Does this seafood staple live up to its name? Tiana Templeman pulls up a chair Jellyfish is loved by locals and visitors like. But as with any love affair, a couple of annoying little problems could ruin an otherwise happy relationship. They won’t bother everyone equally, but when you’re paying around $40 for glorified fish and chips, they’re hard for your wallet to forgive and forget.
Jellyfish certainly has the looks, with smart, modern decor and a stunning location by the Brisbane River. Floor-to-ceiling doors fold back to make the most of the view, and a separate bar ensures diners can enjoy it in peace. In fact, it’s a pleasant place to enjoy a drink, too.
Friends suggested I book for my midweek visit and it proves good advice. There are still tables available inside but almost every seat on the terrace is taken. The sounds of laughter and clinking glasses fill the air. I didn’t specifically request an outdoor table, but dining under the stars with a sparkling backdrop provided by the lights of the Story Bridge is pure bliss.
Jellyfish bills itself as an all-round seafood restaurant but the focus is firmly on fish. Aficionados will appreciate the separate piscatorial menu where sustainable species are matched with a suggested sauce and cooking style. It’s a simple approach but some punchy entrees and an extensive range of well-priced sides – potato cubes with miso mayonnaise and minty peas sprinkled with Danish fetta – keep things interesting. The wine list, favouring fragrant whites from familiar labels, has been thoughtfully compiled and is well suited to the menu.
Our meal gets off to a spicy start with a large entree of tender salt-and-pepper squid scattered with chorizo and some seriously hot chillies – not mentioned on the menu. Fortunately I love spicy food so this isn’t a problem for me.
My dining companion’s smoked chinook salmon tartare is a beautiful-looking dish, served on a pink Himalayan salt brick surrounded by piles of tequila-pickled choko, lemon and pink pepper. The waitress spends some time explaining its intricacies, so we’re surprised when one of the other floor staff stops by five minutes later and, with a look of horror, urges my friend to scrape her salmon off the salt brick: it’s only meant to be left on there for a minute or two, the waiter says. My friend puts on a brave face, even though her entrée is now super-salty and essentially ruined.
Mains are more successful and, like the entrees, servings are generous. Mirror dory fillets arrive coated in a crispy citrus and dill crumb and accompanied by a ramekin of seriously good lemon mayonnaise, leaving us wishing we’d ordered a side of chips. My friend finds the seared cherry compote with her delicate hiramasa kingfish somewhat overpowering, but is delighted with the overall quality of her meal.
We share a duck-egg crème brûlée for dessert; it arrives at the table flaming, provoking envious glances from fellow diners. Our dining experience finishes on a high and we leave the restaurant smiling.
“The secrets to Jellyfish’s success aren’t radical. Service is warm but crisply efficient, the decor contemporary and comfortable rather than edgy or intimidating, and the food – particularly the exceptional seafood, the backbone of the menu – is served without unnecessary frou-frou or ridiculously overpriced sides.” – Australian Gourmet Traveller 2012 Australian Restaurant Guide
Tiana Templeman, who paid her own way and visited anonymously, says: “The menu features a handful of meat dishes, but as the name of this restaurant suggests, it’s seafood that’s the highlight here. Dining at Jellyfish doesn’t come cheap but the quality of the produce justifies the extra spend.”