Sunday, 27 January 2013

Jellyfish - down by the river

After writing a post recently about Lure and lamenting the lack of fine dining fish restaurants in Brisbane, I was inspired to get back to my favourite fine dining fish restaurant Jellyfish.  I say 'get back to' because I had not been to Jellyfish lately and upon reflecting about this, it had been well over two years since my last meal there.

 There was a time when Jellyfish was my favourite restaurant in Brisbane and SC and I were pretty much regulars, eating there a couple of times a month for quite a while.  Then my new favourite came along, Confit Bistro,  and I pretty much moved on.

Jellyfish is located on the Brisbane river at the Eagle Street Precinct and was unfortunately badly hit by the 2011 floods.  It was quite ironic that our visit back to Jellyfish coincided with another bad rain event, but this time (touch wood) there won't be the same impact on the restaurant.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Simpatico - A gem in Paddington

Well, I have been left to my own devices for the week with SC heading down to Melbourne for a week for work.  I had big plans to go to a different restaurant every night and have a grand old time, but it didn't work out that way.  I did however convince CI to come out with me for one dinner for a boys night out, on the promise that we would not spend too much money.  After discussing CI's budget for the night, I was able to convince him to stretch it, just a little bit, and then we set about looking for the right place to visit.

After spending a little while on the internet looking at different menus we narrowed it down to the Fifth Element over at Southbank and Simpatico in Paddington.  CI has been to the Fifth Element a heap of times recently, so had his meal all mapped out, but we finally decided on going to Simpatico because it was new for the two of us.  More importantly the prices looked really reasonable and I like the name (sim-pa-ti-co/: pleasant, congenial, likeable).

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Cheap Eats - New Shanghai

One of my favourite past times is to wander around my back yard (the CBD) and check out all the new stuff that is going on in our great city.  As geeky as it sounds, I get really excited by change and Brisbane is changing almost faster than I can keep up.  I am particularly enamoured with all of the changes in Edward Street, there are some cool international stores to check out.

On my many trips to my local Coles late last year I was intrigued to watch the slow transformation of  some of the shops right out the front, from a Chemist, to book store and then to an empty space.  The space was not empty for long with a massive construction sign advertising that a 'new restaurant' would be opening soon.  A clue to its nature were pictures of dumplings adorning the boarding.

Every day I would go to the shops and keep an eye on proceedings until one day, just before Christmas I was surprised to see one of the most amazing transformations.  The New Shanghai had opened and looked so out of place in the Queens Plaza building, it really looked as if a little slice of Shanghai had moved to Brisbane.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

The Verve Cafe & Cider Bar - in the metro arts building

One of my earliest memories of being a new lad in Brisbane was a visit to the Metro Arts building in Edward Street.  The year was 1993 and I had just made the move from Adelaide to Brisbane and knew hardly anyone.  I had just met a new group of potential friends who had invited me to see a movie at the Metro Arts cinema and I decided to go along.  That movie was The Naked Lunch and that night led to an interesting series of wacky events that are best placed to be told over a beer sometime!

The Verve Cafe has been around for ever and has been a haunt for the denizens and citi dwellers to hang out and have a very reasonably priced meal in a uber cool setting.  Once you enter the Metro Arts building and venture down the stairs into the bowels of the building, it takes some time to adjust to the dark and dingy light, but once you do it becomes a great spot to hang out and enjoy a meal.  When I had less money to splash out on restaurants, The Verve Cafe was a regular dining spot for SC and I, but as we progressed in our careers we just stopped going.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Lure - fish done fancy

There is a surprising lack of fine dining fish restaurants in Brisbane.  Having spent most of my adult life living either in the CBD and the inner Wester Suburbs, it's hard not to know about Lure Restaurant at the Coro.  All you have to do is drive down Milton Road and there is a huge sign advertising it, you know the one, the juxtaposition of a beautiful woman elegantly dressed losing herself in the moment of licking a bowl.  It's hard not to remember an ad like that.

It's amazing to think that Lure has won so many awards, in fact it won best seafood restaurant in Queensland 2005, 2006, 2007 & 2009 and was a finalist 2008, 2010 & 2012.  As I said, there are not a heap of seafood restaurants around but you have to respect the consistency over the years.  Head chef Peter Clark has put together an amazing restaurant using only the best produce with both restraint and artistry.

SC and I have been to Lure a few times over the years and it's fair to say that we have not had a bad meal there.  The restaurant itself has a really refined and elegant feel to it, with crisp white linen table cloths and silver cutlery on each table.  The kitchen is completely open and all seats in the restaurant have a clear view of the chef in action.  There is also a large fish tank filled with lovely seafood on display right in the middle of the kitchen area.  What really stood out on this visit was the warm greeting we received by the wait staff, we were really made to feel welcome by each of the staff that we spoke to throughout the night.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Public - the best new restaurant in town?

One of the great things about living in Brisbane is the continued growth of the restaurant scene, in particular the rapid growth in new restaurants in the last twelve months or so.  Even better is that these new restaurants are popping up all over town and not just in one or two key areas.  Having said that, I live pretty much on the doorstep of Eagle Street so have a bit of a bias for the great restaurants in this part of town.

Public is one of those restaurants that has opened up in a somewhat unusual part of town and is located on the edge of the city at 400 George Street.  It's not a high residential area over at George Street precent (yet) but is heavy with corporate and legal Brisbane, so there is money to burn down that end of town.  The site itself is a swanky new building but the first restaurant that was on the site, Groove Train, did not last very long, so the question would always be......  Would the next one survive?

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Freestyle Tout - an after dinner treat

Thursday night and its hot.  SC had a real hankering for Beer and Dumplings so a trip to Harajuku Gyoza was in order.  I won't go into too much detail about this apart to say that the beer was cold and the dumplings plentiful (in fact, we ordered way too many).  I have blogged about Harajuku Gyoza before and its pretty awesome, you can read the post here.

Not really feeling like going home just yet we found ourselves heading towards Emporium and before you knew it, one of us had suggested Freestyle Tout and we had new plans.

Freestyle is a bit of a Brisbane institution that at its peak had a number of establishments all over the inner city.  First appearing in 1996 over at Rosalie, Freestyle was the dream of Martin Duncan and was a gallery and florist, with coffee and dessert.  Over time it transformed into a really well known dessert bar, but still true to its original concept as a gallery displaying ever changing local art.

Sitting down looking at the menu we noticed that it had evolved quite a bit from our last visit (which was admittedly a long time ago at West End) with a greater focus on "savouries" such as dinner as well as dessert.  We were only interested in something sweet, so flipped a few pages back to the long list of desserts that Freestyle Tout is most famous for.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Era Bistro - South of the border (river)

A short walk from the city, over the Victoria Bridge and and about halfway to West End is one of the best restaurants in Brisbane that does not seem to factor into my thinking too often.  This same restaurant is one that SC seems to visit quite regularly as it's directly across from her workplace and for some reason finds herself there six or seven times a year.

Era Bistro has been around since 2006 and in that time has been a perennial award winner for head chef Marcus Turner, currently holding a Brisbane Times Good Food Guide Chefs Hat.  Era was always going to be a Brisbane favourite with Bob and Brad Hamilton behind the venture, having run one of Brisbanes most awarded restaurants for seven years, Circa.  For those of you that don't remember Circa, it was in Adelaide Street in the old Jamesons building, which is now home to several high rise apartments, and was considered extremely cutting edge and very fine dining in its day.

The approach taken with Era is a much more casual style but the same emphasis on great service and spectacular food.

SC and I chose to head over to Era on their opening night back after the Christmas and New Year period and it was predictably quiet, which meant that we had the restaurant to ourselves!   There was a shortened menu available on the night, but luckily all of the items that looked appealing from a quick look online were available and it was decision time.  Unfortunately SC and I were eying off the same items, so we decided to let SC have her choice of entree and I got to choose my preferred main.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Pony Dining - A new Eagle Street treasure

The Eagle Street precinct has a dazzling array of fine dining restaurants and one would think that there was not a lot of room for another, I mean at what point do we reach saturation?  So I was very interested when I heard that another Sydney restaurant was looking to open in Brisbane, with Pony Dining opening it's third restaurant in Queensland with Melbourne missing out again.

The space that Pony occupies has been vacant for a long time now, but at one time was the home of McDonalds (which moved around a fair bit in Eagle Street before moving out) and is one of the prime restaurant real estate locations in Queensland.  The space itself is amazing but not unexpected, with the designers of Sydneys iconic Ivy behind the transformation from empty shell to perfect blend of indoor / outdoor dining that fits the Queensland lifestyle so brilliantly.  What I love most about the design is the central kitchen layout, providing great views of the activity of the kitchen available from almost every corner.

What's even better about Pony Dining is that head chef Damian Heads is a Brisbane boy, who has worked in some amazing restaurants around the country.  In 2001 Damian was the winner of the prestigious Josephine Pignolet young chef of the year award and in 2006 Damian was instrumental in opening up Pony The Rocks.   It's always great to see Brisbane chefs coming back home after a successful career interstate or overseas.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Breakfast series - Sassafras

SC and I really felt like going out for breakfast on Saturday morning.  This bug does not bite us too often these days, we mainly head out for fine dining dinners now days, but there was a time when breakfast was the main meal that we would eat out.  Back in the day, there were not a lot of options if you wanted a nice breakfast.  Not so today!

When looking at Urbanespoon and checking out some cool breakfast blogs Taking care of Breakfast  and the Breakfast Club we could see that there was now a massive array of great looking restaurants and cafes that offered the starting meal of the day.  Where to go?  Quite a few of the cafes that we thought looked really interesting were not yet open from their Christmas breaks, so in the end we travelled down memory lane to visit Sassafras, which is cafe we used to frequent over a decade ago.  What would it be like now?

Interestingly enough, the Sassafras website talks about a re-opening after some remodelling, but when SC and I walked through the door, it did not seem any different from our last visit over a decade ago, so go figure?!  Sassafras is in an old Paddington Queenslander and has heaps of small rooms with tables placed where ever there is space, but there is a massive outside dining area out the back.  It's a pretty eclectic looking place with unmatched tables and chairs and has quite a homey feel to it.  They also pride themselves on the quality of their organic food selection, so hopefully this would come through with the taste of the food.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Iceworks - New Years Eve Dinner

Iceworks is certainly not the first restaurant around town that you would consider as a destination for a New Years Eve dinner, but this is where I found myself with a group of friends on the last day of 2012. When negotiating our NYE destination there were many things to consider but paramount were location (easy to get to) and cost (not too expensive) and had to have some options for a pescetarian, so after looking at the options available the pre-set NYE dinner at Iceworks was the winner.

NYE dinner was a late option as we had planned a little bit of a party at DDs and ATs house over at Woollowin, but this was cancelled for a more intimate affair with a few close friends and family.  There were seven of us in total, which is a great number for a little dinner party.

I had heard many mixed reports on Iceworks, so was not too sure what to expect on the night.  SC has been there a couple of times for functions and has enjoyed it both times.  Trying to do a little more research, there was precious little on Urbanspoon to go buy, so I was going into dinner with few expectations.


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