On Wednesday evening last week, Dylan and I enjoyed a three-course extravaganza at Heritij Restaurant in Brisbane Quarter. We had been invited to come along to experience all the restaurant had to offer and were intrigued by the ‘fine dining Indian’ concept. As we drove in to town we agreed that we predicted a binary outcome: this was either going to be exceptional, or dismal. I’m elated to report that our experience was very much the former!
Any establishment in Brisbane Quarter is sure to impress: this precinct is fast blossoming in to a go-to playground for foodies and revellers alike. With stunning views to Southbank and imaginative open-air bars with sumptuous décor, all the venues in Brisbane Quarter offer lively ambience. What I hadn’t expected was for Heritij to be so beautiful. The fit-out is as fascinating as the menu. Firstly, the venue is huge. There is a luxe indoor/outdoor bar that is proving popular on Friday and Saturday nights. Rich navy blue, deep mahogany, metallics and glass feature throughout this area and the bar’s 90+ varieties of whisky/whiskey a focal point. It’s the perfect place to meet for a date mid-week and to party on the weekends. Heritij recently hosted their first wedding reception and I can envisage it would be a vibrant and elegant venue for such an occasion.
I found the ambience of Heritij to be full of fascinating contrasts – there are three private dining areas fitted out in rich velvets, moody colour schemes, feature wall paper, dramatic lighting and heavy drapes. Contrasting these spaces is the main dining area which emits a modern, casual vibe bordering on sparse. We sat in the main dining area looking out at the impressive view towards Southbank.
Restaurant Manager Deven welcomed and took great care of us all evening. He proved to be attentive, knowledgeable and very enthusiastic about the menu and venue. We learned that Heritij was conceptualised to bring fine-dining Indian cuisine to Brisbane and to also showcase an exciting array of Australian native ingredients. We were captivated by his enthusiasm and were excited to see what he would choose for us to experience.
Cocktails arrived at the table. The first being a Bourbon Revival which incorporated cinnamon-apple infused Woodford Reserve, marmalade, earl grey tea and other interesting additions. I’m not a bourbon girl, but this was tasty and certainly potent! We were also served a delicious fruity concoction not yet on the menu. Picture a spa drink you would be served in Thailand or Bali, but with booze. There was kaffir lime, fruit juices and tequila. Light, fragrant and delectable; this was the kind of cocktail you could drink all day. I do hope to see it gracing the menu soon!
Deven then delivered a bounty of entrees for us to try:
Pani Puri – this dish was the most ‘molecular gastronomy’ influenced bite, with a crisp semonlina shell sitting upside down atop a shot glass full of interesting flavours including Kakadu plum! To eat it we had to remove the shell, turn it upside down and pour the contents of the glass into the shell, before smashing all into your mouth. Super tasty, super fun.
Konkan Pork- this is a hearty entrée! Four large hunks of slow-roasted pork belly served with vindaloo sauce and curiously, wasabi crab! A must-try.
Papdi Chaat- touted as Indian Street Nachos, this was a dainty dish full of interesting flavours. I’m so glad that Devon chose for us, as I’d never have ordered this off the pack of ‘tofu, pineapple, avocado and cumin yoghurt’, but it was honestly very tasty.
Rendang Lamb- one of the dishes cooked in the two impressive tandoor ovens in the open kitchen at Heritij. Lean lamb mince is marinated in rendang spices for 24 hours, shaped in little cylindrical meatballs and served with beautiful accompaniments including rosella sauce! The meeting of Indian flavours and Australian native ingredients was such a joy to experience.
Although we were already getting full, we were delighted to be presented with Heritij’s signature dish as the star of our main course:
Flambé Lamb: Wow. An ornate stand is delivered to the table, followed by the cast iron dish overflowing with lamb leg, mashed potato with turmeric and beetroot. Sauce is added to the dish and it is flambéd in front of you. I love a bit of theatre with my food – I wonder if Heritij would consider a fresh take on Crêpe Suzette for their dessert menu?
Curry Culture – We enjoyed tasting serves of Goan Fish, Kashmiri Lamb and Chicken Makhna with saffron rice. The full serve is enough to serve two for a main meal, I’m told. I loved that the three curries were so different – the mild creamy fish curry, the sweet chicken and earthy, tender lamb. Although one of Heritij’s goals is to showcase Indian food outside of curry, these three were gorgeous and I would certainly order the Curry Culture as a main in the future.
3 Naans – Anyone who loves Indian food loves a naan; what’s not to love? Heritij serves beautiful naans from their tandoor. We especially loved the saffron and sesame. If there’s any better comfort food than a hot fresh naan, I’m yet to find it.
Asparagus Poriyal – I’m a vegetable nut and was thrilled with the green bean and asparagus side. It was tossed in spices and desiccated coconut. The spices offered lovely flavour whilst the coconut added texture akin to grated parmesan cheese. One of the most interesting side dishes I’ve enjoyed in a long time.
Deven kindly chose two glasses of wine from the extensive wine list to accompany our mains – I enjoyed a Merlot from the Barossa and Dylan a Pinot Noir from the Yarra. They were both light and fruity, making wonderful accompaniments to our rich food. I love when I can trust staff to recommend great wines for food matching, it adds that bit more magic to the experience. Left to my own devices I’m likely to stick with trusted old favourites rather than branch out and try something that might better complement the meal.
Although we were full to bursting, team at Heritij insisted we had dessert. Who were we to argue? My mother always taught me to be a gracious guest! Out came a modern Galub Jamun refashioned into a cheesecake and a Chai Kulfi ice-cream. We enjoyed both very much and the Galub Jamun cheesecake was my favourite. Although we rarely make it to dessert when we eat Indian, I would recommend saving room when you dine at Heritij.
You can check out the full menu at Heritij here.
We rounded out the night with a Dirty Chai Martini that really knocked our socks off. Integrating chai spices into the classic espresso martini would have been enough to excite, but the use of rum was truly awesome. It was reminiscent of a chai-spiced rum ball in liquid form.
If you’re a Brisbane local, I implore you to visit Heritij in Brisbane Quarter. Gold Coast locals can experience similar cuisine at Heritij’s sister restaurant Kokum, at Versace Hotel. Renowned chef Manjunath Mural has opened two fine dining restaurants in less than a year and the investment in the luxe fit outs alone shows that Mural means business. I’ve yet to visit Kokum but it’s firmly on my list after our dinner at Heritij. I’m also very keen to head back to Heritij for Saturday drinks in the outdoor bar. That cocktail list is calling my name.
Brisbane Foodie and husbo were guests of Heritij. All opinions are her own.