Saturday, 30 March 2013

Moo Moo Restaurant - the raging bull

It was 5pm on the Thursday night before the Easter long weekend and there was no way we were cooking at home for dinner.  SC and I had a cursory look through the few remaining restaurants available to us in the Entertainment book and decided that it was time we visited Moo Moo Wine Bar and Grill.  Between the two of us we have been there many times, but never together, so it was high time we actually ate at the restaurant together.

Moo Moo, which is a great name for a Steak Restaurant, opened up in Brisbane in June 2010 after its counterpart on the Gold Coast had been running successfully for five years.  Moo Moo is located in the historic Port Office building at the Stamford Plaza and filled the void that was left when one of Brisbane's landmark restaurants, Siggy's, closed down.  The Port Office building is a magnificent example of old world charm and Siggy's was a perfect fit for such a charming old building.  Moo Moo has taken the old world charm and turned it on it's head.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Urbane - The return visit

There are a stack of nice restaurants in Brisbane now and more opening every week it seems, but there is still only a handful of special occasion restaurants around town.  You might ask, what constitutes a special occasion restaurant, but its not always easy to put your finger on.  Sure, the food needs to be sensational, that goes without saying.  A great atmosphere?  Check!  Something you just can't find somewhere else?  You bet!  All these things are important, but there is also the X factor, which is harder to put your finger on.

I needed a special occasion restaurant recently for a very special occasion.  My best mate, a friend I had spent almost every day with over the last 22 years, was emigrating to another country.  I can think of only a handful of other scenarios that would have a greater impact on my life.  We wanted somewhere memorable, a place where we would reminisce over as the years roll on, somewhere perfect.  It needed to be degustation too.  I am always banging on about how much I love degustations and my best mate, the Big Boy, wanted to experience a great degustation too.  The one other time I had taken the BB to a degustation was Attica in Melbourne (post is here), and we did not have the best of experiences.  I needed to rectify that with an amazing meal.  There were only two places that came to mind, Esquire and Urbane.  I had a feeling that Esquire would be a little too cutting edge for the BB, so we decided on Urbane.  I was looking forward to this.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Monty's Dining - Fine Dining in Tamworth

Tamworth.....  There are not many reasons to go to Tamworth, sure, there is the country music awards, but I am not a fan of country music.  When SC first raised the idea of me joining her for her cousin's wedding in Tamworth, I was pretty reluctant to go.  She had been down a couple of other times for family get togethers, but I had always escaped going down.  In what I can only assume was a moment of temporary insanity, I agreed to share the 7 hour drive with SC to keep her company and attend the wedding.

To lessen the blow SC did a little research and discovered that there was a fine dining restaurant in Tamworth that was hatted, had a great reputation and was even attached to the hotel that we were staying at.  Now I suspect that she did this research to use as an incentive if I had declined to come down to the wedding, but as I had already agreed it was more of a sweetener to the deal.

Monty's is the restaurant and it has been awarded an Australian Good Food Guide chefs hat, which is generally a really good sign of a quality restaurant.  I was intrigued about this and did some research on the Executive Chef Ben Davies.  Chef Davies is a English lad who grew up just outside Bath in Somerset and has been a chef since he was 17 years of age.  Working his way through different restaurants if France and England, Ben moved to the hotel 'Les Bories' as a head chef, where he obtained his first Michelin Star at the age of 23.  Ben also obtained a Michelin Star while working at Llangoed Hall in Wales and while at Llangoed Hall was able to cook for world leaders as part of a G8 summit.  In 2006, Ben moved to Tamworth and has been the Executive Chef at Monty's ever since.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Tartufo - Italian for truffle
There is a spot over at the Emporium in the Valley that used to be one of my favourite restaurants, unfortunately it closed down and the spot remained vacant for a while.  That restaurant was Belle Epoque and it was a lovely French restaurant, where ironically I had the best risotto ever.  I say ironically because the restaurant that replaced Belle Epoque was an Italian fine diner called Tartufo.

Chef and owner Tony Percuoco has a long and distinguished career in the food industry, which started in his family's restaurant in Naples as a young boy.  In 1973, Tony began his career at Bennalong at the Sydney Opera House, then onto continue working in his family's restaurant in Kings Cross.  After opening and running his own restaurant in Surrey Hills, Senso Unico, Tony moved to the Gold Coast to open a number of restaurants including the well known Restaurant Fellini.  All of this led to taking over the space at Emporium and creating Tartufo.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Cheap Eats - Steamed (Dumplings in the CBD)

Dumplings, dumplings, dumplings.  I just can't seem to get enough dumplings of late.  It was not that long ago that I only thought of dumplings as an entree, to be eaten only at the beginning of a meal.  Last year I completed a gyoza shootout (see post here) and really started to get a taste for the delectable little bites.  Ever since then I have sought out every opportunity to chase down dumplings and gyoza in the CBD.

Then, a couple of weeks ago I discovered that there were now a couple of options for gyoza and dumplings in the city.  I was pretty excited, but also a bit dismayed to learn that they had been around for ages and I had been missing out!  How could this be?  I normally have my ear to the ground for such things......

Breakfast Series - Pearl Cafe

I have mentioned a heap of times in my blog that I hate waiting in a queue for breakfast, which is one of the primary reasons why I had not previously visited Pearl Cafe over at Woolloongabba.  It's not strictly true that I had not been to Pearl before, SC and I had tried on a number of occasions but turned around and went elsewhere once we saw the queues to get in.

SC and I had been away in Tamworth for a few days and had taken an extra couple of days to recover from the drive back, so had a Tuesday morning spare, surely there would not be a long queue early on a Tuesday morning?  We decided that this would be the day we finally got to hear what all the fuss was about and made our way over to the 'Gabba to try our hand.  We drove over to Logan Road and easily found a park right out the front, it looked as if today would be the day!

There is a lot to love about the 'Gabba area now and it seems as if every time we head over to this little stretch of road just outside the CBD, there is something new going on and today was no exception.  There were quite a few changes that we noted, but they will have to wait for another time and post!  I have written about the area before and you can see a little more detail about this fabulous dining area here.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Pintxo - casual tapas in New Farm

What to do on a Sunday night when your usual plans for a movie and dinner with friends falls through?  SC and I thought long and hard about going it alone to see a movie and grab some dinner but the movie we wanted to see was not on at a good time.  Still wanting to get out of the house, we decided on a nice simple dinner at one of our favourite Spanish tapas restaurants in the New Farm.

Pintxo is an interesting little taperia located on Brunswick street that has gone through a bit of an evolution of late.  At one time there was a tapas train taking up half of the restaurant and it was a great way to come in with mates and sample different spanish delights.  Recently Pintxo has moved away from the tapas train and converted the area to more traditional dining.

The name pintxo comes from the Basque region of Spain and literally translates to 'spike' and is in reference to toothpick that is spiked through bite size ingredients.  Usually associated as starters in Spanish cuisine they are often found in bars or taverns across northern Spain.  The main difference between a tapas and a pintxo is the 'spike' through the food.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Oshin Japanese Restaurant - A hidden gem

The prospect of a Friday afternoon divisional leaders meeting is not always the best way to lead into the weekend, but this week we decided that a lunch meeting would be the way to go.  After perusing a list of options around the CBD the group decided on Japanese and Oshin was to be the destination.

Oshin Japanese Restaurant is probably one of the least known hatted restaurants in the CBD with an AGFG Chefs Hat. Sure, it has a dedicated following and is pretty much busy all of the time, but very few people know of it's heritage and quality.  Located upstairs at the corner of Adelaide and Creek Streets, Oshin is up some rickety stairs and opens into a compact foyer and a small but well laid out dining area.  It's not much to look at inside, the chairs and tables are old and well worn, but as a consequence seems so much more traditional.  But you don't come to Oshin for the decor, you come for the traditional Japanese cuisine.

Like many Japanese restaurants, the dining area revolves around a fairly open kitchen so you can watch the chef in action and at a busy lunch service there is action aplenty!  The menu is very extensive with a great selection of Japanese delights but for those in a rush there is also a lunch time specials menu.  After confirming that we wouldn't be group ordering and sharing, we opted to have a more comprehensive lunch from the normal menu and set about ordering our meal.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Bacchus - decadent and indulgent

Towards the end of 2012, Brisbane was a hive of activity with a number of new restaurants opening.  I always get excited about new restaurants, but one in particular caught my eye.  It was something completely different from anything seen in Brisbane so far and opened with much fanfare with Matt Preston presiding over the official launch party.  Bacchus is the new Restaurant over at the Rydges in Southbank and is a something of a departure from the usual Hotel / Restaurant combination.

The name Bacchus gives a hint into the mindset and approach that has been taken with this establishment.  Bacchus is the Greek God of wine and indulgence and you only have to walk through the entrance to see that this has been the inspiration for the design of the restaurant.  Crafted by native Los Angeles designer Tracy Beckman, there is clear linkages to the glamorous aspects of 'Tinsel Town'.  Located on the podium level of the Rydges, Bacchus seamlessly integrates the poolside and restaurant to create a harmonious dining & nightlife experience.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Cheap Eats - Wagaya

There are a stack of Asian restaurants in the Valley, with many traditional and some not so.  I have to say I have never had to book a restaurant through a Contact Centre in the same way that I did when booking at Wagaya.  It was a pretty slick experience to be honest and I received a follow up text straight away, with a booking number and advice that if I was 10 minutes late they would give my table away!

For SC and I this was our first visit to Wagaya and didn't really know what to expect, but for our regular Sunday night dinner buddies, this was old hat, they had been heaps of times.  I was particularly interested in the assertion that all the food can only be ordered via a touch screen at the booths and that the food would be delivered thick and fast.  Being a Gen Y at heart and loving any new and innovative way to do things, the idea of ordering from a screen and the food being brought to the table excited me.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Adelaide Trip - Rigoni's award winning breakfast

It was my last morning in Adelaide after a whirlwind trip for a couple of days (details about the trip are here) and I was really wanting to finish off on a high.  I had spent my days wandering the streets of Adelaide getting reacquainted with the city I grew up in and left as a 22 year old.  There was so much that had not changed at all; walking down Rundle & Hindley Streets was like taking a time machine back twenty years, it was quite freaky.  There were parts of Adelaide that I was super happy had not changed, like the Adelaide Central Markets (c'mon Brisbane, get your act together and get a central market).

While much had stayed the same, there were also many differences and the one that was most notable to me was the introduction of a real laneway culture, similar to that of Melbourne.  There were now lots of cool laneways spread out all over the city and there were great cafes and restaurants that had opened up to fill the spaces.  One such street, now closed off to traffic and filled with cool restaurants, cafes and bars was Leigh Street, just off Hindley Street and it was here that my final meal of my Adelaide trip would take place.

Adelaide Trip - Georges on Waymouth

The problem with travelling to a new city for only a few days is the limited amount of time you have to check out all of the great places you want to go.  In my case, this was as many great restaurants that Adelaide had to offer as possible.  I was only going to be in Adelaide for a couple of days (details about why here) and I had already burned both dinners on Celsius and Press, so I only had breakfasts available to me now.

There are so many ways to find out where to eat when visiting a new city nowadays and I hit just about all of them, top 10 breakfast lists, urbanspoon, AGFG and of course chatting to some local bloggers over twitter.  After considering all of the advise given I decided that Georges on Waymouth would be my first breakfast target.

Georges on Waymouth has been serving the people of Adelaide for just under 10 years and is every bit the European style restaurant.  The owners George & Coula Kasimatis have the aim of serving fresh seasonal produce and to provide impeccable service.  Their approach seems to be working as Georges has won several Restaurant & Catering awards and holds two Chefs Hats form the Australian Good Food Gude.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Adelaide Trip - Press Food & Wine the up and comer

On my recent trip to Adelaide I set about hitting the best restaurants the city had to offer in the three days I was there.  This meant that I had to make some tough decisions about which of the many fantastic restaurants that now grace the Adelaide dining scene I would visit.  The first night in town was Celsius and you can read about it here.  But it was night two and I needed somewhere to go, so after doing the obligatory online research and again hitting up some local bloggers for their suggestions I decided on Press Food & Wine.

I had been spending the days wandering the streets of Adelaide, so had a pretty good idea where Press was located, which is just outside of the reglar dining haunt of Gouger Street.  I did however notice that Waymouth Street was starting to get a nice little gathering of restaurants with Georges on Waymouth right next door.

Adelaide Trip - Celsius Restaurant Three Hat Perfection

It's not very often I get to Adelaide so when I do go down, anywhere for that matter, I am always looking for a great restaurant to visit.  You can find out a little more about my reason for an Adelaide visit here! When travelling, I normally try to arrange a visit to the best restaurant at my chosen destination - sometimes I can get in and sometimes not.  After doing some research online and looking at the various guides in Adelaide, as well as linking in with some Food Bloggers who know Adelaide pretty well, I settled on Celsius Restaurant and Bar as my first port of call.

What better way to start off a food odyssey than with Adelaide's most awarded and celebrated restaurant of the last few years.  Celsius is Adelaide's only three hatted restaurant with a AGFG score of 17 out of 20, which is an outstanding achievement and one of only a handful of restaurants in the country to have such a score.  It's also ranked 54th best restaurant in the country by Gourmet Traveller and has been awarded a Gourmet Traveller Star.  As I said, some serious credentials here, so my expectations were high.

Adelaide Trip - Perryman's Bakery

2012 was a particularly difficult and sad time for me with the passing of my Mum.  At times like that you realise how important family is and it struck me that I had not seen much of my extended family since moving to Queensland over twenty years ago.  It was time for a visit to my hometown, Adelaide, and catch up with my Cousins, Uncle and Aunt as I had promised many times.

Along with visting family, a trip to Adelaide also allowed me to reconnect with some of the food and restaurants that I loved as a young adult growing up.  There is one place in particular that played a huge role in my late teens and early twenties (ie, once I was allowed to drive!), a place that I spent every possible lunch time going to.  A place that I introduced a bevy of my friends to who also became devotees.  A bakery called Perryman's.

Friday, 1 March 2013

The Survey Co. - Laneway dining

There is no easy way to say this, so I will just come straight out with it.....  Brisbane has laneway envy! We look to the southern states and their glorious laneways filled with cool restaurants and bars and wonder 'why not here?'.

Thankfully over the last year or so there has been a move to establish a laneway culture in Brisbane and Fortitude Valley.  We now have Wynn Lane and Burnett Lane and a city council that is determined to establish a laneway culture, which is fantastic.  It was to Burnett Lane that SC and I made our way with the intent of visiting The Survey Co, one of a number of ventures that has opened up in the once seedy Street that runs parallel to Queen Street.

I love the name - The Survey Co - it really fits with the feel of Burnett Lane with a very industrial feel to it.  The restaurant name harks back to the street's namesake, Charles Burnett, who was a surveyor and explorer.  Burnett established a surveying company in 1844, which is where the name The Survey Co comes from.


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