In a dining world of charcuterie boards, micro herbs and croquettes, sometimes it is refreshing to find a restaurant not swaying to trends.
In a dining world of charcuterie boards, micro herbs and croquettes, sometimes it is refreshing to find a restaurant not swaying to trends — sticking to the classics and doing it well. I guess being yourself is easier when your name is Romain Bapst — the man famed for the spanner crab lasagne he created during his 13 years at the helm of Il Centro. That dish is always in the list of 'must-do' dining experiences in Brisbane, and the good news is he has brought it along to his new French restaurant, Lutece.
Unsuspectedly situated in Bardon, Lutece will first take your breath away with its view. With sweeping views out south west and to Mount Warning, at our lunchtime setting we were treated to a light fantastique as the usual summer storm rolled across the skies. You could imagine sunsets would be quite something too.
First up treat yourself to some fresh baguette with truffled butter — this stuff is what dreams are made of and it will give you time to salivate over the menu. Naturally, we couldn't walk past an entree size of the famed spanner crab lasagne with crustacean sauce ($23). Words can't describe how fantastic this is; it must be tried to be believed and we'll be heading back for the main size.
When it comes to French fare, it can be hard to go past duck on the menu, and if you do you should regret it. The slow-roasted portion of free-range duck ($40) is a hugely generous serve (both breast and leg) with a crispy skin and is plated up with a pea puree and creamed potato gratin. Traditional French cuisine has something both very fancy and and yet very comforting about it — the best way to be perhaps; no designer dress is much fun if you can't breathe while wearing it. Food shouldn't be pretentious, but satisfying. And satisfied indeed was I, the woman who ordered the duck.
Food philosophy aside, it's time for dessert. Creme brulee ($12) is my sweet dream, but if you'd like a fluffier alternate, the souffle ($16) is a spectacle to be had. It changes daily; we were treated to a white chocolate and passionfruit morsel with passionfruit ice-cream accompanying.
If Lutece sounds a little higher than your budget will stretch, don't stress. They do three-course lunches with wine for $45 Tuesday-Saturday. Yes, three courses. Or if money is no object, go all out with the exclusive duck press. Essentially a fancy 19th-century contraption squeezes the juice from bits of duck in front of your eyes ($120 per couple). Why not?