Nantucket Charcoal Kitchen and Bar at Indooroopilly Shopping Centre, Brisbane, immediately feels like a holiday. Decked out in an elaborate French Colonial style, everything is whitewashed timber, expansive fresh greens, and as much of the sense of sitting on a balcony in a rocking chair as you can get without actually sitting on a balcony in a rocking chair. The decor includes a large print of the early boundaries of the United States, seemingly before the west was entirely annexed. The coordinated crockery too, is all of a rustic style stoneware that adds a distinctively homely feel.
An enormous kitchen was staffed with no less than 8 chefs and cooks on our visit, despite it being a relatively quiet Friday night. It was great to see them preparing for the weekend ahead as well as the open charcoal oven blazing away in the background; unfortunately I didn’t grab a photo.
Our simple starters were the sourdough (which came with smoked garlic butter) and corn breads (which came with whipped salted honey butter), both fresh and delicious. It was a good idea not to have an overly large entree (although, they did all sound delicious) as the mains were very filling.
I ordered the Cape Grim eye fillet, with peppercorn sauce. On the side was a slab of rather thickly hewn bacon that had a delicious smoky flavour – almost verging into ham steak territory with it’s meatiness – as well as some roasted baby carrots which unfortunately were a little underdone and slightly bitter. The peppercorn sauce had a surprisingly smokey barbecue flavour which was unexpected, but certainly went with the American theme. The eye fillet, however, more than made up for any other elements of the plate which may not have been quite to my taste.
I ordered the steak rare, and it had obviously been slow roasted before being seared with those distinctive charcoal lines, for two reasons. Firstly, the strong smokey charcoal flavour which was infused through the meat. Secondly, despite being very rare, the degree of done-ness was consistent all the way through the steak. If you’ve ever tried cooking a quality, thick piece of meat yourself, you’ll know how difficult this is to achieve. There was no bloody blue centre – despite only the outer millimeter or so being well done, the rest of the steak was consistently rare from the edge through to the middle, and warm. Of course the texture was beautiful and tender, but it’s been a while since I’ve had such a perfectly cooked steak, so it was a pleasant surprise in a suburban Brisbane restaurant with only one steak on the menu!
The staff are evidently well trained, with our waitress remembering the full order for a table of 4 without a notepad or moments hesitation, and the manager stopping to offer to take a photograph for us when she saw us arranging ourselves.
Two of my family members ordered the mushroom tagliatelle, so I got to try a little of this as well. The pasta was very fresh and good, perfectly al dente but the mushrooms were surprisingly all of the pale white variety, with no browned or golden tones. The truffle flavour was present, but what we were expecting to be a very rich and creamy dish was actually quite light. It was however improved with some salt.
For dessert I ordered the chocolate whisky tart with blood orange sorbet, which surprisingly came with charred sweetcorn as well as popcorn as part of the garnish. The popcorn was an ok addition, but I’m not sure how I feel about the charred sweetcorn. I’d definitely say this is a dessert for sharing – it was a very generous size for something so unbelievably rich and fudgey, and I don’t think I managed even half of it on my own, but it was decadent and delicious. The refreshing sorbet helped to cut through the richness, and was a great way to end the meal.
Overall, I think this is a great place to go for a quiet suburban dinner that still offers quality, great service, and also a broad range of dishes that were all still beautiful. Some of the cuisine is a little off the line of what you might expect, but it all went to make the meal more interesting. If you’re dining in a group who may have different tastes, the variety on the menu is a big plus. It’s also a beautiful venue for functions, and I believe they also do weddings, which I can definitely see working well, particularly with their enclosed verandah area. The shopping centre makes for easy parking as well. I highly recommend the steak!