Lately, desserts have been making me sad. Caramel slice. Baked cheesecake. Even the humble chocolate mud has been getting me down. Don’t get me wrong, classics like these will always have a special place in my heart, along with things like Degrassi Junior High and Brad Pitt. It is hard to perfect some of these desserts, but they are boring. They have been done. They need to step up their game.
They need bacon.
5th Element at South Bank has restored my faith in Brisbane’s dessert scene. We wandered past there the other night and spotted the following dish on the menu: Banana mousse, [banana] bread, condensed milk ice cream, macadamia nuts, and bacon ($14).
FINALLY someone is doing something unusual, different, noice in Brisbane. Thank God. We returned to 5th Element after a dinner at Beastie Burgers (more on that to come later), and ordered the banana dish along with some coffees. 5th Element is a very cool bar and restaurant, and is ideal in that it can be visited for dinner, a drink, or dessert. It’s all dim lighting, waterfalls behind the bar, and open flames (leave the polyester shirt at home), with cushy couches and high stools. It’s a beautiful space, and service was consistently professional and friendly during our whole visit. Plus they spell their name like the band 5ive.
The dessert menu is small, but has other interesting items like the Warm Chocolate Tart with Cumquat Compote. Coffees arrived promptly, but were a bit hit and miss. My mocha was very good, and struck the perfect balance between chocolate and coffee, but D’s flat white was a little on the bitter side.
No matter-dessert soon arrived to sweeten our mouths. I have to apologise, because this photo is crap, and it doesn’t do the dessert justice. The presentation was lovely, I promise. It was also a decent size; good for sharing, but also good if you wanted to have it all yourself and not feel too sick afterwards.
Now, anyone with half a brain knows that banana and bacon are perfect together. Yes, I know the Canadian Breakfast thing has been happening for a while, but 5th Element’s dish just took it to a whole new level. A thick slice of fresh banana bread and fresh banana slices were the foundation for scoops of condensed milk ice cream and fluffy banana mousse. Two crispy strips of dried banana lay on top of this little mountain, and bacon bits, macadamias, and a light banana syrup covered everything else.
I am very fond of condensed milk. When that can is open during a baking session, my finger is into that bad boy like it’s nobody’s business. This condensed milk ice cream was truly amazing; thick and creamy, it had a flavour that was between vanilla and condensed milk. Every now and then you’d get an actual chunk of pure condensed milk. It was spiritual.
The banana bread was moist and dense, and was just savoury enough to balance out the sweet on top. The mousse was tasty, but we agreed perhaps it could have been left out-it risked overpowering the dish with too much banana.
What amazed me was that the bacon was literally just bacon, albeit very small and crispy pieces. It wasn’t glazed, it wasn’t sugared, it was just bacon, and it worked. A forkful of banana bread, banana, the ice cream, a touch of mousse, and the bacon=the perfect bite. Sweet and salty are a partnership that will last the distance.
Our only other criticism? Not enough macadamia nuts. These guys were delicious, and roasted in a sweet, crispy shell. Unfortunately there were only about five of them on the plate. D’s other suggestion: “Instead of the banana on top, it should be whole strips of bacon!” His tastes aren’t a very good indicator, though; this is the man whose facebook status the other day was, “D wonders what bacon flavoured ice cream would taste like.” I rest my case.
Never mind the fact that places like North America have been doing unusual dishes like this for years. The point is, 5th Element is raising the bar for unique desserts in this town, and I thank them.
Resturant and Bar
Corner of Tribune & Little Stanley St
(07) 3846 5584