Let’s start off by establishing that I don’t believe in the Paleo propaganda. While the tilt towards whole and less processed foods is fair enough, cutting out entire food groups like grains and dairy based on the flawed understanding of what cavepeople used to eat and the flawed assumption that that is the best thing for everyone today to eat is bunk.
That aside, the menu at Asana reads well. The entree and main sections each provide a variety of proteins with accompaniments. Unlike some other establishments, you are actually told how your food will be cooked. Or not cooked, as in the case of the raw lasagne.
We only had one entree, to leave room for dessert. It was the confit duck leg with papaya, lychee, walnut, and orange salad. There was a fair bit of meat on the duck leg, and it had both tender meat and crispy skin. The salad was made of strips of papaya, and it had pomegranate in it as well. There was also a sauce with it that tasted like it was made from a jus. While it was tasty and the components were well done, I’m not sure I would pay $20 for just that serve.
The mains were difficult to choose between, but in the end we settled on the roasted barramundi, the rib eye with bone marrow, and the roasted pork belly.
The roasted barramundi had crispy skin and soft flesh. It also came with a sweet potato puree and a lime and coconut sauce that definitely had asian influence.
The grass fed rib eye was cooked just as asked, and there was a generous serve of bone marrow with it. The bone marrow was soft and gelatinous. There were also hazelnuts in the dish that added texture.
The roasted pork belly also had properly crispy crackling, and the fat was rendered down so that there was only a thin layer of it between the crunchy skin and the meat. The fermented turnips seemed like they had been pickled, so added a crispy and tart punch. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what the puree with it was, except that it tasted familiar and just a bit sweet. Brussel sprouts have an undeservedly bad reputation, and if you avoided the dish because of them, it would be a mistake.
Choosing which dessserts to have from the list was also difficult, and although it hadn’t initially been part of the plan, we ended up ordering one of each dessert. In order of appearance on the menu:
The raw raspberry mousse cheesecake with whipped coconut and berries. Given that the paleo diet is dairy-avoidant, the cheesecake wasn’t made from cheese, obviously. Strict paleo people wouldn’t eat tofu either, so best guess would be a coconut substitute. Contrary to expectations, this wasn’t sour, but balanced, with the creamy cheesecake-like part just a little bit sweet, and the stronger berry flavour concentrated in the more jelly-like red layer on top of it. It had the right proportions.
The cacao and coconut mousse with brownie and nut bark had looked the prettiest in photos we had seen. The brownie was probably more accurately a dense chocolate cake, soft rather than of classic brownie solidness. The mousse was lightly chocolate flavoured, which probably worked out for the better, otherwise the dish would have been too rich. The nut bark was essentially a soft chocolate (not tempered) with nut pieces through it.
The coconut panna cotta with seasonal fruits was nicely presented, and certainly made you think of a tropical punch. Although it was served in a glass, when scooped out, you could see that it had a proper panna cotta consistency, soft and wobbly without being gloopy. The layer just on top of it tasted like it was mango, but they could vary it with changing days or seasons.
I was expecting the lemon pound cake to be much denser, given the super-compact ones I have had before. This was, instead, light and crumbly, and did indeed taste lemony. The coconut creme and hazelnut brittle were like a sauce for pudding, providing extra flavour and crunch.
The paleo tiramisu we were probably the least convinced about. It had the chocolate shavings on top. It had a coconutty cream instead of marscapone. It had what was probably slivers of cake instead of savoiardi biscuits. It had a chocolate-coffee chia pudding in the bottom. It’s an interesting take on tiramisu..but we probably wouldn’t order it again.
The restaurant itself is on the ground floor of the Capri by Fraser hotel. The restaurant is accessible through the lobby of the hotel, which is decorated in similar theme, with a green wall of plants just as you enter. There are themes of wood and green through the restaurant, and it is warmly lighted. You walk past the open kitchen on your way to the seating, and get the chance to see and smell the food you are going to eat.
Despite the hitch of not having my booking details correct despite my having phoned twice to confirm, the waitstaff on the day were efficient and pleasant, and couldn’t be faulted.
Price point: $14 to $24 for entrees. $24 to $36 for mains. $12-$14 for desserts.
Value: Alright. On par with other dining places that sit in the not casual and not quite fine-dining category.
Address: 80 Albert Street, Brisbane
Phone: 07 3013 0058