While in Brisbane we splashed out on a special meal, a sort of-kind of belated celebration of Michael's birthday. I was a student when we lived in Brisbane and thus not across the fine dining scene, so we looked to locals Jame and Matt for ideas on a venue; we were particularly drawn to the vegan dinner they had at Urbane earlier this year and the waste-minimising veg-friendly values of executive chef Alejandro Cancino. In spite of his exemplary reputation it seems there's not much demand for the formal restaurant on a Tuesday night; we were one of only two tables filled that evening.
Urbane offer a full vegetarian menu as an option to all diners (though you'd probably want to specify ahead of time for any more restrictive dietary requirements) and we sampled the full 9 course extravaganza. Actually, it extends well beyond 9 courses with several tasters before the official menu commences.
We began with a sipping bowl of sweet and silky corn soup, paired with a bite of frozen sweet corn popcorn.
Next, a pungent gulp of shitake consomme.
Our third appetiser was a meal in miniature: a chia seed chip topped with eggplant and juniper, and a teeny bowl of herbal, pickly vegetable escabeche.
This marine scene supported delicate daikon tubes filled with soy jelly, topped with a heady strip of wasabi. We ventured a small taste of the salty garnishing bone fruit too!
Only then did warm bread and salted butter arrive, a hint that the meal proper was due to begin.
And it began with a wintery yet light queue of Brussels sprouts, roasted and caramelised underneath with a fresh leaf on top, served with a cauliflower cream and nutty-crunchy quinoa crumbs.
Deeply caramelised wedges of eggplant worked well with green apple, though I didn't the hang of bringing them together with the piped avocado and the rye crumbs.
These shitake mushrooms and onion rings sat in the sweetest broth I've ever sipped.
In a course simply titled Winter we encountered another mushroomy broth; this one held finely chopped mushrooms, fluffy parmesan gnocchi and celeriac-stuffed tortellini.
More mushrooms! These were teamed with lentils, a savoury yeast cream that won Michael's favour and sorrel leaves that lent a lemony touch.
The final savoury course was quite the entree to the sweets with its candy-like carrot, served with a rich pearl barley risotto and fresh carrot curls.
One of our favourite dishes was this refreshing vegan dessert of coconut sorbet scattered with basil granita, with a side of fresh blueberries, mulled wine jelly and a hint of makrut lime.
Its richer counterpoint was a custardy cube of French toast with raspberries and cream.
I liked that a herbal tea was worked into the meal's end - this berry-ish brew featured a range of native fruits.
Our last mouthful was a peppermint cream-filled chocolate with a surprise crunch.
Mushroom was a repetitive theme, and the few foams did nothing for me at all, but this was nevertheless an impressive degustation with some gorgeous pre-dinner bites and a lovely dessert set. On such a quiet night we were bound to receive attentive service but it was never overbearing, and we enjoyed learning a little about the restaurant from the front of house. What a delight to discover such veg*n-friendly fine dining in our home town!
James and Matt enjoyed a special vegan dinner at Urbane earlier this year, and the venue has earned praise on FOODMEUPSCOTTY and DolceBunnie with Cancino at the helm. Previous incarnations are also positively reviewed on OMGGIMMENOW, Gastronomy Gal, BNE: HOT OR NOT and food bling, brisbane.
179-181 Mary St, Brisbane QLD
(07) 3229 2271
9 course veg degustation $135, wine matching $100
Accessibility: The entry is wide but includes three steps. There's lots of space between tables and full service where you sit. The toilets require a trip downstairs but once you're there they're unisex and roomy.