Friday, 9 November 2012

Alfred & Constance - this place has a Vibe


http://www.alfredandconstance.com.au/

This place has a vibe.........

Kitchen area, see the
Pig?
Alfred and Constance had its official opening tonight and I was pretty keen to check it out.  I had heard some talk around town that a great new food and beer destination was going to be opening soon....... but time dragged on and there were delays and I forgot about it.  Then on Wednesday night eating with a few friends I was reminded that the grand opening was Friday night and that I should check it out.

Located on the corner of Constance and Alfred streets in the Valley (no prize for guessing why the name) SC and I decided that a Friday night stroll into the Valley for dinner would be a great way to start the weekend.  If only the weather had played its part, it pretty much rained the whole walk over, oh well, at least it was still warm.  As we crested the hill of Constance street and started down towards the tastefully renovated old queenslander, there was a buzz and 'hubbub' coming from the building, I could not yet see any people, but I sure could hear them.

Once we walked up the steps of Albert & Constance, we were affronted by a wall of people, many of whom were clearly dressed for a night in the Valley.  We were greeted by a friendly waitress who found us the only table that had a couple of seats for us.  The style of the establishment is very much along the lines of shared seating, so SC and I had a spot in the middle of a long bench table.  This was actually pretty cool and there was immediately a feel of togetherness with the people around us, everyone was clearly happy to be here.  We were given some menus and it was time to decide.

The first thing we noticed about the menu was that it was in alignment with the current trend of share plates and the second what that it had a lot of meat....... a lot!

Being share plates, all of our dishes came out in quick succession and we soon had every available space taken in front of us, and quite a bit in front of some other diners too.  The first thing that I tried was the Chorizo Scotch Egg.  I quite like a good scotch egg and normally expect to see quite a dainty quails egg or similar but what was put in front of me was far from dainty.  I was confronted with a huge red egg, clearly as a consequence of the chorizo, along with what looked to be a spicy aioli.  Unsure of how to proceed with such a monster, I finally decided that I would try to 'crack the egg' by cutting it down the middle, to see if the yolk wold be under or over cooked.  Unfortunately my cutting skills are not up to scratch and only managed to crush it into thirds.  I did not see the ooze that I expected but it was not hard boiled either, so only slightly over.  I am a massive fan of chorizo and loved the taste of this, there was a great amount of heat coming from the chorizo crust, which was cooled down by the aioli and the yolk.  It was quite yummy and I would easily have eaten half a dozen of these.

Chorizo Scotch egg intact, then smashed!


Pork Belly with Rhubarb and Ginger Relish was the next dish to be devoured.  Those of you that are regular readers of my blog know that I love pork belly.  This was beautifully presented on the plate with three lovely looking pieces of pork.  There was a great contrast between the burnt colouring of the pork skin and the rhubarb and ginger relish and the garnish.  The pork belly was perfectly cooked with just enough crunch through the skin and the soft almost gelatinous fat from the belly.   On its own it tasted fabulous, but with the relish, a lovely slight bitterness offset the succulent sweet meat.  SC kindly gave me two of the three pieces, which I was very grateful for.  It was around this time that the others seated near us started to show interest in what we were eating and started ordering the same!

Great pork belly with rhubarb & ginger 
SC ordered an A&C hamburger with crispy bacon and fries.  This was probably the most disappointing element of the meal all night.  The burger itself was dry and overcooked and there was not enough sauce to compensate.  In addition to this, the bun was too crunchy, hard and dry, which led to an overall feeling of dry mouth when eating, in fact the bite I had was hard to swallow it was so dry.  In addition to this, the cheese that came along with the burger was also dry and flakey, overall not a good experience here.   The chips were not too bad, thick and crunchy and well cooked.  I love chips cooked with the skin on as was the case here.

Skip the burger & go for the meat




We were starting to feel a little full now but we still had one of the stars of the night to eat.  Roast Pig carved from the whole pig with crackling was next.  This was sold by the weight and you could get 250g, 500g and 1kg.  I am glad we opted for the 250g serving size, otherwise we would have had to be rolled out.  The pork was simply stunning.  Soft, succulent and perfectly roasted on the whole pig it was a joy to eat.  Mixed in with perfect pork pieces was the crackling and skin of the pig.  The contrast between the soft pork and the hard sticky skin was a marriage made in heaven, and once the apple sauce was added, took this to a new level.  Pork and apple sauce, such a classic combination!

Pork by the gram, delicious


As good as the pork was, the last item that we had selected was my favourite by far!  The flame grilled Lamb Cutlets with Anchovy and Parsley Mayo was spectacular.  This was rustic food at its absolute best.  More often than not, when you have lamb cutlets, they have been french cut, that is the fat has been cut off the bone.  This was not the case tonight, so not only was the lamb supremely cooked, there was more of it to go around.  My first mouthful of the lamb was a revelation!  Sweet lamb perfectly cooked to a stunning pink along with the lovely caramelised fat, with the slightly salty anchovy mayonnaise.  Sometimes with a lovely dish, the first bite is the best, not so with this.  Each progressive portion of the lamb just simply got more delicious.  SC who was pretty full by the time we started on the lamb had a couple of bites and also fell in love with this.  Next time I come to Alfred & Constance I would be hard pressed not ordering three or four plates of the lamb and ignore the rest of the menu.

Dish of the night, lamb cutlets - a taste sensation


By the time we had finished our dinner the place was pumping, with people everywhere and customers lined up to wait for seats to be vacated.  Given that tonight was the official opening night, things ran pretty smoothly.  Sure, the wait staff looked a bit stressed and rushed off their feet, but we never felt at any time that we were not being looked after and the wait staff remained friendly and helpful throughout.

Snout to Tail philosophy - here is the tip!


Alfred & Constance is the creation of Damian Griffith who is also the owner of Limes Hotel, just down the road.  His idea for the establishment was a warm rustic gastro pub and 'entertainment village'.  There is a restaurant, beer garden and bar upstairs.  The principals of the food offering is to deliver warm, old world charm twisted to modern tastes.  When we walked in SC and I felt that Damian had hit the mark with his vision, with some extra elements thrown in.  If you are looking for a cool place to have a beer and gastro pub meal, then this is the place to come.  My view on the philosophy of the food is very much the 'snout to tail' approach and the meat served here is second to none.  Its fun and the seating arrangements really lend to a community feel.

As I said, this place has a vibe........


Alfred and Constance on Urbanspoon

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