For a city defined by a river, Brisbane’s always been short on waterfront dining. Eagle Street Pier was it for many years with a sprinkling of other venues such as Oxleys, Watt and some very forgettable places at South Bank. More recently the Portside development at Hamilton has added some good contenders too.
The latest venue on the river is Jellyfish. Trading for around six months now, Jellyfish is helmed by John Kilroy who many will recognise from Cha Cha Char. Essentially Kilroy has taken the idea of produce with provenance and applied his winning ways with beef to seafood, more specifically line caught fresh fish. Making good use of space borrowed from the Riverside Centre car park, Jellyfish sees a long, narrow space originally earmarked for a tunnel turned into a relaxed yet elegant dining room, mixing avant garde felt ‘jellyfish’ light shades with limewashed bentwood chairs, dark finishes and a long mirrored wall. The dining area spills out onto a terrace which gives dinners a great view of the Brisbane River, Kangaroo Point and the Story Bridge.
The menu features a selection of 8 – 12 sorts of fish, each flown in that day to arrive on your plate in tip top condition. Each one has a recommended cooking style and sauce as well as the location where it was caught. Everything is done simply to let the freshness of the produce speak for itself. Selections include Whole Silver Bream, Flathead, Swordfish and the more unusual Hiramasa King and Butterfish. In keeping with the theme of simplicity a 200 g portion is $29 with two fillets available for a very reasonable $39.50. A full a la carte menu and extensive selection of sides and salads are also available.
We visited on successive Wednesday nights and on both occasions the heaving dining room showed no signs of the global financial crisis with most tables being turned over at least once throughout the evening. The staff at Jellyfish are very passionate about the menu and take the time to answer questions and explain the options.
We settled on entrees of plump Sydney rock oysters and melt in the mouth tuna sashimi along with a glass of G. Laurent Perrier Rose Champagne. Good quality sourdough and herbed butter is also available. The tough decisions when it came to choose mains and eventually we both settled on the line caught fish – the hiramasa king with olive, lemon & caper sauce, the butterfish grilled with chermoula emulsion and the gold band snapper tempura with Vietnamese dipping sauce.
The sides show off quality vine ripened heirloom tomatoes in a number of guises as well as that other great accompaniment to fish – potatoes. Our tomato and mozzarella salad and potato bake were outstanding and large enough to be a meal on their own. From the lengthy and well-priced wine list, a bottle of the Scotchmans Hill ‘Cornelius’ Pinot Gris was a nice match for the meal.
In the event your dining companions prove to be less than entertaining, a rather surreal video of marine life on the barrier reef plays on flat screen TVs dotted around the dining room and there’s certainly plenty of people watching and blind date speculation to be had. The dining room is comfortably noisy and tables are well spaced without losing the buzzy atmosphere. Jellyfish also includes a very stylish bar, worthy of a separate visit.
Jellyfish provides a fantastic, unpretentious dining experience and prices are very good given the overall quality of the dining experience. After almost half a dozen visits, I haven’t stopped raving about the place! It truly offers something you won’t find anywhere else in Brisbane. The quality and consistency of the food – particularly the fish – is a standout.