Having worked in Hospitality since I was 15 (my first job was plating up meals for Qantas) I’ve seen many a night when everything goes wrong. It’s as if the moon tripped on it’s way into the sky and knocked everything out of kilter. The booking sheet goes missing, the wine fridge decides to spontaneously defrost, the water tastes funny and no-one knows where the steak knives are… been there, done that, got the emotional scars to prove it. So that being said – sometimes, if I go to a Restaurant and it’s not great, but I’ve heard good things and I can see it’s got potential – I tend to go back. Like a boyfriend who stuffed up, but should know better – I give them a second chance. Well, I gave Kingsleys Steak and Crabhouse at Brisbane a second chance, in fact – considering I wasn’t paying – I even gave them a third chance. And I walked away disappointed and hungry each time. So what went wrong? Who knows!?!?
My friend Dave was visiting from England had read a review for Kingsleys on the way over and insisted on shouting me dinner – sure! The pound was triple the dollar at that stage and I was happy to be the recipient of his generosity. Should I mention that Dave and I worked in a fancy-schmancy Wine Bar opposite Buckingham Palace and have similar tastes in food?
Anyway, we ordered our starters – softshell crab for me and oysters for Dave. The crab (Salt & Pepper softshell crab with chilli jam) was good – but starting to grow back it’s shell which caused some unladylike swilling trying to remove the prickly bits from my mouth… Dave said his oysters (Natural of course!) were good and obviously freshly schucked judging from the tiny bits of shell he had lodged in his teeth… so no prize winners there. We each ordered a steak – which Kingsley’s sell by the Cattle Truck load – and they were fine. To be honest, mine was a little dry and over rested, it was barely warm by the time I got it. Dave’s was unremarkable. The high point of the meal was actually one of the sides – wok tossed green beans with red onion and toasted almonds. WOW. Absolutely loved it – if I was psychic and knew how boring my steak was going to be, I would have just ordered 3 or 4 sides of beans! Needless to say we skipped dessert in lieu of a Maccas sundae…
It was our friend Matt’s birthday, and in typical Chef style – he wanted to go out to dinner to check out the competition. With a group of 8, we weren’t expecting an early night but certainly didn’t expect to wait 2 hours for our main courses to arrive… but I get ahead of myself. Out of the 8 of us, there were 2 difficult ones who didn’t want to order starters and made a bit of a production about not wanting to sit there without a meal while everyone else ate… so to pacify and move on, we decided on 2 platters – what the waiter told us was a selection of the entrees available. And I guess it was. Except it was 2 platters of all the deep fried delights Kingsleys had to offer. No fresh prawns, crabs or oysters – which I had already spied on the menu – no, we got deep fried calamari, prawns, oysters and salt & pepper crab. Sure it was nice – but there is a limit to how much fried food you can eat.
The first bottle of wine and drinks we ordered took 45mins to get to us – I know this for a fact because someone timed it *rolls eyes*. We asked for water 3 times before I spied the elusive ice bucket around the corner and just went and got a couple (and poured it myself!) out of frustration.
Then we get to the mains – and you know that you’re in trouble as a customer when none of the staff will make eye contact with you. It’s almost like the childrens game of “if I close my eyes, they can’t see me”. So 2 hours later we got our steaks – after asking repeatedly any waiter brave (unfortunate?) enough to stumble into our path – only to find that they were all wrong. Or given to the wrong people? – I guess we’ll never know now … but the gist of the story is: Out of the 8 of us, 5 got steaks that were either the wrong cut or cooked to the wrong degree. The other 3 were left with steaks on the tables wondering if they should eat, or be polite and wait, or better yet – wait for the sides to arrive, and let it go cold anyway?
After the 2nd lot of (correct) steaks came out – we then waited another 20 mins for the sides to come out. Note to reader: Kingsleys steaks come out on a plate. No garnish. No sauce. No nothing. So if you are stuck in a similar predicament – you can choose to have steak, and then have sides later as a sort of savoury dessert? Or you can wait for the sides and have a uber-modern style main course – cold steak, hot sides… Again, we skipped dessert – mainly because we waited 45 mins for coffee and just wanted to go home. It had been a looooooong night by this point.
I was asked to take a client out of lunch and they had requested Kingsley’s – so off I trudged wondering if it would be 3rd time lucky… sadly no. It wasn’t that it was horrible – it was just average – and if I’m going to pay $40+ for a steak on a big white plate – I want more than average. The crab is good (again – no letters home to Mum to brag) but expensive and the steaks are yet to impress me. In my opinion you can get better seafood at Jellyfish, and better steaks at Cha Cha Char … and with the same great River views.
Verdict: I’d go back if I wasn’t paying, but if they can’t get it right after 3 visits something is wrong… maybe it’s me? There’s plenty of high praise reviews out there… maybe they just don’t like me…
My Reccommendations: Give them a miss? No, plenty of people seem to like these guys so I'm obviously missing something. By all means - give them a go. But remember to order sides. Unless you're on one of those protein only diets... I highly reccommend the Beans! In fact - I'm grateful to Kingsleys for the beans because they have become one of my BBQ and Dinner Party staples!