Gallery One

Natascha Mirosch
Desserts are pretty confections with a decidedly modern bent.
Desserts are pretty confections with a decidedly modern bent. Photo: Natascha Mirosch

Carindale QLD, Australia Carindale, QLD

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Opening hours Mon-Wed & Sat 8am-5.30pm,Thurs 8am-9pm,Sun 9am-4pm
Features Wheelchair access, Bar
Chef Trent Robson
Seats 160
Payments eftpos, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 07 3843 3566

The only thing more surprising than finding a good restaurant in Carindale is finding a good restaurant in a shopping centre in Carindale.

The shopping centre restaurant isn't a new concept, of course - Sydney's Westfield boasts some impressive names and even Brisbane has seen it before. Almost a decade ago, restaurateur Murray Williams opened The Mark in Toombul Centro with a bar, formal restaurant and a cellar. Sadly, despite keen interest and favourable reviews, it wasn't long for this fickle world.

So is the Brisbane dining public ready to embrace restaurant dining in a shopping centre now? Gallery One's owners obviously think so. The restaurant opened in Carindale's Westfield in November with much being made of the fit-out ($1.5 million dollars worth, as most of the city's food media can recite).

Generous toppings ... The proscuitto pizza.
Generous toppings ... The proscuitto pizza. Photo: Natascha Mirosch

It is undeniably schmick: black, glossy and gilt-edged with moody lighting and Fabio Novembre "Him & Her" chairs modelled on male and female bottoms. There are booth seats as well for those who feel squeamish about putting their bottom on a bottom - although really, they are jolly comfortable.

Voyeurs might want to grab a table with a view into the open kitchen, but don't expect any Gordon Ramsay-like antics - rather, from where we sat, it exhibits an unexpectedly Zen-like calm under head chef Trent Robson. It's no mean feat given the continuous turnover (I'll refrain from a 'bums on seats' pun), with service starting at breakfast and last orders when the shoppers head home.

There's also a long patisserie cabinet displaying bijoux sweet treats conjured by Robson and his sous off-sider, the talented Matt Osborne, which should immediately flag the need either for temperance or resignation to a glutton's lunch.

A thing of beauty ... risotto.
A thing of beauty ... risotto. Photo: Natascha Mirosch

Slightly incongruously, given the modish decor, the menu under Italophile Robson - whose previous positions include stints at Pescatore, Belle Epoque and Enoteca - is rustically Italian. As well as breakfasts, posh sandwiches and imaginative salads, there are antipasti plates, including salumi and cheese, Cuca sardine bruschetta and croquettes. There are no traditional mains as such, just pizza and pasta. But, dio buono! What perfection in simplicity. Pizze, pulled from a glass fronted Beech oven, are handmade, with rough charry edges and just a swipe of excellent tomato sauce. The proscuitto pizza is generously topped with San Daniele, buffalo milk mozzarella from Vanella and is as good as you'd find in Naples. There is also a Calabrian salami, a "Quattro Formaggio" (four cheese) with mozzarella, ricotta, fontina and gorgonzola, while the "Aglio" with garlic, anchovy, rosemary, chili and mozzarella will satisfy anchovy enthusiasts.

A small, smart wine list features incredibly well-priced food-friendly Australians and Italians; with a lovely La Familgia Nebbiolo proving a worthy pizza match.

Restaurant risotto is a risky business. Like most people I've had my share of dry/gluggy/undercooked/tasteless and just plain awful versions over the years. But here, despite its homely looks, it's a thing of beauty. Rich, with an intense stock permeating the exactingly cooked carnoroli rice, it has a creamy porridge-like consistency, the starch forming its own sauce, with chunks of smooth Swiss brown mushrooms and earthy porcini, sprinkled with grated pecorino and garnished with leaves of baby purple basil.

Inside ... Gallery One is located in a shopping centre.
Inside ... Gallery One is located in a shopping centre. Photo: Natascha Mirosch

As well as all the pastries and bread, all Gallery One's pasta is made in house. A saffron linguine is so light and delicate it's almost translucent, only just able to hold the weight of tiny squares of snipped chive and tomato concasse, small Port Lincoln mussels, sweet, fat local prawns and small pieces of seared scallop.

If you're willing to do the walk of shame to the dessert cabinet, there are many worthy choices. Here rustic is forsaken for pretty confections with a decidedly modern bent. A tiramisu, served as a moist layered tower, consists - from the bottom up - of a paper thin layer of chocolate, espresso-soaked sponge fingers, mascarpone, a chocolate biscotto and a dob of espresso jelly. Lime and pistachio cheesecake is a more petite sweet - layered on a white chocolate sponge base with a striped curl of orange and white chocolate and accompanied by a vivid green lime macaron and a swipe of vanilla bean cream.

Perhaps the only negative at Gallery One is the noise - while it might look a little bit modern Parisian bistro, on a Saturday lunch time it sounds more like the Paris metro, with noise bouncing all over the hard surfaces. For food this satisfying, however, I would happily grab my car keys and stalk people for a notoriously hard-to-find shopping centre park. For the risotto alone, I'd gladly elbow my way through Saturday crowds.