When I was making a list of restaurants to try out in Brisbane while on a vacation, Aria was one that stayed on the list no matter how many times I've tweaked my list. I made an online reservation and went for lunch on a rainy Friday with my Aussie company.
** The server **
Our server for that afternoon was Ben, who was absolutely pleasant, courteous, helpful and attentive :) Having a great server like Ben sure made the dining experience all the better.
** Complimentary starters **
On the day of our dining, we were served a shot glass of spiced pumpkin soup and some bread (I picked the French baguette). The spiced pumpkin soup was nice but I think the spices kinda overpowered the pumpkin a little too much as the soup smelled very much like an Indian dhall curry. No worries though, it doesn't taste spicy if you're one who can't stomach spicy stuff. Bread was fresh so no complaints there.
** Entrees **
1) My choice: Consomme - Peking duck consomme with duck dumplings, shaved abalone and mushrooms. The consomme was light yet comforting for a rainy day in Brisbane and the duck dumplings were filled with sweet tasting filling. If you want to sneak something Asian into your Western meal at Aria or you want something to warm you up on a chilly day, you may want to consider the consomme.
2) My company's choice: Scallops - seared and served with crisp chicken, seaweed, apple and radish. The scallops came perfectly seared although a little cold by the time it was served probably because the plate was sitting there while the kitchen was preparing my consomme. I feel bad for my company. Haha.
** Mains **
1) My choice: Barramundi - roast fillet with crab, celeriac puree, cucumber and preserved lemon. I'm not a big fan of fish in general but given Aria's current main course offering, this was the only thing I'd eat. I pretty much fell in love with their barramundi when I tasted it. It was roasted to perfection, crisp on the outside yet soft and flaky on the inside. The fish they used was fresh and it wasn't fishy at all. And the celeriac puree? Creamy and I wanted more!
2) My company's choice: Pork - slow cooked neck and crisp tail with crushed parsnip, mushrooms and elk. I stole a bite of my company's pork neck and it was yum! Like my barramundi, it was really just cooked to perfection. The meat was flaky and just melted in my mouth. Can't comment about the crisp tail since I wasn't adventurous enough to taste any.
** Desserts **
1) My choice: Souffle - blackcurrant souffle with mandarin and sweet milk sorbet. My dessert was the perfect marriage between sweet and sour. The blackcurrant souffle had a moderate sweetness and was topped off with the sourness of the mandarin liquid (can't call it syrup since it wasn't sweet at all) and the sweet milk sorbet was the perfect sweetener to wash off the sourness.
2) My company's choice: Banana - banana and brown sugar parfait, banana sorbet with toasted marshmallow. The parfait and banana sorbet were nicely done, both weren't too sweet. My company loved everything on his dessert plate including the caramelized banana pieces, toasted marshmallow and crumbles.
** Complimentary petits fours **
To be honest, I have no idea what were the names of the petits fours because I was away from the table when they were served by Ben. LOL. The mini orange cubes were mandarin flavored and had mochi like texture. Then there were 2 little pieces of Hershey Kiss shaped chocolate something. I didn't like this one because it was too bitter so dark chocolate lovers might. Lastly there were 2 pieces of almond brittle/crisp, which was probably what I loved most from the wooden tray.
** Overall experience**
I loved it. My company loved it too. Service was great. All the food we had were cooked to perfection, nothing was undercooked nor overcooked. Ingredients used for the food were fresh. Great view of the river and Story Bridge if the view matters to you.
** Tips **
If an a la carte dinner at Aria is too expensive for you, go for their 2-course lunch priced at AUD56.00 per person OR 3-course lunch priced at AUD72.00 per person (Mondays to Fridays) if you still want the full dining experience. Lunch and dinner menus have the same items. By doing the 2-course or 3-course lunch, you're just paying for a fraction of what you'd pay for their 2-course or 3-course a la carte dinner :)
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