DEFT hands rule the roost in Bramble & Vine’s kitchen. From expertly rolled rustic ravioli beginnings, the nimble touches continued all the way to a perfectly formed Florentine ($12) dessert climax that was so tasty it forced my finger to swipe the last smidgen of jaffa cream from across the plate. A leaning tower of wafer thin almond Florentines layered with blobs of velvety chocolate and thickened orange cream is difficult to resist. Parked in a pool of warm chocolate syrup and capped by a sugary fairy floss peak, the dessert was a lovely balance of comfort food and fancy flourishes.
It’s a sentiment that permeates through the service, menu, and fit-out of this 10-month-old restaurant. The surrounds aren’t flashy but simple banquette seating, spacious wooden tables and low-level lighting match the homely menu.
Owners Sarah-Jane Mahoney and Leila Donnan head up the kitchen and front of house respectively. The incredibly enthusiastic Donnan is a delight on the floor, and is not shy to show the care and knowledge of someone who has put their heart into a business.
Before the floods last year, the duo had one of Brisbane’s best informal dining restaurants, Kis Cucina (keep it simple kitchen), in Graceville, Queensland. When the floods hit, the market went flat and they decided to bring their expertise south.
Their focus remains the same: to champion Australian and boutique local producers with a certified organic bent.
In keeping with the theme, the wine list is heavy on boutique Australian wines, many plucked from lesser known wineries. It keeps it interesting and adds the thrill of discovery to an evening.
The menu is seriously well priced. Light meals are all $12, entrees $16, mains $26, sides $8 and sweets $12.
The servings are generous. Three large ravioli ($16) squares come hand-rolled and shrouding a central ball of spiced pumpkin. They’re covered with a light layer of buttery beurre blanc sauce peppered with crisp sage leaves and finished with a bacon criss-cross and crumbled crunchy amaretto biscuits. It sounds busy but it works.
Some things don’t work so well. The lamb back strap ($26) served with sticky jus and a sprightly salad was disappointing. Marinated in yoghurt, the meat promised heady cardamon and pepper notes but the reality was dull and tough.
A plump grilled porterhouse redeemed prior disappointment. Moist and tender, the beef harmonised well with a buttery herb mash, slender green beans and a luscious bearnaise sauce. A fat chicken and pistachio sausage also looked the goods, carved into discs and laid on a strip of pillowy couscous mixed with vibrant pomegranate, rose petals and barberries.
Bramble & Vine is a lovely little local and a pleasant surprise along what can be a difficult Nicholson Village strip.
Bramble & Vine
749 Nicholson Street, North Carlton
Call 9388 1558
Open Monday-Saturday 5.30pm-late, Thursday-Friday noon-2pm
• a cheeky mid-week meal
• desserts, desserts, desserts
• local and boutique produce