When it comes to first-rate degustation dining, there seems to be a misconception that Melbourne holds the monopoly. Granted, while incredible things have been happening in Melbourne’s foodie community for the last few years, it would be incredibly misguided to think that Brisbane has nothing, both literally and figuratively, to bring to the table.

Enter: Black Ox Dining, the latest pop-up venture from Brisbane local Chris Siktars. Siktars created his concept pop-up as a way to experiment outside of traditional fine-dining restraints; launching with a sell-out premier event in March of 2017 at the historic Paddington Substation. A multi-course degustation, the dinners showcase the very best of seasonal and native produce with an emphasis on keeping things as local and as sustainable as possible. Taking a refreshing step back from the grandiose degustation experience, Siktars instead chooses a more humble approach, one that is infused with passion and creativity.

Siktars has built the entire degustation around the idea of “local”, partnering with local wineries, butchers and produce markets. Black Ox Dining adopts the paddock-to-plate philosophy and takes it to dizzyingly new heights, going so far as to adopt traditional foraging practices for seasonal fruits, vegetables and weeds that give a new meaning to “local” produce.

More than just a display of the incredible organic products produced in the greater Brisbane region, Siktars also uses these degustation dinners as an opportunity to showcase some of his favourite wineries, such as Mornington Peninsula’s Scorpo Wines. The collaboration offers diners the chance to have each course accompanied with an expertly matched glass of vino, perfectly complementing the work of Siktars and his team.

Fish-&-Honey

With regards to the menu, diners should enter excited to try something unexpected. Whether it’s the salty and lemony tang of the locally foraged karkalla or the curiously deep flavour of cured yolk and asparagus, each dish is a subtle celebration of local, organic produce. Wild Queensland snapper, Queensland lamb and pecan-fed pork are a nod to the local butchers and fisheries that Siktars has partnered with, while the accompanying wines (everything from a deliciously sweet rosé through to a deep shiraz) highlight the individual flavours of each dish.

For me, the pecan-fed pork topped with fermented honey vinegar and light bunch of purslane was a standout. Paired with a 2015 Scorpo Estate pinot noir and served right before dessert, it was the perfect bookend to the savoury dishes of the degustation. And, on the topic of dessert, one dish isn’t enough for Sitkars who has chosen two different dishes to close the evening: a raspberry cream pie paired with the 2016 Scorpo Estate shiraz, and, one of the most interesting dishes, a wedge of backyard honey topped with cream and lemon myrtle and served alongside a heady 2016 Scorpo Bestia pinto grigio.

Lamb-&-Snapper

While the menu is ever-changing and subject to Siktars whims and fantasies, if previous dinners are anything to go by, we know that we can expect delicious and tantalising things in 2018. Head online to blackoxdining.com for tickets to their next dinner.

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