I have a theory that the harder a restaurant is to find, the better it is!
The quality of food is often inversely proportional to its height above ground. Flashy restaurants on the top of buildings or with magnificent waterfront views are sometimes disappointing, whilst there are many gems hidden away down lanes and behind other buildings.
The Survey Co is one such gem. Burnett lane once was a back-alley providing access for delivery vans but is changing under a Brisbane City Council revitalization program.
Enter The Survey Co from the laneway, opposite the back entrance to Chifley Lennons Hotel. The décor is modern with timber floors, cork walls, leather benches and exposed steel complementing the original brickwork. A relatively large bar area looks out onto the laneway. The central kitchen is on display behind glass. The dining area includes a long laneway, a small main room and an open courtyard.
Like many new places, and its sister venues (Piaf, Sardine Tin), The Survey Co is all about sharing. James Guldberg, ex-Piaf, has designed a range of tapas-style entrées including Ponzu mushrooms ($9) – delicate Asian mushrooms, sautéed in a tart citrus Ponzu sauce and served with tofu cubes in a small pan – soft and very moreish. Duck fat potatoes ($15) are crisp and hot, served with crispy chicken skin and a truffle salsa. The edamame (soy beans, $6) come steamed and salted with a sweet but intense horseradish mayonnaise.
We also shared the mains – lightly battered corn beef fritters ($28/$44) served with the horseradish mayonnaise as well as small steamed carrots and peas, and the fish of the day ($30) – crispy skin cod with chorizo. For larger appetites, there is also a whole duck to share ($85).
Desserts are equally novel. Salted caramel popcorn ($7) is topped with crispy bacon strips. Slices of mango with lime and chilli sherbert ($8) and spectacular Golden Rough ice cream cones ($12) – four small chocolate cones dusted with gold leaf supported by a chocolate and coconut base which you dip into.
There is a good wine list with more than half the wine selection available by the glass, as well as beers and some excellent cocktails. The service is smooth, efficient and knowledgeable. The Survey Co is worth venturing into the back lanes to discover.