The Courier-Mail - QWeekend

Licence to thrill

A new French brasserie is all part of the hype at Brisbane’s newest hotel


otel X is about the unexpected, the uninhibite­d and the undeniably indulgent. It’s a cocktail of thrills in the beating heart of Brisbane,” enthuses the website of the city’s newest hotel in Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley. Right then, I thought, clomping into the foyer after work one night, bring it on.

Just beyond the cocktail bar at the hotel entry is Bisou Bisou, French for “kiss kiss”, the latest venue from the Ghanem Group, following in the footsteps of its other venues Blackbird, Donna Chang, Boom Boom Izakaya.

Fronting the open kitchen is a mash-up of dining settings, marble tables a deux along a lengthy banquette and more privately at the back, low-slung floral lounges for two pulled up to slightly-too-high bare wood tables. And it’s almost full.

Anthony Donaldson, head chef at CBD riverfront grill Blackbird has been drafted in as head chef of the French brasserie. The menu starts promisingl­y, indulgence wise, with oysters and three types of caviar, the most expensive, $220 for 25g of premium wild scampi from Western Australia. I’m immediatel­y at odds with the hotel mission statement when I suffer a stricture of budgetary inhibition. However, a scan of the rest of the menu reveals a broad price point: hors d’oeuvres (maybe tartare or cured salmon, both $21); main courses (gnocchi $27 through to the 300g sirloin $45); plats du jour (a cheeseburg­er with fries $21 and 300g steak frites $43) and offerings from the rotisserie (whole sole $65; 800g cote de boeuf $180; chickens $60 whole/$30 half).

From the plats du jour, escargot and bone marrow on toast ($21) has its flavours muted by a bed of lightly caramelise­d shallot, when it could have been more robustly appealing if the marrow and snails were allowed to strut their muscular stuff relatively unadorned. A pair of scallops perched on a warm brioche bun ($25), surrounded by a yellow puddle of seaweed beurre blanc offers a more elegant and

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