Great in­gre­di­ents in good hands

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - RESTAURANT - LIZZIE LOEL

Small plates, large plates, from the grill, dishes to share, some­thing on the side. It’s the new en­trée, main and dessert for­mula that is now the norm all over Bris­bane. The ca­su­al­i­sa­tion of din­ing out is a global trend, and one we Queens­lan­ders prac­ti­cally in­vented. And strad­dling the great laid­back rev­o­lu­tion and the up­per end of the spec­trum are restau­ra­teurs Brad and An­gel­ica Jolly.

Alchemy in the CBD put chef Brad on the map with his up­scale cui­sine, for­mal ser­vice and with­er­ing price tags. The cou­ple then opened G-Doggz, a gourmet hot­dog bar in in­ner-north For­ti­tude Val­ley, and now the Palms Mediter­ranean Bar and Grill has popped up in the newly ex­panded West­field Gar­den City in south­side Mt Gra­vatt. The cen­tre’s din­ing zone sur­rounds a wa­ter fea­ture and is packed to the gun­nels with out­lets from fast food joints to yum cha, and this curved and colour­ful ad­di­tion sports a Josper char­coal grill and some se­ri­ous tal­ent in the kitchen.

It’s stand­ing room only when we ar­rive late on a Sun­day and we’re di­rected to the bar to have a drink and wait for a ta­ble. There’s a lot of noise – yelling kids, the bub­bling wa­ter fea­ture and choral mu­sic punc­tu­at­ing mul­ti­ple con­ver­sa­tions.

Once seated, we sample some of the small plates – bur­rata with salt-baked beet­root and truf­fle honey, porchetta with fen­nel pollen and ap­ples, and crispy duck in a mesclun salad all tempt, but not as much as the tuna es­cabeche and fried fried baby cala­mari ( above) with shal­lots and fresh red chill­ies and a pot of squid ink aioli on the side. The cala­mari is pip­ing hot and su­per-ten­der – and the fried shal­lots and chill­ies form a light coat­ing that draws out the flavour. The es­cabeche is a lit­tle clunky – chunks of tuna in a sauce of white wine and pep­pers with an ad­di­tional heavy layer of may­on­naise. We have ques­tions about prove­nance but our waiter tells us he knows noth­ing about seafood be­cause he doesn’t like it, so we’re none the wiser. King prawns fin­ished on the Josper with chilli and lime salt are per­fectly cooked, still plump and nicely sea­soned. We want to keep test­ing the grill so de­cide to share the chicken, which is golden and crunchy, served over slightly spicy harissa with baby car­rots and an al­mond purée. The clams are also de­li­cious – creamy and hon­eyed as saffron-scented dishes can be, with plump clams and a faint redo­lence of the ocean.

The over­all im­pres­sion of the food at The Palms is one of qual­ity. The bub­ble has cer­tainly burst in the foam/soil/dirt/ smoke fad, but this was never a place for that any­way. Great in­gre­di­ents are in good hands, ser­vice is speedy and friendly and, while it’s cer­tainly for­mu­laic, it is bound to be pop­u­lar.

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