TOP 100 QUEST: FLEET, Brunswick Heads, NSW
Well, what a superb ending to 2015 – dining at four regional Top 100 restaurants in a row from Byron Bay to Noosa between Christmas and New Year. One of these restaurants was Fleet in Brunswick Heads and I have to say, it was a most enjoyable experience. We simply couldn’t fault it.
The first thing you’ll notice about this place is… it’s tiny. It seats a maximum of around 20. The night we went it was pretty full with only 14 people, including 4 sitting up at the window bench. If you’re seated at the main concrete-slab bench, you feel as though you’re dining at the kitchen counter of a friend’s house, with Astrid McCormack (co-owner/host) and Rob Mudge (barman) being those friends. Astrid and Rob are likeable and personable and are great at what they do. At the end of the bench you can watch Josh Lewis, the all-important chef (ex Vue de Monde), head down and hard at work. Astrid and Josh also worked together at the former Loam in Victoria. Both Astrid and Rob know their wines really well, and Rob can make a mean cocktail.
The prices are really good. In fact, a bargain at just $75 per head for the ‘Kitchen pick shared menu’ which we opted for. A small price to pay for such an outstanding evening, and no difficult choices to be made! The menu is laden with interesting, unusual, locally-sourced ingredients including veal sweet bread, pig’s trotters, bronze fennel and bearded barley. We loved the Chicken wings, octopus and kohlrabi dish. The wings were de-boned and crisped slightly in the pan, while the octopus was so soft and tender. The Smoked mullet with crispy skin, potato and dill was a beautiful arrangement of potato crisps in a mullet dip with pieces of crisp fish skin. And then there was the good ol’ Veal sweet bread schnitzel sandwich which is, as it sounds – crumbed, fried veal sweet bread served between white bread. Even the Sugarloaf cabbage with kale and savoury yeast that looked like an ordinary slaw was delicious! And then there was the prawn… the huge king prawn… so fresh, so sweet!! And, I have to mention THE BEST capers EVER that came with the pig’s trotters. I’m not even a caper fan but these had me gobsmacked so much so that I’m going to contact the producer Bunya Red Farm to get some! Unlike the commonly strongly brined capers, these are delicate with both herbal and floral characteristics.
Fleet is no ordinary restaurant. It’s unlike anywhere I’ve dined before. It’s intimate, it’s friendly, it’s clever, it’s delicious and it’s non-pretentious. It’s certainly worth travelling for.