Have you ever gotten that feeling when you eat something so frickin’ delicious that you sort of melt inside, and you feel like your life is complete and you can die happy? Is that too big a call?
Let me put this in some context: When it comes to eating out, I like to try different places, and actually won’t return to the same restaurant very frequently even if I loved the food and the service was great. I suppose it’s similar to my approach to books: I have so many books that I want to read, so it’s hard to go back and re-read my favourites, knowing that I’ve got a huge backlog of other books to read. But I fully intend on re-reading those books at some point (maybe in several years’ time).
The main difference is that books will stay essentially the same over time – what I take away from re-reading it might be different, but the words are printed and permanent – but restaurants change over time. They change their menus, they change staff, they might even close down. And so I have this great dilemma of whether to go back to an old favourite as much as possible, or to try to get around to as many different places on my culinary wish list as I can.
I usually go with the latter option …unless I find something so incredibly impressive that I just have to go back.
Back in February this year, a friend of mine organised a casual catch up with myself and a few other high school friends at this neat little place in South Brisbane called Gauge. I’d heard of them before, but never visited until that night.
I’ll spare you some superfluous details (like about how the staff are really friendly, the service is great, and the whole atmosphere of the place is quite refined but comfortable) and just cut to the chase: Their black garlic bread is amazing. Since that night, I have returned there twice – once on my own, and once with work friends – just so I could have that garlic bread again. That, in itself, is a big deal.
At that first dinner in February, we were chatting with one of the staff at the end of the dinner, and he mentioned that they constantly change their menu depending on what’s available. I got a little worried, and asked if they’d keep the garlic bread on there. Thank goodness he said yes. It’s kind of their signature dish.
Before I harp on about this, I should make it clear that this garlic bread is actually a dessert. Usually when I’m explaining this to anyone who will listen, I tell them to think of it as “bread” in the same sense that people call banana bread, “bread”. It’s served with a beautiful quenelle of brown butter and burnt vanilla; and while it’s visually very striking, I suppose it might also appear quite simple. I would share a photo here, but whenever I’m presented with this dish, I just want to eat it, and don’t even spare a thought for taking photos. If you Google “Gauge South Brisbane garlic bread”, you should get some hits.
I’ve told several people that this garlic bread at Gauge is probably one of the best desserts I’ve ever had in Brisbane, but it’s possibly one of the best desserts I’ve ever had anywhere. (The eponymous brownie at Malt is its closest rival, but I don’t think I’ve ever written a post on it… Just sayin’…) In a way, I can’t believe that it’s taken me so long to write a post about this, but I feel like part of me wanted to keep this discovery a bit more secret/exclusive. But when something is this good, I couldn’t possibly keep it to myself (as various friends and colleagues will testify to).
I don’t really know how to describe the taste of it in a way that would do it justice. It’s just so delicious and moreish; not really sweet, but definitely a dessert item; earthy and rich and decadent, but I could easily eat a couple of plates of it on my own. I’m so glad the friends I took there the other night loved it as much as I did, especially since I’d been going on about it so much…
If you’re ever in Brisbane, I highly recommend having lunch or dinner at Gauge (their savoury dishes are also creative and well-executed) and, unless you’re allergic to garlic (is that even a thing?), please try the garlic bread. And take me with you.