The Survey Co. has a definite Melbourne (or even New York?) feel to it; tucked away in grungy Burnett Lane with an entrance that feels like you are ducking in via the back service door. Even the conspicuous coat-check area evokes the feeling that you are dining out in the colder, Victorian capital.
This theme continues throughout the restaurant. The interior is a collection of corridors and a collision of textures. Dark wood, exposed brick and soft leather is punctuated by moody down lighting; all coming together to conjure an ‘old-worldy’ ambiance. The space feels polished and urbane, yet ‘warehousey’ at the same time.
The restaurant’s prices are on the steeper side, but they are backed by a diverse menu. The gourmet dishes appear unadorned, yet they skillfully showcase interesting produce and traditional techniques.
Happily, we were equally envious of each other’s meals when they arrived and immediately starting doling out morsels of our own in the hope that the gesture would be reciprocated.
Choosing entrées proved difficult as they all appeared incredibly enticing on the menu. I finally settled on the rabbit crepinette. The coarse terrine sausage sitting atop a flavour-packed puree of sweet peas, balanced with a burst of red grapefruit, was an excellent choice.
The other entrées around the table were also well received. The classic pairing of caramelised scallops with sweet pork (always hard to go past) was delivered deftly with a dash of orange miso.
Moreton Bay bug with sumac lemon yoghurt was not what we envisioned, however the meat was plump and surprisingly plentiful.
The wild boar loin looked intriguing on the menu and enticing on the plate. The stronger pork flavour was nicely complemented with a gamut of subtle flavours (mushrooms, kale, blueberries and sage), however the meat was perhaps a little tough (which wasn’t entirely unexpected of the leaner, darker boar meat).
The main red meat dishes went down a treat. The beef fillet, served with a simple potato fondant and sweet chutney, was perfectly cooked to order.
The beef cheek (always a winter favourite) was richly-flavoured and appropriately fell apart under the touch of a spoon. The butter-soft meat was accompanied by sauteed shallots and topped with crispy fried onion.
The fish of the day was pan-fried snapper served with an interesting medley of flavours and textures – asparagus, polenta cakes, citrus beurre blanc and avocado salsa. I was a little weary of the combo, however the flavours were well balanced and the overall dish was a winner.
The Catalan seafood looked homely and appetising (though, I would have welcomed a few extra seafoody bits in my bowl). All of the components were well executed and it was very gratifying to leisurely mop up the luminous orange broth with the large hunks of baguette provided. Overall, however, I felt the dish lacked that extra punch of flavour to make it truly memorable.
The rustic fries, complete with skins, were incredibly moreish. I usually complain that side portions of fries are generally too large (I abhor wasting food and rarely let a plate go unfinished; so I usually feel compelled to plough through the cold bowl of fried potato at the end of a meal). However, in this case, we were left wanting more; partly because the portion was a little skimpy and partly because they were so good (and I am not usually complimentary about spuds).
We skipped dessert (I guess I have to exercise some restraint every now and then), though I must say the treacle dumplings with cinnamon ice-cream looked delectable (apologies to the lovely couple beside us who had to endure my continued gawping at their food and the boisterous, and somewhat inane, chatter from our dining party).
The beverage menu is concise, but considered. Service was efficient and meals were delivered to the table in good time and with little fuss (and, these days, I can’t really expect more than that!).
As I walked out, it struck me that The Survey Co. appears to have already established itself as a ‘date night’ spot. Looking around I noted couples at almost every table. It makes sense. The Survey Co. is intimate fine dining in a funky, unfussy setting.
The Survey Co.
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Phone: +61 7 3012 8725
Average Price: $35 for main meals
Hours: Monday-Saturday 12pm-late
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