In our house strong flavours rule: we have our chilli hot, our cheese sharp and our hops with a little bit of beer in it.
About that time, Frank Correnti was Executive Chef at the swanky Watt restaurant at Brisbane’s Powerhouse. Four years later he opened his own restaurant in the same city, and a unique offering it is, too.
He started Scales & Ales in fashionable Bulimba as a no-nonsense fish restaurant, but began to include good beers and over the past year the range has grown to at least 50 offerings.
Yes, you read that correctly – a fish restaurant that specialises in good beer. Here’s a renowned chef suggesting we drink beer rather than wine with our seafood, and his reasoning isn’t based on esoteric descriptions of flavours and obscure matchings.
“It [wine] is obvious. Everyone automatically things you’re going to do wine,” says Frank.
“I might have, honestly, five glasses in a year of wine, I don’t drink it, and I like beer.”
“Obviously I just wanted to do something that I love.”
So, at Scales & Ales the wine list is on the back of the food menu, and Frank’s beer bible is reverentially bound in specially cured Barramundi skin covers. Nice.
When setting up the restaurant Frank was disheartened by some of the bigger beer suppliers trying to dictate his stocklist so he went his own way, compiling this list with one-off specials, hard-to-find rarities, but also easy-drinking options that won’t overpower subtle fish dishes.
The downside to this approach is the number of tantalising beers crossed off the list as they disappear. The upside being there’s always new stock not yet listed. It pays to ask what else is available.
I’d be pretty happy with a fish restaurant that offered Peroni, Asahi, Little Creatures Rogers, White Rabbit Dark Ale or Pike’s Oakbank, but this place has offerings from Nøgne ø, Mikkeller, as well as West Australian Nail Brewing Clout Stout and Burleigh Brewing Company’s Black Giraffe.
It’s also officially one of not very many places where you can pick up a bottle of Brewdog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin, providing of course you can afford it.
On the wet Monday night I visit the turn out was impressive though it wasn’t packed. Apparently at weekends it pays to book (online if you wish). Frank was working the floor, greeting and clearly recognising many regular customers.
In the compact crisp white and natural timber dining space , sitting at the bar whilst tucking into immaculately cooked Good Old Fish and Chips (Mulloway with Cajun rub) with a Murray’s Nirvana Pale Ale, I caught Frank’s ear and asked whether he made a habit of directing customers to drink certain beers with particular dishes.
“We let people do their own thing, but we’re always available to give advice should they wish,” he said.
“The biggest question is not ‘what beer goes with what food?’, but ‘what beer would you recommend?’.”
Now to me this is a sign that good beer appreciation in this country has taken hold – people go to a fish restaurant with a big and complex drinks list and ask for suggestions, not for wine, but for beer.
Scales & Ales
5 Wambool Street
Bulimba Q 4171
Ph: 3899 4001
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