Skyring Terrace Newstead, Queensland 4006
|Opening hours||Mon-Fri 11:30am-10pm ; 11am-10pm|
|Features||Outdoor seating, Licensed|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||Cash, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||07 3257 2969|
The Gasworks development has been one of the most anticipated of Brisbane's recent urban renewal projects but for all the hype, architecturally, the most interesting part of the development is the old gasometer. The heritage-listed metal frame is the last remnant of the historic gasworks that occupied this spot between 1863 and 1996. Today it stands sentinel over The Gasworks development; a mix of apartments and retail tenants on reclaimed land at Newstead.
Hatch & Co opened its doors here a couple of weeks ago. Along with the Barakat group, owners are the Moubarak brothers, who also own Laruche, Lychee Lounge and Gerard's Bistro, while head chef Braden White was runner-up in this year's Electrolux Appetite for Excellence Young Chef of the Year awards. Its silver spoon credentials probably explain both the sense of anticipation before the opening and the almost full house on both of our visits.
It's a very casual space, almost cafe-like in feel. Tables are cloth-less and there's a Scandinavian influence inherent in the use of contemporary blond wood furniture. To one side is a bar, well patronised on our visits. Bi-fold doors open on two sides to create seamless inside/outside dining offering a view on one side of the gasometer, prettily lit at night, while the other side overlooks the busy (and no doubt soon to be busier) Skyring Terrace. Our table pick is definitely inside where there's an open kitchen and a living wall of greenery, although sound (including the slightly too loud music) bounces around the hard surface a bit. But this is not meant to be fine dining, after all, nor the spot for a quiet dinner for two - rather it's a gregarious, energetic dining spot intended for grazing, drinking and socialising.
Observing the kitchen action, it seems White has everything firmly under control. Unlike the floor staff. On both visits service was almost farcically lacking in the execution of everything from order-taking to opening wine. Presumably that will improve as staff find their feet because to be fair, they and the kitchen have been forced to step up to the plate with crowds filling Hatch & Co from day one.
So, to the food. There are no great surprises with the menu pretty much following current dining trends to a T. Share plates? Tick. Wood-roasted meats to share? Tick. A roll-call of ingredients du jour? Present and correct.
It seems there was some portion-size tweaking going on during our visits - either that or dining companion number one looked hungrier than number two as the size of some of the same dishes were different on both occasions.
From the "snack" menu, lamb ribs impressed. Able to be gently eased off the bone cleanly, they were tender, enlivened by a vivid and well-balanced chimmichurri sauce. A croquette, large enough for two to try is beautifully crisp-filled with a Manchego bechamel and accompanied by a smoky little chipotle mayo. Cauliflower; still al dente beneath a lightly spiced coating and served with crumbled goats cheese is very good too. The snack menu also includes Ortiz anchovies, as well as oysters and olives.
From the "Small Plates" section, the terrine was terrific - instead of being dense and tightly packed it was lightened by the addition of a little liver, perfectly seasoned and served with cornichons, toasted bread and some spiced pear chutney.
Mains include a juicy wagyu rump cap - a very fine piece of meat, cooked to perfect medium rare and served with a bois boudran and a scattering of potatoes as well as an excellent delicate pappardelle sauced with a rustic pork cheek ragu.
For something more substantial (and preferably before sampling too many items from the "snack" menu), share the pork collabutt - butter-soft with a curl of perfect crackling, apple jam and a garnish of celery leaves and parsley. Our only complaint is that there was not enough crackling, but then is there ever? Other share plate options include whole fried fish with sauce vierge and garlic aioli; slow cooked lamb shoulder with lemon and garlic and roast chicken with parsnip, mushroom and smoked leek.
The wine list is compact and well priced although on both visits the unavailability of a couple of bottles was disappointing.
There are four desserts on offer, including a chocolate fondant and a cheese board. Having sampled a fair bit of the menu already, we could only dip into dessert, sharing a vanilla pannacotta with salted caramel, malt ice-cream and cookie crumb. It was pleasant enough but needed more salted caramel to provide enough ying to the milky bland yang of the ice-cream and pannacotta.
Hatch & Co certainly isn't breaking any new ground, but it's bound to be well-received, especially at this end of town where there's not much on offer within easy walking distance. However, it will be interesting to see, if in time, the talented White might have the opportunity to flex his culinary muscles a bit more.