I recently took my parents out to dinner to commemorate my 2 years of working full time. I know that's hardly a common celebratory occasion but I've always subscribed to the belief that any excuse to dine out is a good one.
I chose E'cco over a host of new restaurants that have popped up in Brisbane recently (and haven't there been many?!) because I felt like reconnecting with a classic. Philip Johnson's E'cco Bistro has a solid reputation as one of Brisbane's best restaurants and it has stood the test of time. I had dinner there once, many years ago and loved it then. A revisit was long overdue.
We met up for dinner Friday evening. I greatly underestimated the distance between South Brisbane and Spring Hill, thinking it would be an easy stroll. I ended up having to powerwalk for half an hour and arrived at E'cco red-faced and out of breath. Mum and dad were already seated and waved me over.
The restaurant is very simple in its decor. The space is fairly small and there's been little effort put into raising the wow-factor. On sight, it could be just a regular cafe out in the Brisbane burbs.
I was frazzled from my walk and refused to even look at the food menu until we had some drinks. It was a while before a waiter came to ask for our beverage order. I went for a half bottle of red, which was silly because we ended up getting another half bottle anyway.
A few varieties of complimentary bread were passed around to start with. Mum and dad tried the olive bread and sourdough. They seemed to enjoy it.
Seared scallops - with pea tendril panna cotta, smoked ham emulsion and crispy leeks
We went for 2 entree plates to share. The scallops came as a trio, which was perfect for us to have one each. They the Incredible Hulk equivalent of scallops. I don't think I've ever seen scallops this big! They were sweet, juicy and perfectly cooked. We had them together with the pea panna cotta and it was a lovely combination.
Duck liver parfait - with quince paste, cornichons, mulled wine with poached pears and brioche
The duck liver parfait was served as a large mound, together with a variety of accompaniments and golden brioche. I liked it best spread onto the brioche and eaten with a bit of quince paste. These flavors worked really nicely together and was a perfect compliment to our red wine.
Grilled barramundi - with roast pumpkin, wilted chard, lemon, pepper, caper, crouton and almond beurre noisette
Mum chose the white fish for her main. On that day, it happened to be wild barramundi. Her fish was incredible. The skin was glass-like in crispiness and the flesh was tender and not the least bit dry. The various elements on the plate were all light and delicate.
Licorice spiced pork belly - with caramelized peach, onion jam and mustard kipfler potatoes
Dad went with the pork belly. Again, the skin was extremely crispy. The pork meat was succulent but didn't taste too fatty either. His only critique was that the meat was a bit too salty. The sweetness of the peach helped to offset that though.
Duck breast - with grilled mango, duck fat congo potato and red currant jus
My duck main was probably the least impressive of the three. The meat was juicy and well-cooked but the skin wasn't crispy at all. That was a big disappointment for me. I wasn't a fan of the mango as a compliment because it seemed too sweet and squishy but the potatos were nice and I liked the bitter leaves.
Warm carrot cake - with cream cheese mousse, candied pepitas and pumpkin ice-cream
I haven't had dessert in a restaurant for so long because I'd been doing the No Sugar challenge. On this occasion, we ordered one dessert to share. I couldn't resist the carrot cake. The carrot cake itself was more smooth in texture than what I'm used to. It was soft and light and not too sweet. I loved the cream cheese mousse and pumpkin ice-cream. That took the fairly unexciting carrot cake base to a new level. The candied pepitas were delightful and added a crunch element to the dish.
E'cco has reaffirmed itself as one of my favorite places to eat in Brisbane. I like that it doesn't feel the need to be flash or fancy and the focus is entirely on the quality of the food. Our waitress was friendly and after the initial long wait, we didn't have any service hiccups. Overall, a wonderful experience.