As the weather dips and new fruit and vegetables come into season, you’ll start to notice menus around Ipswich changing. The dishes are getting heartier and reflecting the cooler weather with food to warm the soul…
Frenchy and fabulous
At the Cottage Restaurant the bookings never stop and it pays to book in advance if you’re planning a visit or wanting to celebrate a special occasion here. Mark Naoum’s menus never disappoint and this establishment has one of the best wine lists in the region.
From entrees, to mains and desserts, there’s beautiful classical Eurpoean technique and intrigue in everything this chef sends over the pass. Team this with the bounty of fresh local produce he is able to procure, and wife Ange’s affable presence front of house and the scene is set for a truly great dining experience.
Recommended from the latest menu is a beef two ways affair featuring 72-hour smoked brisket and cuts of sirloin with cauliflower brulee and parmesan, offset with tantalising high notes from a rich and savoury jus.
And from the desserts list, a lavender pannacotta served with the creamiest of ice cream, poached rhubarb and a glorious sphere of intense rhubarb zestiness.
If you’d like a more meandering and diverse approach beyond the tradition entrée-main-desert scenario… there’s a seven course degustation available.
Another long-time stand out on the Ipswich food scene is the stunning Rafter and Rose with its alluring originality circling around plants and vintage wares. This heart-driven café would not look out of place if it was picked up one night and plopped down in the heart of Brooklyn. And of course the queues would start once word of Candy’s pumpkin pie and white chocolate cheesecake started circulating.
The super-spiced pie is making appearances again for the pumpkin-y season. And those waffles – gluten free too – are possibly the most Instagram-worthy breakfast that Ipswich has right now. It’s not all sweetness and petals though – check out the lunch menu for options that magically blur lines between healthy wholesome goodness and utter deliciousness.
At the Prince Alfred Hotel, the smashed burger continues kicking goals and manager Peter reckons they’re going to need a bigger hotplate if the demand continues.
And while the hotel’s big glam restaurant Char’d might be known and loved as a steakhouse, it’s the seafood that is really taking off at the moment. Try the fresh Gold Bank Snapper and beer battered chips, a simple classic. They’re sourcing sustainable fresh supplies of all kinds of seafood – watch for it on the menu.
I love jus this much
At Brother’s Leagues Club, executive chef and catering manager, Neil Smith, heads up one of the biggest kitchens in these parts and runs a menu that continues to surprise. He’s even surprised himself, admitting that he never thought in his early career at hatted restaurants, that he’d be at a club.
But he swept into the venue’s restaurant Shamrocks along with a multi-million dollar refurbishment and never looked back. “There’s a real sense of ownership and belonging here,” he says.
“I’ve never worked in a place with so many long-term staff – Chrissie my sous chef for example has been here 28 years. Lyn and Sue in the café have been here 20 years, Clint our senior operations manager has been here more than 20 years…”
Of the menu, he says the plan was always to build the menu around premium steaks, all from Queensland’s Stanbroke, and this continues albeit in a massively expanded and quite diverse offering.
“It’s a gate to plate experience for us because we’re dealing with the grazier – they fatten the cattle up in the Gulf, then they’ve got their own feedlot in Chinchilla so 100 to 450 days on grain, and then they take it to their own abattoir in Grantham,” Neil said.
“For us it means controlled quality. We use a full blood wagyu product and certified Angus including grass fed, so we always have a lot of steaks on the menu.”
The jus on the list of sauces to team with your cut is intensely rich and joyous. It really deserves its own story!
Watch for monthly specials and seasonally changing menus – laksa appears on the latest and the lamb shanks will return for winter.
There are lunch specials Monday to Thursday for $14 and seniors can enjoy lunch and dinner every day for $13.