26 Jun Queensland’s top 10 dishes of the year 2015

Like an expensive, carefully coiffed “casual” hairdo, pretty and deceptively simple-looking dishes that are actually quite complex seem to be de rigeur in Queensland restaurants this year.

Finally, taste is being given even weight with good looks, and bold layering of flavour comes via care of smoking, pickling, brining and slow-cooking. It’s not easy to pick the standouts among such a strong field, but these are the dishes we are still thinking about, weeks or even months later.


Slow-braised goat at The Catbird Seat

The menu changes frequently at Catbird Seat but if the slow-braised organic Siwa goat is on, it’s a no-brainer. Robustly flavoured and rustically plated, it comes with an intense jus and a rainbow of sweet roasted heritage carrots, poached quince and crisp, thin onion rings. Comfort food at its finest.

Shop 2, 888 Stanley Street, East Brisbane, (07) 3392 2645,catbirdseatbistro.com.au


Memorable: Gauge's line-caught squid, grilled gem lettuce, dried wakame and sea parsley dish.

Memorable: Gauge’s line-caught squid, grilled gem lettuce, dried wakame and sea parsley dish.Photo: Glenn Hunt

Pork and fermented corn at Gauge

There are already so many memorable dishes from this newbie – the sweet black garlic bread comes to mind, as does the line-caught squid with grilled gem lettuce, sea parsley and dried wakame, but it’s the unctuous slow-cooked pork belly with funky house-fermented corn we’ve been crushing on. Please, please, Gauge put it back on the menu.

77 Grey Street, South Brisbane, no phone


Plate of bait at GOMA

There were a couple of contenders at GOMA including the food-as-art squab with green strawberries and buckwheat, but we keep returning to this witty take on the modest but tasty bits of seafood that used to end up on the end of a fish hook. Pilchard, school prawns, squid, pipi and octopus with daubs of squid ink encircle delicate seafood foam.

Gallery of Modern Art, Stanley Place, South Bank, (07) 3842 9916,qagoma.qld.gov.au


GOMA Restaurant's 'Plate of bait'.

GOMA Restaurant’s ‘Plate of bait’.Photo: Mark Sherwood

Saltbush lamb belly at The Foraging Quail

Yes, there is a very fine signature quail dish on the menu but if you’ve tried the lamb belly it’s hard to even give the others a look-in. A thin, crisp top above rich, yielding meat, accompanied by baby turnips, eggplant “caviar” and a garnish of Pedro Ximenez-infused dates, baby leeks and olive-flecked milk crisps.

148 Merthyr Road, New Farm, (07) 3358 6414, theforagingquail.com.au


Moreton Bay bug curry at Longtime

Sociable funster Longtime turns serious when it comes to food. There’s a lot to love, but we reckon the Moreton Bay curry nails the modern Asian brief, combining the best of local seafood with the spices of South-East Asia. Generous sweet chunks of Moreton Bay bug come in a thick, complex curry with notes of turmeric and coconut.

610 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley, (07) 3160 3123, longtime.com.au


Goma Street at Kiyomi

A Grand Theft Auto reference? We don’t know, but we’d happily become part of the Goma Street neighbourhood to eat this on a daily basis. It’s an east-west ying/yang combination of tempered dark chocolate, caramelised white chocolate mousse, with nutty savoury black sesame ice-cream and a thick skid mark of black sesame paste.

Jupiters Hotel & Casino, Broadbeach Island, (07) 5592 8443, jupiterscasino.com.au


Smoked bone marrow at Gerard’s Bistro

Yes, we were a little bit devastated when this left the menu. Too much of a good thing perhaps? A go-to order at Gerard’s, the smoked bone marrow was incredibly moreish (or given the setting, Moorish?). Rich globs of smoky, velvety bone marrow and light salted cod were scooped out of the bone to spread on thin, black ash toast.

Shop 14, 15 James Street, Fortitude Valley, (07) 3852 3822, gerardsbistro.com.au


Valhrona Kalinga and orange dessert at Stokehouse Q

If this dessert were a woman, it would be Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly. So perfectly elegant – every element, from the bittersweet mousse to a glossy marmalade gel, to a tangy sorbet and a translucent round of dried crisp orange is perfection on its own; together pow! Texture, taste and good looks combine to stunning effect.

River Quay, Sidon Street, South Bank, (07) 3020 0699, stokehousebrisbane.com.au

Blackmore wagyu tri-tip at Esquire

With a constantly changing menu, nab it when you see it. Brined for two weeks to exquisite succulence, a piece of tri-tip is then smoked and slow-cooked over coals. The result is a deep-knit smokiness with rich, tart and savoury flavours accompanied by Esquire’s take on “pickles” and “ketchup”.

145 Eagle Street, Brisbane (07) 3220 2123, esquire.net.au


Lamb belly at Wasabi

It’s hard to stand out with such stiff competition, but the lamb belly just pips its menu mates at the post. Braised with soy and Okinawa black sugar, it’s finished over white binchotan charcoal and has a smoky, malty flavour. It comes with shishito peppers grown on Wasabi’s farm, radish and shiso, and is finished with a 10-year-old black rice vinegar.

2 Quamby Place, Noosa Sound, (07) 5449 2443, wasabisb.com