Monday, 31 December 2007

New Blog Features

Just a quick post to let you know about a couple of features that have been added to food bling, Brisbane.

First of all, I have added a contact form, which you will find at the bottom of the home page, under the current posts. Please let me know of any comments that you have about posts, food in Brisbane or the blog generally.

I've also added a poll. To get things started, we'll see what Brisbane's best restaurant is.

Happy eating!

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Mitchelton Farmers Markets

Just a quick update about the Mitchelton Farmers' Markers. During 2007, they have been held on the last Sunday in every month. In 2008, they are switching to the first Sunday of the month. The first markets for 2008 will be held on Sunday 6 January 2008.

For more information, read my earlier post or check out their website here -


Finding ourselves at Chermside after a long Sunday afternoon of shopping and movies, and not being bothered to cook anything when we got home, we wandered into Wagamama in the newish food court.

Having eaten in Wagamama restaurants around Australia and in London, I was pretty familiar with the drill. If you haven't eaten at Wagamama before, it's an international chain, serving Japanese food. There is a pretty standard menu, you sit at communal tables and the prices are generally reasonable. The staff take your orders with little hand held PDA type devices and also write bits and pieces on your placemat (so other staff know what you have ordered).

I've found Wagamama a bit hit and miss in the past. Last time we ate at Wagamama in Sydney one of our meals come with a rubber band hidden in the dish, which was an unexpected surprise. The staff there dealt with it really well, to their credit.

The menu is modelled on Japanese ramen bars. It covers ramen (noodles in soup), kare lomen (noodles in a coconut based soup), teppan (noodles cooked on a griddle), teriyaki, rice dishes, salads and side dishes.

I'm a big fan of their edamame ($4.50), which are incredibly addictive. We were shown to our seats, only to be quickly warned that quite a number of dishes were not available tonight, including the edamame and both the main course specials. So there was to be no edamame tonight.

Instead we ordered the sweet potato kusabi ($6). These were described on the menu as hand-cut chips served with basil and wasabi mayonnaise. We saw them sitting on the pass for about 5 minutes before they came to our table. Unfortunately they were terrible. First of all they were cold, and out of the 30 or so chips, about 5 of them were actually crunchy, the rest being soggy and just not cooked enough. As half cooked slices of sweet potato, with the mayonnaise, they tasted pretty good. But they weren't chips by any stretch of the imagination. At the end of the meal we asked the waitress if they were supposed to be served cold, and were told that they are cooked, but get cold very quickly. Next time we will definitely stick with the edamame, if its available.

Luckily, both our mains were very tasty. My chilli chicken ramen ($15.50) came in an enormous bowl, with loads of soup. The soup contained a big chunk of grilled chicken, fresh chillies, sliced red onions, beansprouts, coriander, spring onions and a wedge of lime. It was spicy, tasty, fresh and had plenty of heat. It was also very filling, and I almost got through the whole bowl.

We also had the yasai cha han ($11.50), described as stir-fried rice with egg, snow peas, mushrooms, butternut pumpkin, sweetcorn, fried tofu and spring onion accompanied with a bowl of vegetarian miso soup and pickles. Again, it was a big serving. Once you poured the miso onto the rice, this was a really tasty dish. There was a good mix of flavours, with the crispy snow peas, mushrooms, plenty of corn and small pieces of pumpkin.

So once again, Wagamama was a bit up and down. The chips were terrible, but our mains were great.

Service is friendly and fairly informal. Most of the wait staff sit down at your table with you to take your order and answer any questions you might have about the menu.

Wagamama also has a small drinks menu. I had a glass of the home made lemon iced tea ($2.50) which was good. We also had one of the shikoku island iced tea ($5.60) which is basically iced tea with vodka. Be warned, these taste great and you can gulp them down very easily. Otherwise, you can order wine (sparkling, red and white), beer (including Asahi), soft drinks, juice, sake and plum wine. Green tea is free with a main course if you ask for it.

All up, Wagamama is an ok place for a quick Asian dinner. I would prefer to head into the Valley for an Asian restaurant with a bit more character, but that's just a personal preference. If you find yourself a long way from the Valley or your local Asian restaurant, as we did, then there is always Wagamama.

Although I've only supplied the details of the Chermside restaurant below, you can also find Wagamama at Emporium in the Valley and in the Wintergarden in the city.

What does all this mean? Well priced Japanese food from an international chain, served at communal tables.

food bling ratings
Food - OK
Service - OK
Ambience - modern design, with communal tables
Value for Money - Good
Wine - OK
Vegetarian - OK

Parkland Pavillion
Westfield Chermside
Corner of Gympie & Hamilton Roads
Chermside 4032
P - 07 3350 3034
W -

wagamama (Westfield Shopping Centre) on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Thanh Ha

I know this is supposed to be a Brisbane food blog, but I've now been to Thanh Ha in Melbourne twice and the food is so good, it's more than worthy of a mention.

Thanh Ha is on Victoria Street in Richmond, along with another 20 or so Vietnamese restaurants. You can stroll along Victoria Street until one takes your fancy. Most of them are BYO and extremely well priced.

The ambience here isn't anything to write home about. It's no nonsense, with the tables crammed in. But you're here for the food, not for fancy surroundings. Don't come here if you are planning on lingering for hours over a slow dinner, because it isn't going to happen.

Menus are provided as soon as you sit down, as is a thermos full of jasmine tea. There is a good range of Vietnamese food to choose from. On this visit I had the Pho as an entree, which was very tasty. I am a big fan of Pho as a starter, and this one didn't disappoint. If you find it's not hot enough for your taste, you can throw a chilli or two into it to spice things up.

Although I was thinking my Pho was pretty special, I eventually tried one of the vegetarian rice paper rolls that we had also ordered to kick off the night. They were pre-made, but they were without a doubt the tastiest rice paper rolls I have ever had the fortune to try. They were delicious. The difference seemed to be the inclusion of a very tasty mushroom in the roll. Make sure you give them a try, as they were excellent.

On to main course. Like last time I was here, I went for the crispy chicken with 5 spice sauce. Although there are some great sounding dishes on the menu, this one was so good last time, I just had to have it again. And it didn't disappoint - the crispiness of the chicken, which was tender underneath the skin, coupled with the terrific flavour of the sauce makes this dish a winner. I could eat this all night. Luckily I was getting fairly full by that stage, so I didn't need to.

We also had a vegetable rice noodle soup for main, which comes with bean sprouts and chopped fresh chilli. Again, this was clean, tasty and disappeared pretty quickly.

We couldn't help but notice that the omelettes are very popular at Thanh Ha. They come out looking like a massive pancake, but they must be good, as most other diners had at least one on their table. I'll have to try one next time.

Service here is adequate and not fussy. Last time we ate at Thanh Ha our entrees and mains came out in no particular order until we had 4 dishes plus rice on the table all at one time (just for 2 people). We didn't care as the food was so good.

I haven't yet mentioned the prices. They are fantastic. Our bill for 2 entrees and 2 main courses was $31. No more really needs to be said there.

Thanh Ha is BYO. There is a pub right across the road, otherwise there are a number of Asian grocery stores along Victoria Street where you can pick up a good bottle of white on your way.

Finally, if Thanh Ha is full, try Thanh Ha II, which is also on Victoria Street, slightly closer to the city.

If you find yourself in Melbourne looking for a fix of Vietnamese food, jump on a tram to Richmond and treat your tastebuds to a fine night out at Thanh Ha. You won't be disappointed.

What does all this mean? Excellent, tasty Vietnamese food at crazy prices.

food bling ratings
Food - Great
Service - OK
Ambience - not a lot, but you won't be here long enough to worry about it
Value for money - Top Shelf
Wine - BYO
Vegetarian - Great

Thanh Ha
172 Victoria Street
Richmond VIC 3121
P - 03 9429 8130

Thanh Ha on Urbanspoon

Monday, 24 December 2007

Eves on the Park

Eves on the Park is the new, Roma Street Parkland "Eves" eatery, to join the well established Eves on the River.

Although I've eaten a number of times at Eves on the River over the years, I didn't know Eves on the Park had opened until being invited there for breakfast recently. Eves on the Park is on the ground floor of a new apartment building in the Parklands.

Whilst it's in the Parklands, don't be expecting to be eating surrounded by a garden. Given the location though, Eves on the Park is fairly quiet and doesn't suffer from too much traffic noise. We arrived at about 9am on a Sunday, and the place was pretty quiet. According to the website, there are 100 seats, so there was plenty of room to spread out away from other guests and have a quiet Sunday breakfast.

My first look through their breakfast menu was very encouraging. Quite a few dishes sounded delicious, which I always think is a good sign. And the servings being brought out to the other tables looked very generous. Things were looking good so far.

Anyway, back to the menu. You can start off with a juice (orange/pineapple/apple/banana & mango/tomato or cranberry) for $3.50 or go for one of the nudie juices ($5) if you'd prefer something a bit different.

A flat white will set you back $3.30. We found the coffees a bit weak and milky, but we'll have to go back to see if they are better next time. There is also a decent selection of teas, ranging from $3.30 to $3.50.

It was time to decide what to eat. Decisions, decisions. I was tossing up between the corn & zucchini cakes with bacon and tomato relish ($14), the eggs benedict with shaved ham and buttered spinach ($13), the prosciutto, pumpkin, & goats cheese omelette ($13) and the grilled halloumi, field mushrooms & poached eggs with spinach ($12). They all sounded like a great way to kick off a Sunday morning.

It was a tough choice, but I went for the omelette, which turned out to be excellent. It was perfectly cooked, still quite moist, creamy and very rich. It was also an enormous serving, which I only just managed to finish off.

Most of the other meals that our table ordered were met with a similar stamp of approval. Some found the halloumi dish a bit oily, but I suppose that is always a risk with cooked halloumi.

Eves on the Park offers the option of having any of the breakfast meals served with gluten free toast for an additional $1. This means all the coeliacs of the world can pick almost anything off the breakfast menu. I've thought for years that this is a pretty easy option for most cafes to offer, and its good to see that its catching on around Brisbane now.

If you aren't after anything cooked or heavy, go for the fresh seasonal fruit salad
served with vanilla yoghurt & almonds ($9) or the bircher museli with grape, apple & yoghurt ($7).

Service throughout the meal was ok, but friendly. One of our meals didn't show up at all, and was eventually brought out after most of us had finished our breakfasts. However, the waitress, recognising the mixup, quickly offered not to charge for the meal, which was a more than reasonable response.

I will definitely be back to try out some of the other great breakfasts. It's really good to see places like Eves on the Park offering alternatives to the fairly standard bacon and eggs, pancakes with maple syrup etc etc. While Eves on the Park will accommodate anyone in need of some bacon & eggs (which we all need from time to time), it also shows imagination with its breakfast menu. Hopefully it will be rewarded with a loyal breakfast following.

Eves on the Park is also open for lunch and dinner. At the moment it's operating as a BYO, until the liquor licence comes through. The lack of a liquor licence shouldn't trouble most breakfast punters though.

Finally, the map on the website isn't particularly helpful to anyone trying to find the place. However it's not very far from Melange, so if you keep walking down Parkland Boulevard, you'll find it fairly quickly.

What does all this mean? Tasty, inventive breakfasts served in generous proportions.

food bling ratings
Food - Great
Service - OK
Ambience - Modern, quiet surroundings across from the parklands
Value for Money - Good
Vegetarian - Good
Gluten Free - Great

Eves on the Park
3 Parkland Boulevard
Brisbane 4000
P - 07 3236 4066
E -
W -

Monday, 17 December 2007


I thought I'd just do a quick blurb for David's, an upmarket Chinese restaurant in the city.

I must have walked past David's hundreds of times over the years, but had never actually ventured up the stairs and inside until just recently, with a group of work friends.

We were only there for a quick lunch, but David's has a great menu, with plenty of house specialties that you don't see everywhere, like abalone with Chinese mushroom deluxe ($58) or wok tossed king prawns with quail eggs and Chinese herbal salad ($28). So if you want to be adventurous, you can knock yourself out here.

The main reason David's gets this post is because its also gluten-free friendly. On calling ahead, we were given a good range of dishes that could be prepared gluten free. I went for the fish fillet in XO sauce ($24), which was fresh, tasty and delicious. Another coeliac friend went with the wok tossed coral trout fillet with seasonal Chinese vegetables ($24). I didn't get to taste any of the other dishes on our table, so I'll be back another time to do a more detailed review.

There are also plenty of the Chinese "staples" like Mongolian lamb ($18), sweet & sour pork ($18) or crispy lemon chicken ($18.90). So the menu should please just about everyone, including vegetarians, who are also well catered for.

Service was friendly, yet understated and professional. The decor was fairly traditional Chinese, right down to the lazy Susan in the middle of the table.

Next time you are looking for a special lunch in the city, give David's a try, particularly if you're a fan of Chinese food.

David's Chinese Restaurant
157 Elizabeth Street,
Brisbane 4000
P - 07 3229 9033
W -

David's on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Cafe Fuscia

Cafe Fuscia is the local eatery that every suburb needs. It serves up a wide range of good, tasty food, is BYO and open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

We have eaten here a few times over the last 3 years or so. The main attraction for me is that Cafe Fuscia serves good gluten free pizzas, is BYO and within walking distance of our place. So when you've hard a long day, couldn't be bothered of thinking of where to go to dinner, don't want to drive anywhere, but still want to have great food, then Cafe Fuscia hits the spot.

Sure you won't remember what you ate here for the rest of your life, but neither will you be disappointed. Cafe Fuscia has a wide ranging dinner menu, from antipasto and oysters through to pasta, pizza and modern Australian options. Its pretty hard not to find something you like.

The menu had changed a little since our last visit. One of my favourite starters, the haloumi salad, was gone, so we opted for the Italian tasting plate. On asking the waitress what exactly was in the tasting plate (because my dining guest was vegetarian) we were met with the response that it was "a traditional Italian antipasto selection". We decided to order it anyway, which was a good thing. The plate had plenty of ham, prosciutto, salmon, marinated feta, grilled eggplant, olives, tortellini (which seemed a bit strange), zucchini, thinly sliced olive bread, a miniature apple and pear, and snow pea tendrills. This was pretty much the perfect starter when you can't really decide what you want to eat. We grazed on this great plate of tasty treats until it was pretty much demolished. It was also good value at $22 for the plate. The ham and prosciutto, in particular, were very good.

Then it was onto main course. For me, that was pizza. I only go here for pizza. Cafe Fuscia is one of the few places in Brisbane where you can get a good gluten free pizza. Cafe Fuscia has won a "best pizza" award, so you would expect them to be generally good. They have some interesting pizza options (like the wagyu rump which I've enjoyed before) but I went for the prosciutto one this time. It came out with thickly sliced prosciutto, tomato, mozzarella and a bit of parmesan. It was so tasty I almost ate the whole thing.

We also had a cauliflower risotto ($22) for main. It was described on the menu as having crispy sage leaves, Gorgonzola and cauliflower puree. Although the crispy sage leaves were mysteriously missing from the actual plate, replaced with not so crispy spinach, this was a seriously good risotto. The cauliflower still had a slight crunch to it, and there was just enough, but not too much, Gorgonzola to give the risotto a great flavour. Even without the crispy sage, this was a terrific dish.

By this time, we were completely full. The portion of risotto was enormous, and even between the two of us we couldn't finish it. Although some of the desserts looked very tempting, we just couldn't eat anymore.

Service at Cafe Fuscia is a bit hit and miss. But even when its not the best, it's still friendly. The quality of the food speaks for itself.

For coeliacs and others looking for gluten free options, Cafe Fuscia is a winner. They have gluten free pizza bases, and can make the pasta options gluten free as well.

Finally, Cafe Fuscia is BYO, with corkage charged at $2.20 per person. It's very popular on weekends, so it's a good idea to book. There is seating both inside and out.

Cafe Fuscia is not the kind of place you are likely to travel across Brisbane to dine at. But if you live within walking distance, then you really should give it a try. The food here is above average, well presented and very reasonably priced. It's the type of reliable cafe/restaurant that is deservedly popular. What sets it apart from the myriad of mediocre Brisbane restaurants is that its menu offerings are different, without being too adventurous, but very well executed. Its the kind of place that knows its limits, but what it does, it does well.

What does all this mean? A tasty, reliable, BYO suburban eatery that every Brisbane suburb needs.

food bling ratings
Food - Good
Service - OK
Ambience - Casual suburban dining
Value for Money - Good
Wine - BYO
Vegetarian - Good
Gluten Free - Great

Cafe Fuscia
Corner of Audrey & Wardell Streets
Enoggera 4051
P - 3355 9800
E -
W -

Cafe Fuscia on Urbanspoon

Christmas Supplies

Looking for something different to eat or drink at Christmas this year? Good cheese, a great bottle of Champagne or antipasto to remember? Here are some of my favourite food and wine stores to stock up on Christmas goodies.

If you are looking for good cheese, cold meats or other tasty nibbles, then try Togninis. It's one of the best delis in Brisbane, with a particularly great range of cheese. The staff are friendly, but be warned it can get very busy here. So get in early. Togninis delis are at Toowong (Baroona Road) and Spring Hill (Corner of Turbot and Boundary Street).

Other delis worth a visit are Rosalie Gourmet Market (Corner Nash Street & Baroona Road, Rosalie) and the New Farm Deli (900 Brunswick Street, New Farm). And of course don't forget the Jan Power's Farmers Market (New Farm and Mitchelton) which are on this coming weekend, 22 and 23 December 2007.

If you are looking for fresh fruit and vegetables, then try Zone Fresh at Windsor, Cannon Hill, Hamilton, The Gap and Strathpine. Zone Fresh also have a great selection of cheese, fresh meat and loads of deli lines. Again, Zone Fresh can get really really busy, so get there early. Another local favourite of mine is Charlie's Fruit Market at Everton Park. Charlie's has a great range of fresh fruit and vegetables and is deservedly popular thanks to their great prices and friendly staff.

For fresh meat, other than your local butchers, you can give Sirianni's in the Valley at Emporium and also at Ascot. I've bought a few steaks there recently and they have been fantastic. Sirianni's also have plenty of deli lines to keep you occupied.

Looking for chocolate? If you really want to go for broke, head in to Hot Chocolate, Cool Coffee at 102 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington. They have the best chocolates, if you want to indulge yourself and family at Christmas.

Finally, no Christmas is complete without a good bottle of wine or six. If you are looking for a special bottle, then head into The Wine Emporium in the Valley. Although their prices aren't necessarily the greatest, they have a fantastic range with knowledgeable staff. You'll be hard pressed to find a better range of premium wine in Brisbane. The Wine Emporium's Champagne selection is particularly impressive, and its hard not to walk out of here without a few bottles. Other wine shops worth a mention are Stewarts (stores at Ascot, Hamilton and the City), era wine store (South Brisbane) or any of the Dan Murphy's stores which are now all over Brisbane.

Hopefully you can track down a Christmas feast with a visit to a couple of these great stores.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Kathmandu Newa Chhe'n

Ever found yourself sitting at home, wanting to go out for dinner to somewhere new, to eat something different? That's exactly where we found ourselves before heading out to dinner at Kathmandu Newa Chhe'n at Paddington.

I knew there was a Nepalese restaurant in the building (which used to house Casa Mia) but hadn't managed to get there for dinner. We were met with a friendly face at the door and quickly shown to our table, which was in a pretty busy walkway for the restaurant. But we weren't there for anything special, nor were we expecting silver service, so it was fine.

Kathmandu Newa Chhe'n is obviously popular with groups, and has a number of private rooms that you can book. One in particular was right next to our table, with a low floor and cushions to sit on. The group in that room were having a great night.

It's BYO, with a $2 per person corkage charge, which probably explains the attraction for big groups. Within a couple of minutes of sitting down, out came a bottle of cold water, glasses were poured, and an ice-bucket for our bottle of white. So far, so good.

Anyway, we had come here to eat something different. So what food do they serve? The short answer is Nepalese & Himalayan.

We started off with a choila poleko ($7) - "grilled beef marinated with garlic, ginger & spices turned in mustard oil, served on a bed of lettuce, shallots & Spanish onion, with lemon dressing." I wasn't sure from the description if I should be expecting a salad or some kind of Nepalese san choy bau. It came out on a long plate, and was basically served as a salad with plenty of chunks of grilled beef. It is one of the tastiest salads I have eaten for a long, long time. I will definitely be back for another one. The meat had obviously been marinated, there was a good, but not overwhelming chilli kick and the dressing had a fantastic citrus tang. It was the perfect salad for a Brisbane summer night, washed down with a glass of white wine.

We also had a serve of the vegetable pakoras ($7). The pakoras were tasty, but not in the same league as the choila poleko. They also could have been cooked a tad longer for more crunchiness. Maybe I was just being overly harsh on them because my salad was so good.

Other starters include samosas, spring rolls (vegetable or meat), momas (steamed dumplings) and dhal soup. All the starters are $7. At that price, you might as well order a few.

Once we had finished our starters, the wait staff were very keen to bring out our mains. We were even asked before finishing our starters if we wanted the mains to be cooked "now". They eventually got the hint that we weren't in a hurry, but the mains came out without much delay.

I went for the phari masu - diced goat cooked with pumpkin, garlic, ginger, cumin and fenugreek seed ($14). After my tangy, clean entree, this was at the other end of the food spectrum - rich goat meat served in a thick sauce with pumpkin and spices. Again, it was very tasty. I don't often get the chance to eat goat in Brisbane, so its always worth a try when it does pop up on the menu. I think if you do order this dish, make sure you also order something a bit lighter, like some vegetables. The richness of the dish makes it a struggle to eat it all yourself.

We also tried the aloo kofta - mashed potato & vegetable balls cooked with vegetables & coriander seeds, served with a tomato sauce. This dish was a hit, and the perfect accompaniment to my goat. Although the koftas were fairly filling, the dish itself was very fragrant and had a real clean texture to it. It was delicious.

There are plenty of mains to choose from. Vegetarians are well catered for, with kauli mattar (cauliflower, potatoes & peas), channa ko tarkari (chickpeas & potatoes) and rajma ko tarkari (kidney beans, potatoes & mushrooms) some of the dishes on offer (all $11).

The menu also covers a good range of fish (like the jhol machaa tareko - simmered in tomato sauce with mustard seeds - $17), chicken (sherpa chicken - cooked in a creamy sauce with coriander, lime leaf and lemon - $14), lamb and beef (goru ko masu - slowly cooked in cardamom, cumin, coriander & cinnamon with tomato gravy - $14).

You also have the option of banquets or platters (which appear to be terrific value) if you want to get a good cross section of the menu. Kathmandu Newa Chhe'n does a small range of desserts if you still have room for more at the end of the meal.

The restaurant is sparsely decorated with traditional ornaments, which gives it a bit of a rustic feel. However, given its popularity with groups, Kathmandu Newa Chhe'n is not the place you would be heading for a romantic night out. On the other hand, its perfect for a group of friends, or a tasty dinner when you are looking for something other than your local Thai, Chinese or Indian.

Finally, you've probably noticed already, but the prices are fantastic. Not only are the prices great, but the servings are more than generous. Our dinner for two was $43 including corkage, and we didn't finish our starters or mains.

I will definitely be going back, next time with a group of friends into one of the private rooms. With food like this, and its BYO appeal, Kathmandu Newa Chhe'n is the perfect place for a great night out.

What does all this mean? Very tasty Nepalese & Himalayan food at rock-bottom prices.

food bling ratings
Food - Great
Service - Good
Ambience - some traditional Nepalese ornaments
Value for Money - Top shelf
Wine - BYO
Vegetarian - Great
Gluten Free - Good

Kathmandu Newa Chhe'n
72 Latrobe Terrace
Paddington 4064
P - 07 3369 7272
E -

Kathmandu Newa Chhe'n on Urbanspoon

Christmas Markets

Jan Power's Farmers Markets will be on at both venues just before Christmas, so you can stock up on plenty of great food. But be early, as everyone else is going to have the same idea.

The Powerhouse markets (119 Lamington Street, New Farm) will be held on Saturday 22 December.

The Mitchelton markets (Blackwood Street) will be on Sunday 23 December 2007.

If you have never been along, they are great places to pick up all kinds of delicious treats for Christmas - seafood, cheese, fresh vegetables, cakes, dips, meat, coffee, chocolate, herbs etc etc etc.

For more information, check out the website -

Sunday, 2 December 2007


Timmy's is in a fairly quiet spot at Southbank, away from the traffic which can be a bit noisy at some of the eateries along Little Stanley Street.

It is one of my favourite breakfast spots in Brisbane. The breakfast menu is fairly compact, but everything we have tried has been great. Today I had the eggs on toast and added some bacon ($15 with gluten free bread). The poached eggs were beautifully cooked, spilling all over my plate once they were broken. I thought it was a bit stingy to only serve one piece of toast, but they soon brought out another piece at my request.

Our table also had the ricotta & blueberry crepes, served with lemon sauce and ice cream ($12). I didn't get to try any, but they looked delicious and quickly disappeared off the plate.

We also had a "made up" vegetarian breakfast of toast with grilled tomato, sauteed field mushrooms and baked beans ($9.50). Again, it was delicious. The menu is set up so that you can add things to your breakfast, including an Irish potato cake, bratwurst or smoked salmon. So that should keep even the fussiest diner happy.

In the past we've also had the fruit plate with natural yoghurt and honey. At $5 it must be one of the best value fruit dishes on any breakfast menu in Brisbane. And if you are after something a bit different for breakfast, give the coconut crumpets with lemon curd a try ($6) - you won't be disappointed.

The coffee is Merlo, and made with Barambah organics milk. To be honest, that is my favourite coffee combination, and you can taste the difference when good coffee is made with Barambah milk. A flat white will set you back $3.50.

There seems to be a bit of a trend in Brisbane cafes now to serve toast without any butter. I find it odd. Who eats dry toast without butter? Timmy's was another example, with our meals coming with dry toast. A serve of butter only came out when we asked for some. If cafes are trying to appease people who do like dry toast, then surely it can't be too hard to bring out a small side serve of butter? At some places (not Timmy's) by the time you track down a waiter, ask for some butter, and then wait for it to arrive, you might as well have just eaten your breakfast in the meantime. Anyway that's enough ranting about butter.

Whilst we haven't had a problem with service in the past, this morning it was a bit slow. There were only 5 or so tables of diners, but even with 4 floor staff and a barista, our coffees hadn't arrived by the time we'd finished our breakfasts, and we had to ask where they were. They came out eventually, but we couldn't see how they had taken so long, nor was an explanation offered. Perhaps they just forgot. Anyway the coffee was good, and we weren't in a hurry.

Timmy's can get busy for weekend breakfasts, so if you are going in a group, it's a good idea to book ahead. They also do lunch and dinner, which I am yet to try, but if those meals are up to the standard of our breakfast, it will be worth the trip.

Next time you are at Southbank for breakfast, make sure to drop by Timmy's for their great breakfast offerings. They serve gluten-free toast, so its also a great spot for Coeliacs.

What does all this mean? Tasty, inventive breakfasts served with good coffee.

food bling ratings
Food - Great
Service - OK
Ambience - Clean, modern lines, with outdoor seating on the deck
Value for Money - Good
Wine - Licenced if you really need a stiff drink at breakfast
Vegetarian - Good
Gluten Free - Good

Shop 4B, Galleria Complex
240 Grey Street
Southbank 4101
P - 07 3846 0322
E -
W -

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Kim Lan

Looking for a quick, tasty meal in the Valley? Then look no further than Kim Lan.

Kim Lan is on the Chinatown Mall, towards the Wickham Street end. Its nothing fancy, but the food is tasty and fresh. There is an extensive menu, covering both Vietnamese and Chinese.

I've eaten here many times over the years. Its not exactly the place for a romantic night out, but if you are looking for a quick dinner, a snack before a concert or just couldn't be bothered cooking, then give it a try.

We usually go for the Vietnamese dishes, particularly the salads, which are great value at $8-$9.

I couldn't find a take away menu, so I can't give you a run down on the whole menu, but even if you are looking for something a bit different, the menu will accomodate you.

And at Kim Lan, if you order a lemon iced tea, what you get is real tea, cold, with a slice of lemon and a bit of sugar. It tastes much better than the stuff straight out of a bottle. If iced tea isn't your thing, then its BYO. There is a bottle shop on the other side of Wickham Street at the bottom of the mall.

There are seats inside and a few outside. Be warned though, inside can get a bit noisy with groups on Friday and Saturday nights, as its not a particularly big room.

Finally, the staff are friendly, food comes out fast and the prices are extremely good.

What does all this mean? No-nonsense Vietnamese & Chinese BYO at great prices.

food bling ratings
Food - Good
Service - Good
Ambience - Not much
Value for Money - Top Shelf
Wine - BYO
Vegetarian - Good

Kim Lan
Shop 5, 12 Duncan Street
Chinatown Mall, Brisbane
P - 07 3852 1878

Kim Lan on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Gum Do

Gum Do is a very reliable local Chinese take-away. Actually, after eating Gum Do takeaway many, many times we're yet to have a bad meal.

Ok, so it doesn't look like the swankiest place from the street. But you aren't here for the atmosphere or fancy fit-out. Although there are tables and chairs at Gum Do, it really is a take away place.

There are all the usual suspects here, with a few chef's suggestions to spice things up.
To start off with, try some spring rolls (6 for $4.20) or maybe a BBQ pork wonton noodle soup ($6.50).

Given that the takeaway containers here are always struggling to keep their lids on, we usually skip the entrees and head straight for the main course.

Favourites off the menu include chicken in chilli sauce ($8) which has a little bit more bite than usual Chinese take away or beef with ginger & shallots ($8.50) that always has a good ginger tang and is packed with fresh vegetables.

There is also a great selection for vegetarians. Vegetable hofan $7.50) comes in an enormous container, full of noodles and veges and could easily feed 2 people, or at least leave you with a good stash of left overs. Other tried and tasty vegetarian options are Chinese seasonal vegetables in garlic or oyster sauce ($6.50) and the vegetable Hokkien noodles ($7.50).

And that's not to mention other dishes such as salt & pepper squid ($9.50), crisp skin chicken ($8), king prawn omelette ($11.80) or the scallops with garlic ($13.50).

Unfortunately there are lots of very average Chinese take aways in Brisbane. Gum Do isn't one of them. Their food is fresh, tasty and ridiculously good value.

Be warned though, they only take cash. But you can't go wrong at Gum Do.

What does all this mean? Tasty, fresh Chinese take away at prices you won't believe.

food bling ratings
Food - Great
Service - N/A
Ambience - Its take away, forget about the ambience
Value for Money - Top Shelf
Vegetarian - Great

Gum Do
31 Blackwood Street
Mitchelton 4053
P - 07 3355 7506

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Next Blackwood Street Markets

If you haven't already been, there are monthly food markets at Blackwood Street, Mitchelton.

They are part of Jan Power's farmers markets, and have a great selection of food, drink and craft stalls. But get there as early as you can - some of the more popular stalls are sold out before 9am. The markets make a great breakfast stop, with Merlo & Di Bella coffee, German sausages, Greek yoghurt, cakes, pastries and even gelati.

The markets are on the last Sunday of every month. The next markets are on Sunday 25 November 2007. If you are looking for a park, there are plenty at Brookside shopping centre, which is less than 5 minutes walk away.

Mitchelton Farmers Markets
Blackwood Street
Mitchelton, Brisbane

Wild Pepper

Wild Pepper is a pizzeria in the busy strip of restaurants on Hardgrave Road at West End.

There are tables inside and out. If there are large tables of hungry pizza eaters, like on the night we were there, inside can get a bit noisy. So if you are there for a quiet night for 2, sitting outside might be the better bet. The surroundings are modern, clean and casual.

To kick off your meal, try one of the pizza breads - herb, chilli, jalapeno, pesto or garlic - which are all $10.

We gave the starters a miss, and went straight to the pizzas. There are a good selection of vegetarian, meat and seafood pizzas. If you are looking for a more traditional Italian pizza, then go for the "Margarita" (no its not a cocktail, its a Margherita) with tomatoes, basil and parmesan, at $9 for a small, $12 for a medium or $15 for a large, or a Pepperoni with pepperoni, green capsicum and chilli at $10/$13/$16.

If you're not one for traditional Italian toppings and are looking for something a bit different, you won't be disappointed. Try the "David's own" with red kidney beans, salsa jalapeno chili, guacamole, sour cream and cherry tomatoes at $14/$17/$20 or the Roast Chicken with chicken, roasted pumpkin, feta, pine nuts, spinach and harissa at $15/$18/$21.

Aside from the standard menu, there were also two special pizzas available on the night we were there. Unfortunately, we didn't see the blackboard until we were walking out (and weren't told about them when ordering) so we missed out on those.

Best of all, they offer all their pizzas with gluten free bases for all those Coeliacs out there. Although the gluten free bases aren't as crisp and thin as a real pizza, its great to be able to order any pizza off the menu. Gluten free pizzas only come in one size, and are charged at the large pizza price.

I went for half an "Oscar Wild" (Italian sausage, caramelized onion and parmesan) and half a Chilli Prawn (prawns, basil and chilli). Both halves were really tasty, topped with fresh ingredients. The Oscar Wild was particularly good - the salty sausage, sweet caramelised onion and tangy parmesan combining well. We also had a small Margherita, which was excellent. Simple, but crisp and tasty. Sometimes its hard to go past a good Margherita.

There are also salads on the menu. We ordered the pumpkin salad ($8) with our pizzas. The salad was enormous and was listed on the menu as baby spinach/rocket, roast pumpkin, pine nuts & parmesan. Unfortunately it was absolutely caked in a seeded mustard dressing. There was so much mustard in it, that after a few attempts at scraping off the mustard from the spinach and pumpkin, we just gave up. If you are ordering a salad with your pizza, it's probably best to order something other than the pumpkin one, unless you haven't had your mustard fix for the year.

Finally, if you haven't had your fill of pizza for the night, there are also dessert pizzas. We had eaten more than enough, so didn't even consider one. But if a banana or strawberry dessert pizza is your thing, then dig in.

Wild Pepper is BYO, and there is a bottle shop right next door, which is extremely handy. Serve was adequate and relaxed.

If you are looking for tasty pizza at good prices, then Wild Pizza is definitely worth a visit. And if you are a Coeliac, then you'll find it's one of the few pizza places in Brisbane where you can have just about anything off the menu. You can also order the pizzas take away if you are lucky enough to live close by.

What does all this mean? Tasty, fresh pizza at very reasonable prices.

food bling ratings
Food - Good
Service - OK
Ambience - Modern casual
Value for Money - Great
Wine - BYO

Vegetarian - Great
Gluten Free - Top Shelf

Wild Pepper
75 Hardgrave Road
West End
P - 07 3844 1262
W -

Wild Pepper on Urbanspoon

Monday, 12 November 2007

Bar Lourinha

Are you looking for the perfect wine bar? Then look no further. I know its not in Brisbane, but next time you are in Melbourne, make sure you don't miss Bar Lourinha.

Its a fairly small room, and you either sit at the bar, or at high communal tables. We chose the bar, mainly to eye off all the great spirits behind the bar. The room is decorated with a few eccentric knick-knacks, to give the place a bit of atmosphere.

So first up, drinks. The wine list is one page, but its a great page. There are a small amount of wines available by the glass, but don't expect what you would see in many Australian restaurants. Here you'll see Spanish, Greek, German, Italian and a few French wines. Don't know your albarino from your touriga franca? Well then you've come to the right spot. Bar Lourinha is all about immersing yourself in these fantastic European wines. And the prices are reasonable, which makes the whole thing even more attractive. Start with a manzanilla sherry, move on to a vinho verde, then a tempranillo, and you're set for a great afternoon.

If you're not into wine, then there's Kirin beer on tap, and a great range of spirits.

So what's the food like? Perfect portions to have with a glass of wine. These dishes are great for sharing, so pick a few and start nibbling away. We started with the Wagyu carne cruda ($15) and the cabbage salad with feta and mint ($13). I don't eat a lot of rare meat, but was willing to give the carne cruda a go. It was a generous serving, paired with some shaved horseradish, beetroot, radish and flat leaf parsley. The beef was extremely tender, but it was a very rich dish, which I just managed to finish. Needless to say it was a great match with my joven tempranillo. The cabbage salad was zingy and herby that was the perfect starter. The menu made no mention of the coriander, dill and flat leaf parsley that was also in the dish, but it was a fantastic salad. My dining companion was a bit narked to find her despised coriander appear, but it was removed and the dish disappeared pretty quickly.

Then for the next round, which was the house made chorizo with apple cider ($15) and the asparagus with labneh ($15). The chorizo was my favourite dish, served swimming in sauce. It was everything chorizo should be - salty, savoury and completely moreish. The crunchy pieces of apple that accompanied the chorizo gave the dish a good contrast of textures. The asparagus with labneh was solid, but nothing memorable. I thought it was a bit strange that it was served cold, but I'm finding that its now almost becoming mandatory to ask if a dish is hot or cold when ordering, because sometimes you just don't know. Anyway it was a decent selection of green and white asparagus, but there are probably more interesting and tasty options that may be a better choice.

At this stage, we didn't really need any more food. But we'd ordered it, so kept going. To finish up we had ordered the tallegio with celery and apple salad ($10). A couple of small, very cool china plates were brought out to us for this course and together with a cheese knife and silver forks really added to the character of the dish. Anyway this was a great way to end the afternoon - some fairly young tallegio with a great, crunchy salad of celery and apple.

For those that need some dessert, there are sweet options too, or you can order a selection of cheeses.

Finally, the service is informal, relaxed and completely unpretentious. The waiter at the bar will be more than happy to guide you through all those wines you've never heard of, or heard of but never had the chance to try.

All the ingredients are here for a very long afternoon or night. At the end, the bill was $117, and that covered 5 dishes, 4 glasses of wine and 2 spirits. At those prices, its hard not to enjoy yourselves.

Get along to Bar Lourinha. As much as I love Anise in Brisbane, this place is even better. I'll definitely be back next time we are in Melbourne.

What does all these mean? Fantastic wine, food to share and a long, lazy afternoon.

food bling ratings
Food - Great
Service - Good
Ambience - Understadedly Eccentric
Value for Money - Great
Wine - Top Shelf

Vegetarian - Good
Gluten Free - Good

Bar Lourinha
37 Little Collins Street
Melbourne VIC
p - 03 9663 7890
w -

Bar Lourinhã on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Era Bistro

Era is a great example of what can be done with food in Brisbane. Era offers a choice of venues.

First there is the cafe, if you are after breakfast or brunch. If you're planning on having a glass of wine with your brunch, then there is a wine list to accomodate you.

Next is the bar, where not only is there a great selection of wine and beer, but the tapas sound delicious. It would easy to get stuck here for a few hours munching on tempura soft shell crab or peking duck pancakes with hoi sin sauce.

But we were here for a celebratory dinner, so it was the bistro we were after. Calling Era a bistro is probably a bit of a misnomer. The food is definitely a higher standard than what you'd expect from a bistro. As far as I'm concerned, its some of the best food I've had in Brisbane this year.

Its a fairly modern, stark room. There isn't much of a view of anything, other than the road outside. So no-one is going to be there for the amazing views. But don't let that put you off, because the food is something else altogether.

After choosing a couple of glasses of wine, a selection of bread were brought out to the table, which is always a nice touch. Then it was time for the entrees. I had the seared scallops, braised oxtail, cauliflower & feves with braising jus ($22). It was one of the more interesting sounding options. It was a good entree, although I am not convinced that the scallops really paired well with the oxtail. The oxtail was a big, rich flavour, which completely overwhelmed the scallops. Each part of the dish was declicious, however the overall taste was a bit disjointed. My dining partner, a vegetarian, had the warm salad of baby beets, goat cheese, wild rocket & blood orange ($18). This was a terrific dish, which had us scraping up the beetroot and goats cheese. If anything the other parts of the salad were a bit hidden by the mass of rocket, but the taste was excellent.

Time to order another glass from the great wine list, then on to main course. I asked our friendly waitress about how the tasmanian ocean trout, Queensland red claw & baby vegetables ($31) was cooked ‘en Papillotte’. After being told it basically meant they were all cooked together in a plastic bag, which didn't sound particularly appetising, I still went ahead and ordered it. I am glad that I did, as this dish was spectacular. The trout in particular was beautifully succulent, its delicate flavour not overwhelmed by the other parts of the dish. Overall this was a very clean, bright seafood dish. It really was memorable. Our other main course was the artichoke & mushroom pithivier with wild mushrooms and cep consomme ($26). This was a much richer, earthier dish that was very good. There was a great depth of flavour with all the mushrooms and a good contrast of textures from the artichoke.

So far, the night was progressing very well. It was unfortunate that it was let down by our desserts. As it included a number of my favourite dessert items, I went for the
white chocolate semi freddo with roasted strawberries & balsamic and glass biscuit. The semi freddo was ok. The strawberries however were just overpowered by the balsamic, which tasted really thin and just too vinegary. I quickly swapped my dining companion for her lemon verbena scented crème brulee, mandarin sorbet and coconut tuile, which was better. The creme brulee itself was of the good, shallow variety with a great crunchy top.

Service throughout the meal was excellent. Our waitress was very friendly and approachable, but also highly knowledgeable and professional. She had the perfect knack of being at our table when required, whilst otherwise leaving us to enjoy the high quality food.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the wine list, which in my opinion is great. There are plenty of wines by the glass (from $6 for a fino sherry to $19.50 for Louis Roederer NV) and also a whole page of local and imported beers. The wine list here should keep everyone happy. It has a few fairly safe choices, but there are some great options for the more adventurous, such as the Salomon gruner veltliner ($49) or the Pérez Cruz reserva carmenère from Chile ($64). The mark ups aren't as noticeably unreasonable as some other CBD restaurants.

And if, at the end of the night, you haven't had enough wine, then check out the great Era bottle shop. Pick up a few bottles that you didn't get to try during your meal and you'll get 10% off with your restaurant receipt.

All up, Era Bistro is a very welcome addition to the Brisbane food scene. If the quality of food can be kept consistent, Era should quickly attract a solid following. We will certainly be back to graze on their tapas menu with a few glasses of wine.

What does all this mean? Very good modern Australian food, washed down with an excellent wine list.

Food Bling Ratings

Food - Great
Service - Top Shelf
Ambience - Modern, Minimalist
Value for Money - Good
Wine - Great

Vegetarian - Good
Gluten Free - OK
Other - Entertainment Book, Great Bar

Era Bistro
104 Melbourne Street
South Brisbane
P 07 3255 2033

Era Bistro on Urbanspoon

Ciao Baby

Ciao Baby is an Italian restaurant at Albion, which has been around for a while. Although its been on the list of places to go, its taken us until now to finally make it there.

The restaurant looks good. Not everyone is going to like the decor, but as far as I am concerned, better bright than bland. Anyway you're not there for the decor.

The food was great. Not spectacular, but very tasty Italian staples. There were 4 or 5 specials of the day, which helps change the menu around. The staff were very friendly and looked after us well.

Entrees were reasonably priced, and our table went for an assortment of breads & garlic pizza. That got the night off to a good start. Other entrees include soup of the day, bruschetta and scallops.

Mains are a choice between pizza or Italian classics. Both of which are not skimpy on the sizes. The pizzas will keep even the hungriest diner happy. Other meals include lamb, fish, eye fillet and rabbit. I had the rabbit (coniglio alla cacciatore) which was braised with herbs and olives. It was very rich and the rabbit melted in my mouth. Terrific Italian comfort food. Then there are the pastas, which also sounded delicious. The special spaghetti with prawns and scallops sounded fantastic.

There are desserts too, which are presented on a very big blackboard. The panna cotta with caramelised pear was one of the best desserts I have had for a long time. The slightly wobbly panna cotta was sublime. Other desserts included a chocolate meringue with strawberries, and a chocolate and nut brownie, which was a bit disappointing.

The restaurant is BYO wine, but also has a wine list for those that aren't prepared. We eventually were brought enough glasses for the table, but that was the only slight delay in the service all night. Given that we were on a large table, the food came out surprisingly quickly.

The food here is good, honest Italian fare. Servings are big, the service is friendly and its hard not to have an enjoyable night. Its probably going to be a bit noisy for a romantic night out, but the perfect place for dinner with friends.

Finally, a word on the prices. Its not cheap, with some of the main courses up to $34. Sure the food isn't mind blowingly good, but its pretty solid. I didn't mind at all parting with $34 for the rabbit, which was delicious. So long as you aren't expecting main courses for $20, you will be fine. Its a shame that their website doesn't post up the prices of the food, to help out anyone that might be considering going along. But if you take your own wine, you'll won't have to worry too much about the prices. There is a BWS bottleshop almost next door at the Albion Hotel.

What does all this mean? Good, tasty Italian food.

Food Bling Ratings

Food - Good
Service - Great
Ambience - Striking
Value for Money - OK

Vegetarian - OK
Gluten Free - Limited
BYO - Wine only
Other - Can be noisy, Entertainment Book

Ciao Baby
340 Sandgate Road
P 07 3862 4200

Ciao Baby on Urbanspoon


Welcome to Food Bling, Brisbane.

Soon there will be plenty of restaurant reviews posted. Please feel free to comment or suggest other restaurants worthy of a visit.