The well written menu is an underappreciated art form. Service can be absent, the décor pedestrian but a great menu takes you into the chefs world and allows you to share the quality of their produce, their technique and their passion with you the diner. A great one will leave you flummoxed as to the best dishes to choose and politely salivating in anticipation of what’s to come. A poor menu – such as one I read recently with more than 65 unappetising dishes, and not even near Chinatown – will see you downing your first drink and hightailing it outta there.
Lunch at The Chelsea was an entirely spontaneous decision, and as such there were no real expectations. The Chelsea offers the casual diner a sun dappled outdoor dining terrace and a bistro style dining room. A very talented designer is responsible for the interiors which combine a quartz veined dark marble bar, bevelled mirrors, brass cornice rails, bentwood stools. bottle green leather banquettes with cork topped tables and large flower arrangements. It works because while every detail is considered, it doesn’t seek to follow trends and complements the Victorian era building in which it resides, rather than mimicking it.
The menu works too. It’s approachable, concise and deliciously well constructed. You’ll want to order one of everything, starting with the excellent Leavain bread served with pistachio dukkah, lemon and olive oil. Seasonal and local produce is the star of the menu at The Chelsea with a pork belly and squid salad studded with cashews, golden shallots, nham jim, coconut shavings and Darra’s finest coriander sitting comfortably with reginette pasta with roasted asparagus pesto and lemon and a full flavoured Darling Downs sirloin. A roast onion tart served with watercress and goat curd made a great starter and was all the better for the goats curd not being truffled as described on the menu.
The wine list here is concise but fits The Chelsea perfectly, again designed by someone with talent. Given the underutilised stools at the marble bar and enjoyable casual atmosphere, I’d like to see more wines by the glass. The house branded The Chelsea by Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc and The Chelsea by Teusner Barossa Shiraz are a cut about your average ‘house wines’ and the whisky list by Queensland Malt Whisky Society life member Lance Currie offers a neat selection of Scotland’s finest.
The informal but professional service is well judged to suit the mix of patrons and menu is both appealing and unpretentious. The Chelsea offers seemingly effortlessly good food, looks and service, thereby achieving the holy trinity of casual dining in Brisbane.
Shop, 61 Petrie Terrace
Phone: 07 3367 1288
Tuesday to Saturday 7am til late
Sunday and Monday 7am til 4pm