For those of my readers who have long resided in Brisbane, you have no doubt heard of the highly popular, award winning Il Centro, a modern Italian restaurant situated along Eagle Street, conveniently near my workplace. Having wanted to go there for a very long time, but waiting for the right occasion, I was pleasantly surprised when a colleague of mine asked me to go with him as an early Christmas treat.
We made a booking several days earlier, and were given a table indoors (thankfully), with a view of the Story Bridge and the Brisbane River.
Water was provided to us immediately upon being seated.
The menu consisted of an assortment of traditional style pastas as well as some more modern interpretations of old classics.
The specials were brought to us on a board, rather than have the waiter read it to us (usually very quickly). This little touch made a great difference for us not having to strain our memories to recount what was said to us. Needless to say we made few selections from the specials board.
We ordered and took some time to appreciate the open plan kitchen whilst the chef prepared our food.
My colleague started with a cup of red wine.
We started our meal with a serve of Arancini Balls, served with Ham Hock, pea puree and crumbled goat's cheese. The arancini was perfectly cooked with piping hot risotto and had a really thin crumb batter, which I really enjoyed. Both my companion and I were a little hesitant about the pea puree, but it turned out to be a very tasty concoction when added to the delicious goats cheese.
Our mains arrived around 15 minutes after we finished with our entree. My companion had the Risotto Antra, which was a slow cooked duck leg, served with roasted cauliflower, almond and spinach risotto. My companion really enjoyed his meal, especially for the delectable contrasting textures between the crunchy almond and the tender risotto. I managed to steal a spoon of his food and absolutely loved the tender meatiness of the duck which fell right off the bone, coupled with the rich gravy and the creamy risotto, it was absolutely delicious.
As for my meal, I ordered their signature dish, the Lasagne alla Granseola. I had ordered a half portion, as I had previously heard that since the dish was very indulgent, most people were unable to finish the full size portion. Indeed it was very luxurious, with layers upon layers of pasta, sandwiched around delectable fresh sand crab, topped with creamed crustacean sauce, and some tomato puree. Whilst opulent, the meal wasn't overbearing, and I was able to comfortably finish my wedge of lasagne. I especially enjoyed the delicious crustacean sauce, which balanced the dish whilst providing a mechanism to cool down the piping hot lasagne. As for the pasta, it was very tender and infused with a delicious seafoody flavour. The little portion of tomato puree on top added a lot to the dimension of flavour and was a firm reminder that this was a lasagne.
Desserts came again, around 15 minutes after our mains were removed. As mentioned, we ordered them from the specials board. and opted to share both. First up was the warm chocolate and walnut brownie. It came with a large portion of salted caramel, was topped with chocolate ice cream and garnished with some seasonal fruits. Whilst enjoying the sand crab lasagne, I couldn't help but feel that the brownie was a little rich for my tastes. The brownie itself was warm, crumbly and rich, but I couldnt help but feel overwhelmed when the salted caramel was added to the mixture. The ice cream, which provided some temperate contrast, didnt lessen the sweet indulgence of the dish.
Our other dessert was the Passionfruit Souffle. Whilst much lighter than the brownie, my companion and I did find quite a few strands of cooked egg white, which hadn't been fully beaten, in our souffle. Other than that, whilst it did have hints of passionfruit taste to it, this was definitely overpowered by the super strong egg taste to it. It was so strong that my companion mentioned it was akin to a fluffed up sweet scrambled eggs, and I found it like an omlette. We both really enjoyed the light creamy ice cream and crunchy biscuits served on the side though.
Taste: 8.5/10 (would have been 9 if not for the desserts)