FLANK GOOD­NESS

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

Bris­bane’s Stafford Heights is home to a new Inn of In­dul­gence, or bar, as most of us might call it. Too Zero is the brain­child of vet­eran chef Mark Rowsell-Turner, who also runs a cater­ing com­pany, a cook­ing school for kids and a ready-made meal de­liv­ery ser­vice. It’s on the cor­ner of a strip of shops deep in the heart of north­ern sub­ur­bia, but lo­cals have found it and are in­dulging in its eclec­tic and rel­a­tively di­verse menu.

We be­gin with fat duck pan­cakes: roasted Chi­nese duck, strips of shal­lots, pick­led cu­cum­bers and a driz­zle of hoisin sauce. They’re warm and light, as are the lamb kof­tas topped with minted labne and hum­mus, and some warmed flat­breads. Next up, Moroc­can prawns – big, plump lo­cal num­bers in a ter­ra­cotta bowl of mildly spiced but­ter and semidried pep­pers. They’re su­per-fresh, and the sub­tle spice en­hances rather than over­pow­ers the del­i­cate prawn meat. Two lit­tle pieces of what tastes like corn­bread help mop up the sweet-spicy juices.

The clipped menu ticks most of the cur­rent boxes, promi­nently Amer­i­can food: mac and cheese balls, chilli cheese dogs with chorizo, sauer­kraut and Jack cheese, Bour­bon-soaked wings in gooey gor­gonzola sauce, baby back ribs in “kick-ass” bar­be­cue sauce and black rice.

Alternatively, you can head to France, or at least a dish that sounds like its foun­da­tions are in the clas­sics, avoid­ing the fat-on-carbs tech­niques of the Deep South. Flank steak is grilled, rested nicely, then sliced to re­veal ten­der medium-rare beef. On top of that is a ragout of ex­otic mush­rooms steeped in a meaty soy but­ter. This is the sort of dish you could eat lots of. Flank is a full-flavoured cut, but in the wrong hands it can be tough and chewy. Rowsell-Turner, how­ever, has plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence and he nails it.

He also nails the fish pie – a heavy pot filled with a creamy sauce redo­lent of qual­ity stock and soft, anise-y hues. Chunks of just-cooked white fish are buried un­der a flaky blan­ket of pas­try, which we im­merse in the sauce and pol­ish off ev­ery last bit, even the slightly charred bits wrapped around the edges of the dish.

The room is largely re­claimed wood, the let­ter “Z” a vivid green back­lit fea­ture of the bar on which bot­tles of spir­its and liqueurs sit with num­bered col­lars. Our waiter tells us they de­note the price per nip, and tempt us to in­dulge – it’s the Inn of In­dul­gence, af­ter all.

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