Marble & Grain, Braddon*

16 Apr

* I attended this experience at Marble & Grain as their guest.

Hopscotch. Black Fire. Marble & Grain. Braddon restaurants have a thing about clever names and I was particularly excited when Marble & Grain launched, expecting a high-end gastropub, with gorgeous, delicately-marbled steaks and sides and a range of excellent beers to match. After its soft opening late in 2014, I watched first with interest, then surprise, as respected reviewers and friends emerged from their experience and gave Marble & Grain a resounding thumbs down.

Service was lacking, dishes were small, and tastes were bizarre. Marble & Grain quickly moved to the bottom of my very epic ‘to review’ list – a place I’d go to only if others were insisting (and had been before), if at all, and any suggestion would be met with reluctance on my part.

But restaurants which get feedback and act on it deserve a chance – simply because so many don’t. I’m offered a chance to try out Marble & Grain’s ‘new dining experience’. The star of this is a new menu by Sydney chef Danny Russo and new executive chef Paul D’Monte, but I’m hoping that the new experience extends beyond the food.

I’ve read about it but I’m still surprised on entering to see just how big it is. We turn left to the bar area; dark with long, high tables and high stools and plenty of space to stand. The service is attentive, almost constant. We’re offered their ‘assaulted caramel’ cocktail ($15): Bailey’s, Captain Morgan, milk, caramel and salt in a miniature glass milk bottle. It’s frothy and salt but by no means assaults the senses. It’s tempting to have two.

Arancini balls ($10 for 5) are the early stars of the evening: they’re plentiful and hot, but most importantly tasty. They’re creamy and the parmesan is tangy. I could easily prop myself at the bar with a bowl of these and a few beers and be a very happy customer. (In fact, with figs and serrano ham, and chorizo corn dogs, the snacks menu sounds like a winner.)

We’re soon ushered from this end of the restaurant to the brighter dining area. We’re sat at a large table with other bloggers, professionals and competition winners.

I match the Morgan’s Bay Semillon Sauv Blanc to my dishes, which arrive quickly and hot. The seared scallops ($19) have an umbrella of watercress, but there’s no need to hide them: they’re delicious. They’re served with (unnecessary) crisps and a chorizo oil which is surprisingly light and doesn’t make me feel like I’m eating a mouthful of butter (though those that know me understand I wouldn’t complain!).

My friend polishes off his duck terrine served with a large salad of heirloom beetroot, and toasted bread.

With mains, I make a mistake. I’ve had a weekend of overcooked fish and am nervous about the ocean trout fillet, so opt for the chicken. The chicken’s perfectly okay – and, with a chicken jus, almost gamey – combined with sweet corn and earthy flavours of mushrooms. But the ocean trout with pretty diamond glams almost melts off the knife and around me it’s finished quickly as I watch on enviously.

As we’ve been tucking into the mains, the signature butchers board ($75) – for sharing – arrives. The wagyu rump is decent and the venison sausages moreish (they could be their own dish), but the crumbed fennel filled with black pudding is like nothing I’ve ever had before: crunchy, salty and fresh in a mouthful. It’s a dish you can see yourself sharing with a few mates over some beers rather than something you’d go to a restaurant to order – I think it might better belong in the bar menu.

Desserts are a little weaker for me. The Bombe Alaska ($14) looks fantastic but through mouth-filling, velvety meringue the sponge is dry and bland, mitigated by the almond frangipane and roasted pears. My friend’s white chocolate brulee ($14) – with a ribbon of berries, hazelnuts and basil – has the important crack in the top but isn’t among the best he’s tried.

Post-dessert, we’re treated to a tour of the courtyard of The Avenue hotel, where a little bit of New York has come to Canberra.

The vast space has done some weddings and has speakers throughout – perhaps the scene of a spring Sunday sesh?

The work Marble & Grain have done to start with a new approach to the dining experience is commendable. The dishes aren’t small, nor boring, and the price points seem right for the quality. The service on this night is so attentive it borders on interrupting – a good problem to have given it’s easier to send someone away than to find someone who can’t be seen! Far from being reluctant – even resistant – to going back, Marble & Grain is now a place I’d suggest going – made even sweeter with a solid bar menu, range of craft beers, and happy hour.

Date: Thursday, 9 April 2015

Where: Mort Street, Braddon (near McDonald’s)

Cost: I attended this event as a guest

Worthwhile factor: Worthwhile

Want more? Marble & Grain’s website is the best place to start.

Marble & Grain on Urbanspoon

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3 Responses to “Marble & Grain, Braddon*”

  1. ladysharon April 17, 2015 at 9:06 am #

    Interesting – I’d pretty much written them off my list as an overpriced hotel restaurant, but that trout sounds pretty great. Thanks for the write up!

  2. Nicole- Champagne and Chips April 17, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

    I do love restaurants that respond to feedback. That butchers board looks pretty spectacular.

  3. Sarah April 17, 2015 at 10:24 pm #

    I wonder if they’ve changed the menu since I was last there. I went there for a lunch in Dec 2014 and ate from the pub menu. As you mentioned the bizarre tastes, I had their burger and I don’t know what it was but something on it I just could not deal with. All the ingredients on the menu were things I’d happily eat but there was this unidentifiable thing that tasted and smelt so strange that I couldn’t finish it.
    That being said the burger wasn’t bad just didn’t work well with me. Their chips were some of the best I’ve ever eaten though, they actually look like they come from a potato πŸ˜›

    I’d be interested in trying that cocktail, sounds delicious!

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