AWHIFFOF SCANDI

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - THE FOODIE - BY LIZZIE LOEL

Gauge is the sis­ter venue to Jerome Bat­ten’s popular Sourced Gro­cer, and there’s a pal­pa­ble buzz about the South Bris­bane new­comer. We go early in the week and our party of three is eas­ily ac­com­mo­dated in a cosy nook that over­looks the small, light-filled room with be­spoke fur­nish­ings, in­clud­ing hand­made leather chairs and pale blue metal stools. The menu blurs the lines be­tween break­fast and lunch and fea­tures ev­ery food trend you could name, in­clud­ing the cur­rent chef ob­ses­sion with pick­ling, cur­ing and all things Scan­di­na­vian. At the helm are chefs Ollie Hansford (ex-Stoke­house) and Cor­mac Brad­field (Sourced Gro­cer) who are also team­ing up at new­comer Maker, around the cor­ner.

I’ve brought a cou­ple of mates whose palates tend to­wards the tra­di­tional and I’m watch­ing their eye­brows as­cend as a neat slice of jet-black bread ar­rives with a quenelle of what looks and smells like vanilla caramel. Af­ter the burnt toast jokes, we dis­cover the in­cred­i­ble flavours – some gen­tle, some punchy and sweet, and then a mild, fer­mented fin­ish brings it back into the savoury realm. This is black gar­lic bread with burnt vanilla and brown but­ter, and it’s pos­si­bly the best bread and but­ter I’ve eaten.

Line-caught squid sits un­der charred cos let­tuce, which is sur­pris­ingly de­li­cious – I must bar­be­cue my let­tuce more of­ten. Gen­tly poached chicken breast be­neath translu­cent sliv­ers of pump­kin and nashi pear – there are piles of toasted buck­wheat and blobs of a rich chest­nut cream – is a gen­tle com­bi­na­tion that won’t set the world on fire, though the house spaghetti, thin, sticky and green, just might. A gen­er­ous tan­gle is ar­ranged in the cen­tre of a heavy black earthen­ware bowl (in front of us are cus­tom-made plates that look like rounds of ce­ment, the sort of swoon-in­duc­ing ce­ram­ics you’d see in hip­ster par­adises such as Mel­bourne’s Fitzroy or Brunswick East). A light pars­ley and whey sauce coats the pale green pasta, which is rich and dairy redo­lent. Shards of dried cab­bage crum­ble over the dish, adding tex­ture, but I’m back into that bowl for more soft, just-made and per­fectly cooked spaghetti.

Mussels in a creamy veloute with raw smoked kohlrabi, chicken fat and rocket oil is an in­spired dish. Gen­tle flavours and “ocean ac­ces­sories”, sea herbs and a sprin­kling of pow­dered bot­targa (fish roe), bring the beach to mind, or at least lunch very near it.

Gauge is a glimpse of how we will eat out in fu­ture. Ar­ti­san decor and a pared-back aes­thetic house clever food, which is tech­nique-driven but not so ex­per­i­men­tal that it re­sem­bles a science project.

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