Look at that dessert. Look at me. Look at that corn on the cob. Look at this blog. Look at Yelp and back to me. That dessert is the work of head chef Norman Harvey, by the way.
Last night, 15 of Brisbane’s Yelp Mobile Royalty gathered for a private dinner at e’cco bistro in the Brisbane CBD. We were treated to a selection of dishes old and new, and a few that have defined e’cco as one of Brisbane's finest restaurants.
e’cco was launched in 1995 by chef Philip Johnson and his wife, and was to be a restaurant with “unfussy but great quality food.” You could say they achieved this in 1997 when they won the Remy Martin Cognac/Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the Year award for their bug, fennel and chilli risotto (which we were able to sample as one of our entrees).
Located in a refurbished historic former tea warehouse, we were seated in the private dining room amongst salsa-red and aubergine walls, polished masonite floors and plain wood tables and chairs. The e’cco menu is understated but really comes to life on the plate. It all comes back to Philip’s ethos of “doing as little as possible with the best ingredients available.”
During their early years in Brisbane, it wasn’t uncommon to wait anywhere from three weeks to three months to reserve a table at this no-fuss bistro. Philip spoke to Yelpers giving them some back ground to how e’cco began and a personal note on the dishes we would soon savour – the room often falling silent at moments as we enjoyed each mouthful.
They’ve had only 6 or 7 head chefs over 18 years with a lot of staff having been with Philip since the beginning. “We’re going back to some of the stuff that made us famous, going back to old favourites,” Philip said as he addressed the group. (We were fortunate enough to try dishes from past head chefs and the work of current head chef Norman Harvey.)
“We’ve come full circle. I think the food has been fantastic. We’re going through a process now where we’re going to put some of the stuff that made us famous back on the menu. There’s no point running a restaurant where people can’t see the links back to you. We’re kind of refocusing and going back to those dishes.”
“The essence of a bistro is simplistic, no-nonsense – no tablecloths, relaxed yet efficient service. and food that is honest, wholesome and full of flavour.”
So what exactly did our private dinner menu look like?
- Grilled prosciutto salad with gorgonzola, grilled pears, and hazelnuts
- Kingfish carpaccio with bloody mary sorbet, cucumber & celery
- Risotto of bug, fennell and chilli
- Grilled white fish, carrot, pak choy, coriander and sweet corn veloutte
- Parmesan and nutmeg gnocchi, wood mushrooms, truffle creme
- Lamb rump, olive tapenade, white polenta, ratatouille, eggplant crisps
- ‘Corn on the cob’ salted caramel popcorn ice cream
- Apple, pecan and pine nut torte with apple gelato
- Valrhona chocolate marquise, and raspberry sorbet
Picking a favourite is hard, but if I had to it would be the Corn on the Cob dessert and the parmesan and nutmeg gnocchi. What about you?
Why Yelp’s Mobile Royalty?
These guys are checking-in, leaving top tips and adding photos like pros. And, well, we like to connect people with great local businesses, and free parties are a great way to do that. In fact, we throw them every month for our Elite Squad. But more than that, one thing that sets Yelp apart is that we have a vibrant community offline (as well as online) who catch up regularly.
A warm thank you to Philip Johnson, the e’cco team and Lucid Media for all playing a part in making this dinner a success. And to the Yelpers who came along – thank you!
To find out more about Philip Johnson, e’cco and their seasonal menu, visit their website.
Until the next event:
- Look at the photos
- Read the reviews (and those who were there, feel free to write your own!)
- Get Yelping
- Follow us on FB or Twitter
See You On Yelp,