Friday, 23 September 2011

Restaurant review: Esquire

I like to pretend that I’m relatively on top on new restaurants opening in Brisbane. Not because I’m that in-the-know, but because I get a few newsletters on the subject and flick through local papers regularly and the names and openings crop up. Still, until a reservation had been made for me, I hadn’t even heard of Esquire. Which shows that either I’m more out of the loop than I thought I was, or they have less-than active PR. For the moment at least. 

Esquire is the latest edition to the top-priced ranks of restaurants adorning Eagle St, there for the moneyed lawyers, accountants and miscellaneous business-people who can afford to drop $35 on a steak for lunch on any ordinary Tuesday.

With a modern interior that magazines will enjoy photographing and an overall Swedish design aesthetic that I appreciate, it’s a nice place to sit for a leisurely meal. And your meal is guaranteed to be leisurely. We – Chuck and self – went with a group of 8 others for a special Thursday night out arranged by Chuck’s foodie friend Ellery. We booked for 6 but didn’t sit until 7 because one of our party was running rather late. That gave us time to enjoy the cocktail list or get started on our bottle of Grenache Cote de Rhone Villages 2009. ($50 and there weren’t many less expensive options on the menu). So we sat at 7, ordered by 7:20 and finally got to leave at 10:30.

I knew in advance this was to be degustation. I thought the options were 7 courses for $85 or 10 courses for $110. No. In the 2 or 3 months since opening, that had changed to 9 courses for $100 or 12 courses for $140. Far. Out. They like you to pick only one size degustation for the table so people aren’t sitting around looking sad while their neighbor eats. Sneaky upsell, guys. We chose the full 12 courses.

The food itself was interesting and very modern dining in that there were elements such as Kobe dried beef, spanner crab wrapped in wafer thin slices of apple, squid pasta ribbon and freeze dried mandarin. Ellery and I picked apart every course and could usually find something to complain about. My 2 worst food complaints were that the 5 desserts they offered up were essentially exactly the same dish just with different flavours and that the smoked duck, aside from being tough, had overtones of cow manure.

My favourite 3 items of the 12 were; pineapple sorbet with salt and mountain pepper topped with crisp fried sage leaves; Calottle with horseradish and onion sauces served with a deep fried artichoke (calotte is an extremely pretentious cut of beef, by the way); and finally vanilla ice-cream served with an olive and hazelnut crumb and olive oil drizzle. Yes…interesting.

All the elements for a good night were there but what really let it down was the time. By course 8, sometime around 9:15 we were all looking at our watches and counting down how many courses until we could go home to bed. 10:30 on a Thursday was too late to be leaving when you start at 6. It was even too late for the staff, who starting vacuuming the restaurant around us.

My short review would run something like this:

The service was good, the presentation was sloppy, the price too much and the time between courses too long. If it had all taken an hour less and cost even $20 less I would have been a much happier diner.
Menu included because we weren't allowed to take photos. Yeah.
For a more accurate / critical review of Esquire, see here: Then scroll down to drool over gorgeous looking cocktails.

Esquire on Urbanspoon


  1. I don't think I could do a 12 course sitting. Wow, now that's stamina! Soooo pricey too. Shall bare this in mind.

  2. The servings were artfully miniscule, so you could have fit all 12 in easily, trust me.

    The price is why my eating out budget for the next month is cheap-cheap-cheap.

  3. I was actually disappointed with the olive ice cream. I found the olive taste far too overbearing - and I like olives.
    I guess following the chocolate and freeze-dried mandarin I was hoping my tastebuds would be able to take it easy and not be shocked into anymore intense flavours.

  4. I got rather bored of all the desserts, to be honest. It wasn't until the end of the meal I realised all 5 of them were ice-cream based. Allan hadn't noticed either. Why? It's not like desserts are a limited field.


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