Experience Brisbane's fine-dining degustation at City Winery's Fireside - Visit Brisbane


Experience Brisbane's fine-dining degustation at City Winery's Fireside

A fiery feast for the senses

If you’re all about knowing the real story behind your food and wine, then Brisbane City Winery’s Fireside Experience is the immersive fine-dining degustation made for you. 

As you enter the intimate dining room for 20 people, the gentle smell of wood fire and the cleverly designed space in natural hues envelops you in a feeling of warmth. Soon you’ll come face-to-face with the friendly restaurant’s Chef and Winemaker, as they lead you through five to seven courses with complementing in-house artisan wines – telling the story of the produce’s origin and the food philosophy behind each creation. 

With every single dish, the local Australian ingredients are key. Everything served up is made from  best produce possible and comes fresh from the farm. There are long-standing relationships between the chefs and the farmers and if they’re looking for new produce to hero, they just ask. It’s the epitome of the nose-to-tail and paddock-to-plate movement and every bite is an exciting expression of the region’s flavours. 

The same goes for the growers and the people who tend to the vineyards - they all personify the story and its this narrative and care that make dining at City Winery’s Fireside Experience so unique and memorable. You will realise that while the dishes are cooked simply, it’s the thought that goes into sourcing each ingredient and balancing each flavour on the plate that makes it so delicious. Each dish is also thoughtfully paired with a complementary wine from Gerler wines. The grapes used in these wines are sourced from small parcels of land across the country, depending on where they grow best, resulting in handmade, small batch wines that pay tribute to their humble origins. 

When you’re sourcing such high-quality Australian ingredients, Head Chef Tristan Pabst says “it’s then just a matter of cooking in way that lets the ingredients shine”. 

“The basic recipe for everything here is fire and salt. Absolutely everything you see on your plate is touched by a flame in one way or another, and that’s our overarching culinary concept,” Chef Pabst explains. 

“Then it’s about balancing the flavours by adding some acidity here and some sweetness there.”

“The Fireside Experience is about showcasing the local and seasonal ingredients – The Winery restaurant menu is generally more rustic whereas Fireside is for those looking for something more refined and technical.” 

“As it’s a chef led experience, it also welcomes a bit of experimentation when we’re putting together the menus, which change often,” he said. 

The kitchen has a custom-made firepit wall, with several shelves at gradual heights designed to provide different intensities of heat, and speed of cooking. It also allows the chefs to have many “things on the go” at once. For those who deem barbecue and cooking over a flame a religion, this incredible engineering feat is a sight to behold - it will have you aching with jealousy over its simplicity and functionality. The chefs maintain a “master fire” in one corner - the coals from this fire burn all night and even across the week and are spread across different sections of the fiery open-air oven. 

One of the knowledgeable Winemakers, Kristen (Kris) Crush, is also the artist behind the Gerler labels and injects the story of the vineyard and wine into each abstract artwork. Her explanation of the wine and how it complements the dishes is clear and easy to follow, even if you are not a wine aficionado.

The dining setting at the back of City Winery includes some of Kris’s artworks hanging on the wall, with polished concrete floors, rich wooden tabletops and tealight candles providing a soft glow as you delve into dishes that will keep you coming back for more. The buttery leather bench seating and rustic green colour palette capture the imagination, conjuring images of sitting fireside and the Australian bush. The glossy emerald green brick bar is eye-catching and sets off the stylish contemporary space while making the window to the kitchen a central focal point for the room. 

While the dishes change often, the menu is always a fiery feast for the senses. The following is just a taste of what you might expect at Fireside. 

At the table and tasting notes 

Pull up a chair and sit at the table with us as we walk you through our fireside dining experience. For the dietary restricted (gluten free) foodie and the avid wine enthusiast, we have the low down for you and what you can expect during your visit with City Winery. It's important to note that the menu changes frequently so your experience will vary, but we’re ok with that - it just means we can come back again and again! 

The evening started with a visit from Chef Papst and Winemaker Cush, outlining what to expect from this evening's festivities. First our taste buds were awoken with a welcome amuse bouche - house-made sourdough with miso and black lime butter that we would happily bathe in. For the GF amongst you - you will not miss out - a fire cooked crumpet, earthy and dark in flavour with a crisp edge that provides a nice crunch and contrast to the salty, tangy notes of the creamy butter. 

We waited while everyone took in the next dish, the irresistibly-Instagrammable, beautifully plated coal-grilled oysters with fermented chilli, which were as delicious as they looked. This was followed by a pink cube of compressed watermelon on toothpicks, delicately wrapped with queen fish bacon and garnished with chives providing a pop of freshness and brightness.

Next, we tasted the textual delight of the warm, silky Moreton Bays squid and crispy cauliflower combined into one tantalizing dish. This dish was paired with the 2019 Gerler Grenache/Sangiovese Rose, a rosy peach colour but with a light-touch of bright red fruit flavours and a savoury palate softness. The rose was an absolute delight and something we could purchase by the case – and maybe we did - our weekend is looking up. The only thing torturous about the meal so far, is having to stop and photograph everything rather than diving straight into each mouthful. 

A plate inspired by winter followed, a subtly sweet and soft confit cabbage, dotted with crunchy hazelnuts, crispy kale and tied together with a zesty, buttery sauce – the kiwifruit beurre blanc. Those kiwifruit notes were picked up in the matching wine – the 2019 Gerler Gruner Veltliner, along with flavours of red delicious apples and honeydew melon. The label on this wine is unforgettable with the “groovy” hot-pink haired siren with bright yellow sunglasses. If you are looking for an allrounder wine, this one is a good-go-to for any meal. 

Now for a dish with a bit of theatre! A plate of parsnip butter and garnish green was laid out on each setting. Then out came a loaf of bread that had been baked in ash and the chef knocked the top off to reveal baby white star potatoes inside, as if they were eggs in a nest. The potatoes had taken on the ashy, salty flavours of its crusty shell and were the creamiest and smoothest texture, perfect for rolling in the parsnip butter and creating a make your own potato salad on your plate. With such an ashy, creamy taste, the accompanying pinot noir wine was equally smooth and delicate. 

For those with an intolerance you won’t miss out, the gluten free option provided was heavenly, potatoes cooked and smoked in a paperbark tree casing. The rest of the table was envious of the rich smells emanating from the GF take on this dish and it’s one of those rare occasions that you don’t feel like you’re missing out on the theatre of a meal due to a dietary restriction.  

The highlight of the night was the Granite Belt pork shoulder with bok choy and burnt apple sauce. The huge quality piece of pork, described by the chef as the “kings cut”, was perfectly cooked and full of rich flavour and a gentle smokiness. The whole piece just melted in our mouths and was surprisingly sweet, which we later found out was due to the free-range, grass-fed, happy pigs that City Winery source. To cut through the richness of the pork, the bold and rich 2018 Gerler shiraz from the Barossa Valley made for the perfect wine pairing. In between, a palate cleanser of a pillowy marshmellow of cranberry hibiscus cream, a single bite, was served on spoon – perfect for coating the mouth in sugary sweetness. 

Finally to finish, we were treated to a pear, chestnut and pineapple melody with buttermilk ice cream paired with a not-too-sweet glass of 2019 Gerler Rielsing with tropical fruits, heady florals and a citrus backdrop. The beautiful label on this wine represents the plots of vineyards in the Clare Valley where these grapes were sourced. So feeling full, warm and extremely happy we made our way into the night to hail a cab to take us home for evening.  

You can book your seat for the Fireside Experience on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights – with the option to include paired wines for a full feast of the senses.

Hero images provided by @dine.agency

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