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Motorwagen is a restaurant that could be hazardous to your credit card. Not because it is expensive. In fact, Motorwagen Café and Restaurant is a steal with all but one of its classic yet innovative mains costing under $40. It is the restaurant’s location that will have your wallet ducking for cover. Motorwagen adjoins the Mercedes-Benz Brisbane lifestyle boutique in Adelaide Street in the heart of the CBD. With a shiny new Mercedes parked on the forecourt near the entrance to the restaurant, it seems only right you should sit in this beautiful car for a moment.

Wouldn’t it be nice to take it home?  My wallet said “You wish!” and told me to keep walking to the equally attractive and much more affordable Motorwagen restaurant. Motorwagen Café and Restaurant is spacious and modern and features plenty of brass, natural timbers, leather, marble and large windows that let in plenty of light. It is a stunning yet relaxed environment with an open kitchen dishing up breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. Breakfast is a la carte and features dishes such as a chilli fried egg and bacon roll with Kimchee mayo, sesame avocado, tomato and rocket or mango and coconut pancakes with blueberries, crunchy pumpkin seed butter, lime and maple.

Motorwagen Café and Restaurant
Motorwagen Cafe & Restaurant

An a la carte menu and two degustation menus of five or seven courses do double duty for lunch and dinner. I dropped into Motorwagen Café and Restaurant with a group of fellow food lovers to try the five course degustation menu for lunch. We kicked off with amuse bouche share platters of savoury saffron risotto macarons and some very elegant Parmigiana mini-tacos. If you dine as a couple the serving portion of the amuse bouche will obviously be smaller.

Motorwagen Café and Restaurant food
Savoury saffron risotto macarons
Motorwagen Café and Restaurant food
Parmigiana mini-tacos
Motorwagen Café and Restaurant food
Hiramasa kingfish crudo with black sesame, crackers, buttermilk, basil oil and lychee gel

This was followed by our first dish which comprised Hiramasa kingfish crudo from Mooloolaba, surrounded by black sesame crackers, buttermilk, basil oil and a pop of lychee gel which had me looking around the plate hoping for more. Dario cut his culinary teeth with the likes of Heinz Beck and Gordon Ramsay – among others – before moving to Australia in 2014 to join the team at the much loved two hatted, Pilu at Freshwater Restaurant in Sydney.

He recently represented Australia in the Barilla Pasta World Championship, competing with some of the best from around the world, and finished in the top 10. His ranking in the competition came as no surprise when we tasted the next dish which showcased culurgiones, a ravioli with a potato and Pecorino filling which originated in Ogliastra in Sardinia. I loved the traditional cheese and pepper sauce which accompanied this dish and the artistic swirl of spicy nduja oil which cut through the cream and gave the culurgiones a kick. This dish is also available on the a la carte menu. Don’t miss it.

Motorwagen Café and Restaurant food
Culugiones, cacio and nduja

Next we shared pan brioche enhanced with onion paste and garlic oil. If you’re thinking of skipping this bread course to ‘save yourself’ for the rest of the meal, don’t. It was a highlight and so light and fluffy you could (almost) convince yourself it wasn’t going to fill you up. This dish is only available on the degustation menu if you would like to try it.

Motorwagen Café and Restaurant food
Pan brioche with onion paste and garlic oil

When pan fried Barramundi fillet served alongside mussels, chickpea puree and deep-fried chickpeas, with mussel broth and rosemary oil, arrived at the table the seafood lovers were in raptures. The next dish was Black Angus beef flank which had been cooked sous vide for 16 hours before being finished over hot coals. It was served with soft leeks, saffron cream and Dijon mustard jus. I am a major Dijon fan but felt it dominated the dish somewhat in this instance. However, this didn’t stop me enjoying the excellent beef at the heart of this course.

Motorwagen Café and Restaurant food
Barramundi with mussels, chickpea puree and deep-fried chickpeas
Motorwagen Café and Restaurant food
Black Angus with soft leeks, saffron cream and Dijon mustard jus

You don’t just get dessert with the degustation menu at Motorwagen Café and Restaurant, there is also a pre-dessert served before the final course. On the day we dined it was Granny Smith sorbet served on a banana and haloumi biscuit with a dash of parsley oil.

Banana and haloumi biscuit? Parsley oil with dessert? Really?  I suspect this was the reason there was no menu description for this dish as it could put people off trying it. And that would be a terrible thing because the pre-dessert was outstanding. Our meal ended with an equally creative dessert featuring peppery-sweet strips of red capsicum cooked in honey and butter, white chocolate ice cream and fresh lemon thyme.

Motorwagen Café and Restaurant food
Granny Smith sorbet
Motorwagen Café and Restaurant food
Red capsicum, white chocolate ice cream and fresh lemon thyme

This and many of the other dishes featured on the degustation menu encapsulated Dario’s aim to challenge tradition by experimenting in the kitchen to create food that was thrilling and new. Motorwagen Café and Restaurant has brought an exciting, fresh dining experience to the table in Brisbane, complemented by an inviting ambience and polished waitstaff on the floor. Put your pedal to the metal and get here fast before everyone else finds out about this impressive new restaurant.

Disclosure: The writer dined as a guest of Motorwagen Café and Restaurant. Her first visit definitely won’t be her last.

If you’re looking for accommodation in Brisbane, we have reviewed The Calile, The Westin Brisbane, Hilton Brisbane, The Johnson, NEXT Hotel Brisbane, Sage Hotel James Street, Royal on the Park, Ibis Styles Elizabeth Street, Sofitel Brisbane, Brisbane Marriott Hotel, Ovolo Inchcolm, Alex Perry Hotel & Apartments, Gambaro Hotel, and Pullman Brisbane Airport.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.