For Jen’s birthday, I took her to one of Brisbane’s most decorated new restaurants. Esquire’s head chef is Ryan Squires, formerly of Buffalo Club fame. It’s been three years since we dined at Buffalo Club but it still rates highly for Jen and I as one of our favourite dining experiences so we eagerly awaited Squires’ new venture. His food was inventive, playfully presented and absolutely delicious. We were ready to be wowed once more.
Jen and I came away very happy with the food. Some of the quirkiness didn’t quite hit the mark on the second time around – I can live without having any more food served in an envelope – but some of the best dishes of the night came from Squires at his most creative: like the Bone and Bread course and the Popcorn flavoured icecream which was delicious and mimicked the texture of actual popcorn surprisingly well. For the best flavours of the night, I’d be hard pressed to choose between the nigiri and the wagyu beef. Both were flavoursome and worth the price of admission.
While Squires clearly hasn’t lost his flair in the kitchen, its a shame the rest of the operation isn’t of the same standard. The venue itself is bland and unremarkable, with uncomfortable wooden seats that have no back support and a floor plan that seats the majority of diners about twenty feet away from the open kitchen. Why even have it if you’re going to sit everyone so far away? Bizarrely, the restaurant apparently does not have a sommelier. There was no matching wines list and the drinks service was slow and out of sync with the meals. Three dishes were served before our first drinks of the evening arrived. The staff also had to be reminded of our second drinks order and the bill at the end of the night. The service didn’t hold a candle to the experience we had a Urbane, Vue De Monde or Quay earlier in the year.
I can’t quite recall a dining experience having such a disparity between the quality of the food and the level of service. An off night, perhaps?