Located just across from the City Botanic Gardens and the riverfront, there is a distinctly Queensland vibe about Moda. Perhaps because the usual clinical-white tableware and glistening glassware has been shunned in favour of a cheerful mishmash of bright patterned plates and colourful water glasses.
More likely it's down to the fact that the entire restaurant is basically one big courtyard, with an upper deck for functions. Even in winter, the restaurant is open plan, with discrete heating elements to keep things toasty. Though far from southern Europe, Moda's location and breezy setup are perfectly suited to the blend of French, Catalan and Italian influenced dishes served up by chef/co-owner Javier Codina.
Though definitely not a taperia, Moda's menu includes entremeses that diners are encouraged to mix and match as share plates ($16 each, three for $46 or five for $78). The WA octopus with persimmon and passionfruit and the zucchini flowers with goat cheese and golden raisins vinaigrette are lovely as light starters. There is an interesting variety of mains, including the angel hair pasta (not Italian capellini, instead more along the lines of Catalan fideus) with scallops, clams, prawns and aioli ($37), and the wild hare pie with persimmon, purple potatoes and five spice sauce ($38).
For those who can't decide on sweets, the dessert tapas for two ($30) gives you a sampling. If you must pick only one, the cardamom panna cotta with orange granité and fennel ($18) is an enlivening finish. If you have any trouble navigating the wine list (a liberal mix of Spanish, Italian, French, Australian and NZ wines, along with an intriguing assortment of liqueurs), staff are very approachable. In fact, one of the most impressive things about a meal at Moda is the service.
There are some restaurants that, having reached a certain level of acclaim, grow quite pleased with themselves and come to exude a slightly off-putting air of self-satisfaction. Moda is not one of these restaurants. Far from being complacent, they instead demonstrate a firm commitment to old fashioned hospitality. It is essentially the difference between 'aren't you lucky to be here', and 'we are glad to have you here'. Moda goes so far as to say so, with co-owner and manager Francois Le Savéant busily greeting and thanking each table of guests. Though an informal dining restaurant, Moda is elevated by a level of savoir-faire and excellence in service that never comes across as posh.