Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Salon Teneriffe

I love cocktails. If done well they are such delightful things. Delightful, expensive things. Generally cocktails in Brisbane are around the $15. This is pretty standard- the more exotic versions are obviously more expensive. And yet, I love them so much- I would rather have 2 cocktails rather than 4-6 normal priced drinks.

Unfortunately, I'm yet to find anywhere with totally affordable cocktails all the time. Sure, some establishments offer a $10 special or a cocktail of the week- but I'm talking access to the full range for about the $10 mark, which lets face it, is still expensive for one drink- but not for the ingredients in a good cocktail. Although I love a nice glass of red, if I had endless $$ I would probably drink cocktails much more often.

But.. despite the cost, we all know I can be decadent at times (more often than the budget permits) and so on the weekend C and I decided, or rather I decided and invited umm insisted C come along to Salon at Teneriffe.

Salon and West End sister venue Sling Lounge are both well known for their extensive cocktail lists. When I say extensive, I mean intensive, and huge and respectively 43 and 67 pages long extensive. Practically a concoction worthy of every occasion. I have been to Sling a number of times and had been meaning to visit Salon for some time now. Funny thing is, I had known about it, but never ever spotted it, nestled in beside The Ice Bar, directly across from Beccofino.

Salon is European styled with lovely little antiquey chairs and tables that are seperated by sheer curtains. The ceilings are high, the bar is also gorgeously high and the dark wood and adjoining ladder make you feel as though you could be in a bar anywhere else in the world.

We were seated in the corner booth (probably the best table) and handed the huge book containing the cocktail list. In true food blogger style, I had already stalked the menu and had narrowed down my choices, whilst it took C ages to decide.

We headed in quite early 6:30 on a Saturday night and the 'knockabout type of guy' waiter was very happy to help with advice.

I went with the Mandarin which at $16 was one of the lower priced drinks. The mix of muddled mandarin, sage leaves, spiced cuban rum, cane sugar and clove syrup was simple and warming. To me, this is the perfect winter cocktail, a hit of vitamin c, the warming spiced rum served in a glass with no ice.

C had one of the specials- a watermelon mojito which was maybe $16 from memory. This drink was probably suited better to a warmer day, but was a nice fresh twist on a classic all the same. However, I would have preferred some extra acid as I found the mojito a little sweet.

Although I specifically came here for the drinks, I had also heard the food wasn't too shabby, so I obviously took the opportunity to eat too!

To begin with, we ordered some rice flour zucchini fries for $12. The coating was light and crispy and the accompanying spiced ailoi was amazing, very moreish. The serve of fries was piled high as they should have been as $12 is pretty expensive for this sort of dish. Unfortunately I can't show you any photos from this outing, as they are too terrible, even for me, to post! The lighting was very dim and as a result, you can barely make out the subject! Boo! I know, sorry, sorry, you are going to have to bear with my descriptions, I will do my best.

All meals at Salon are designed to be shared. The waiter recommended 3 dishes to share, but being the compulsive over-orderers that we are, aside from the fries, we opted for 4 another dishes.

So (I wonder readers, are you sick of me ordering scallops every time they are on offer? perhaps I should branch out!) obviously as there were scallops on offer, I was compelled to order them. They were served with a potato cushion, cute micro herbs and szechuan bug butter for $18. The scallops were well cooked, and the potato cushion was crispy on the outside. There were four scallops dotted on the plated interspersed with four potato cushions. Now... here is a confession that is going to make me sound dumb- I'm not sure that bug butter was actually on the plate- there was a drizzled sauce, but the flavours were quite subtle and gentle. I tried tasting a number of times but just couldn't get it. Taste test FAIL! I know that on the menu it says 'szechuan bug butter' and I have no reason to think otherwise, but I just imagined these flavours to be a lot bigger. Whatever the dressing was, it was a great match for the scallops and the micro herbs, very delicate.

Next came the leek and truffle wrapped prawns, flying fish roe, confit garlic aioli @ $18. The prawns came encased in a batter, which for me, was a little thick. It took away from the beautiful flavours inside. The leek and the prawn were wonderfully tender, and the garlic aioli with fish roe made the whole dish pop.

As a heartier option, we ordered the free range confit duck leg with butter wilted radichio, duck fat potato and jus for $26. Quite a large serve of the duck arrived- cooked perfectly. The meat was so tender it is worthy of the cliched 'melt in your mouth' description. The potato was delightfully soft inside whilst the jus was rich yet simple.

I really cannot understand why we decided to order 4 dishes- this was a little overkill, particularly with the huge plate of zucchini fries at the start. But... we seem to do this more often than not, even against the recommendations of staff. Perhaps it comes from an ingrained fear of being hungry, which must be a tribal instinct, because luckily, in my lifetime, I cannot remember being truly hungry. (Sadly this isn't the case for heaps of Australians- but more about that in a later post.) So... the last dish (thank heavens), albondigas meat balls with sauce provencale and grana padano, also $18, arrived. By this time I was stuffed and literally could not even eat another thing- not even a little taste as I felt I couldn't really handle anything cheesy. C says the meatballs were juicy and the sauce had quite a developed flavour. Well ok, that's not exactly what he said, I improvised a little to bring you something a little more descriptive than 'good.' He managed to eat the whole little pot full and said they were too delicious to waste any.

While all this eating was going on, after another ten minute flick through the cocktail menu, I decided on an attention seeking drink called Madame Brussel's Daughter Delilah. A mix of Hendricks’s Gin, Yellow Chartreuse, lychee, cucumber, grapes, cloudy apple juice, and elderflower cordial came topped with rose water foam in a cute little tea cup. This was supposed to be accompanied by a white chocolate and cucumber ice cream, but as I am allergic, I had to switch for some sorbet, which happened to be the same watermelon sorbet served in the watermelon mojito. This was a really interesting drink- I've never had such a thick foam served on a cocktail before. The foam was overwhelmingly sweet but suited the liquid underneath, a fresh, lively drink really characterised by elderflower and apple tang. I'm not sure whether I would order this drink again, the $20 price tag means you would have to love it. That being said, it was worth a try, I have never had anything else quite like it.

For his last drink, C chose the Cuba Libre which means 'Free Cuba.' The story behind the drink on the menu suggests that coca cola was only available in bottles when the rough riders (click on the link to get some history about the rough riders- one of the most famous units fighting in Cuba)brought it along with them to Cuba. Apparently, they mixed it with Cuban rum and lime and named it after their battle cry - Cuba Libre. The drink, true to history, is Havana Club Anejo Blanco with lime wedges, topped with coke, served in a glass coke bottle. For all the history behind this cocktail, the drink itself was fairly underwhelming. It was basically a nice rum and coke with a $16 price tag.

That being said, the effort that has gone into the cocktail menu is obvious. It is well executed and there are a huge number of drinks to choose from. There are plenty of classics, and more than enough originals to keep anyone entertained. The menu also contains interesting tid bits of information about some of the drinks, which when reading, gives you a sense of the story behind it all. This, coupled with the tapestry styled walls, transports you another place- perhaps even sipping a dirty martini across the table from Franklin Roosevelt in the early 1900's- if that's your kind of thing. If it's not, there are plenty of other fantasy scenarios to choose from, perhaps you would like to be THE Margarita or downing a mint julep at the Kentucky Derby or perhaps joining Carrie and the girls sipping a Cosmo at one of New York's hot spots? Whatever you choose, you can drink it at Salon.

Homage must be paid to the immensely talented bar staff who can mix up any one of these creations at your request. Whilst the drinks are quite expensive, the knowledge and skill the bar staff possess is worth a lot. They must have to stock a huge number of ingredients for all these combinations to be possible. The food was good and some of the cocktails were even better. So.... I will be looking forward to going back to Salon or Sling - But seeing I'm starting to be all budget conscious and whatnot (loving it like a hole in the head) I'll just have to do some saving first.

So Readers... tell me- what is your fave cocktail? Do you usually sip on something mixed or would you prefer a glass of wine?

When to go there: When you want to have a dreamy afternoon sipping cocktails with all the other hipsters at Teneriffe.

Salon Lounge
Shop 5a Macquarie Street
Teneriffe, QLD
E. bookings@salonlounge.net
P. 07 3252 3911
W. www.salonlounge.net
Salon on Urbanspoon

10 fabulous comments:

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

It sounds really nice-I was hoping for some pics! :)

Cathy x. said...

i was never really big on alcohol but when i was in melbourne i went to a place that a chef at work recommended i go to. oh my god. if the bar was in sydney i think i''d have a serious drinking problem! :P we had an 'amuse' of chamomile tea in a little brown medicine bottle and a straw. the bartender popped a tiny pellet of dry ice into it which made it start smoking and had the delicate scent waft all over the place. then he got out a blowtorch and made me a drink with caramelised lime, pineapple, brown sugar, shook it up with some hennessey cognac, strained it into a glass and popped in some sweet dehydrated pineapple and voila! magic!

delicieux said...

My favourite cocktail is a feminine side car. One of the bar staff who used to work at Baguette in Ascot made it for me once and it was just so delicious - a combination of peach and raspberry flavours. Sadly, he doesn't work there anymore and none of the other staff can make it just right.

My other favourite cocktail is the Lemon Meringue pie made by the wonderful bar staff at Byblos. To die for!

mademoiselle délicieuse said...

Cocktails definitely appeal to the girly side of me, but I agree that they are quite expensive. I understand this is to account for all the ingredients and skill but it's quite a pricey exercise when it's for a drink that doesn't fill you up like food of a similar price.

Sarah @ For the Love of Food said...

I haven't had very many cocktails so I can't claim to be an expert - but my favourites are definitely the sharp astringent ones with the classic magarita at the top of the list. I can't go past the sharp lemon tang with the salt lick on the rim :)

Ladybird said...

I too would love to drink cocktails endlessly, if only it weren't for the $$$ factor. My favourite is the mojito which (fortunately) is quite easy to make at home! :D

Eat, drink + be Kerry said...

I do want to try their food and I may have to have a cocktail or two or three when there!

Anonymous said...

I went there a couple of weeks ago, after hearing great reviews of it from family and friends. It certainly lived up to its reputation - I had the crazy mexican margarita cocktail (delicious margarita with a truffled salt rim - just amazing) and the boys mixed me up a delicious 'sour' of some kind. Mint julep was a hit with fussy ex-cocktail bartender boyfriend and food was fantastic - next time, also try the artichoke hearts with salsa verde and goats cheese stuff - we ordered them twice they were so good! Pork belly, duck and beef fillet, all really delicious with a depth of flavour - shared 6 dishes between 5 people, was perfect for a Sunday afternoon.

Anonymous said...

Salon is a great cocktail bar cant recommend it enough!

Ally said...

My God - I just read Salon's online menu. INSANE. I must go there, immediately.

P.S. My favourite cocktail is pina colada. Don't judge. I blame Mexico.

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