It’s been really hot lately, hasn’t it? Everyday activities become a lot harder. Things get sweaty. Well, you know what? Suck it up. We live in Brisbane. What did you expect? A summer that was different to all the other summers you’ve experienced here? There’s really only one thing to do on a stinking hot Brisbane summer day: leave work early and eat seafood by the river.
I decided to do that recently (except work actually gave me the afternoon off. I’m no rebel) and went to meet Papa Bear for lunch at Jellyfish, John Kilroy’s riverside restaurant in Brisbane’s CBD. I was immediately drawn to Jellyfish’s setup: reminiscent of a chic coastal eatery at Noosa, the restaurant is open and airy, with many of the tables outside. Of course, the front-and-center view of the Brisbane River and the Story Bridge is quite the draw card too.
I experienced excellent service from the moment I walked in. While waiting for the table the bartender asked if I’d like a cocktail, the name of which I forget but it sounded incredibly refreshing. At midday? Goodness no. I’ll take a very large glass of wine, thank you. The wine list is huge, carrying varieties by the glass and bottle from Australia and beyond. The beer list is also pretty good, and is priced from a very reasonable $5.
And so I waited in the very nice bar area, sipping my delicious Riesling (2008 Henschke ‘Julius’, $12 per glass), feeling the sweat trickling down my back. Possibly my only complaint about Jellyfish: please air condition the bar area.
We were seated and the very friendly waitress described how Jellyfish worked. You could order off a regular menu, which featured dishes such as Tempura Soft Shell Mud Crab ($25) and Crispy Skin Duck ($38), or you could order off their fish menu. The fish is fresh daily, and therefore the offerings can vary. I asked the waitress to describe the Escolar ($29), and without missing a beat she gave a very detailed description of the taste and texture. She won over Papa Bear, who ordered it alongside a Vine Tomato, Caper, Anchovies, Caper, Olive, and Crouton Salad ($6). I went for the Barramundi ($29), and a side of Chilled Green Beans and Pistachio Pesto ($6).
Jellyfish suggest cooking methods and sauces to accompany each fish, but you’re free to mix and match as you choose. A Chermoula Emulsion* came with the grilled Escolar, and a Lemon & Shallot sauce accompanied my Barramundi. I elected to have mine grilled rather than oven baked. Other cooking methods included seared, garlic battered, and crispy fried (oh go on you nasty people. Get the crispy fried!)
The presentation of the dishes was clean and simple, and the sauces came in little dishes on the side. I really liked this, as getting a piece of fish or meat that’s drowned in sauce can be really frustrating. Maybe I want to dip my fish and just get a bit of the sauce? Maybe I want to douse that baby in rich buttery liquid? Whatever. I should have the choice, and Jellyfish gave it to me.
The Barramundi was superb. I’m not really a ‘fishy fish’ type of girl, as weird as that sounds-I don’t like fish with strong flavours, apart from salmon. But this was fantastic. It was cooked perfectly, and had a light and buttery taste. The accompanying Lemon & Shallot sauce went with it really well, and didn’t overpower the fish. I happily started munching away on the curl of fried skin on top, thinking it was some sort of wafer (hey, I never said I was a food connoisseur). “This is great,” I said, “What is it? A cracker or something?”
“That’s the skin,” Papa Bear told me. I abruptly put it down. Could I still eat it? Was it just a garnish? He assured me it was fine to eat, so I happily picked it up and resumed skin munching. Note to self: deep fried fish skin tastes awesome.
Papa Bear’s Escolar was also really tasty. It had a richer flavour, and had a texture similar to seared sashimi. The Chermoula Emulsion was a bit too rich for my taste, but it paired well with the fish. The sides were fresh and were the perfect lunch partner for such a hot day.
Clearly, eating deep fried fish skin wasn’t enough of an indulgence, as I decided to order dessert too. The White Chocolate & Violet Parfait with Persian Fairy Floss and Raspberry ($16) was drop dead gorgeous. I mean, really, you could put Persian Fairy Floss on your cat’s turd and it would look fetching, but this dessert tasted as good as it looked. The Parfait tasted very much like cake, and had a rich and creamy texture. When you put a bit of the Parfait and a bit of the Fairy Floss together on the fork, magical things happened. The Fairy Floss sort of melted away and then you were hit with the Parfait. If that’s not beautiful poetry, I don’t know what is.
I loved basically everything about my visit to Jellyfish. Even the bathrooms are amazing. Each stall has its own sink! (I’m a bit of a George Costanza, I like a good bathroom). We were served by about three people all up and every single one was polite, friendly, professional, and clearly very good at their job.
So people, the next time the mercury rises (most likely tomorrow), stop whinging about how hot it is, and go chill out. Get some seafood. Get a cold beer. Get to Jellyfish.
Boardwalk Level, Riverside Centre
123 Eagle St, Brisbane Queensland
07 3220 2202
* Chermoula is a marinade used in Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian cooking. It usually has strong flavours of garlic and coriander.