As you probably know by now, we Brisbane Food Bloggers are becoming quite the social butterflies. We have dinners every month, and there are inevitably times within each month you see familiar faces about at other food events. It's lovely to go to the organised food blogger dinners, but it's even nicer when someone else organises an event, and all you have to do is go along. (Warning!! Crap photos alert- sorry - I promise- one day I will get a good cam!)
That's why I was a little surprised, but generally happy to receive an invitation for a 'Dinner on Us' evening from Kingsleys Steak and Crabhouse in Eagle Street. I'm glad they stumbled upon my blog and decided to invite me, as I had been meaning to visit for a while.
To be honest, I was also a little apprehensive because I have heard both good and bad things. One of my bloggy friends has had a couple of bad experiences but others I know have visited regularly and rave about everything from the steak, to the service.
Time to try it out for myself! The invitation specified the date and time, and included some of the menu that would be on offer, which I must say looked very tantalising. I'm also glad that it was on a night I could go because the last few weeks, and next few months, are going to be extremely busy at work (STRESSFUL!- Don't panic or rejoice... I'm going to try and schedule some blogs ahead of time so I don't fall behind!). Also, C was pretty happy too, because the invitation specified a +1, so obviously, as my main P.I.E (partner in eating) he could come along too.
We arrived at the restaurant about 15 minutes later than the specified 6:30 p.m. I'm glad it was 6:30 p.m. for 7:00 p.m. because even though I try, that extra 15 minutes is very valuable! As we walked in, we were shown to the table where the some of the other food bloggers and their guests were already enjoying a drink. Most of the other peeps were familiar faces, but there were a few new faces too. Apparently the general manager was going to be hosting the evening, but due to her having to leave because she was sick, the lovely Belinda had taken over duties. Belinda introduced herself and proceeded to ask questions about 'Porchetta Day and my P.I.E etc making it very clear that she knew her Bris Food Blogs- she must have a fabulous memory!
After a drink we were seated in a private dining room, and Belinda explained to us that she is really interested in food bloggers and what they have to say because she believes they are far more influential than food writers - she certainly knew her audience well, and I actually think she wasn't just pulling our legs or BSing on. The fact that Kingsley's decided to, under their own steam, invite bloggers along indicates that they really do value Food bloggers. Apparently they hosted a dinner Food Blogger Dinner at the Kingsleys in Sydney not long ago, which was a huge success so they wanted to continue on with the theme in Brisbane. I have to say- I'm glad that Brisbane restaurants are really starting to 'get' the whole blogging thing- instead of just fearing because they misunderstand.
The menu sitting in front of us looked impressive, and when the food was brought out there were a couple of extra surprises like the tasting platter. Matt Yurko, Kingsleys Brisbane's head chef also came out to talk us through the menu. It was funny watching him, as he was definitely a little bemused with all the attention he was getting, and a little shocked when all the food bloggers stepped into action, snapping away photos whilst he was explaining the menu. Ha he probably wasn't prepared! Head Chef's are food blogger versions of celebrity!!
The tasting plate or 'Raw Bar' section included coffin bay oysters done three ways- a la natural, an oyster shooter and a salt and pepper tempura oyster served on wakame. The oysters were nice and fresh, and the natural oyster went down nicely with a splash of lemon. The oyster shooter had just enough tang and the cucumber was cooling. C's favourite was the tempura oyster, and although I think oysters are something that should be left as untainted as possible, this was a really nice version of a tempura oyster. The seasme wakame was great- I love wakame- and the fusion of the crunchy and the somewhat slimy was actually pretty good! The oysters are $19.9 for half a dozen.
Also on the tasting platter was the hiramasa kingfish sashimi, steak tartar and a prawn and peach salad. The kingfish was soft and silky, and the dressing didn't mask the taste of the actual fish, which is really important for me. The Mooloolaba king prawn, szechuan salt, white peach and green mango salad was simple and delicate but perhaps not enough pepper punch for me. There is an interesting story behind it though. Kingsleys, in conjunction with Summit Winery, have paired this dish with their Pinnacle Classic Dry White and have put the recipe onto the actual wine bottle. What a super cute idea. Summit Winery is in the Granite Belt in QLD so it is fabulous to see some classic QLD ingredients like Mooloolaba prawns being matched with a local wine.
The last element of the tasting platter, the steak tartar was beautiful- in fact, it was my favourite dish from the whole evening. Sadly, there was just a mouthful on the spoon and I could have eaten a bowl full! (Not sure what that would do to my stomach and digestive tract though... TMI??) The steak was incredibly tender and the tomatoey, peppered sauce was thick yet not overpowering. I would love to find out the recipe behind this little dish because it seems relatively simple, yet is totally full of flavour- perfect for a BBQ or dinner party- I might just try and track it down for you guys! Usually this dish is $23.9 for 120 g and I will definitely order it when I go back.
Kingsleys pride themselves on their crab, and served some Alaskan King Crab legs to show us what all the fuss was about. The legs were so large in comparison to muddys! They were packed with fresh, sweet meat and paired with a simple but yummy mayo. I have to be honest and say that these weren't the best crab legs I have ever tried and I probably wouldn't order them again. I would be tempted to try the mud crab and snow crab that they have on offer, as I think it was just a personal preference of not particularly liking the Alaskan crab over my Aussie favourites such as blue swimmer or mud crabs. I think seafood that has been frozen can sometimes taste a little water logged. Now I know that is a funny comment to make about something that lives in water- but I'm not sure how else to describe it. The crab was still good- and some of the other bloggers thought it was the best they had tried, but I think I have to remain loyal to our local crab meat! 200g of Alaskan crab legs will set you back $19.9.
Aside from the crabs, Kingsleys are pretty serious about their steak, and so, that was next on the menu. We were given a choice between a 300g striploin, a 350g scotch fillet and a 500g t-bone- all with marble scores of 2. Although I initially had my eye on the scotch fillet, I was feeling pretty full by this stage and went with the marginally smaller, but chef recommended, striploin (also known as a New York cut). The striploin is priced at $34.9 but you have to remember that the steak is served by itself, and you are encouraged to add sides such as the steakhouse chips, green beans, broccolini or roast beetroot with goats cheese and spinach that were on offer ($6.9-$7.9). The chips were a little potatoey for me, again a funny thing to say about a chip, but they just lacked crunch. The beans with slivered almonds were moreish and the beetroot salad was good but the broccolini was absolutely beautiful. A strong hit of garlic had helped transform the broccolini from an ordinary veggie into a delicious, very sought after attraction.
I managed to only eat half of my steak, because by this stage, I was getting rather full. The steak was good, although not overwhelmingly fantastic. The knife cut through very well, and it was truely medium rare. However, I would not expect anything less when you were (I didn't but you would) pay $34.9 for the base steak. There was a good selection of condiments on offer like seeded mustard and kym chee relish for an additional $2.5.
This never ending feast still had a cheese platter to go- and by this point, I could only manage a few mere morsels of each piece of cheese, and one lavosh smothered in the deliciously thick but runny quince paste. Out of the Heritage white brie, the Fourme D'Ambert and the Maffra Dairy Cloth Cheddar, I definitely felt the cheddar was the best finish to the meal. It was bitey and the texture was so lovely.
Even though I had really enjoyed the evening and the company of everyone around, by this point, I was really starting to tire and I had to get a move on because of an impending 5:55 a.m. flight to Melbourne the next morning. Just when I was about to say goodbye to everyone, one last surprise was bought out.
The staff at Kingsleys had prepared great gift bags for us which included a bottle of the Summit Wine (complete with recipe on the label), a wine bottle opener, some Byron Bay chocolate coated coffee beans (which C has already bagsed) and a beautiful looking 650g strip loin packed in a black Kingsleys gift pack with some dry ice. The bags also included a super sized menu and 8 steps to cooking the perfect steak. Wow. I was totally blown away. These guys had gone to some serious effort, and I really appreciated it.
Now I know it is in a restaurant's best interest to make a food blogger happy, but it also takes some confidence in your restaurant and the service and product you provide. If you invite food bloggers in, you have to be fairly confident that your food is going to be up to scratch, otherwise you risk a pretty bad rap. I know there are some people that believe bloggers are easily bought, and whilst this may be the case in some isolated incidences, most of the Brisbane bloggers are very fair with their reviews, whether they paid for it or not. I know I try to be as honest as I can be, and I'm certainly not swayed by gift packs etc however appreciative I am of them!! Most of the bloggers in Brisbane blog as a hobby and don't make money from their blogs, so it nice to receive a little gift from time to time.
I really enjoyed my evening at Kingsleys. The service was attentive, the food was generally good and it was nice that they took initiative to invite the food bloggers along to sample their produce. I was particularly impressed with the steak tartar and have (when I took a break from writing this blog post) emailed to see if I can get the recipe- if I can- I will post in a couple of days. Kingsleys are a good option for waterfront dining in Brisbane if you are after steak (don't forget the broccolini) and I'm particularly keen to go back and try some of the different versions of crab- the singapore mud crab has caught my eye! I'm also looking forward to trying my steak for dinner tonight! UPDATE- I have now had the said steak for dinner and it was absolutely FABULOUS- seriously a gorgeous steak- I just followed their 8 steps and it turned out so well! Really tender- definitely worth buying if you go to Kingsleys.
When to go: If you are in the mood to sample some super fresh seafood, swift service or a succulent sirloin.
So.. Tell me readers, do you think it affects a bloggers credibility if they dine for free? Do you think acknowledging is enough or should freebies be a no go zone?
Gastronomy Gal and C dined courtesy of Kingsleys.
Kingsleys Steak and Crabhouse
71 Eagle Street
1300 546 475