Newly opened Bacchus restaurant is a poolside oasis in the heart of Brisbane, and a testament that the city is continually moving up in the culinary stakes, writes Megan Arkinstall.
I’m standing on my balcony at Rydges South Bank enjoying the view of the Brisbane River. My room is clean, comfortable and spacious, but I’m not here to inspect the room. I’m here to try out the new Bacchus restaurant and poolside bar downstairs that opened in October to much fanfare – Matt Preston hosted the red carpet launch featuring fire twirlers and roaming acrobats. I have an empty belly ready to indulge; after all Bacchus is the Roman God of Food, Wine and Indulgence.
The restaurant is located within Rydges, so I am expecting a similar standard to the hotel itself. However, when I make my way to the Podium Level with my dining companion, my expectations are immediately surpassed.
The aesthetics alone are striking: large opulent chandeliers, bold patterned carpet, bronze and cream tiled walls, sleek furniture, chic ornaments and impressive art works. The styling works well, which comes down to the expertise of LA-based designer Tracy Beckmann, who bring Miami chic to South Bank – along with a few quirky touches such as a diamante-covered skull adorning a bar table. We also admire the staff uniforms, which happen to be stylish LBDs by Zimmermann.
When we are seated, our waiter explains the menu focuses on the different tastes of locally-sourced olive oils. One variety is made in collaboration with Cobram Estate specially for Bacchus (and can be purchased to take home too). We are given a tasting plate of olive oils with warm bread as we pore over the Mediterranean-inspired menu, conceptualized by Executive Chef Dominic Rose and implemented by Head Chef Americo Fernandes.
After much deliberation I choose the Beef Carpaccio ($22) for entree and the Milly Hill Lamb Noisette ($38) for main, whilst my friend orders the Chilli Red Claw Ravioli ($24) and the Pan Roasted Duck Breast ($39).
We are then greeted by our sommelier, Andrew Giblin, who takes us through the extensive wine menu – which is somewhat overwhelming at 25 pages long.
He matches our menu choices to the Evesham Wood Pinot Noir ($99). My companion takes her glass to her nose and exclaims, “it smells so good I’d wear it as perfume”. Satisfied? Indeed.
As the sun slowly disappears, one staff member pain-stakingly lights what seems like hundreds of tea light candles that envelop the restaurant, creating a warm glow and offsetting the brown, cream and gold hues of the decor.
Suddenly our waiter comes to me slightly concerned, “Madam are you drinking the Pinot noir?” he asks. I nod.
He proceeds to tell me that the Sauteed Mushroom Burata entrée ($19) is a better match to our wine. I agree to try this entree instead – it was my close second choice and his fervent recommendation cannot be ignored.
When our entrées arrive they look fantastic and as my friend takes her first bite, her expression suggests they taste that way too. She tells me the crab is not as spicy as she thought, but clearly enjoys it as she clears the plate.
Although the five varieties of mushrooms in my dish were extremely flavoursome, toward the end of my meal this richness combined with the slow cooked duck egg becomes a little much. I’m satisfied nonetheless.
Our mains follow shortly after and are just as promising. My lamb shoulder is slow-cooked to perfection: so tender it quite literally falls apart in my mouth. In contrast the crunchy beans and asparagus mixed with a creamy pumpkin mash make for a delectable dish. The much-anticipated crispy duck doesn’t disappoint either and we finish our mains with slightly more rounded bellies.
I loosen my belt in preparation for dessert.
My friend chooses the Chocolate and Pear ($18), which comes encased in a chocolate egg. The waiter pours hot chocolate sauce over it, causing the egg to crack and reveal a crunchy caramelised pear inside accompanied by almond ice cream. My Apricot Soufflé ($20) tastes a little more homely, like an apricot bread and butter pudding and is complemented by a fresh lemon myrtle sorbet. Delish.
After dinner we waddle our way outside to the balmy Brisbane night and take a seat by the illuminated pool. Cocktails are ordered and arrive in theatrical style. The Impressionist ($22) was highly recommended by our drinks waiter who mixes it with dry ice causing a cloud of mist to linger around our table as we enjoy our final tipple.
Although the hotel upholds it’s mid-range brand reputation, Bacchus is certainly a high-end fine dining experience. We call it a night and head back to our well-appointed rooms full and merry…and although our beds are only an elevator ride away, the experience of Bacchus somewhat feels like a world apart in style and sophistication.
Where? Corner of Grey and Glenelg Streets, South Bank.
Contact? Ph. (07) 3364 0843 // Bacchussouthbank.com.au