HQ Bar and Kitchen is at the top of the newly refurbished Quay Hotel at Elizabeth Quay (previously the Esplanade Hotel). It’s a popular spot for drinks at the bar and when we arrived there were plenty of diners having cocktails and nibbles in the bar area. There is a balcony outside with superb views of Elizabeth Quay.
We were seated at a corner table, but it was quite dim and we needed to use our phone torches to read the menu. The menu is one of those menus where you want to try everything. All dishes are shareable, but we decided to go for shared starters and have our own mains. The flavours are Asian, probably more Japanese than anything, but a good variety of interest on the menu.
To start we couldn’t go past the lobster tails and chose them along with capelin with slaw. The lobster was a do-it-yourself nori sushi wrap. The dressing on the kale was tasty, a little on the salty side, but very nice with everything else together. The lobster was maybe a little overcooked, but not enough to spoil the experience.
The capelin were like large whitebait, very fresh and nicely cooked. I would have loved a little more slaw though.
For mains I picked the signature Cone Bay barramundi with tapioca pearls, goji mushrooms and broccoli. It had a weird garnish though. There was a length of something that looked like it might be a piece of ginger torch lily, but it was really inedible and not pleasant on the dish. The sauce was nicely tasty and the tapioca a good feature of the dish.
My partner chose the slow cooked beef short ribs with pickled eggplant, coral white fungus and black beans. He would have preferred more black beans, the white fungus was pretty tasteless too, but the ribs were lovely.
We also chose a side of battered shaved sweet potato fritters which were delicious.
So overall what did we think? It’s a great venue with nice views. The food is mostly flavoursome but the chef should really think about some items that don’t belong on the plate like the odd garnish and the white fungus. We still felt hungry when we left, and it wasn’t a cheap meal at almost $140 with just two soft drinks. It’s a good restaurant with a lot of promise, but just lacking a little finesse.
Last visit – August 2021