Nearly six weeks into autumn and most of Australia is still to experience the season’s first chill. But in the country’s finest restaurants, chefs have been busy finessing menus to show off the glorious produce that cooler weather brings. Salon de Co at Brisbane’s Ovolo Inchcolm has just unveiled their latest menu and This Magnificent Life was invited to the party.
We reviewed Salon de Co soon after launch last year. For new Executive Chef Andy Ashby, this is a homecoming of sorts. Andy was formerly Michael Crosbie’s sous chef at the previous restaurant in this space – the one-hatted Thompson’s Reserve. Andy’s also had stints at qualia’s Pebble Beach and Long Pavilion and was sous to Nelly Robinson at her eponymous nel. Restaurant in Sydney.
This site has been known as Inchcolm since the 1880s when pioneering medico Dr John Thomson commissioned the original building as his private home and practice. He went on to found the St John’s Ambulance and was one of Queensland University’s founders.
The current Georgian-inspired building dates back to the 1920s when constructed as ‘rooms’ for Brisbane’s medical elite. Re-designed as a hotel in 1998, the property has been part of the Ovolo Inchcolm since early 2018.
The working, heritage silky oak and mesh heritage elevator still whisks guests to their accommodations upstairs.
Salon de Co
At just 30 seats Salon de Co definitely qualifies as intimate. The dining room is a warm space with eclectic ‘pop’ pieces and objet d’art. Appropriately named, this now-familiar space seems the ideal stage for a Parisian ‘between the wars’ salon.
Combined with the Art Deco bar that doubles as reception I can almost hear Gertrude speaking with Alice now, “There is a there there!”
Acclaimed, English-born chef, Ian Curley is now a creative culinary partner at Ovolo Hotels – working across Salon de Co and Canberra’s Monster Kitchen + Bar. He’s best known for his Melbourne favourite French Saloon. For the launch of the new Salon de Co menu, Andy and Ian tag-teamed the 6-courses.
Queensland flavours were front and centre with a feather-light but flavourful spanner crab, burnt butter and macadamia appetizer. With a glass of Adelaide Hills 2013 O’Leary Walker Hurtle Sparkling in one hand, the salt and vinegar churros with Summer Land camel fromage from the nearby Lockyer Valley were elegantly scoffed.
We took our seats for the final appetizer – a paper grab bag of rabbit or cauliflower ‘popcorn’ with sauce gribiche for dipping. Sure to be a winner as part of the bar menu this ‘lucky dip’ was both fun and delicious. Comfort food with a twist.
First up, Chef Curley’s translucent discs of Kingfish gravlax were simply dressed with egg yolk and horseradish and were a great match for the 2017 Derwent Estate Riesling.
Not one but two mains. A barbecued Mt Tamborine scampi teetering atop pork jowl with Queensland Blue Pumpkin was an aromatic sensation. This dish showed a level of restraint that came from professionalism and an understanding of perfect produce. Loved Chef Ashby’s choice of the 2016 Tarrawarra Estate Chardy too.
We promise not to judge if you pick up your bowl to slurp the jus.
A signature menu main of ‘pretty in pink’ Maremma dry-aged duck cozied up to beetroot and rosella. Maremma Free Range Duck is Australia’s only truly free-range, chemical-free ducks. Ethically raised at Taralga NSW, the ducks are guarded by trusty Maremma dogs. (Just like the penguins in Aussie film Oddball).
We hadn’t heard of Alpha Box & Dice before but their 2017 McLaren Vale Siren is quite simply perfect from the label artwork to the last drop of the Nero d’Avola. An inspired match with the duck’s light gaminess – this is one siren’s call you can’t ignore.
Produce is consciously sourced and regionally grown with suppliers including The Fish Factory, Suncoast Fresh, Pretty Produce and Prime Cut Meats to name a few.
Chef Andy did a damn fine job of selecting the wines for this media event.
Finally, dessert was feijoa with white chocolate and coconut – light and not too sweet. And to finish some very Aussie lamingtons with Daintree chocolate and a dollop of Davidson Plum jam – yum.
Andy Ashby and Ian Curley have combined to create some culinary magic at Salon de Co. An edgy take on comfort food that keeps you coming back for more. Composed and considered with simple care that puts a spotlight on delectable, ethical proteins. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
COMING SOON: Rock Star High Tea!
Disclaimer: TML were guests of Salon de Co.