06 March 2010

Era Bistro Brisbane - King of the Menu

King of the Menu. Do you play that game? Where the winner has the power of knowing that they have ordered the best items on the menu, and as such everyone else at the table has Food Envy?

I do. I am generally pretty quiet about it – I don’t like to let on that not only am I feeding my stomach, but also my ego. When I get to sit there smugly, happily taking in everyone’s jealous faces when they realize that I have ordered the star dishes. It really only ever comes unstuck when I eat out with people equally as competitive as me. Like my Sisters-in-Law.

On our visit to Era Bistro, I scoured the menu, seeking out the star ingredients and I was fairly sure that I had chosen well. It is a gorgeous Restaurant, dark and moody with efficient Waiters flitting around, dancing from table to table. The service is better than you would expect, with all the creases starched into place, cutlery gleaming and every whim attended to.

Being unable to pass them by – I ordered Scallops on a Cauliflower puree and was quietly ecstatic with my choice. Plump, perfectly cooked scallops that were still pink in the middle, sitting atop a velvet cream of cauliflower and dressed with the prettiest micro herbs they could find. My taste buds were doing the Macarena and smugness was setting in nicely.

Until I looked around the table and saw that SIL #1 was chewing with her eyes closed. Suspiciously I kicked her under the table and asked her how her entrée was. She couldn’t even speak. Just silently pushed her plate across the table to offer me a bite.

Prawns on an Avocado and Kataifi Salad was mind-blowing. Mind-blowing. Sweet, barely out of the ocean, fresh prawns sitting atop a nest of Kataifi and summer Avocado. It was the perfect, balanced mouthful. Smooth, lemony avocado with salty and uber-crunchy Kataifi was the perfect partner for those glorious prawns.

With my smugness rapidly departing with each second – my beautiful SIL looked at me sweetly and announced. “I win.”

“Win what?” I asked, playing dumb.
“King of the menu. I ordered the best dish hands down.”

And that was that. No matter, I thought. We still have the main course and I was pretty confident in my choice after running the menu past my Butcher husband.

But I was wrong. Again. * double damn*

Don’t get me wrong – my Black Angus Beef with Boulangere Potato was glorious. Succulent, marbled and cooked exactly to my request. But again – after a brief glimpse of glory with my first bite – I could see that SIL#1 had done it again (I'm not ignoring MIL or SIL#2 - but they ordered exactly the same thing that I did!).

She had ordered something that I never would of and that both equally annoyed and consoled me at the same time.

She ordered the Venison Loin with Pancetta, Spaghetti Carbonara and Quails Egg. I don’t like Venison. At all. The 'porcelain bus' and I had an intimate night after my last run-in with Venison – so it’s not something I even consider. But I can only imagine that this was very young Venison. It was rich and meaty but not so gamey that it was overpowering, I actually enjoyed it.

The Spaghetti Carbonara was certainly not what I expected. I expected the norm. A bowl full of pasta, rich cream sauce… the usual? Think again. This was a tube of precision rolled spaghetti that was coated lightly in the carbonara cream before being topped with a barely poached Quails egg. So beautiful you almost didn’t want to disturb the presentation to eat it.

Later we would find out that this was the most hated Apprentice’s job in the whole kitchen – being so fiddly, time consuming and apparently – soul destroying - when Chef wasn’t happy with your work.

She won again.

Although we really couldn’t fit it in – I have married into a family of dessert fiends and I love it. So between the four of us, we shared a Crème Brulee. What can I say? It was luscious, creamy and of a standard that any French Chef would be proud to have leave their kitchen.

The whole dinner was amazing and it has been added to the list of places that I must take Hubby back to.

So tell me dear Reader - do you play the "King of the Menu" game? And do you usually win or lose?

The Verdict: Absolutely magnificent eating in South Brisbane. Perfect for any occasion from a blind date to a family celebration – it just oozes charm, romance and sophistication. The service was sensational, the food sublime and the location convenient.

Recommendations: We were fairly unadventurous, 3 of us ordered exactly the same thing – but it was SIL#1 who ordered the star menu items. But in saying that – each of us was delighted with our meals - they were faultless.

Contact: Era Bistro

Era Bistro on Urbanspoon


  1. I ate there recently - although reading this I would almost believe we sent to a different restaurant!

    I will admit the Venison/Carbonara dish is interesting, but I felt that many of the dishes tried too hard, rather than letting the ingredients speak for themselves.

  2. Hahahah... Is that what you call it? King of the menu... well, I play that too... but I never knew there was a name for the game!

  3. Strangely enough, I knew what you meant when you said "King of the Menu" although we don't really do that as everyone tends to share.

  4. I've never heard of that expression before! But it is so very true! I too try and order something that would make everyone else jealous :)

    I've just stumbled across your blog, and I am going to follow :)

    Check me out:

  5. It all sounds good. Don't have an ego though - knew I was missing out on something..... so while I may pick the best menu items my guest(s) may often pick the same, or if we pick different ones we share - that's what friends do isn't it?

  6. A group of four of us ate there on Saturday night (27 March 2010), and found it much less interesting and enjoyable than you did. I thought the food was trying too hard, especially the tubular carbonara. The service was plain ordinary, with one of the waiters (possibly new? possibly on crack?) unable to execute requests for more water, wine or bread.

  7. I won King of the Menu last week at Eves on the River.

    My wife jealously glared at both of my dishes, while still enjoying her own of course.

    It makes a change though, I usually lose King of the Menu by deliberately going against my first instincts in order to try "new things". Heh.