I left our dinner at The Heritage Brasserie and Bar feeling a little indifferent. In saying that, there are also many things to like about The Heritage. It’s found in a stunning, restored heritage building on St Georges Terrace, which is part of the Brookfield Place precinct. The chic dining room has Parisian feels with a monochrome interior, high ceilings and marble floor. The Heritage’s bar features a pewter bar top , which was hand made in Paris. The beautiful bar would be perfect for drinks with friends. An extensive wine list is on offer, featuring many drops from Australia, Europe and beyond. There are wines available by the glass, as well as some pricier bottles like a 1998 Bordeaux Cab Sav Merlot which will set you back $1750.
On this occasion, I was dining with a group of eight friends. There was a lot to catch up on over a glass of a crisp NZ Sauvignon Blanc. I read the menu which is made up of elegant sounding dishes and picked an entrée and main. There is also a hamburger and chips option, $25, which sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the other mains. It actually sounded really tempting, but the opulent dining room didn’t make me feel like getting down and dirty with a burger between my hands.
The service was mainly good, though throughout the night our waiter made a few odd comments which gave me a sinking feeling. None of us had dined at The Heritage before and so didn’t know what to expect in terms of portion size. When asking the waiter for his recommendation on side dishes, he advised us that some of the sides were “a bit bland”, a surprisingly honest comment from someone supposedly trying to sell us the menu.
For entrée I chose the tart of asparagus, jersey milk curd, egg yolk, onions and chestnuts, $17. On paper it sounded delicious. While it was a tasty and fine looking tart, it wasn’t a traditional tart. The delicate dish had a thin pasty ring surrounding the “filling” and no pastry base. I missed having a buttery shortcrust pastry to chomp into.
For main I felt like something hearty and filling. I thought the pumpkin gnocchi with ginger, hazelnut, sage and brown butter, $28, would fit the bill nicely. The gnocchi was pillowy soft, there were also little gems of pumpkin and the whole dish was bursting with subtly sweet flavours. There just wasn’t enough gnocchi – not by a long shot.
Two gents at the next table were chowing down on those hamburgers, oozing with bacon and bourbon sauce, making a few of us fill with food envy. Another fine looking main from our table was the duck breast with wild berries, beetroot and fermented plum, $37. The sides couldn’t have all been bland as the sautéed Brussel sprouts were a big hit on our table.
For dessert I ordered a Crème brulee with a rapidly melting quenelle of smoked chocolate ice cream $16. Again, it is a twist on the traditional, as the brulee is served topped with banana. It was a well cooked dessert, though I didn’t taste much smoke in the ice cream.
The three cheese plate, $32, with seasonal accompaniments also looked good.
My friends and I had a nice night at The Heritage, but that was more to do with the elegant ambiance, fine wine, good company and conversation – the food unfortunately took a back seat.
The general consensus of the table was that the food was tasty and beautifully plated, but the portion sizes could have been far more generous. For me, the food was interesting, but something was missing. The pretty tart was a great example of this and missed the mark. It wasn’t what I had expected and I felt disappointed. With my main I’d expected a bowl full of warming comfort food, but had to make do with just 12 morsels of gnocchi. I believe with a few small tweaks, the dining experience at The Heritage could be greatly improved.
I left The Heritage still feeling hungry, but some $70+ lighter for three (vegetarian) courses and a glass of wine. Maybe I should have ordered that big burger after all!