A trip to the Queensland Art Gallery or the Gallery of Modern Art usually brings with it the happy dilemma of deciding what to have for lunch in South Bank. Our recommendation for your next visit: The GOMA Restaurant, recent recipient of a Chef's Hat at the Good Food Guide Awards.
The fitout is simple, not just providing a frame for the view but a blank canvas for the beautiful-looking dishes. Friendly waitstaff pre-empt any questions about the menu you may have. The current menu, devised by executive chef Josue Lopez, is pleasingly cohesive: clean flavours with lots of lean proteins, an abundance of native ingredients, a distinct absence of gluten (every a la carte item bar one — onion gazpacho, almond, cucumber, garlic and muscatel — is gluten free )and creative plating feature throughout.
The seared emu loin with native spiced black pudding, smoked potato and Illawarra plums ($21) whets the appetite, while the main course of seared Murray cod, potato emulsion, fresh peas, salted lemon myrtle and malt vinegar ($34) is nicely balanced, with the salted lemon myrtle gel acting as a do-it-yourself seasoning. For the especially health-conscious, the living risotto of sprouted beans and legumes, broad bean, garden flowers and verjuice ($28) provides wholesome nourishment.
It would be a terribly obvious cliche to describe the dishes as works of art; however, in keeping with their location, the presentation of the food is modern and unabashedly arty. It is hard to smother a goofy smile when presented with the dessert of wattle custard, Daintree chocolate paint and Daintree vanilla curd (to describe it here would ruin the surprise).
Two-course and three-course set menus are offered (and are good value), as well as a seven-course degustation. The food not being heavy, you needn't fear leaving the restaurant too full, though, you always have the option of walking it off by taking a stroll around the gallery.