TAK­ING FLIGHT

HATCHED IN BEACH­SIDE SYD­NEY, THREE BLUE DUCKS STRETCHED ITS WINGS AND LANDED IN BRIS­BANE – AS A FULLY FLEDGED FLAG­SHIP RESTAU­RANT.

The Australian - Wish Magazine - - FOOD -

The Three Blue Ducks have crossed the border. The six mates be­hind the cafe fa­mous for sim­ple, lo­cally sourced com­fort food that first opened in Bronte in 2010 then moved slowly north to By­ron Bay in 2015, have fi­nally made it up to Bris­bane. And their new home could not be any more dif­fer­ent from beach­side Syd­ney or a farm in By­ron. In­stead, it’s the flag­ship restau­rant of the W Ho­tel, the first new five-star ac­com­mo­da­tion in the Queens­land cap­i­tal for 20 years.

“To be hon­est I didn’t want to do it,” says co-owner Jeff Ben­nett of the de­ci­sion to open a space in­side a ho­tel in the CBD. “We took a vote and I was like, nope, it doesn’t feel right. I had stayed at an­other ho­tel not long be­fore with a celebrity chef restau­rant – where they use some­one else’s name to get peo­ple through the doors – and it was just ter­ri­ble. It felt so fake and it felt like it was part of the ho­tel. I didn’t want to do it and I don’t want that to be us.”

But Ben­nett changed his mind when he met key peo­ple from W Ho­tels and they left him se­ri­ously im­pressed. “They said to us ‘you have to make this a Three Blue Ducks restau­rant; if any­body walks in there and they don’t know they are in a Three Blue Ducks, then we have failed’, he says. “That gave me a lot of com­fort.” And so Three Blue Ducks at W Bris­bane was born and the team opened at the be­gin­ning of June.

They won’t do room ser­vice but will do the clas­sic break­fast buf­fet (“it’s a pretty epic buf­fet”), through to brunch, lunch, din­ner and of course, cock­tails.

The Bris­bane premises fea­tures favourites from Three Blue Ducks in Bronte, By­ron and their third venue in Syd­ney’s in­ner south, Rose­bery (think av­o­cado on herbed sour­dough toast for brunch), as well as the use of lo­cal pro­duce and the newly in­stalled char­coal pit, ro­tis­serie and wood-fired oven. There’s roasted whole fish, fer­mented chilli-glazed chicken cooked on the grill, and a cold seafood menu fea­tur­ing oys­ters, More­ton Bay bugs, tiger prawns and crab.

“It all feels part of the same restau­rant but it’s dif­fer­ent be­cause there is a lo­cal an­gle,” Ben­nett says of the food. “More­ton Bay bugs is al­ready the No 1 dish here.”

Ben­nett was one of the later ad­di­tions to the Three Blue Ducks team, join­ing the orig­i­nal trio (Chris Sor­rell, Sam Reid-Bo­quist and Mark LaBrooy) a year af­ter they opened the first restau­rant in Bronte. “I had a pizza place next door,” he says. “We sort of got on from the word go; we did heaps of stuff to­gether. I had a gar­den out the back – I in­tended to grow herbs for the piz­zas be­cause I had sim­i­lar philoso­phies as the guys on food. It was about a year in and I was sick and I wanted to make chicken soup, so I went next door and asked Mark for a recipe. About 2½ hours later we had re­designed the whole space. We [later] knocked down holes in the walls, built a deck between the build­ings and cre­ated this lit­tle mag­i­cal space.”

Ben­nett also brought ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise with al­co­hol, which the orig­i­nal Three Blue Ducks didn’t have. LaBrooy looked af­ter the food, Reid-Bo­quist was re­spon­si­ble for ser­vice and Sor­rell was in charge of cof­fee. Andy Allen came on board later as a co-owner and chef in the Rose­bery ven­ture.

“It’s home cook­ing, its com­fort food,” Ben­nett says of Three Blue Ducks. “There is also a lot more refined stuff. It is what­ever we want to do – there are no rules. It’s what­ever the guys feel like do­ing.”

W

The Three Blue Ducks team, from left, Chris Sor­rell, Sam Reid-Bo­quist, Andy Allen, Jeff Ben­nett and Mark LaBrooy

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