Dec 282012

This post is slightly overdue, but the festive season caught up with me!

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited along to breakfast at Riverbar & Kitchen, the new venture from Matt Moran and Peter Sullivan.  It’s located beside the Brisbane River at the business end of town, at the site of the ill-fated Boardwalk Bar.  I was pleased to hear something new was going into the site, as Boardwalk Bar was one of my regular haunts during my private practice days, and the site of many a big night.  Riverbar & Kitchen looks set to fill the gap around that end of town, for business people looking for a place to have a casual bite to eat or drink.  And the view is pretty spectacular!

A number of us sat down for a pre-work breakfast one Wednesday morning and were lucky enough to meet Matt and Peter and have a chat face-to-face.  I confess, I found myself a bit nervous, but I regrouped and tried to string together sentences that made some kind of sense.

I loved the little details, like the amazing plates and bowls that look to be handmade, and the huge rope light feature that runs down the centre of the restaurant.  The food itself was delicious – good, honest breakfast food.  I particularly liked the bircher muesli, and (surprisingly enough) the blood sausage that came out with the bacon and eggs.

I had a lovely morning, one of the nicest Wednesdays I’ve had in some time!  If only every morning could start out with a relaxing breakfast, coffee and good company (and one wasn’t required to be at work afterwards…)

Riverbar & Kitchen
71 Eagle Street Pier, Brisbane
Ph: 3211 9020


Full disclosure: I ate as a guest of Riverbar & Kitchen, but all opinions are my own.

Sep 112011

Full disclosure – we were invited to dine at Medusa and try the new spring menu and we were given a reduced price on the menu.  I also apologise for the terrible quality of these pictures – it was quite dim at our end of the table.

Medusa is a new fine dining restaurant in Bardon with an amazing view out over Paddington and South West Brisbane.  Brisbane food blogger’s and media types were offered a chance to try their degustation menu (with or without matching wines) for a reduced price.  J and I decided to head along, with J trying the matching wines and me sticking to a lemon lime and bitters.

The degustation is $95 for 7 courses, and $155 with matching wines.  If J’s meal was anything to go by, the pours of wine are very generous.

Chef Minh Le is passionate about sustainability and sources as much free range, organic and local produce as possible.  Our evening was the launch of his spring menu.

I’ll summarise each dish, and my thoughts, but as an overall review, both J and I agreed that the menu felt a bit…complicated at times.  The food was all beautifully executed and presented, the seafood in particular was gorgeous and fresh.  The kitchen clearly have all the techniques and skills down to a fine art.  But, I felt that certain courses tried to do too much – there was too much on the plate, too many elements to work together as a cohesive whole.  This could also be a taste/style thing – I do tend to prefer dishes that choose a few elements to focus on, and work with the fantastic ingrediants we have at our disposal here in Queensland. I don’t think the issue is a deal breaker.  In fact, I think with a few pretty minor tweaks they could easily fix the issues (assuming of course they want to).

My other gripe on the evening was the fact that we were kept waiting nearly an hour after the start time before beginning.  This wasn’t entirely the restaurant’s fault – there were at least 6 people who didn’t show up, and there were some others who were a bit late.  Obviously the kitchen was holding out in the hope that everyone would arrive.  I understand that they had probably prepared for a certain number of people and were hoping to meet their numbers.  I think when it’s 30 minutes after the start time for an event, it’s time to get people started – after all, you can probably catch any latecomers up no?  The biggest drawback to making us wait was that we didn’t leave until quite late – after 11pm on a school night!

Spring Degustation Menu

Amuse Bouche – White bean and asparagus soup with truffle.  This was a beautiful, smooth, flavoursome soup – I love asparagus and I enjoyed this.  The truffle was a treat also!

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Course 1

White asparagus with roasted nuts, quinoa and quail eggs.  This course had even more going on in it than is listed – it also had truffle, walnuts, wild rice, macademias… The egg was served cold (I believe this was a deliberate choice) but I must admit I found this a bit offputting.

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Course 2

Hervey Bay scallops with veal sweetbread, cauliflower puree, chanterelle mushrooms and truffle jus.  I was very proud of myself for eating the sweetbreads – I am not normally a big fan of offal, but this was quite tasty.  The scallops were absolutely beautiful, but as I said above, we felt there was a lot going on in the dish.  Other’s at the table didn’t agree with us on that point though – several people commented that this dish was their favourite.

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Course 3

Yellowfin tuna marinated in Thai pesto with Mooloolaba prawns, nasturium leaf, asparagus, buckwheat crumble, quinoa, edamame beans and bonito vinaigrette.  My main thought with this course was that the pesto overpowered the tuna flavour, but worked perfectly with the prawns.  So I’d probably either prefer just prawns in this dish, or that the pesto be served more as a sauce, so you can add as little or as much as you wish.  The tuna was beautiful and fresh.

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Course 4

Cured Cape Grim beef carpaccio with morels, baby split peas, quail egg and pommes souffle.  This course was J’s favourite, and probably mine too.  The flavours all worked really well together.

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Course 5

Crispy skin Gooralie pork belly with chilli honey glaze, roasted apple and celeriac puree, sous vide abalone, green papaya crab salad, nuoc cham, edamame beans and salmon roe.  Abalone as an ingredient just doesn’t do it for me – and I was a bit confused about why it was in this dish.  Each of the elements of this dish had very strong and distinct flavours.  They worked better when sampled all together, but on their own were a bit overwhelming.

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Course 6

Buche d’Affinois with lavosh, quince paste, muscatels, apples and beetroot puree.  I’ve yet to meet a cheese platter I didn’t like.

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Course 7

Raspberries with violet curd, raspberry sorbet, brandy snaps and violet crystals.  I really enjoyed this dish – some of the other guests seemed to find it a bit tart, but I enjoyed the combination of raspberries and curd.

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Medusa Dining
Shop 1, 62 MacGregor Terrace

Ph: 0731611858

Aug 082011

Full disclosure – I was a guest of Sake restaurant. I believe this degustation is normally $115/head (and well worth it in my opinion!). As always, all my comments reflect my honest opinion and are my own.

Occasionally emails pop up in my inbox inviting me to events, or offering me products. I consider each email carefully – weighing up whether it’s in line with my blog and my philosophy. So, if McDonald’s were to invite me to a launch of a new menu item, I would probably decline. But if I see the words, seasonal, local, quality produce my eyes light up like a cartoon character and I hit reply just as fast as I can!

So it was when Caitlin invited me to preview Sake’s winter menu – a 9 course odyssey with 3 matching sakes for tasting purposes. Chef Shinichi Maeda was executive chef at Wasabi Restaurant and Bar in Noosa and has recently made the move to head up Sake in Brisbane.

Although Sake has been open since December last year I hadn’t yet had the chance to try it out. I am pleased to report I was not disappointed – every course was delicately flavoured and multidimensional. I don’t think there was a thing I didn’t enjoy. I already have plans to take J back to try it out (although if we want to get the full experience we may have to save our pennies and go for a special occasion!)

We began our meal with an amuse bouche of sashimi (I cannot remember the fish – I know it was like kingfish?) with a soup made from a type of taro.  It was a beautiful start to the night and a great tantaliser to the taste buds.  But it was only the beginning…

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I am (slowly) coming around to oysters – I only tried my first a few years ago and I wasn’t convinced.  I’m a texture person and you have to admit the texture of oysters is … off-putting.  However, I enjoyed my Kumamoto style oysters and the beautiful fresh scallops that came with them.

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Continuing the seafood theme we had three cuts of sashimi from Southern Blue Fin Tuna.  Again, I am new to sashimi, and I suspect this version may have spoilt me for other restaurants – the fish was so fresh and so tender.

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One of the heroes of the night (that’s a bit of a nod to Masterchef right there…) was the venison – ever so slightly seared topside with crispy ginger chips, pickled pears (and I believe there were also kumquats?) with a plum and sansho pepper dressing.

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Next was the Mooloolaba spanner crab with yellow fin tuna dumpling and shiitake mushroom and tuna marrow consomme.  Each dish had so many components but was a lesson on subtlty – no one ingrediant overpowered another.

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The crab was followed by a galantine of quail, stuffed with yama-gobo and shitake mushrooms, coated with an orange-soy glaze and served with poached golden beetroot leaves and picked golden beetroot.  I loved how Shinichi used so many seasonal ingredients in the menu – and these tiny beetroots were beautiful and sweet.

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The final main course was a piece of shar wagyu sirloin with a white sesame and ginger-miso emulsion, confit sato-imo (a type of taro) and onion bulbs.  I am convinced that you could confit a shoe and probably convince me to eat it (well, maybe not a shoe).  Of course, my camera choose this moment to die, so I don’t have any pictures to share of this amazing dish.   You’ll just have to order it yourself to see what it looks like!  With this course we were also served a winter salad featuring persimmon, kumquats, daikon, celery, minza, spinach, renkon and radish with ginger and guava dressing.  Apparently the plates were to share between two, but I’m pretty sure I owned my plate – sorry to whoever I was supposed to be sharing with!

Dessert was chocolate – apparently Shinichi is a big fan, and he certainly knows how to work the medium.  We were told a very cute story about what the “chocolate garden” represents – dark chocolat bavaroi is the soil from a pot-plant of his mother’s herbs that he destroyed with an errant soccer ball.  The quenelled white chocolate sorbet is the ball.  Special mention to the chocolate liqueur jelly which was like liquid gold.

My personal favourites were the venison and the eye fillet. A nod to the lotus root chips – I could eat a whole bowlful of them no problem!

The restaurant also has a great atmosphere and I love the private rooms – if you were having a special event they would be fantastic.

Thanks again to Shinichi, Mirium, Robert, Caitlin and the rest of the team at Sake for a fantastic night. I’ll be seeing you!

Sake restaurant
Level 1/45 Eagle St
Eagle St Pier
Ph: 07 3339 0999

Aug 012011

It was cold outside, and it was still pretty cold when we got inside SuperButcher at Eagle Farm. I stopped and stared around in awe – I had never been before and its size can be overwhelming.

It is so tempting to stop and look at all the goodies, but I am here for a purpose.  That purpose is to further my appreciation of lamb.

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We spent close to 2 hours watching Les the butcher breakdown a whole lamb carcass. Less you think this sounds too much like a lecture, we were well fed throughout the presentation and sampled various cuts as Les ran us through them.

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Some key things I took away from the experience:

  • lamb, feta, pumpkin and shallot sausages are amazing

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  • it’s hard to go wrong with lamb, mint, rosemary and honey
  • lamb ribs were the surprise hit of the night – so much flavour.  We picked up a pack the following day when we returned to stock the freezer
  • some of those fancier lamb cuts (frenched lamb racks, lamb cutlets etc) result in a lot more waste than their counterparts
  • there are a lot of different cuts of lamb!

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We finished the evening with thick slices of leg roast on top of some of the most flavoursome mashed potatoes I’ve had.

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SuperButcher runs beef and lamb appreciation nights regularly. They are a great way to learn more about your meat, and about the (dying) art of butchering.
SuperButcher has several outlets – we were at Eagle Farm.

Thanks to Les, Andrew and the rest of the team for a great night!

6 EagleView Place
Eagle Farm

Full disclosure – J and I paid our own way for this experience, but I did win a free boning knife!

Jun 172011

By way of disclaimer, I was introduced to this new restaurant at Paddington by a friend who has a distant connection to the chef.  However, these opinions are entirely my own and I paid for my own meal!

I must confess, I was spoilt by seafood in Tasmania, and as a result the stuff in Brisbane just doesn’t seem quite as good.  However, I really enjoyed the seafood platter (shared amongst 4) and was impressed by the variety of seafood (not to mention the sheer volume of food!).  The scallops (on skewers) were particularly good, and the seafood was all of a high quality.  The chips were fantastic – better by far than the chips I recently had at Aria (what a thing to say!). The Greek salad was beautiful and again a generous portion.

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Andrikos is very new, and was very quiet (although we did go on a Tuesday night).  The seafood is good quality and the staff were friendly.  It’s also a great spot on MacGregor Terrace.  The prices are a little on the high end, but we did order the most expensive item on the menu (the seafood platter for 4).  However, I do think you get value for money.

Andrikos Seafood
Shop 1, 65-69 MacGregor Terrace
Paddington  QLD
Ph: (07) 3367 1900

Apr 292010

Treacle is a cafe/restaurant that prides itself on using the freshest and most seasonal produce.  Executive Chefs and Owners Richard Gardner and Shenyia Laverack have put together a Modern Australian menu and have focused on using some of the excellent Queensland produce at their fingertips.

Breakfast is beautifully presented and the menu has a great variety of sweet, savory, gluten-free and vegetarian options.  The coffee was very good and the meal sizes are generous.  I enjoyed my breakfast but I think perhaps my dining companians made better selections.

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I ordered roasted field mushrooms on sourdough with grilled haloumi cheese and roasted tomato.  It was enjoyable, but I felt my mushrooms were a bit plain and I would have preferred if they had more flavour to them.

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One dining companion ordered herb-roasted potatoes, oven baked with baby roma tomatoes served with spinach and poached eggs and toast.  Her eggs were perfectly poached – breaking them open the yolk ran out onto the toast and potatoes.

My other companion dislikes eggs, so she ordered the zesty avocado on sourdough with bacon, roast tomato and rocket.  She opted to add haloumi as well.  The avocado was generously slathered on the toast and I think the addition of haloumi was inspired (but then, I think cheese makes nearly everything better).

On a separate occasion, I visited Treacle for lunch with J and friends who were visiting from Sydney.  The lunch menu seems to stay pretty constant year around, although they do have daily specials which seem to have a more seasonal focus.  I was hoping to have something reasonably light as we were going out for dinner the same night.  I ordered the Thai style rice fish cakes which are served with a side salad and dipping sauce.  The flavour of this dish was lovely, but I didn’t realise the cakes would be deep fried.  I think they might have been left in the a fryer a bit too long also, as they were a bit crispy for my liking.  I think I probably would have enjoyed this dish a bit more if there had been several smaller cakes, rather than two enormous ones.  However, overall I still enjoyed my meal, and ate with gusto.

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J ordered one of the specials – lamb ribs in crispy breadcrumbs with a sticky Asian dipping sauce.  Our server informed us that one of the secret ingrediants in the sauce is actually Coca Cola.  I am not a big ribs person (I find them too fatty), but J loved this dish.   I was impressed by the dish, particularly as it was something really different that I haven’t seen on a menu elsewhere.

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Overall I enjoyed my Treacle dining experience, and I will probably be back before too long – hopefully for a wine matching night they are having in May!  I’m always keen to support local businesses with sustainable practices when the owners are passionate about what they do.

Treacle is located at Grange and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday and breakfast and lunch on Sundays.

Shops 2-3 Days Rd
Ph: 3352 4144