Been to Esquire yet? Reckon it’s too posh for the likes of you? Too exxy? Pah!Esquire is neither. But for the cautious or time poor, there’s now `Esq’.
The name is a truncated version of Esquire, because the bit of the restaurant to the left of the entry is specifically designed for those who don’t fancy the dego experience or who just don’t have time to indulge in the whole shebang.
There’s both a sit-up eating bar (perfect for solo lunchers) where you can watch your lunch being cooked over coals through the glass walled kitchen, as well as tables including a couple outside positioned to catch the river breeze.
The genius of Esq. is that you can pick and choose as much or as little as you like. Some prawns and a dessert perhaps? Or maybe a coral trout sashimi and some crab pasta? Cherrypick one or two or go the ridiculously teeny priced ‘Prix fixe’- $35 for 3 courses of your choice.
The menu is divided into ‘Charcoal’ (dishes cooked over environmentally friendly charcoal) ‘Raw Greens’, ‘Raw’, ‘Basic’ and “Sweet’.
People in the food industry bang on all the time about ‘good produce’ but it’s one of those things that until you’ve had you don’t really know you’ve never had (like good sex?). Esq. sets a benchmark. Food is beautifully simple; wonderful produce cooked well versus show pony trickery-here it’s style over substance; sustainable seafood in season versus what’s trendy.
Moreton Bay sand squid is a dish I’ve had over on the other side at big bro’ Esquire and it’s just as good here eaten in slightly more casual surrounds. Marshmallow tender, it’s dressed simply with olive oil & parsley.
You might think a- take- no- prisoners herb like dill would overpower the delicate sweetness of scallops, but infused into oil it’s subtle enough to simply give it another layer of flavour without overwhelming.
The beef with perilla (a herb incidentally super rich in omega 3 acids) is charcoal grilled, intensely rich and flavoursome with a sealed salted, crusty caramelisation that a perfect steak should have. My pic is out of focus, so I won’t show it here, but the amount served won’t have you going back to the office and nodding over your computer. A good thing really because it’s so rich a little goes a long way.
Flat bread is another charcoal item- baked with thyme (I think) and topped with a honey gel; a typical sweet-savoury Greekish type flatbread with just a hint of smokiness.
From the raw section, I would come here for the treviso lettuce alone; with crumbled Itchi Bai cheese (aka Roy de Valles a French cheese made from a mix of sheep and goat milk) it’s dressed with 12 old balsamic vinegar. I love the bitter/sweet/umami/crunchy/soft contrast of it-perfection in simplicity. Funnily enough one of my fave things on the Esquire menu is an equally simple crescent of avo dusted in dried wasabi root-a side on another dish. Perhaps I’m a vegetarian at heart.
Err, no. From the ‘basic’ section, we also tried the finger licking charcoal glazed pork ribs, (nom nom) the almost translucent fettucine with spanner crab, moist trout cooked in a bag with gnocchi and possibly my fave, along with the lettuce; Murray cod with smoked yoghurt. OMG good.G.
There are three choices of dessert- `chocolate milk and nuts`, curds and whey ice-cream with ‘Campari components, sherbet, and orange’ -tangy, palate cleansing, light, and totally extraordinary and the weird sounding but trust-me-it’s-divine grilled sweetcorn parfait with caramel popcorn and tarragon.
If you’re a fan of sticky date pud or richy gooey chocolate things, you probably won’t appreciate any of them. If you’re a ‘not that keen on dessert usually’ kind of person, be prepared to be surprised that you may find you’re a dessert person after all.
Nothing on the Esq. menu is over $16 which is unbelievable value. OK, portions are not huge; but still, it’s amazing value for money for the quality. If you’re not sure that Esquire is for you; or you have time, I definitely reckon you should check out Esq; the service is really friendly, the food is at bargain basement prices for top drawer produce and there are few more pleasant riverside spot to while away a lunch hour.
145 Eagle Street Brisbane