Tried & Tested: Three Blue Ducks, W Brisbane

With its curved architectural shape that weaves like a serpents tail, the Three Blue Ducks restaurant space within one of Brisbane’s hottest new hotels, W Brisbane, serves as a destination hotel restaurant.

W Brisbane opened the doors to its colourful and fun-filled interiors in June 2018, marking the return of the W Hotel brand to Australia and the first five-star hotel build in the Queensland capital in 20 years.

Tried & Tested: Three Blue Ducks, W Brisbane
Tried & Tested: Three Blue Ducks, W Brisbane

When I visit Three Blue Ducks, positioned within the hotel, the patrons surrounding me are a mix of hotel guests, Brisbane locals and also residents from Byron Bay who have made the journey for a weekend lunch at one of the capital’s most popular eateries. 

Three Blue Ducks Brisbane is the fourth outlet for the restaurant group – joining the Rosebery and Bronte restaurants in Sydney; and Byron Bay in New South Wales.

“The Three Blue Ducks are all still really integrated,” explains head chef Adam Stewart. The ethos of ethically and locally sourced produce, used to create fuss-free food, is a constant at all of the venues, which differ in aesthetic and style.

The menu here, explains Stewart, changes every four months to tie in with seasonal ingredients.

“We source a little from Byron Bay, but our food is predominantly from Brisbane. We work with sustainable and organic seafood suppliers from the Gold Coast, Rocky Point Aquaculture,” says Stewart, while in the way of meat, there’s a focus on beef that is all grass-fed.

The space has a funky, urban feel to it, with black tables, blonde wood chairs and the curved deck that is reflective of W Brisbane’s river dreaming theme, integrated throughout the hotel’s design by Nic Graham.

Tried & Tested: Three Blue Ducks, W Brisbane
Tried & Tested: Three Blue Ducks, W Brisbane

Oversized wicker lanterns dangle from the ceiling as vibrant background music plays. Guests can glance over to the kitchen station visible from the main eating area.

We watch as the team of 12 youthful chefs work seamlessly together to deliver lunchtime service to patrons. As Stewart explains, usually commercial kitchens have one long line but here at Three Blue Ducks, “there are four separate stations and we co-ordinate and talk on head-sets,” he says. This space also serves as the breakfast area for hotel guests.

The spiced lamb as a kofta is a fabulous starter, served with charred eggplant puree, herbs and light, fluffy home-made flatbread. The spice in the lamb is offset by juicy bursts from pomegranate seeds.

The adobo that accompanies the beautifully smoky barbecued octopus is made with three types of chillies, resulting in an earthy texture; while coriander leaves and lime in the burnt corn salsa add freshness.

Tried & Tested: Three Blue Ducks, W Brisbane
Smoky barbecued octopus. Image: Katrina Holden
Tried & Tested: Three Blue Ducks, W Brisbane
Chef Adam Stewart. Image: Katrina Holden

The wine list is made up of both ‘hands off’ and ‘hands on’ wines – referring to the amount of human intervention and winemaking practices used to produce the final drop. Three Blue Ducks tries to work with organic and biodynamic wineries who use sustainable practices.

From Spieglau glassware, I try the 2017 Mount Edward TED Organic Pinot Gris from Central Otago, New Zealand as my main course arrives.

The Mooloolaba King Prawns are served with chilli, avocado, lime, shallots and seasonal greens – all with a distinct charred flavour, straight off the barbecue. The sweet prawn meat more or less flakes away from the shell. Chef Adam Stewart highly recommends eating the prawn head too. “That’s where all the nutrients and flavour are,” he says.

Tried & Tested: Three Blue Ducks, W Brisbane
Mooloolaba King Prawns and Moreton Bay bugs. Image: Katrina Holden
Tried & Tested: Three Blue Ducks, W Brisbane
Vanilla crème brulee with passion fruit, white chocolate and a salty milk crumb.
Image: Katrina Holden

Meanwhile one of the house specialties, the Moreton Bay bugs is prepared with charred cavalo nero and XO butter. Succulent and fleshy, the combination takes fresh Australian seafood and merges it with a distinctly Asian flavour. A side dish of roasted garlic and rosemary potatoes is soft, buttery and creamy with a smooth, melt-in-your-mouth texture.

For dessert, we sample their most popular offering – the vanilla crème brulee with passion fruit, white chocolate and a salty milk crumb that contrasts and balances the sweetness in the brulee. The desserts are generous in portion size – you may only have room for a shared dessert!

Chef Adam Stewart says it’s a balancing act trying to please all their customers, but this particular Three Blue Ducks outpost suits its space within the sexy, design-driven interiors of W Brisbane.

Find out more:

Three Blue Ducks, W Brisbane
Level 3, W Brisbane
81 North Quay, Brisbane, QLD

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