Saturday, 20 December 2014

Casual Dining - Communal Bar and Eat House at Brisbane Square 

Change, change, change!  The amount of change that's happening in Brisbane seems unprecedented, right?  I was completely blown away by the big hole in the ground that used to be the Law Courts up on George Street and pretty excited for the high rise apartments and hotel that are slated to be built in their place. George Street has seen a transformation over the last few years and it seems as if the 'top-end-of-town' will continue a resurgence.

One of our funkiest buildings is the Brisbane City Council building in George Street, which houses the Brisbane library and from a distance, looks like a colourful kaleidoscope of falling books.  The BCC building has recently undergone a new transformation, with most of the older style eateries being transformed into a 'diner's delight' that includes a pretty wide range of modern looking cafes and restaurants.  I'd already checked out Meat and Eat (see post here) but was pretty excited to get along and check out the showpiece of the Square - the gastro pub style Communal Bar and Eat House.

As part of the ever growing stable of cafes and restaurants run by General Manager Anthony Attard, The Communal Bar and Eat House is the biggest and boldest of the group's ventures, which includes The Cutting Board (see post here), Hive (see post here) and Meat and Eat (see post here).  Communal Bar and Eat House is inspired by the gastro pub culture and combines this with the communal theme by featuring many share tables among the two hundred available seats (yeah, it's big).

What turns Communal into a gastro pub is the huge mix of food and booze options, with both a huge food menu and an even bigger range of beers on tap, as well as a huge range of cocktails. In fact there are twenty four beers on tap as well as twenty different cocktails and eight cocktail jug specialties!  While a gastro pub should have plenty of alcohol options, for me it's always going to be about the food and I was keen to see what head chef Ben Limpus had done with the menu, which included a wood fired pizza oven, plenty of burgers and dishes from a flare grill.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Coppa Spuntino - the Italian snack shop

The ever changing Brisbane CBD restaurant scene has been active again, with a brand new Italian spot opening in the heart of the city. No, I'm not talking about Jamie's Italian, which opened up a few weeks ago. I'm talking about a funky little spot in Creek Street called Coppa Spuntino, which as luck would have it, can be seen from my office window!

There is a little spot in Creek Street that has had a little bit of misfortune over the last few years. Originally part of the new development at the back of the National Australia Bank building on the corner of Queen and Creek Street, the little spot at 88 Creek Street was once slated for bigger fish.  It was rumored that Melbourne institution Taxi was to take over the lease, but a little thing called the GFC kicked in and killed that plan.  Adelaide coffee institution CIBO espresso got a little bit further, establishing yet another attempt at the Brisbane market before fading away (pretty quickly too).

Cursed site?  Maybe, but well respected Brisbane duo Bonnie Shearston and Tom Sanceau, of Public and Red Hook, saw an opportunity to expand their culinary empire and had Italian cuisine firmly in their sights.  The site is quite compact, so instead of going with a full blown Italian joint, the pair have come up with an interesting concept.  Spuntino means 'snack' in Italian, and that's pretty much the concept for their restaurant Coppa Spuntino.

I'm a huge fan of Public, which in its first year of operation won a Brisbane Times Good Food Guide chefs hat, as well as taking out that year's 'Best New Restaurant' (see post here).  I'm less enamored with their US of A style offering, Red Hook, which is OK, but inconsistent (see post here), but given I love Italian cuisine, I couldn't wait to get in and check out Coppa.  As it turned out, I loved the place so much, I've practically lived there since!

Cheap Eats Lunch - Meat and Eat in Brisbane Square

The construction around Brisbane town continues with a brand new food development at Brisbane Square replacing the tired old food court.  If you've not been up to Brisbane Square in a while, you will surely be surprised, with a handful of new eateries opening up spiffy looking new venues.  It's been a slow transformation, with most of the old fast food joints closing down and the area looking like a bit of a construction zone for what seemed like an age.

Of course, once I knew that the space had opened up and the new restaurants were trading, I headed down for a sticky beak, which lead to a quick bite to eat at Meat and Eat, a sister venue of the Cutting Board (see post here) in George Street and Hive Coffee and Eat House over at Eagle Street (see post here).  General Manager of the group, Anthony Attard, has been a busy lad, not only opening Meat and Eat recently, but a number of other venues at Brisbane Square.  Anthony (great name by the way) is clearly a man who loves his meat, as each of his venues focus on different parts of my favourite animals (to eat, that is).

Meat and Eat is pretty much a carbon copy of the Eagle Street eatery Hive Coffee and Eat House, its nice and casual and it targets the lunch time eating crowd.  With a menu that focuses on meat based sandwiches and cuts of meat that come with salads, it's not a place that will be mistaken as a vegetarian hang out.  I guess the title of the cafe says it all....  Those of you that love your Reuben sandwiches will love this place, the Reuben takes pride of place as the first item on the menu.  Other sandwiches include the Watson (rare beef), the Spaniard (chorizo) and the Corporate (ham), each catering to a different animal.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Sake Brisbane - Sunday funday champagne and sashimi

Now that we're getting into the warmer months, I bet you're looking for a cool spot, hopefully with river views and a nice breeze. Someplace that you can sit down, chill out and have a fabulous Sunday-funday.  I'm guessing it would be even better if there was some relaxed tunes and the type of refreshments that just work on those hot summer afternoons.....

As part of the recent #G20 global flavours, I was invited along to such a spot and spent a completely relaxed and chilled Sunday afternoon in one of the best dining spots in Brisbane.  Sake Restaurant is arguably the best Japanese restaurant in Queensland (tied with Sono Portside and Wasabi) and turned out to be the perfect spot for a quiet Sunday afternoon leading up to Brisbane's own global event.

With a coveted Good Food Times chefs hat, you're always guaranteed to have a sensational Japanese meal at Sake, which has a lot to do with the way Executive Chef Shaun Presland has set the place up. Teamed with Head Chef Daisuke Sakai, Sake Brisbane distinguishes itself from its sister restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne with its use of regional produce that, in my opinion, is the best in Australia.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Breakfast Series - Bar Pacino

I almost sound like a broken record, but it's amazing how many new spots are opening up around Brisbane, with new venues seemingly opening on a daily basis.  There are also so many older buildings in the CBD that are getting a make over, that it's hard to count them all.  Of course, a new facade means a new cafe or restaurant opening.  I've been watching the old CUA building (otherwise known as the Hopoate Building due to the installation art) go through its make over recently and was excited to learn about another new dining spot.

Taking a slightly different approach, the team behind new Italian bar e ristorante (bar and restaurant) have literally built new floor space behind the building, almost like land reclamation. Giuseppe Petroccitto, of the Bellezza Group, is the man behind Bar Pacino and has done a wonderful job with the fit out.  With floor to ceiling glass windows, the restaurant and bar has arguably the best view of the Story Bridge and Brisbane river in Queensland.

I'd been looking for an opportunity to get across the street to check out the newly opened Bar Pacino and after a few false starts (it was stupidly busy for the first week or so), I arranged to get across for a breakfast.  You're probably aware by now that I am moving from Brisbane to Hong Kong in early January, so I'd been looking for times to catch up with mates before I head off. Fellow foodie and former Brisbane food blogger, JC from Feed Me Now Brisbane was my dining companion for the morning and I was really looking forward to catch up before I finally leave our shores.

Dessert Series - Cowch dessert and cocktail bar

I'm not sure exactly when dessert bars became the norm, but I do remember a time when the only after dinner (or any time) dessert spots were the Freestyle Tout locations (see post here). Nothing stays the same forever, and the few Freestyle Tout's that were around Brisbane have closed, just leaving the Valley option. What's sprung up in their place is a fairly diverse range of dessert bars including the likes of Max Brenner, San Churro (see post here) and Passion Tree (see post here) - just to name a few.

One of the cooler dessert options in recent times caters to both a sweet tooth and the evening drinking crowd.  Cowch at South Bank is pitched as a dessert cocktail bar and for a while was the hottest place around the South Brisbane area on a Friday and Saturday night.  As a destination, the dessert bar has really played up to it's name, decorated in all manner of bovine paraphernalia, covering the cow part of it's name.  There's also a lot of comfy looking couches on site, covering the full name (when you put your hand over part of the w in Cowch).

Cowch was a welcome addition to the South Bank dining scene and while it competed with a few of the aforementioned dessert spots, rapidly became the go-to spot.  We've been to Cowch a heap of times, but ironically, given we hate queues, we've never sat inside the dessert bar.  We realised pretty quickly that there was a much better way of enjoying some of the goodies that Cowch had to offer...

Monday, 8 December 2014

Farewell Tour - Gerard's Bistro

There are very few restaurants that burst onto the scene and make an impression in the same way that Fortitude Valley’s Gerard’s Bistro has done.  In a very short space of time, Gerard’s has done what very few restaurants have done….

Chefs Hat – check (currently One Brisbane Times Good Food Guide Hat)
Gourmet Traveller top 100 list – check (currently 88 in Australia)
Gourmet Traveller 10 ten in Brisbane – check (currently #4)
Gourmet Traveller best new talent – check (Ben Williamson )

It would be foolish to understate the impact and influence that Gerard’s Bistro has had on the Brisbane dining scene.  It’s helped radically transform the fine dining paradigm.  No longer did amazing restaurants need to charge $50+ for a main course;  silver service was relegated to yesterday’s news; and share plates became the norm….

All because of Gerard’s Bistro.

A collaboration between Brisbane’s well known Moubaraks and wonderkind Chef Ben Williamson, it would also be a mistake to think Gerard’s was an overnight success.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Julius Pizzeria- the boys from Beccofino on the south side

I can't tell you how excited I was when I heard that the boys from Beccofino were opening up a new restaurant over in South Brisbane. Whenever anyone asks me what my favourite Italian restaurant is, Beccofino regularly sits as one of the top three (see post here - the others being Tartufo here and 1889 enoteca here). There was never any doubt that I'd be over checking out their new venture, Julius, the first opportunity, which as it turns out, was last weekend.

We weren't 100% sure where Julius had opened up, but once we confirmed the address, knew that it was underneath the monster new residential development at the corner of Grey Street and Fish Lane. When visiting Beccofino at Teneriffe, we sometimes walk, but often drive as it's just a little too far away from the CBD to make it a quick trip.  Luckily, Julius is well within walking distance of the CBD, so we were able to walk over in about twenty minutes.

It was the first time we'd checked out the new development and the Aria group, who'd constructed the building, had used the facade of the old building that was on the site.  Even better, they'd taken the facade to it's original brick, which helped give a surprisingly modern look to the base of the building, which also houses the new Julius restaurant.  As we walked closer to the building, we were impressed with the look and feel, especially the Fish Lane side of the building, which is really enhancing Fish Lane as a go-to spot on the South Side.

Casual Dining - Lennons at NEXT

If you hadn't heard by now, I am moving to Hong Kong shortly to take up a new and exciting role.  It has put a brand new perspective on my home city of Brisbane.  Not only do I not have a lot of time left before I move to check out all of the new restaurants around, but I'm running out of time to hang out with my mates.  At time of writing this post, I only have about five weekends left in country, then its all new, scary and exciting.  So, I'm trying to combine meeting with great mates and hitting new restaurants at the same time.  Sweet really :)

Another of the annoying but awesome renovations that's been happening in Brisbane of late (following on from my last post here) is the NEXT hotel, which has taken over the old Lennons.  I guess with many of the CBD renovations there is always going to be a new restaurant and doubly so when it's in a hotel.  The Lennons hotel was always a bit of an eyesore, looking tired and frankly, quite weird, the NEXT hotel group have made substantial changes to the site, which now includes a Forever 21 and a shiny new restaurant.

The restaurant is called Lennons, keeping a bit of a link to the past, which is sometimes unusual in Queensland where the past is regularly stricken from sight and eventually memory.  What better place to check out with some of our oldest and dearest friends, DruBoy and Thommo.  SC and Thommo had arranged for one of their regular Jack Sims Ghost Tours, so DruBoy and I had arranged for our own little get together at new hot spot, Bar Pacino (post coming soon).  After hanging out for a bit and shooting the shit, we made our way up the Queen Street Mall and into the swanky new NEXT hotel.  In an interesting case of timing, Thommo and SC were already on the rather long escalator, just beating us to the restaurant.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Casual Dining - TooBirds

Living in the CBD has it's ups and downs, mostly ups I have to say, but one of the only real problems is the constant noise.  It's noisy in the city - All.The.Time.  It means that since moving into the CBD, I've taken to wearing ear plugs, just to be able to sleep at night.  It's seems to have become more of a problem over the last few years with city streets seemingly requiring being repetitively dug up!  It's sometimes so bad, that I look forward to coming into work and being far removed from the noise. 

That was until my CBD building underwent severe renovations this year.  Look, I'm not averse to old things getting a make over and looking all shiny-shiny, but I'm not a fan when I'm in the middle of a construction zone.  This is what happened; excavation machines arrive; jack-hammering starts; jack-hammering ceases four months later (it might have seemed longer than it was, OK). The facade of my building got the make over to end all make overs and while there was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth during the renovations (yeah, my office was right over the jack-hammering), I have to say the end result has been spectacular.

The team behind well known CBD cafe Sparrow and Finch (see post here) have evolved from their light CBD lunch-spot and created a full blown CBD bistro and bar.  Interestingly named TooBirds, which seems to be a play on words from the aforementioned Sparrow and Finch, TooBirds caused a stir in my workplace....  Some people just couldn't get their heads around the spelling of too - why not TwoBirds they would say!

Owner Paul Limberios likes to do things a little differently, which no doubt accounts for the unique spelling of his new Bistro.  Looking to do something a little different from the usual lunch spot in the CBD, Paul engaged the services of top chef Jamie Pearce, who has worked at some of Australia's most recognised restaurants, including a few years at Peter Gilmore's three hatted Quay.  Jamie also spent time at one of my all time favourite restaurants Brents (now 85 Miskin Street) under Brent Farrell before becoming head chef over at Cross Town Eating House - some seriously good restaurants.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Sydney Series - Rockpool

Neil Perry is one of Australia's most recognisable chefs and restauranteurs.  With his TV shows and chain of multi award winning restaurants, it's clear that Neil is one of the rock stars of the culinary world.  I've been to a number of restaurants in the Neil Perry stable, including both the Sydney and Melbourne Rockpool Bar and Grills (see post here) as well as the very cool Spice Temple in Sydney (see post here).  The one restaurant that I've been dying to check out was the original, Rockpool Sydney.

I was in Sydney recently for a flying-stop-over, flying down to attend the taping of the SBS program, Insight (yep, as a guest), staying overnight and then flying back to work the next morning.  I was pretty excited to have been invited by Insight to speak as an expert in my Industry and I'm pretty sure I will get a bit of air time (will find out in February).  Anyway, I digress.  With one night in Sydney, I had to choose between Quay, Sepia and Rockpool as my destination. Quay was booked out, Sepia didn't answer their phone and Rockpool had a spot - phew!

I've been to Sydney a heap of times and walked by Rockpool often, but if I was hoping to get along to the original George Street location at the Rocks, I was to be disappointed.  Rockpool had moved recently into larger digs, so it was the new Bridge Street location that I set out to find (well, I gave the taxi driver the address - good enough!).  Dropped off across the street from the new digs, I could see that Rockpool was in a cool old sandstone building with the only features identifying the new restaurant being a couple of plaques with Rockpool engraved in simple script.

85 Miskin Street - the Degustation and the friends

There was a moment when time stood still.  It was only for a few seconds, but in those precious moments, the world around me disappeared. 

I’d just read an article, one of my favourite restaurants, run by one of the city’s nicest blokes was shutting down……  How could this be possible, Brent’s was my go-to special occasion spot, a place to spend birthdays and anniversaries!  As I read on, the details became clear, not closing, just changing – a new look and a new feel.  The world swam back into focus and I was able to breath again.

Brent’s became 85 Miskin Street, with head chef Brent Farrell deciding that a change was in order.  No longer a white linen fine dining restaurant, 85 Miskin Street became more than a special occasion place – it transformed into one of my regulars.  Not surprising though, Brent’s been cheffing for about twenty years and in that time, he’s learnt a trick or three.  With a plan to make his well-known restaurant a little more accessible, the risk paid off when Brent was rewarded with a 2015 Brisbane Times Good Food Guide Chefs Hat.

Now, I have to make a confession here.  In the last twelve months, I’ve eaten at 85 Miskin Street so often that Brent and I have become friends.   I’m unashamedly a fan of his cooking and rate a number of his dishes as the best I’ve eaten anywhere in the world.  In fact, three of my all time top ten meals were eaten at Brent’s and 85 Miskin Street! 

As a consequence, I’ve been banging on about the place for so long, some friends finally took the hint and joined me for dinner.  What transpired was a degustation for the ages.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Deer Duck Bistro - the Interstate Chef Series

I was having a bit of a Facebook chat with an online buddy one day, just shooting the shit about Brisbane restaurants and the Queensland food scene.  While we were chatting, we were joined by a mutual friend, who just happens to run of of Brisbane's edgier restaurants, Nicholas Cooper from Deer Duck Bistro (see post here).  By way of jumping into the conversation, Nicholas just dumped a list of names and asked us what they all had in common.  Sure, I though, I'll bite.  Jumping on Google, it soon became apparent that all the names on the list were from Chefs and they appeared to all be from Melbourne. My guess back to Nicholas?  That they were all Collingwood supporters.

Of course I was wrong, although it did elicit a bit of a chuckle (in the form of LOL).  The list was of course chefs, well known chefs from interstate, but what Nicholas had in fact given us was a list of chefs that he was inviting up to his Brisbane suburban bistro for guest stints.  It was the early stages of the planning for his "Interstate Celebrity: Chefs Dinner Series" - Friends of the Duck.  At the time I thought it was a great idea.  Well, the Friends of the Duck celebrity chefs dinner kicked off recently and Nicholas invited me along to check out the first one.  Sweet!

Nicholas himself is a talented chef from way back, and along with his very talented head chef Chris Hagen would be kicking off the series with talented Melbourne chef Mathew Macartney.  Mathew has an amazing history that includes working for some incredible Australian chefs, as well as spending time overseas in Fiji, New Zealand and Dubai.  Mathew has also won the title of Australia's best Sous Chef, a title where the prize was a six week appointment in any restaurant in the world.  Choosing (at the time) three michelin starred New York restaurant, Daniel, the gig gave Mathew, in his own words,  'a unique opportunity to immerse myself in a different culture within one of the worlds most awarded restaurants' (see post on Daniel here).

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Prive249 - The chef and the challenge


That’s what I’m chasing and I think it’s what you’re chasing too…

There are a lot of great restaurants around our fair city of Brisbane but as great as our restaurants are, there are very few unique dining experiences or UDX.  As much as it pains me to admit, there can sometimes be a little bit of sameness in our restaurants, especially when you eat out a lot.  Every now and then, something comes along to excite and tantalise the tastebuds, but after a while, even the exciting becomes the norm.

Whether it’s catering to a mass market or just not feeling inspired to try something new, I think our chefs have the inspirational spark to do the amazing, if only they are given the chance.

At least one chef in Brisbane is looking to shake off the shackles and try something new.  Prive249 is one of Brisbane’s few Hatted Restaurants and it’s an incredible white linen and silver service fine diner.  Chef de Cuisine and culinary wiz Josh Okorn is responsible for producing beautiful and award winning food that was good enough for European dignitaries during the recent G20.  He’s also a man in chains, just waiting to break out!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

G20 Global Flavours - Il Centro

Well, the G20 has been and gone and it went of without a hitch, pretty much.

It was interesting living in the CBD and watching the city clear out and on the Friday and Saturday of the event, Brisbane was indeed much like a ghost town....  During the day. At night, the city came alive with all of the dignitaries and city dwellers out and about seeing what was going on.

However, there was more to the G20 event than the leaders of the world coming to our fair city to discuss, well I'm not really that interested in what they discussed, but there was more going on than met the eye.  Given that the eyes of the world were on Brisbane, it's was (and still is) a huge opportunity for us to showcase our fair city and all that it has to offer.

In conjunction with Brisbane Marketing, many of Brisbane's best restaurants have joined the party by participating in a month of foodie celebrations.  Global Flavours is the culinary celebration of Brisbane's international-standard cuisine and local produce.  I'd been asked to help promote this once in a lifetime event by doing the tough job of visiting some of the restaurants that are involved - yeah, I know, but someone's gotta do it.  You can also get involved by visiting one of the city's participating restaurants and enjoying the best that Brisbane has to offer during the month of November.  See the complete list here.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Breakfast Series - Chow House

Another Saturday morning rolled around, but this one was a little different.  An early personal training session meant there was time for leisurely breakfast, a treat that normally is deferred to Sunday mornings (often depriving us of choices).  With the world at our feet, figuratively not literally, we decided to head into the Valley for a breakfast at the Chow House.

One of the funkier looking venus on James Street, Chow House is the Phoenix 'rising from the ashes' of the James Street Bistro.  Not that there were new owners, but more of a strategic move to freshen up a spot that hadn't really changed in a long time.  A move that seems to have paid off considerably! I'd never been to the previous incarnation, although I'd often wondered about it, and thought it was finally time to check out the space.

The Chow House is a fairly informal dining experience and is inspired by the street stalls of all exotic parts of the world, but mostly the Asian continent.  The menu reflects the use of the finest local seasonal produce and is prone to regular changes but regardless of how often, the menu always reflects its Asian inspiration.  

Feeling a little pooped from her PT session, we drove the short distance from our apartment in the CBD to James Street - yeah, I know, it's not that far to walk but we didn't want to waste any time either.  We were worried about parking, which can be quite unpredictable on a Saturday, but we were in luck, scoring a park (paid unfortunately) just around the corner in Robertson Street - which left us with a walk of only twenty metres - it was a great park!

Casual Dining - Dumpling Republic

I've always been a fan of Japanese dumplings, often called gyoza, with one Harajuku Gyoza being one of my favourite dumpling restaurants in Brisbane (see post here).  It was only recently that I started to see the benefit of other dumpling styles, most notably visiting Din Tai Fung in Singapore earlier this year. For those of you who don't know, Din Tai Fung originated out of Taiwan and specialises in xiaolongbao or soup dumplings....  Oh, Din Tai Fung also has a couple of outlets in Hong Kong that have been awarded Michelin Stars, so they're good!

While I was in Singapore, I developed a bit of a fixation on the xiaolongbao and found myself regularly dining at the Sentosa Island outlet of Din Tai Fung - I just couldn't get enough of those delicious soup dumplings.  They were exquisite, beautifully made and filled with the most amazing soup and highest quality pork.  Most amazing with the dumpling pastry, so thin yet so intricately put together, each one was perfection personified!

I was wandering around the re-developed Wintergarden recently and spied that a new dumpling restaurant had opened up right next to the now closed Wagamama.  Making a mental note to check it out, I decided that a lunchtime excursion would be required and it ended up being the week before Brisbane (essentially) shut down for the G20.  Making my way up the escalators that lead to Grill'd, I made a sharp right and found myself at the entrance to Dumpling Republic.  It was only 11:30am and the restaurant was pretty quiet, so quiet that there was no one at the front desk, so I had to stand around for a bit to try and catch someone's attention.

It didn't take too long before I was spotted and lead to the surprisingly large dining room, which was fitted out in very modern style with hints of Asian influences.  You'd never know how big the restaurant was from the entrance, I initially thought it would be quite small, but walking past the dumpling preparation room and kitchen area was eye opening.  I felt quite lonely at my table in the back of the restaurant with no one else around!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

G20 Global Flavours - Restaurant 2

If you're in Brisbane and you've not heard about the G20, then you've probably been in a deep coma in one of the City's fine hospitals.  For most of us who have been hearing about it non stop, or if you work or live in the city, have been involved in many briefings about the event, it could seem like its big and scary event.  

There is more to the G20 event than the leaders of the world coming to our fair city to discuss, well I'm not really that interested in what they plan on discussing, but there is more going on than meets the eye.  Given that the eyes of the world will be on Brisbane, it's a huge opportunity for us to showcase our fair city and all that it has to offer.

In conjunction with Brisbane Marketing, many of Brisbane's best restaurants have joined the party by participating in a month of foodie celebrations.  Global Flavours the the culinary celebration of Brisbane's international-standard cuisine and local produce.  I've been asked to help promote this once in a lifetime event by doing the tough job of visiting some of the restaurants that are involved - yeah, I know, but someone's gotta do it.  You can also get involved by visiting one of the city's participating restaurants and enjoying the best that Brisbane has to offer during the month of November.  See the complete list here.

My first stop of the #GlobalFlavours trail was one of Brisbane's most iconic dining spots, Restaurant 2 on Edward Street.  The classic fine diner by David Pugh is perhaps one of the best known and most loved restaurants in Brisbane and a restaurant that I've been to many times (see post here).  In one of the most beautiful old buildings on the corner of Edward and Alice Streets, the botanical gardens are the backdrop for the 'Two' dining experience.  With massive windows, reminiscent of New York park dining, Restaurant Two delivers on style and substance.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Stokehouse Brisbane - no better way to spend #SundayFunday

One of the things I love about this hobby of mine is that I get to promote the Brisbane food scene and all the greatness that it has to offer.  I do this in a couple of ways, firstly 'going undercover' and checking out new restaurants and then recounting my experiences back to you.  The other way, which seems to be picking up a bit at the moment, is getting back to places I love and doing a bit of promotion. 

I was recently invited along to the Stokehouse Brisbane, which is not only one of the best restaurants in Queensland with two Good Food Guide hats but is also rated as one of the top 100 restaurants in the country by Gourmet Traveller.  It's definitely a special occasion place and there are many people around town that rate it as their favourite restaurants.  It's a restaurant that I've been to many times over the years (see post here) and for me, it forms a special place in the local dining scene.

A restaurant is often as good as the team running it and General Manager Peter McMahon has a first rate team alongside him, led by award winning head chef Richard Ousby.  If you know your food, you might have known that Richard was formerly the sous chef at arguably the country's best restaurant Quay and won the 2011 Electrolux Appetite for Excellence chef award.  Also in the kitchen is a finalist of the 2014 young chef of the year, Ollie Hansford.  I had the pleasure of tasting Ollie's fantastic entry into the awards at this years Young Chef of the Year dinner (see post here).

There was never any doubt that we were in for a treat and we decided that we'd make it a #SundayFunday by cruising into the Stokehouse for a Sunday lunch.  If you've not been to the Stokehouse, it takes pride of place over at South Bank and has one of the prime positions of any restaurant in Brisbane - it's view of the Brisbane CBD is second to none.  We'd planned a leisurely stroll through the Botanical Gardens and across the Goodwill Bridge, but it turned out to be a beautifully warm day, so we were a little sweaty by the lime we'd traipsed across the bridge.  Luckily, we were a bit early and had the opportunity to cool down before our lunch commenced.

Nikuya - the Japanese Meat Shop

I have to tell you, blink around this town and you're gonna miss a lot. Just when I thought I'd finally checked out all of the restaurants at the Valley hotspot of M&A Lane, a new one opens up to taunt me! We were walking to the Valley last weekend to do some furniture shopping (yep, I bought some cool stuff - see here) and we came across Brisbane's latest Japanese restaurant - Nikuya.  We made a mental note to check it out sometime, but curiosity got the better of us and we made a reservation for later that night.

Now that we're into the warmer months, we're finding ourselves walking around a lot more and even though we'd walked about in the hot sun for most of the day, we took advantage of the lovely evening and wandered into the Valley for dinner.  As we arrived to Nikuya, we got a sense of how big the restaurant was.  Like it's neighbour The Flaming Olive (see post here), Nikuya is a massive space, but unlike it's neighbour, dining is split out over two levels - a more traditional restaurant downstairs and a Japanese BBQ up.

The direct Japanese to English translation for Nikuya is 'butcher' but Owner Patrick Ip uses the more literal translation of 'meat house'.  Some of you might know Patrick Ip's other restaurants Ginga and Bamboo Basket, which are popular dining spots in Brisbane (Ginga seems to be everywhere).  With a name like Meat House, you're going to expect to get some amazing meat and it's something that Nikuya seems pretty proud of.

After arriving, we followed our waitress to the back of the restaurant to a booth that was quite spacious for the two of us.  It seemed like quite a long walk and I was able to check out the interior and decor of the restaurant, which was very modern in appearance.  The dark wood of the tables and chairs were interspersed with circular beach coloured circles that had a bit of a retro feel about them. I also noticed the huge kitchen and bar area - I guess with a space that holds over 200 customers, you're going to need a huge kitchen....

Friday, 7 November 2014

Casual Dining - The Flying Cock

I've been a little surprised that the UK phenomenon, the Gastro Pub, has not really taken off in Brisbane. For a while there, I thought that we were on the verge of a new thing, but it didn't quite eventuate the way that American style foodie establishments have hit town.  If you've been to England, gastro pubs seem to be everywhere - it is after all where the phrase was coined in 1991 when mates David Eyre and Mike Belben took over The Eagle pub in London and turned into a pub slash restaurant.  It was a concept that helped reinvigorate the pub culture and British dining.

There have been a couple of Gastro Pubs open in Brisbane over the last couple of years to mixed success.  The Alliance in Spring Hill (see post here) and Statler and Waldorf on Caxton Street (see post here) are a couple that spring to mind, but I'm sure there are a few others out there.  One of the things that I like about the concept of a Gastro Pub, apart from the food, is the great names used - I especially love the name Statler and Waldorf (named after a couple of famous muppets).  I was really interested when I got invited along to check out the new lunchtime menu from Brisbane's latest Gastro Pub - the Flying Cock (what a great name!).

The Flying Cock is located on Brunswick Street and is part of the complex, that for many years housed the Valley's favourite Irish Bar, Dooleys until it closed a few years back.  It was a place I'd frequented 'back-in-the-day' when we wanted a rowdy place to play some eight ball, so I was quite familiar with the spot.  While the location was inhabited by Dooleys for what seemed like forever, when the old Irish gal closed down, a string of forgettable places seem to take it's place, so I was keen to see what the lads had done to the place.

Within easy walking distance of the CBD, we decided that we'd walk into the Valley for a bit of furniture shopping (we bought some really cool replica furniture from Matt Blatt) and then stop into the Flying Cock on the way home.  It was a pretty damn warm day on the Saturday of our visit and by the time we'd finished our shopping and arrived, we were a bit hot and sweaty.  Stepping into the shade of the pub was like stepping out of the Sub-Saharan sun into an oasis of blissful cool - we hoped that it was a good sign of things to come.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Viale Canova - feeling the love of suburban Italian

I've been on a bit of an epic journey over the last few years and I am oh-so-close to achieving a bit of a foodie goal.  If you're a regular visitor to my blog, then it's certainly not a surprise to you that I eat out a bit, well, a lot.  It's also not really going to shock you that I've a preference for the finer side of dining (although I'm still a burger fiend).  You might be asking what the 'epic' journey I've been on and I'm about to tell you.

But first, a little background.  In Queensland there are three main ways that a restaurant can be recognised: the Australian Good Food Guide, which awards 'Hats' to the top restaurants;  the Brisbane Times Good Food Guide, which also gives out 'Hats'; finally, there is Gourmet Traveller, which has a national top 100 restaurant list and also awards 'Stars' to top restaurants.  So, I've taken on a mission to visit each and every hatted or starred restaurant in Brisbane and I'm almost there.... 

Viale Canova is a suburban fine diner and it's the second last restaurant on my list.  Living in the city, I find it a little difficult to get out to the suburbs, but given my mission, I 'bit the bullet' and made the drive up Sandgate Road to Clayfield.  I guess it's not really that far away, but with so many awesome restaurants in the CBD, I just find it more convenient to dine locally.  

As you can probably guess by the name, Viale Canova is an Italian diner and with an AGFG, it's an award winning restaurant.  It was opened by a couple of mates in 2004, who'd dreamed of opening a restaurant when they were growing up in Borso Del Grappa, in provincial Italy.  Lorenzo Spezzamonte is the man in the kitchen, using only the freshest of ingredients to bring an authentic taste of 'home' and Massimo Bortolazzo has created an atmosphere that is both intimate and homely at the same time.  The name Viale Canova is a reference to a sculpture by Antonio Vanova, who was born in 1757, not far away from where Lorenzo and Massimo grew up.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Melbourne Series - Nobu, the Global Japanese

When I am travelling overseas, I have a general rule when thinking about which restaurants I'm going to check out.  If the restaurant has an outlet in Australia that I can easily get to, then I'll pass and eventually get to the Australian version.  So, when I was in New York last year and listing out the restaurants I wanted to check out, the original Nobu was on the list, but quickly discounted.  After all, I was in  Melbourne often enough...

I've walked by Nobu at the Crown complex dozens of times in the last couple of years and each time I've stopped at the front, looked at the menu, thought about walking in, then gone somewhere else. This trip to Melbourne was different, I finally stepped through the front door for that long awaited visit.  It came about after a tweet..  I was in town for a conference and as lunch time approached, I'd sent a text out asking if anyone wanted to come to Nobu for lunch with me and my mate LS jumped at the chance.  I knew LS was up for a great meal as we'd grabbed dinner in Singapore earlier in the year at Jaan (one of Singapore's top restaurants.)

Nobu is recognised as one of the worlds great restaurant chains and was established by renowned Japanese chef Nobuyuki (Nobu) Matsuhisa.  With two restaurant brands, Nobu and Matsuhisa, Nabuyuki is a chef that is instantly recognisable to millions around the world.  With many incredible accolades, including many Michelin Stars and James Beard Awards, and an AGFG Chefs Hat, Nobuyuki was named one of the 11 Most Influential Chefs of the Decade by Madrid Fusion (2009). Nobu is actually the collaboration between Nobuyuki and Hollywood heavyweight, Robert De Niro with the first Nobu opening in New York City in 1994.

I was pretty excited about finally getting along to dine at Nobu....

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Melbourne Series - Hardware Societe

There is a cafe in Melbourne that seems to be the most popular spot in the universe!  I've been wanting to check out uber cafe, the Hardware Societe, the last two or three times I've been to Melbourne, but alas, its been closed for a while.  You can imagine my excitement then having been told that the cafe had re-opened after a fire had partially destroyed the premises.  I had to get along and check it out.

I only really had one morning available to me on my trip, which was a Friday morning.  When in Melbourne, I normally make my way to The European in Spring Street, which had been my favourite breakfast spot down south (see post here), but I was willing to make an exception. Knowing that Hardware Societe was pretty damn popular, I thought that I'd get up early and make my way over at around 7:15am, a little while before it's opening time of 7:30.  I was pretty glad that I did, there was already a decent queue forming and I managed to join it about twenty people deep.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Melbourne Series - Flower Drum - exquisite Chinese in the heart of Melbourne

Melbourne is a city where the restaurant rules, a place where there is almost a never ending supply of fantastic dining spots to enjoy.  You could literally eat at a new restaurant every night and never need to revisit any.  But it's refreshing to know that in the hotbed of Melbourne eating, there are some stalwarts that almost transcend the dining scene and enter legendary status.  There is a restaurant that has most certainly reached legendary status in Melbourne that I've had on my list for such a long time, one that I've just never been able to get into....  The Flower Drum.

'Flower Drum' is known in China as a traditional dance, famous for its beauty and elegance and it's these traits that have been incorporated in philosophy of the restaurant.  One of only three The Age Good Food Guide three hatted restaurants at the moment, The Flower Drum has pretty much been the major constant in fine dining in Melbourne.  You only have to look at it's history to understand the scale of it's magnificence.  Not only accredited as restaurant of the year by the Good Food Guide from 1999 to 2002 and again in 2004, it topped the Gourmet Traveller restaurant of the year in 2002. Flower Drum also made the world's top 50 list by Restaurant Magazine in England from 2002 to 2005.  And of course its kept either two or three chef's hats for as long as anyone can remember!

The magic of the Flower Drum started when in 1975, Gilbert Lau opened his soon-to-be-famous restaurant in Chinatown on Little Burke Street.  Setting high standards for himself and his team, Gilbert brought Cantonese food to the people of Melbourne and was able to compete with the more established European fine dining establishments.  Looking to capitalise on its popularity, Gilbert moved the Flower Drum to larger premises in Market Lane and appointed Chef Anthony Lui as the restaurant's executive chef.  It was in 2003 that Gilbert sold his beloved restaurant to his three employees,  including Chef Anthony Lui, and they have continued to provide Melbourne with the finest of Cantonese cuisine.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Melbourne Series - Gradi at Crown - The Best Pizza in the World

It's been a pretty good year for me, both personally and professionally. Earlier in the year I was lucky enough to have travelled to Singapore to compete in the World Contact Centre Awards, where my business did very well.  More recently, I was able to represent this great state in National Awards for my business, where we also did pretty well....  So yeah, its been a good year.  Whenever I travel, I always make it my business to try to check out the local restaurant scene, which included some amazing restaurants in Singapore (see posts here).  One of my favourite places to travel to, especially for the food, is Melbourne, so I used my time recently to continue to check out some amazing restaurants.

My flight into Melbourne saw me arrive at the hotel right on lunch time, so it was only natural that I sought out decent spot to have a quick lunch.  I'd initially thought that the Nobu lunchtime special would be the way to go, but as I was walking through Crown, I'd recalled that a very special new restaurant had opened.  I couldn't remember the name, just that it was a pizza place and that it had only just opened.  It only took me a few seconds to 'Google' the parameters to come up with the name Gradi and as luck would have it, I was only a few meters away.

You might be wondering why I was so keen to check out a pizza place and why it might have left such an impression on me, and it's a good question.  Gradi is not just any old pizza restaurant, it's actually the new restaurant from Johnny Di Francesco 'VPN', who apart from his family hailing from home of pizza in Naples, is also the guy who took out the 2014 title for 'world's best' pizza.  In fact, Johnny is the first Australian ever trained in Naples to the 'Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana VPN' rules and he's the association's Australasian principal, travelling the region ensuring pizzerias are of the highest standard before officially inducting them into the Association.  Quite an honour.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Casual Dining - The Wickham Hotel

If you've visited the Valley over the last twenty years(ish), then you would know about a little corner of the trendy inner city suburb that has an interesting and checkered past.  The Wickham Hotel is well known in the Valley as being a traditional gay venue (LGBTI) since 1996 and it's fair to say a rollicking good time has been had by many an adventurous Brisbanite.  While it's recent past has been dominated by the Big Gay Day and if memory serves me correct, Boy George spinning some tunes on the 'ones and twos', the Hotel has been around for a lot longer.

Originally estabilished in 1885 by famous Brisbane architect Richard Gailey, The Wickham began it's life as the Oriental Hotel and for all intents and purposes was one of the 'grand old pubs' of Brisbane.  It's a pub that SC had spent a bit of time in 'back in the day' when it would be Sunday beers between Ricks Bar and the Wickham Hotel.  The hotel has been ever changing and if you frequent the Valley or drive down Wickham Terrace, you would have noticed that the next incarnation of the hotel has been underway.

We were pretty excited to be invited along with a number of Brisbane bloggers to check out the renovations and get a peek of the new renovations.  Given that the Valley is a short walk for us, we'd taken the opportunity to have a nice easy walk into the Valley for our Wickham experience.  We'd entered through the new 'car park' area, which used to be the Wickham's car park but was not an outdoor dining area.  It was a large space with lots of share dining tables spaced about, as well as some group seating around different sized cable 'barrels'.  It wasn't until we walked through to the main part of the pub that we saw the magic.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Casual Dining Lunch - Marchetti Cafe in Tattersall's Arcade

I've talked a lot about my love of wandering around Brisbane and noticing the changes, both big and small.  There have been many, many changes to our fair city in the last twelve months, many of which involve the completion big new buildings, many with food offerings. It's not just the big changes that get me excited, but the small changes, the little additions, the tweaks that, if you weren't paying attention to, you would miss.

One of Brisbane's older arcades is the Tattersall's Arcade, which houses a number of specialty shops that cater to the well heeled of Brisbane, including Longchamp.  I often use the arcade as a short cut from Edward Street to the Queen Street Mall and noticed one of Brisbane's little tweaks a few months ago.  In one of the few vacant spaces in the arcade, a cute little cafe had sprouted, which was very reminiscent of European and Melbourne style cafes.   Owner Michael Makras, owner of nearby Optiko, had spotted an opportunity and teamed up with architect Stephen Cameron to develop a perfect little space for relaxing in one of Brisbane's most elegant arcades.

Tucking away this fact for a future visit, I'd wandered past the little shop numerous times, and each time I'd made the mental note to get along to see what was on the menu.  It wasn't until I found myself with a spare hour for lunch that I'd resolved to get in and check out the Italian diner and bar.  I'll let you in on a dirty little secret though, I'd actually initially been looking to buy some KFC in MacArthur Central before being confronted by a queue that was way too long.  Now, don't ask me why I'd been going to KFC to begin with, I couldn't rightly say, but I did have a hankering for some chicken nuggets.

Tartufo - this time its all about the Pizza

A couple of months ago, I started an adventure to try to find the best pizza in Brisbane (see posts here), but after eating a little too much pizza in such a short time, I paused for a moment.  After going without pizza for almost two months, I started to get that feeling in the pit of my stomach that can only be resolved with a dose of pizza.  Not just any pizza, margherita!

So far in my travels, I've had some great pizza with my favourites being Sorellina (see post here) and Beccofino, which to date had been my favourite by quite some distance.  It was time to get some hatted pizza and by that, I mean get some pizza from one of Brisbane's best restaurants, Tartufo.  I've been to the Tony Percuoco restaurant a heap of times and rate it as one of the best Italian restaurants around but it's only been relatively recently that I became aware that Tony had moved into another great love of his life - pizza!

Being a native of Naples, the home of the margherita pizza, following in the footsteps of the most famous pizzerias in the world, Brandi, Da Michele and Trianono Tradition, it was only natural that a pizza oven would grace the floor at Tartufo.  With a view of using only the freshest ingredients of the highest quality, Tony aims to be accredited through the 'Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana' (AVPN), an association dedicated to the protection and veracity of the 'true Neapolitan pizza'.

We'd been trying to get in to see Gone Girl for a couple of weeks, so we'd had a plan to get in to Tartufo right on pizza opening time of 5:30, so we'd have enough time to eat and then get over to the CBD for the movie.  Surprisingly, we were able to score a park on the street, right out the front of the Emporium, the Valley complex where Tartufo is located.  

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Brisbane Good Food and Wine Show 2014 - Barilla cooking class with Sammy and Bella

One of the big ticket items on the Brisbane foodie calendar is the Good Food and Wine Show, held over at the Brisbane Convention Centre each year.  Over a three day period in October, the foodies of Brisbane congregated and celebrated all things food and wine. Not only is the Good Food and Wine Show an opportunity to sample the amazing produce and wine that Australia has to offer, but is an opportunity for people to get up and close with their favourite chefs and talk to the people who spend their lives bringing the good stuff for us all to enjoy.

I've not been in Brisbane during the show over the last couple of years, which has been lousy timing, but I was definitely around this year and was excited about getting finally getting back amongst it. There was extra incentive, with an invitation to participate in the Barilla pre-show, hands on cooking class with My Kitchen Rules Season 2 winners, Sammy and Bella, to learn how to cook one of their favourite Sardinian breakfast dishes.  Given my status as a person who prefers to eat out as opposed to cook, I thought it might be a good way for me to 'get my hands dirty' and give that cooking caper another try.

The cooking class had been arranged by Barilla, one of the Good Food and Wine Show's major sponsors and was at the Barilla stand.  The class itself was scheduled to kick off at 8am, but I've been getting up extra early lately and found myself wandering into the convention centre just before 7:30.  This had a couple of benefits, I was easily the first person to arrive, which gave me the opportunity to find a great spot to cook from as well as chat to the chefs who would be assisting the class.  It turned out that I'd jumped the gun (oops) a little bit and got booted out of the arena while the setting up was finished off.  By that time, the queue for the class had already started and I was at least able to join the front of the queue and watch it grow and snake along the convention centre floor.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Cheap Eats Lunch - The Charles Bean Bar

Sometimes I wonder if you can look too deeply into things.  

I've recently been going on solo travels around the Brisbane CBD, looking for great little lunch spots where I can fuel my inner introvert and enjoy quiet lunches on my own.  In most cases, there are heaps of cafes around that you walk by every day and just never step into, it's these types of little eating oases that I'm looking for.

The Charles Bean Bar is just such a place, squeezed into the foyer of one of the CBD's many commercial towers and next door to one of the many popular Sumo Salads around town.  It would be pretty easy to walk by and never notice, and if fact I did walk past countless times without observing.  It was only because I've been recently keeping an eye out for such gems that I even spotted the little cafe on Adelaide Street.

Which brings me back to my opening statement, have I made the right connections?  Charles Bean was quite a famous Australian that not too many people remember.  A schoolmaster, judge's associate, barrister, journalist, war correspondent and historian, Bean was instrumental in the establishment of the Australian War Memorial and of the creation and popularisation of the ANZAC legend.  The Charles Bean Bar is located just across the street from ANZAC square, so in all likelihood refers back to this legendary historical figure......

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Casual Dining - Papa Jack's

Southern style Americana is definitely the cuisine of the day at the moment and with a huge number of US of A restaurants opening, I thought I'd check out a place that's been kicking around for just over twelve months.  Papa Jack's didn't start the Southern American revolution but it certainly kicked off a second wave.

We'd been attempting to get to Papa Jack's ever since it first opened in the newish M&A Lane that houses a heap of other restaurants, including fellow Southern Belle the Mighty Mighty (see post here). Several false starts and and attempts to get along on really busy nights meant that we checked out every other M&A Lane restaurant before we finally got it together and paid Papa Jack's a visit.  In hindsight, that could have been a huge error!

We had a bit of a choice, go and see new Affleck flick, Gone Girl, or walk over to McLachlan Street in the Valley for a bit of Louisiana comfort food.  It was a tough choice, but we really felt like it was time, so made the twenty minute walk from the CBD and found ourselves on the front doorstep of Papa Jack's.  It's a spot that we've walked by many times on our travels and from the outside, Papa Jack's looks pretty neat and new, but it's a different matter once you step over the threshold.  It was like stepping into a vortex and finding ourselves in swampy old Louisiana.

If you're like us, then one of the must watch shows of 2014 was True Detective with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, a show set in the Louisiana bayou.  It's a brilliant show and some of it's set in seedy bars and while Papa Jack's didn't have that same seedy feel to it, it was un-mistakingly Southern American.  Adding to the feeling was the costumes that the wait staff were wearing and the French American accent of our waiter as he welcomed us and showed us to our seat. Owners Marco and Emily Nunes (who created Woolloongabba bar, Canvas), have faithfully recreated a Louisiana watering hole right in the middle of the Valley.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Breakfast Series - the HUB Cafe Kitchen

Ashgrove is not an area that I associate as a foodie hub, in fact, I kind of think of it as the start of the 'burbs and the end of the inner city area.  I'm thinking that I might have to reassess that view!  We were invited along to check out new Ashgrove restaurant the HUB Cafe Kitchen and thought breakfast would be ideal.

We're quite familiar with the Ashgrove, we used to live around the corner in Bardon and a long time ago, I lived in the Gap and drove up Waterworks Road every day to get home.  The HUB was located on Stewart Road, just off Waterworks Road and right by the shopping centre.  It hadn't been that long ago since our last visit to the area, when I dropped SC and her regular dining buddies for their Indian Curry nights, of which I am (thankfully) excused.  Annasamara was right next door to the HUB and when we pulled out the front, we were surprised by the flashy looking new restaurant and even more surprised that that little part of Steward Road had developed into a little foodie hub.

The HUB has pride of place once you turn the corner into Stewart Street and it's pretty hard to miss. The heritage listed corner store style cafe and been completely remodelled and has the feel of yesteryear but a very modern fit out.  As we walked into the restaurant, I was impressed with the very contemporary open style kitchen and bar area inside, and the open feeling of the main dining room, which had massive open doors that let the outside in.  We were greeted by co-owner and head chef John Lambkin, whom was impeccably dressed in his chef whites and a cool green apron that all of his staff were wearing.

Vapiano - Italian done the German way

When thinking of Italian dining, there are a heap of places around Brisbane that come to mind.  I have a couple of favourites that I've visited many times over the years, my current favourite being Beccofino at Newstead (see post here).  Beccofino is not the only Italian restaurant I've visited, there have been many, and in fact, Brisbane has a dearth of Italian restaurants (see my blog list here). There is one Italian restaurant though that I don't often think about, even though it is right under my nose (figuratively).

Vapiano has been in Brisbane for a quite a few years now and is a restaurant that I'd gone to a little bit when it first opened, mainly due to it's unique approach.  Vapiano Brisbane is part of a much larger chain of restaurants which spans the globe and has outlets in Sydney and Melbourne as well as cities like New York and London.  It stretches from Estonia to Brazil; Luxembourg to Mexico; South Korea to Kuwait - there are over 135 outlets around the world.  Forty five of those restaurants are located in Germany.  Germany you might ask?  Yep, the very Italian restaurant Vapiano was created by a couple of guys from Germany and the first Vapiano opened its doors in Hamburg in 2002.

I remember when Vapiano first opened in Brisbane, it was actually kind of hard to get into, there were queues and fairly long wait times.  Nowadays, the restaurant is busy but those halcyon days are long gone, swept up with the restaurant renaissance that has occurred in the last few years in our fair city.  It had been a more than a few years since my last visit and I'd been meaning to get back to Vapiano and check it out for some time.  We just needed the right opportunity and motivation, which we found when heading off to see Spamalot one Sunday evening - it seemed as if the stars had aligned and we found ourselves standing at the entrance in Albert Lane.


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