A few years ago, Dylan asked me for a 'pub' recommendation for a work lunch with a colleague from Brisbane Girls Grammar. I said I'd heard The Alliance was a good gastro pub and he's been running his meetings in town there ever since!
He's been banging on about how good it is for ages, so I was excited to have the opportunity to pop in for Monday lunch last week. Before we left, I jumped on their website to check out the menu (standard protocol) and was immediately tossing up between the various steak options, market fish and I was stressed. In the best possible way!
The drinks menu wasn't online, but I'd heard The Alliance boasted a pretty impressive wine and beer list. Unfortunately it was Monday lunchtime and we were at a business lunch so we were very virtuous and stuck to mineral water. We had a look though, and there were certainly an impressive array of wines, beers and ciders.
The Alliance Hotel has a lovely 'old world' feel about it and with good reason: the pub as it stands was built in 1888. Beautiful bentwood bar stools and dining chairs, low lighting and an expansive bar area greet you as you enter. We chose a cosy corner for our table of four and out of the corner of my eye I spotted a private dining room.
Dylan mentioned that a vendor contact of his had been so impressed with their business lunches that he booked the dining room to entertain his head-honchos from the US a few months ago. Legend has it that several thousand dollars' worth of prestigious wines were consumed and a grand time was had by all. I had a sneak peak in the dining room when I was there and it's simply charming: rich red carpet, an old fireplace, long wooden table. I could certainly see a very successful private event happening here. Plenty of space around the table, too. Nothing worse than a poky dining room.
I ordered the 200g Eye Fillet although I found it very difficult to not order a complementary Cabernet! It was served with a blue cheese souffle, kale and trussed cherry tomatoes. I requested the wild mushroom sauce on the side and I was ready to party!
The steak was cooked beautifully and the blue cheese souffle was a decadent side dish! Dylan enjoyed the suckling pig with smoked mash, charred broccolini, salsa negra, chimichurri and burnt apple puree. I snuck a bit of the pork and it was as delicious. Why can't all dishes come with crackling!?
One of our comrades enjoyed the market fish with beetroot & coconut broth, fondant potato with charred leeks: faaaaanCY! It was plated with much aplomb: the beetroot and coconut broth being added to the dish at the table by the waiter. I will certainly have fish on my next visit - it looked truly beautiful even though the combination of flavours 'sounded' weird in my head.
The fourth meal at the table was a gnocchi dish that sounded somewhat complex but looked delicious. We also shared a piece of chargrilled octopus which was lovely: smoky yet fresh and inviting. Next time, I'm having that starter all to myself!
We rounded the meal off with great coffees and marked The Alliance a solid 9/10. I can't wait to come back and do it properly: three courses, bread and wine. I'd love the opportunity to book that dining room, too. See if I can manufacture an excuse to get a crew together! I can understand why this grand old pub is Dylan's business lunch venue of choice.
Have you been to The Alliance?