Freestyle Tout Review
I have recently returned from a trip overseas and now find myself despondent with sweet choices in Brisbane. The U.S and Canada have such an imaginative range of cakes, ice creams, and other desserts. Combinations I had never even thought of, let alone seen (pumpkin gelato; S’more brownies; peanut butter pie) were everywhere.
I decided to visit Freestyle Tout, thinking it would give me hope that someone in Brisbane is doing desserts and doing them right. Freestyle is a restaurant/café that specialises in dessert. That used to be all they served, but now the Fortitude Valley location also offers an all-day food menu.
The Emporium location of Freestyle has plenty of seating inside and out; this made me wonder why a line up of about nine people wasn’t budging on a recent Saturday night. I counted four empty tables while we were waiting, and the wait staff seemed in no hurry to seat anyone.
We were originally going to split just one dessert, I swear. Then something happened. We saw the menu. How can you expect a reasonable person to choose between ice cream and cake? It is unjust. We were forced to get two, if anything.
We settled on the White Chocolate & Hazelnut Cheesecake ($14.90) and the Chocolate Deluxe Sundae ($13.90). The most popular dish seemed to be the Vanilla White Chocolate Crème Brulee–dishes of them kept passing us and were presented beautifully alongside chocolate fairy floss, ice cream, and chocolate biscotti. I couldn’t remember if I liked crème brulee (blame it on the overwhelming choices; I was excited and wasn’t thinking straight), so we unfortunately had to pass on it.
The desserts arrived within minutes. The ice cream was piled high in a cocktail glass, garnished with a dollop of cream and half a strawberry. This puzzled me. Half a strawberry? Huh? What happened to the kitsch yet traditional maraschino cherry?
The cheesecake, on the other hand, was beautifully presented. It sat in a little recess in the plate, surrounded by a moat of thick white chocolate sauce. The accompanying white chocolate semifreddo was rock hard, so we concentrated on the sundae first.
I wasn’t too happy about spending that much on ice cream, but this stuff was good. Incredibly rich, the vanilla scoop had such a strong cream flavour-a true ice cream flavour. The menu described the sundae as also coming with a chocolate scoop and a caramel macadamia scoop, but the latter seemed absent. While one scoop tasted faintly of caramel, there wasn’t a macadamia to be seen or tasted. The chocolate sauce was rich and gooily delicious, but it was trapped all down the sides. While we dug for it we also uncovered marshmallows and a few nuts. I wish the sauce had been all over the top–what happened to nuts and garnishes on top of the sundae?
The cheesecake’s standout was the white chocolate sauce. It was thick with a custard-like consistency, and tasted like liquid white chocolate. Unfortunately this is where the white chocolate flavours in the dish ended. I couldn’t taste a shred of chocolate in the cheesecake, and the ‘white chocolate semifreddo’ was one third vanilla, two thirds dark chocolate. Although it was creamy and accompanied the cheesecake well, I had specifically ordered the dish for its concentration on white chocolate. The cheesecake itself had a good, thick consistency, but tasted just of cream. In my book, cheesecake should have a definite cream cheese flavour. The hazelnuts on top were delicious but were too few in number; they were the only thing giving the cake flavour. I can handle a fair amount of sugar, but this cake was too sickly creamy.
The decor at Freestyle is rich and warm; very conducive to indulging in a coffee and something sweet. Although it’s an inviting space, it’s essentially a fancier version of a cafe. This doesn’t really match up with Freestyle’s high-end prices.
I’m sure I could have gotten a better cake for a much lower price at a cafe in nearby New Farm, but it’s always a bit of a struggle trying to find some place open past 9pm for anything other than dinner. Until Brisbane steps up its dessert game, Freestyle is a suitable option.
Modern Oz and Dessert Cafe
1000 Ann St
Fortitude Valley map
UPDATE 4/6/09: Now also at West End, Cnr Boundary, Browning & Melbourne St
07 3252 0214