Deer Duck Bistro.