04 November 2009

Kingsleys Steak and Crabhouse - It's not you... Its me.

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!?!?

Attempt #1
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…

Attempt #2
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.

Attempt #3
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!

Contact: Kingsleys

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  1. that sounds rather awful, I am surprised you went back three times! Surely they had time and opportunity to get things right.

  2. To be honest - I'm a complete food skank. I will eat almost anywhere if someone else is paying... I only get picky when it's my own money!! But yes, I still wont spend my own money here... pretty slack for the price of their meals :(

  3. Kingsley's should perform better, they have a good rep. However when i went there (to impress my girl) We were seated outside on a miserable night, even though I had requested inside. Placed our orders and got out bread, water soon followed along with my beer and her lemonade (Their James Squire on Tap is quite nice) So after waiting 20 mins for our mains of 1 Alaskan King Crab Singapore Chilli Style and 1 Medium Rare Rib-Eye, Sides included Sugar Snaps and Cherry Tomatoes, a bowl of chips and 1 jug of pepper sauce for my steak,the crab was not cut, and the pepper sauce never arrived, by the time the crab had been cut and reheated my steak was cold. I just about gave up trying to prise the crab out of the legs, after all the meat was out, both the sauce and meat were cold. I finished my cold steak and sides then asked for a take away container for the over priced crab. (Which btw they are only charged $30/kg frozen weight for) The crab tasted better after a couple of days sitting in my fridge and being reheated.

    We skipped the new desert menu... Quince and Black Sticky rice with taro?! Blah.

  4. AnonymousJune 28, 2010

    absolutely beautiful view of the river and story bridge.... steaks starting in price from 19.90. all of the steaks are served with complementary sauce on the side unless you ask for none. great variety... something to appeal to everyone...
    the alaskan king crab is cut down the whole length of the leg for main size, and legs are cut completely in half for entree size.
    this crab is amazing... snap frozen on the boats right where they are caught... people die catching these crabs... it is $76 per 600grams flat price... as its only caught once a year... where else even serves this in brisbane??? The Menu actually recommends to have this crab CHILLED... but hot options are available to people who do want it.... or how bout getting a little dirty with the singapore chilli mud crab?? apron is provided... its a fantastic experience.. the soft shell crab is interesting aswell... tempura battered, BUT it does still resemble a crab... if that is offputting to anyone. try it with the papaya on the starters menu..
    fresh prawns, oysters, moreton bay bugs... lots of seafood to satisfy anyone... try the charcuterie menu... or how about the alaskan black cod that is currently on the menu?

    ordering sides seperately is a great idea, you get to pick what you want as opposed to it being served with something you dont want or eat, and they are designed to share... i love share entrees and sides... it means you can have a lil of everything... its a great idea, more places should do it. the amount of times my plate has been laden with food and garnish that i dont want at other restaurants... who needs shitty green fuzz on the side of the plate???????
    the baby back ribs, slow cooked and the meat just melts off the bone... have yet to have anything like it.. YUM!!!

    if you do not want to have a shit night out at ANY restaurant... ASK THE WAITSTAFF QUESTIONS.... if you want something you will love they can recommend it, thats what waitstaff are for.... :-)

    happy dining :-)

  5. Oh Joy- hope our next dining experience is better than yours- sounds like anonymous is an employee or someone with a vested interest in the place.

  6. I agree with Gastronomy Gal, Anonymous is an employee.My experience with this place and the service has being terrible,I have used it quiet a few times over the last 4 years and have seen it go down hill rapidly.Staff are rude ,unhelpfull and the owners should really start looking at this as more and more restaurants are opening around them and the staff and owners care about there customers.
    Kingsleys in Sydney (both places) are streets and streets ahead of the brisbane restaurant.