Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Breakfast Series - The Hutch Bistro

It's increasingly difficult to find breakfast spots that I haven't tried close to home, so I've been casting my foodie net a little further of late.  It's not that I can't find cafes that I haven't been to before, but it's hard to find a cafe with a menu that appeals.  Some of them are too fancy and some of them don't really have enough options to make it interesting for me, and by interesting, I usually mean chorizo on the menu.

When looking online for a breakfast spot, I usually look for areas that I know or have lived in before, so I went searching for cafes in the half dozen or so suburbs I lived in previously.  We ended up finding a cafe in the Grange, which is one of the northern suburbs SC and I lived in for a whole six weeks!  Long story short, our awesome house at the Grange was sold out from underneath us and we had to find a new place to live - which resulted in finding an even more awesome house in Bardon.

I'd never heard of The Hutch Bistro before, but I was intrigued by the web site, which had proudly displayed a Dimmi badge noting that it was their 'neighbourhood gem' for 2013.  It was enough to entice me to look over the menu, which didn't have a heap of options, but did list chorizo as one of their 'extras'.  It was enough for me, so we jumped in the car and drove north.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Breakfast Series - The Cutting Board Brisbane

I'm a big fan of any cafe or restaurant that specialises in meat, even more so when chorizo is prominently displayed on the menu.  This is quite well known, so when I was asked to get in and check out The Cutting Board, it was a no brainer, the lure of a chorizo breakfast was way to much for me.  Ironically, I'd arranged to catch up with my regular mid week breakfast buddy, DruBoy, who happened to be a pescatarian.  After being taken to an almost completely vegetarian breakfast spot a few months ago (see post here), I thought of it as a bit of sweet revenge! 

Unfortunately, my plans of revenge were usurped by family emergencies, not once, but twice, with DruBoy needing to pull out at the last minute each time.  We'd postponed after the first one, but I thought fate was having a laugh at me for my dumb revenge plans, so I spoke to my beloved, who was only too happy to step in and have a hearty breakfast to kick off the last working day of the week.

The Cutting Board is a week day only cafe located at the top end of George Street, underneath the Telstra building.  I'd walked past a number of times when visiting friends and colleagues in the Telstra building, but was not aware that it was open for breakfast until invited down.  Wanting to get an early start on the day, we got out of bed just a little bit earlier and made our way down for a 7:30am weekday date for breakfast.  After arriving and meeting proud manager Brett (owner Anthony was busy at another venture), we got a little bit of a lowdown on what the Cutting Board was all about.  Firstly, it was a loud and proud meat venue, which was ironic as Brett's partner was a vegetarian.  The most popular part of the menu are the 'cut sandwiches', which are chocked full of meaty goodness! But it wasn't only about meat, with some pretty spiffy muffin options available on a daily basis.  

Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Fish House - worth the drive to the Gold Coast

There are certain events that happen each year that signify the passing of the seasons.  The transition from the cooler months of winter to the perfect days of spring and summer are marked by one of our favourite events.  Each year in September, local, interstate and international artists compete in the Swell Sculpture Festival at Currumbin Beach.  Each year for ten days, some pretty amazing sculptures are dotted up and down the beach and foreshore.  It's one event on the calendar that is a must visit and this year was no different.

What was different about our 2014 visit was that we'd planned a little more carefully than normal and aligned a visit to one of the country's hottest restaurants.  Instead of jumping in the car and hoping to find a corner fish and chip shop open, we made a reservation at The Fish House at Burleigh Heads.  I guess we were still having fish and chips in spirit, but in reality, the plan was to dine in style.

There has been a lot said and written about The Fish House this year, mainly on the back of having amazing food and a reputation for service excellence.  It didn't hurt getting a second chefs hat in the Brisbane Times Good Food Guide and being ranked 74 in the Gourmet Travellers list of top 100 restaurants for 2014.  Owner Simon Gloftis has spent a long time in hospitality and had owned and run several successful cafes before achieving a life long dream and opening Hellenika at Nobbys Beach, itself a hatted restaurant.  With an obvious flair for creating memorable dining experiences, The Fish House is Simon's most successful restaurant to date.

It must be said that apart from our annual pilgrimage down to the Swell Festival, we are not regular beach bums, which in some ways is sacrilegious while living in South East Queensland.  We had a general idea where The Fish House was, but it was down to our trusty SatNav to get us to our destination.  It had been a bit of a crappy and overcast day when we'd left Brisbane for the coast, but by the time we pulled up at our park, just around the corner from the restaurant, there was nothing but blue sky's above.  A great sign for both lunch and our walk amongst the installation artwork that would come later.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Casual Dining - La Via the South Bank pizzeria

There had been all sorts of excitement.  We'd just bought a snazzy new apartment in the city, well, a new apartment in our building, and had been busy cleaning up our place to start to show prospective purchasers through.  It's a pretty nervous time, you want people to love your place enough to want to buy it.  Being pretty lazy, our plan had been to hire in some cleaners to completely spruce up the place before it formerly went on the market, a plan that went off without a hitch.  We were pretty wiped out from a day of keeping busy while the cleaners went to work, so unsurprisingly, we decided on dinner out.

Being a last minute thing, I'd wanted to go somewhere easy for dinner, but I also had an almost zealot like desire for pizza, so we needed to find a place that did decent pizza.  South Bank is not normally a location that you'd normally associate with great pizza, but I seemed to remember walking past a restaurant in Little Stanley Street that did pizza.  I really couldn't recall it's name, so took to the interwebs to see if I could find it and make a booking.  You've really gotta love Google, it doesn't take much to find anything these days, and before I knew it, our table was secured and we were on our way.

It was a pretty nice day, so we decided to walk over to South Bank.  While we wandered over, we reflected on the hit and miss nature of the restaurants at South Bank.  Our conclusion was that with so many restaurants, and being so busy most of the time, it was hard to have a consistent service and we'd just had some crappy experiences.  I also wondered if the high level of walk in traffic mean that restaurants didn't have to worry about repeat business and therefore didn't always focus in on the little things.  All completely speculative, of course.

La Via was much further down Little Stanley Street than I remembered it being, so far down in fact it was right by the 5th Element (see post here).  We'd arrived about thirty minutes before our reservation time, hoping to get in a little earlier.  The little Italian restaurant was completely packed and we wondered if there would be a little bit of a wait before we were seated.  We were in luck, and were seated early in probably the only two seats left in the whole dining area.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Casual Dining - Red Hook American Street Food

I'm wondering if Brisbane was somehow annexed as the 52nd State of the United States, as with the amount of US style dining options now available, it's certainly starting to feel like it.  Be it a burger, a hot dog or southern style cooking, there now seems to be an endless array of American dining.  While this is not necessarily a new thing, think about the McDonalds invasion in the 80's and then Subway in the late 90's, it is definitely entered our dining consciousness like never before.

One of the coolest restaurants around, and one of my favourites, is Public down at George Street (see post here). Bonnie Shearston and Tom Sanceau, the team behind what was voted the best new restaurant a few years ago, have kicked off another venture that is a little more casual than Public.  Located in Gresham Lane, Red Hook Brisbane is the latest restaurant to fly the United States banner, this time with down to earth New York style street food.  

Gresham Lane is home to some of Brisbane's busiest lunchtime destinations and Red Hook has taken the last vacant space to be developed, at the site where it was once rumoured that Melbourne's Taxi would set up shop.  With the addition of Red Hook, the lane has quietly gone from lunchtime mecca spot to showing hints that a thriving night time trade could one day reign supreme.  Along with the Gresham whisky bar, Red Hook is open for extended hours, and has been doing a pretty decent dinner trade as well as a pretty manic lunch.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Breakfast Series - WickEd Cafe

All day breakfast.....  It kind of has a luxurious feel about it.  It's a bold statement saying 'you don't need to rush, you can just take your time'.  I don't know about you, but I am a big fan of the all day breakfast, I love bacon and eggs on toast for lunch. It had been some time since I'd taken the time out to do breakfast at lunch, but it was something that I used to do quite often.

I'd been heading back to work after visiting my surgeon for a post shoulder operation check up and happened to be walking down Wickham Terrace on the Spring Hill / CBD border when I spied a sign announcing 'all day breakfast'.  I'd actually walked past WickEd in Spring Hill heaps of times and had wondered what the little cafe at the bottom of Observatory Tower was like.  It wasn't until I had walked completely past WickEd that it registered that the all day breakfast included chorizo, but once it did register, I found myself on auto pilot walking back up the street and into the cafe.

While I had never set foot in WickEd before, the name has always been a source of amusement for me, it's a pretty cool name, if not a little over used, but given the cafe is on the corner of Wickham Terrance and Edward Street, it kind of works.  I was surprised by how little the cafe was inside, there was room for a counter and kitchen, as well as a few seats with most of the seating outside, under a huge sun umbrella.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Cheap Eats - La Rotisserie at the Gasworks

We were wandering around the Valley and its surrounds looking at furniture a couple of weekends ago, which can be really quite draining. We're moving apartments really soon and want to have a fresh new look in our fresh new apartment!  After a couple of hours of getting in and out of chairs, measuring spaces in our heads and slowly going insane with the options and possibilities, we decided to give it up for the day and head to the Standard Markets to grab some groceries before going home to chill out. Normally, we'd head over to the Valley Standard but since we were closer to the Gasworks, we checked out the Standard there instead.

I digress, this post isn't about our shopping habits or the Standard.  We were feeling quite hungry from our furniture shopping and wanted something to eat and with a heap of options at the Gasworks, we were spoilt for choice.  We stood in a central spot and turned full circle trying to decide where to grab a bite to eat, with a flash of red catching my eye and a fragment of a memory coming to the fore. Ahhh, that was right, La Rotisserie was at the Gasworks and a sudden desire for chicken and chips struck me.

I'd known that La Rotisserie had opened at Gasworks and had previously resolved to check it out, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity.  As we walked through the front door of the very Parisian looking little restaurant, I was reminded of some of the best chicken that we'd eaten on our trip to Paris a few years prior.  Chicken is something that the French take great pride in doing well and even at little market stalls, the rotisserie chicken is a cut above what we'd experienced in Brisbane.  You only need to think about perhaps the most famous of all French chickens, the Bresse, to know how serious the French are about their fowl.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Breakfast Series - The Shady Palms Cafe

Back in the day, there was a powerhouse precinct that had it all, discount shops, cafes and quite a happening scene.  It was a place where on Saturday mornings, there was a vibe, it felt real and just a little bit edgy.  That place was Stones Corner and for a while, it was almost everyone's go-to spot for cheap clothing and a good feed. Then, one day, it wasn't.

For years, Stones Corner languished as a forgotten location, there seemed to be more 'to let' signs in the windows of the shops than shops themselves.  At times, it felt a little bit like a ghost town.  I'm not gonna say that it was the introduction of the discount outlet store DFO, but it was around it's opening that things started to go awry.  Coincidence, perhaps.....

Languish as it might, Stones Corner was not forgotten and over time it has started to transform again, away from its bargain basement factory outlet days into more of a mature setting with cafes and bars.  It might be said that that transformation, while not complete, was kicked along by an enterprising young couple who'd turned to reality TV to help speed up their dream of being in the food industry and opening their own restaurant.  Bec Saul and Mal Gill took to season two of My Kitchen Rules, and while they didn't take out the prize, the exposure was enough for them to open up their very first restaurant.

It might have seemed like a strange choice to open their first restaurant at Stones Corner, which at the time was at perhaps it's lowest ebb, Bec and Mal must have seen something that others didn't. Lady Marmalade was their first restaurant, which quickly became an oasis in an otherwise desolate location.  Success often leads to more success, and after a few short years, it was time to crack on with another cafe/restaurant and since they'd been so insightful with their first cafe, stuck with Stones Corner for their second.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Cheap Eats - Chur Burger

I've not kept it a secret but I've been on a mad burger hunt ever since I spent a month in New York City last year, which has to be the burger capital of the world (see post here). Just so we're clear, there are over nine hundred burger joints in the Big Apple, so there is no doubt that it's the burger mecca.  I've always loved burgers, I mean, who doesn't like a burger?  It's just that spending time in NYC allowed me to experience a wide range of burgers and really open my eyes to what's possible with some humble ingredients.

I've been chasing those burger highs ever since I returned from the US and over the last twelve months, it seems as if the whole city has gone burger crazy!  There has been burger joint after burger joint open, all trying to win the Brisbane diner's burger heart.  I guess it's not just burgers, but the whole American cuisine that's really taken off, but the quintessential and most favoured of American foods is the burger. 

My quest is quite well known and it's not unusual for a FoodMeUpScotty follower to tweet or Instagram me the moment a new burger place has opened.  This happened recently with the opening of Chur Burger.  I'd been vaguely aware that the Sydney institution was opening up a Brisbane outlet sometime this year, but it wasn't until internet buddy DigellaBakes sent me a tweet that I became fully conscious of the opening of a new burger joint (Thanks DC!).  From that moment it was clear that we'd be hitting up Chur Burger pretty quickly.

It ended up being two days post my tweet from Digella that we found our way to Chur Burger.  We knew it was in the Valley and we knew it was in Constance Street, but it wasn't until we pulled up out the front that we realised that it was underneath hip new Valley hotel Tryp by Wyndham.  It was a moment of revelation once we realised that the Tryp was in one of the old buildings that up until a year ago was just a shell, cool.  We'd always wondered who would take on 20 Constance Street and now we knew.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Breakfast Series - The Spring Hill Deli and Produce

I really love being able to tell people about those little hidden gems that are dotted around Brisbane. There are so many breakfast spots to check out, you can get a little bit lost trying to decide where to try next (well, that happens to me every weekend!).  I'd been struggling running through the list on Urbanspoon, a list that has almost nine hundred breakfast and brunch options before I came across a name that tingled my memory!

Very good friends of ours and regular breakfast buddies have lived in and around the Spring Hill area for a long time and once I came across the Spring Hill Deli, a hazy memory of DruBoy telling me that it was a top spot just popped into my head.  It was possible that I'd imagined the memory as well, we've been told about a few placed by DruBoy, but I was positive that we were onto a winner.

While the Spring Hill Deli was technically close enough for us to walk to, we were feeling a little bit lazy and decided to drive.  If it had been summer instead of being in the final throws of winter, we might have walked, but it was a tad cool and I reckon we'd made the right decision, especially when a little drizzle of rain hit us on our journey.  Located on Boundary Street, the Spring Hill Deli really stands out in a very quiet part of Spring Hill, in fact its almost impossible to miss - its painted bright red and was like a beacon for our cold and hungry bodies.

Tukka Restaurant - Australian fare done fancy

Wow, it feels like ages since I've sat down at the computer to write about a foodie adventure!  I guess having shoulder surgery is just about the only thing that's stopped me from both eating out so much and then writing about it!  After about ten days of being in a shoulder sling, I've been able to cast it aside and can finally get cracking with some needed catch up posting!

Casting my mind back to the weekend before my surgery, we finally decided to hit up one of Brisbane's more unique food offerings.  Until recently, Tukka was pretty much the only restaurant in Brisbane and one of the few restaurants in the country that based their menu around traditional Australian produce.  I'd had some brilliant experiences with Australian cuisine at Josue Lopez's GOMA restaurant (see post here and here) and I was really keen to see what head chef Bryant Wells was doing at Tukka.

It seems like Tukka has been around for a very long time. SC and I had walked past Tukka hundreds of times over the years and wondered what it would be like.  It's also one of the few restaurants in the Australian Good Food Guide's list of hatted restaurants that we'd not been to. Head chef Bryant Wells has done an amazing job promoting native ingredients to the Brisbane dining scene and it was time for us to get on in and see for ourselves.

We timed our visit to Tukka with a couple of big events around Brisbane, a Broncos game and the Future Shorts Film Festival, so Tukka was pretty quiet when we arrived for our 6:30pm reservation. With a choice of seating that took in the whole restaurant dining area, we chose to sit outside the main dining room on the side deck, which was actually a little bit warmer.  Shortly after we were seated and given our menus by the restaurant manager, we noticed that he'd had to leave the restaurant in a hurry (we later learned that there was a family emergency), so it looked as if Tukka would be down one experienced hand for the night.


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