Thomson’s Reserve restaurant is situated within The New Inchcolm Hotel in Brisbane’s CBD, meaning come evening time it’s pretty quiet in that area. Where we were staying (for one night only, thank goodness) in Indooroopily (our accommodation was the worst on the whole of our entire three week trip), the owner said “In evening, west very quiet, no one goes. East, very lively”. And he was right about that but it didn’t really matter to us. It was our last meal and evening together with Helen before Geoff and I headed to Hong Kong for a few days to break up our journey back to England and Helen was flying out to spend a few days in Darwin before travelling to the Northern Territories where she would be working on a large cattle station for three months.
As we entered the restaurant you could see that it looked quite fresh and in parts, modern. It has recently had a major refurbishment with lots of dollars being spent on it and they’ve done it very well, mixing old with new. For example, some original (presumably) wood panelling on the walls, the lift which was a mixture of wood and glass, the old controls were still inside – for cosmetic purposes only of course – and the bar was modern with black and white tiled flooring. The smooth old wooden hand rail on the stairs took you down to the wash-rooms which had state of the art Dyson hand driers. Cool.
Service was a little slow at first, but we weren’t in a hurry and the waiter did seem to be on his own. There were several people already dining, a group of six, a lone business man and one or two couples. Once the group of six left it was much better and we couldn’t fault our waiter at all, he was very attentive and explained each dish to us.
We didn’t quite understand the menu. At the bottom it said there were 2, 3 5 and 8 plate sequences for different prices, but was this per person? Or was it like a degustation menu? We had no idea and didn’t bother asking so just opted for the 3 courses each for $68. The menu took up just one page of a book containing pages and pages of drinks with everything you could think of, wines – half and full bottles and by the glass – and tons of whiskies.
First we were each given an amuse bouche. This was beautifully presented, goats cheese with iced tea gel served with a very light and thin wafer/cracker decorated with a flower petal. Geoff doesn’t care for cheese and as goats cheese is a fairly strong cheese I was surprised when he ate it all and said he’d enjoyed it.
Helen and I both ordered the Aromatic Western Plains pig cheek, Hervey Bay scallops, brioche, sea parsley and lemon paint. Again presentation was excellent as were all the dishes throughout the evening. The ‘lemon paint’ was a little like lemon curd but rather bitter and without the sweetness of a curd. A bit too strong for both of us and we felt it really wasn’t needed. We still enjoyed the dish, but without the ‘paint’. The tender cheeks sat in a little rich jus – which we would have liked more of rather than the paint – and really melted in the mouth beautifully.
Geoff enjoyed his dish which was Byron Bay veal tenderloin, quince & cinnamon soup, chestnut milk, smoked oats with yoghurt skin.
The waiter told us that the chef was not happy with what he had just cooked for our main dish and was about to re-cook it so we were each given another entrée. Western Australian marron – which is fish – watermelon & chilli, radish with nut butter snow which tasted like biscuit crumbs. It was quite a salty dish but again, we all enjoyed it.
Helen and I shared both the Sous-vide Darling Downs Wagyu rump cap, chorizo polenta, buttered autumn vegetables with white onion gel and the New England lamb rack, pressed lamb shoulder, black olive with grains, purple carrot juice and golden beetroot.
The lamb was our favourite though. The pressed shoulder especially. This was like ‘pulled’ lamb. Both were tender and lean. Beetroot, both white and red were upon the plate and a rich ‘sauce’ of black olives, a bit like a tapenade. We’re not normally fans of black olives but they are growing on us and tapenade too. This complimented the dish very well actually. Geoff also had the wagyu which was very tender with no fat or gristle whatsoever and the polenta ring was tasty.
We all shared two sides, peas & carrots, orange & mint – the mint wasn’t too strong, in fact I don’t remember actually tasting it at all – and sweet potato choux, cumin & hibiscus. We couldn’t taste those either, but no matter, both were very nice.
The mascarpone sorbet, mocha soil, espresso, vanilla bean foam, and petit fours (to the left of the picture) was mine and Helen’s favourite but was too sweet for Geoff. This was served in a cup with the dry ingredients of which were more or less, crushed chocolate coated coffee beans, cocoa powder and hot chocolate drink with a hot shot of espresso poured over this and another cup of very frothy milk was spooned into it and mixed around. I loved this the best. Three petit fours were served with it, a small cookie with a pink centre (I didn’t get to try this properly as I felt sorry for Geoff not really enjoying the desserts much so I gave my bit to him, apart from a little nibble which melted in my mouth), an elderflower Turkish Delight type of jelly and a coffee-tasting? marshmallow.
The White chocolate, honeycomb, organic blueberry curd with elderflower gel and golden cherry meringue was served in a glass. With a thin sliver of elderflower gel (like a jelly) at the bottom and a layer of white chocolate and fizzy honeycomb. Although the fizzy honeycomb was very clever and unusual, it had a bit of a strong ‘tang’ to it which we weren’t too keen on. There were lots of flavours in all the dessert dishes which all seemed to be competing with one another and we felt that so much wasn’t need at all. Top marks for presentation though.
We shared a bottle of the cheapest white wine they had, a Sauvignon Blanc which was very nice, priced at $36 plus an espresso each. We really enjoyed the meal and although we were disappointed with the desserts we would definitely still recommended trying Thomson’s Reserve and we wouldn’t hesitate on returning. The bar on the other side of the hallway is the Socialites Bar where you can also enjoy bar meals.
Ambience 7 (music on the background) softly lit)
Quality 8 (Geoff & I gave it a 9 but Helen gave it only 7
Living life, loving cake
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