Bring together a heritage-listed building, Heston-esque gastronomy, a bit of viand magic and impeccable service and you have the lab bar + restaurant. It’s rare to find such a quality restaurant that strikes the perfect balance of fine dining enjoyed in a relaxed, completely unpretentious atmosphere; however, in the lab, located in heart of Brisbane in the stunning architectural gem that is the Treasury Hotel, you’ll find just that.
As soon as you enter the venue you feel transported back to a time of old-world glamour, with a charming mahogany saloon-style bar to the right and big, beautiful bay windows running the length of the dining room. With the waitstaff dressed in all white providing attentive silver service, it's hard not to feel like a high roller. And then there's the food.
To not indulge in a three-course meal here would be sacrilege and a missed opportunity to taste the talent and skill of the team in the kitchen. Entrees consist of both delicate flavours (dishes like the scallops with lentils, cauliflower, speck and onion vinaigrette), as well as heartier plates, such as the impressive ballotine of prosciutto wrapped quail with parsnip, sweet corn and cavolo nero.
For main, the venison is a hands-down winner, served medium rare with celeriac, baby beets and crunchy edamame and finished with a thick, sticky, sensory explosion of a cacao jus. But for some of that gastronomic magic, it’s the house-made beetroot ravioli that steals the show. The pasta itself is actually made with dehydrated beetroot, ground down to a fine powder and filled with a confit tomato and crumbled feta mixture, topped with fried basil.
Finally, the desserts showcase quality ingredients with an exotic twist. The piece de resistance is sous chef Lauren Curmi’s creation of Espresso Japonaise (an Opera style cake with layers of meringue, espresso butter cream and chocolate ganache), served with a creme anglaise egg. The egg itself is also molecular gastronomy at work — prepared then frozen solid and dipped repeatedly into a ‘special lab solution’ until an egg yolk-like layer forms around the outside — which bursts open once pierced, just like a poached egg. Alternatively, the chocolate tart made from 70 percent cacao and served with house-made raspberry marshmallows and boysenberry ice cream is a chocolate lover's dream.
the lab bar + restaurant’s promise of “great chemistry, incredible food” isn’t an empty one. Your tastebuds will be tantalised by phenomenal flavour combinations and eyes delighted by perfectly deconstructed plating and presentation. Even better; although you might feel the pinch of your belt from a full stomach, you won’t feel it in your wallet.