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
Web: http://riverbarandkitchen.com.au/

 

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

Jun 112012
 

Hello!  I hope you like the new-look Sugar Snapped.  J has been working hard behind the scenes, and whilst there may still be some bugs in the archives we decided it was time to go live. 

Full disclosure – J and I were guests of Sono Portside, however all opinions are my own!

J and I walk into the beautiful restaurant and remove our shoes to slide in underneath the sunken tables.  It’s at about this time that I regret my decision to go with ballet flats and not shoes that require socks!  I also question my decision to wear a rather short skirt.  Minor wardrobe malfunctions aside, we relax and get comfortable in our lovely table overlooking the river.  No cruise ships are docked at the moment, so we have an uninterrupted view down the river towards the city.

Our waiter Sho comes around with the menu and recommends the tasting menu (with matching wines/sake) to give us the best overview of what Sono has to offer.  I love a good degustation/tasting, but I leave the wine tasting to J – I ran a half marathon this morning so 6 glasses of wine probably wouldn’t be the smartest idea…

Our first course (and in fact all the courses) arrives promptly.  We have a fresh oyster with a touch of lime juice – it tastes like the sea, and I feel like I am getting more at ease with the tilt-your-head-and-gulp action required to enjoy an oyster. The soft-shell crab is crisp and sweet, and the wagyu piece tender and just barely seared.  J tells me the Cloudy Bay Sparkling is light and matches well with the seafood.

Second course is sashimi, and the wasabi gives it a great kick.  I particularly enjoy the white fish in lemon juice, and I prefer the tuna to the salmon.  J and I agree that, although we don’t mind sashimi, we prefer the flavour when the tuna/salmon is just quickly seared on each side. The Mitchell Watervale riesling is crisp and not to sweet.

Next up is a fried spring roll filled with fresh scampi.  The sauce it is served with is simply delicious, but perhaps slightly too overpowering of the delicate scampi for our tastes.  The cheesy croquettes are excellent and the sauce really works well with those.  I am not normally a fan of wooded chardonnay, but the Giants Step Sexton chardonnay is delicious.

Sushi course, and we enjoy some grilled salmon, tempura prawn and fish cake sushi.  The pickled ginger is divine (and not fluorescent pink like a lot of commercial varieties!) – it makes me want to learn to pickle ginger at home (perhaps a future project?).  J has the sake (Echigo Toji No Sato) with this course, and whilst neither of us have any particular experience with sake he thinks it goes particularly well with the salmon.

For the main, I choose the wagyu beef and J picks the duck.  The beef is lovely, tender, cooked medium-rare according to my request and with a fragrant, rich sauce.  This dish has what Heston would describe as “umami” and certainly satisfies me.  J’s orange duck is also rich and perfectly cooked, but J remarks that a more aged pinot noir than the Roaring Meg could have also have worked with the dish.

Finally dessert!  Normally dessert on the tasting menu is a tasting plate, but as special guests of the restaurant (how fancy!) we are treated to two full sized desserts.  The profiterole swans are lovely, but my heart belongs to the gateau au chocolat, which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me.

From start to finish our whole experience at Sono Portside was delightful – the service was thoughtful (thanks to Sho!), the food was delicious, the view and company was wonderful.

Thank you so much to Sono Portside for the chance to come and have a delicious meal!

Sono Portside
Level 1
Portside Wharf
39 Hercules St
Hamilton
Ph: 3268 6655
Web: http://www.sonorestaurant.com.au/#/sono-portside/home

 

Jul 112011
 

I love Italian food.  I have a newly discovered passion for seafood.  Combine the two and I am one happy camper!

We were chatting with our B&B hosts in Launceston (from the lovely Kurrajong House) and of course I asked for recommendations for dinner.  Novaro’s was the first place Julie mentioned and she kindly offered to make a booking for us.

We arrived at 6.30pm (we’re early eaters) and by 7 the restaurant was turning people away.  I should add, it is quite cute and tiny, and it was a Wednesday night.  The hostess knows Julie and provides lovely service, although it does drop off a bit after a large group arrives.

It’s our honeymoon, so of course we are trying not to be too concerned about money.  The abalone is a novelty – neither J or I have ever tried it.  It’s served as an entree, thinly sliced with mushrooms and butter on linguine.  It adds a certain saltiness and texture to the dish, and the whole dish is tasty, but I must confess I don’t really see what all the hype is about.  I would have been equally as happy with just mushrooms!

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Our mains are fantastic – I have the prawn linguine and J has the seafood linguine.  The sauces are slightly different – one more chilli based, one more garlic I think but both are buttery and rich.  The seafood is fresh off the boat and generously portioned.

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I feel we had dessert, but my memory is failing me and I can’t find any photographic evidence.  I do remember some kind of complementary liqueur with the bill, which was a nice touch!

Novaro’s is a bit of a Launceston institution, and it’s easy to see why.  They aren’t reinventing the wheel when it comes to Italian food, but they are doing traditional food well.

Novaro’s Italian Restaurant
28 Brisbane St
Launceston, Tas
Ph: 03 6334 5589
Web:  www.novaros.com

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
Web: http://www.andrikosseafood.com.au/

Jun 152011
 

Stillwater is located at the Old Mill in Launceston, with a beautiful view out over the water.  Unfortunately it was night when we went, so we didn’t get to see too much!

It was day 2 of the honeymoon, and we used this is an excuse to spend up big and enjoy 3 full courses!  Stillwater is definitely a high-end restaurant and the prices are reflective of this fact.  I particularly liked the emphasis on local and sustainable produce – something I would love to see more of in Brisbane.  My only criticism of the night was that I was quite cold in our corner – although that could just been my sensitive Queensland skin!

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First up was the blue cheese souffle – I think this was a double baked souffle but it retained a lot of air and was quite light.  I believe that was an pear sauce which paired with the dish perfectly.  But the highlight is hidden behind the souffle – the most amazing dwarf fig, cooked in a sweet reduction of some kind.  We later tracked down these tiny figs and brought some home with us.

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This is Julian’s pine nut caramelised onion tart – covered in a Pyengana sauce.  He rated it highly and was particularly fond of the crisp little green apple/celery salad served with it.

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I had the blue trevella and Julian enjoyed the trout (first pic).  Seafood in Tasmania is something special.  The sauce with my blue eye trevella is called a white balsamic beurre blanc on the menu and it was exceptional.  I loved this dish.

My only complaint about the meals was that the sides were definitely on the small side (particularly given the price) – but they were delicious (we had the mushrooms).

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We were so full at this point, but couldn’t pass up dessert – so we shared the white chocolate and tonka bean marquise – it was beautiful, light and creamy, definitely a cut above your average restaurant dessert.

Stillwater
Ritchie’s Mill
Launceston, TAS
Ph: 03 6331 4153
Web: http://www.stillwater.net.au

Jun 062011
 

For years I was never really into seafood.  I’ve always liked fish – I think because for many years we were spoilt with the freshest whiting caught off the beach by my grandpa.  But prawns, scallops, shellfish – it never really appealed.

I started to like prawns when J’s mum made the most amazing marinated prawn skewers that were cooked on the BBQ.  The prawns were fresh from a local prawn farm.  My love and appreciation of seafood has been slowly evolving since that point.  My most memorable scallops were cooked in cream and garlic in New Zealand, and were caught fresh off the dock out the front of the accommodation.

I guess there is a theme here – and that is freshness.  Tasmania has some of the most amazing seafood I’ve ever tasted, and in St Helens we ate dinner at a restaurant where you could literally see the boats that brought in the catch daily from the window.

It seemed an appropriate place to try lobster for the first time.  And although the price made me blanche slighly, we were on our honeymoon, so what better time to justify the expense!

It didn’t disappoint – the flesh was sweet and tender, with a pool of melted butter inside the shell.  The sides were a beautiful artichoke risotto and steamed greens.

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J began with the oysters – again, the quality was unsurpassed, and they were served simply with a champagne sauce.  For his main, he had fresh ocean trout with a sesame skin and clams and noodles in an Asian style broth.

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Although my stomach was groaning at me, I couldn’t miss an opportunity to have dessert.  My eyes were bigger than my stomach, and there was no way I could finish the decadent chocolate torte -but I sure gave it a try!  J finished every bit of his delicious honey panna cotta – proclaiming that we would have to try to replicate it at home!

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Blue Shed sits right out over the water, and we were on the side closest to the boats – it was a beautiful spot to stare out at the water and stars.  The service was attentive and cheerful, and I cannot recommend this place highly enough.   The fish and chip place next door is fantastic also – a bit pricier than usual but worth it!

Blue Shed
Marina Parade
St Helens, Tasmania
Ph: 03 6376 1170
Web: www.blueshedrestaurant.com.au