Thursday, 24 April 2008
6.30 - 8.30pm
Thursday 8 May 2008
102 Melbourne Street
Sunday, 20 April 2008
No No's has a range of fresh kebabs, sandwiches, salads, dips, Lebanese snacks and delicious pastries and sweets. You can either eat-in at one of the tables inside, or take-away if you're in a hurry.
I hadn't been there for years and popped in yesterday to pick up some lunch on the way home. I ended up with a serve of two fresh, tasty salads - chickpea & garlic and green bean. There are about 6 or so pre-made salads to choose from, and they'll set you back $4.90, $6.90 or $8.90 for a small, medium or large take away serve.
I also picked up some of their vine leaves (60c each), which are one of my favourite snacks at any time of the day.
If you're ever in the Red Hill area and feeling peckish, drop in to No No's. Even if its for a few of their tempting Lebanese sweets, you won't be disappointed.
158 Musgrave Rd
Red Hill 4059
P - 07 3369 5691
Saturday, 19 April 2008
I've eaten there a few times over the last few years, and each time the place has been busy, especially at lunch. Fix does a good job of getting the meals out pretty quickly, which is what lots of us are looking for during our precious 1 hour mid-week lunch breaks. Fix serves up modern Australian food, coupled with a range of steaks.
We weren't able to stick around all afternoon, so decided to give entrees a skip. But if you've got more time than we did, you could try the grilled Moreton Bay bugs with garlic butter & cress salad ($17), salt and pepper calamari with preserved lemon & cress mix ($12) or the goats cheese and sweet onion tart with baby spinach salad ($12).
Service was a bit over-attentive at the start of the meal. We had about 3 separate waiters ask to take our drink orders (even after we had ordered them). But the service did settle down a bit as the meal progressed. I suppose its better to be over-attentive than the other way round.
Main courses cover a pretty big range of options - chilli prawn pizza with tiger prawns, garlic, chilli, tomato and mozzarella ($22), chicken breast with olives, potato & spinach gnocchi and lemon herb gremolata ($21) and Atlantic salmon fillet with crushed potatoes, olive tapenade & peppercorn vinaigrette ($26). There are also a few grills, if you're really in need of some red meat - grain fed MSA rump ($27), rib on the bone ($30), rib fillet ($32), MSA Angus eye fillet ($28), roasted Junee gold lamb rump ($29) and OP Barkers Creek pork rib ($29).
I ordered the 300 gram 90 day grain fed rib fillet, which was served with roasted sweet potato & truss cherry tomatoes. The steak was cooked fine, I just found the steak I'd been served a bit too fatty (not in a marbled way). Unfortunately there wasn't a particularly large amount of actual beef in the steak. I know it can always be pot luck as to the piece of steak you can be served, but I was disappointed with this one.
My work lunch colleague had the roasted Junee gold lamb rump on a parmesan porcini mushroom risotto. I didn't try any of it, but he found it ok, without being great.
We had a couple of glasses of the Jimbour Station reserve merlot ($7), which went well with the main courses. It's great to see more and more restaurants supporting Queensland wine, which will only push our local wines on to better things. There is a good selection of well-priced wines by the glass, or if you have more time, you can explore the cellar selection of bottles (up to $1600 for a magnum of 1992 Grange).
For dessert I had the strawberry semifreddo martini with burnt honey & vanilla cream ($9.90), which was served (not surprisingly) in a martini glass. Sure it was sweet, but it was also a delicious way to round off the meal.
It can be a bit noisy at Fix, particularly when the place is full. However I suspect that most diners are there for a business lunch, rather than a romantic occasion, so it probably won't be an issue.
The food we had at Fix was ok overall, without setting our tastebuds on fire. Fix's strength is serving a range of fairly "safe", popular meals, backed up with good, quick service. If that's what you're looking for at lunch in the City, then give Fix a try.
What does all this mean? A good selection of upmarket pub food and steaks, with quick service and a reasonable wine selection.
food bling ratings
Food - Ok
Service - Good
Ambience - Modern setting with plenty of wood (which can get a bit noisy)
Value for Money - Ok
Wine - Good selection
Vegetarian - Ok
Port Office Hotel
Corner Edward & Margaret Streets
P - 07 3210 6016
W - http://www.portofficehotel.com.au
The next one to plonk into your diary is Paniyiri. Paniyiri is one of my favourite Brisbane festivals, and I always try to get along every year. Its a great way to spend a lunch or afternoon - munching on some great Greek food, with some kind of music or dancing going on in the background. I think the other reason I love going along is because it reminds me of the fantastic time we had in Greece, especially the amazing food and friendly, welcoming people.
If you haven't been before, make sure you get along this year. Buy yourself some Greek wine or beer, and then graze on dolmades, grilled octopus, calamari, haloumi, souvlaki and loukoumades. Last year there were even a few sideshow alley type rides, for those with iron stomachs.
The Greek Club's website hasn't been updated yet with the information for this year's Paniyiri, but hopefully that will happen soon. In the meantime, there's a few details here, on ourbrisbane.com.
17 & 18 May 2008
Musgrave Park & The Greek Club
South Brisbane 4101
Wednesday, 16 April 2008
If you do go along, make sure you pop over the road to Gelateria Cremona to grab a gelato. By the time you've tasted 10 or so olive oils, you'll definitely need a fix of their delicious icy treats.
Rosalie Gourmet Market
Corner of Nash Street and Baroona Road
Rosalie Village 4064
P - 07 3876 6222
E - firstname.lastname@example.org
W - http://www.rosaliegourmet.com.au
Sunday, 13 April 2008
Last night, instead of walking past Tukka on the way to Huongs or El Torito, we finally ate there.
We sat at a table for two in the covered verandah part of the restaurant. It was a bit noisy to start with, but we got used to the noise as the night went on. There were also a few ants on our table, which we weren't expecting, but once we'd brushed them off, they seemed to get the message and didn't come back. I suppose it adds to the native experience. Before I move on to the food, I thought the tables were a bit close together - the table to the right of us was so close that the waiters had trouble getting past without brushing into me pretty regularly. I know restaurants try to get as many tables into their space as they can, but the table plan shouldn't inconvenience the diners.
Anyway, Tukka is one of the very few restaurants that I've ever been to that specialises in Australian native ingredients. You'll find native berries, nuts, desert limes and lemon myrtle popping up all through the menu. On the carnivorous side, you'll also see crocodile, possum, emu and kangaroo.
The menu is fairly compact and offered 5 entrees on the night. These covered a native platter (game meats, native berries, nuts, fruits and spices, home-made damper and native dips - $21.70 per person), tonka bean cured Cairns crocodile tenderloin, grape salad, kiwi and strawberry eucalypt dressing ($18.70), gourmet tomato and desert lime consommé, pickled cucumber and apple sorbet ($16.90), Queensland prawns with avocado and carrot salad and karasumi smoked mullet roe emulsion ($19.80) and Tasmanian possum baked in filo pastry with rosella braised pear and citrus salad ($19.60).
Before our entrees came out, a complementary appetiser was served. It was a couple of slices of a beautiful green tomato, with bocconcini and lemon myrtle dressing. This was delicious, and a great way to get our tastebuds ready for the food to come.
I ordered the prawns for entree. I was a bit surprised to find only two prawns on the plate, considering this was a $20 entree. In the prawns' defence, they were both pretty big ones, but I just can't see how this dish justifies this price. I would have also enjoyed the prawns slightly less cooked than they were served, but that's just my personal preference. The avocado and carrot salad was good, and the karasumi smoked mullet roe emulsion an excellent partner to the prawns. There was nothing bad at all about this dish, I just found it a little underwhelming.
My vegetarian dinner guest wasn't a big fan of tomato soup (even if it was a delicious sounding consommé) so we also ordered a lilly pilly salad with macadamias, mixed leaves and lemon myrtle dressing ($7.50) as an entree. This salad got the thumbs up from both of us. I'd never eaten the berries off a lilly pilly, but they had a real tanginess, and their chewy texture was a good contrast to the other ingredients. It was an excellent, innovative salad, which is actually on the menu as a side dish for main course.
We had glasses of Petaluma viognier and Coriole semillon sauvignon blanc with our entrees. Neither wine was actually available by the glass on this list. I'd ordered the Tahbilk viognier, but the waiter had just opened a bottle of the Petaluma viognier for another table, and happily volunteered a glass to me at the same price as the Tahbilk. As much as I enjoy the Tahbilk viognier, the Petaluma is a beautiful food wine, and there was no way I was going to knock it back. Again, the Coriole was offered to us in place of the Abbey Rock, and we had no complaints there either. By this stage of the evening, we were really enjoying things, with the service going seamlessly.
After a good pause, our mains were served. I won't go through all the mains in detail, but the menu includes seared rare emu fillet ($30.60), Queensland scallops ($29.90), pumpkin and bush tomato flan ($25.60), braised beef cheeks ($27.80), slow roasted grain fed 'Aurora' lamb shanks ($29.40) and the fish of the day, which was barramundi.
I had the ginger and rosella braised beef cheeks with fondant potato and creamed leeks. The beef cheeks were excellent, and an exercise in simplicity. The plate had a generous serve of the beef cheeks, which were meltingly tender, simply matched with the big chunk of fondant potato. The leeks were sprinkled over the potato, and still had a bit of crunch to them. I had a glass of the Logan "Weemala" shiraz viognier with my main, and it was an excellent match. This dish would make the perfect autumn or winter dinner. The rich beef cheeks just fell apart on the plate, and the combination of flavours bounced around in my mouth well after the dish was cleaned away.
Our other main course was the pumpkin and bush tomato flan, capsicum and anisata coulis, grape and green bean salad. My dinner guest was a bit miffed that there was no pastry in sight in the "flan". It was rather a smallish mound of very tasty mashed pumpkin, served with the side salad. The flavours of this dish were innovative, but it could have been a bigger portion for the price. A glass of the D'Arenberg D'Arry's original grenache shiraz was a good match with this main course.
We still had room for the desserts, which sounded tempting. We both wanted to have the apple trilogy of anisata roasted gala, pink lady parfait and granny smith sorbet ($16.20), but our dinner pact meant we each had to order something different. In the end I ordered the native spiced red wine poached pear with Daintree vanilla bean ice cream ($15.20). The poached pear was divine, particularly with the rich vanilla bean ice cream. I grabbed a glass of the Romavilla muscat, which was a good partner for the deep, spiced flavours of the pear.
The apple trilogy was yet another example of keeping things simple. Three different types of apple, served three different ways. Unfortunately this was so good, I didn't get to taste much of it, but I was told that the granny smith sorbet was just like eating a frozen apple. Both our desserts were excellent, and really ended off the night on a high note.
Throughout our meal the service was very good. Our waiters were friendly, knowledgeable and always popped up at the right time. Service was also very attentive, and our water glasses were topped up regularly, without us even noticing most of the time.
The diners at the three tables behind us all had American accents, so Tukka is obviously popular with overseas tourists. I'd certainly have no hesitation in taking any overseas friends here, to try some of the native Australian flavours that you just don't find on many menus anywhere.
The wine list has been put together with a lot of thought. It features plenty of Australian wines, including those from regions which aren't classed by many punters as fashionable at the moment. There's also a smattering of Queensland wines, which I'm always pleased to see. The best thing about the wine list is that the mark ups are very reasonable, and you should have no trouble finding a good bottle or two that won't bust your budget.
Tukka also gets a tick on the gluten-free food front. Their gluten free dishes are clearly marked on the menu, and they aren't limited to a token dish or two.
If you're looking for more information about native food, have a look at Tukka's website. There is plenty of information, including recipes and a glossary of native food.
I really didn't know what to expect from Tukka, but it's safe to say that the food we had was, in general, very impressive. Although my entree wasn't fantastic, and some of the portions could be a bit more generous, the general standard of the food was very good. The simplicity of the food and clean flavours really shone throughout the night. It's reassuring to see a chef committed to building meals around a few high quality ingredients. Also, don't think the food here is gimmicky "Aussie" food, aimed at tourists, because it isn't. Tukka stands alone with this kind of real modern Australian food in Brisbane. On this showing, I'll definitely be going back.
What does all this mean? Excellent, modern Australian food built around native ingredients, with a well-priced wine list and professional service.
food bling ratings
Food - Great
Service - Great
Ambience - Fairly formal, but a bit noisy
Wine - Good selection at very reasonable prices
Value for Money - OK
Vegetarian - Limited selection
Gluten Free - Great
145 Boundary Street
West End 4101
P - 07 3846 6333
E - mailto:email@example.com
W - http://www.tukkarestaurant.com.au/
The Weekend Australian published an extract of an article from The Observer in its magazine yesterday. It was all about waiters. I thought it was pretty funny, in particular this bit:
So try to be kind to your waiter or waitress. Every night, in a hundred different restaurants, some boorish customer is making the most of his only opportunity that day to tell someone else what to do. Appalling. He doesn't understand that news of his unpleasantness will be quickly semaphored around the room to other staff. Perhaps he will never realise that there was a reason why his steak was cold, his ice cream was hot and that tray fell on his head.
You can read the full article here, on The Guardian's website.
I haven't been able to find out too much about exactly what will be happening during the day, other than "a celebration of top quality local food, wine and entertainment -
Demonstrations, talks, celebrity chef cookoff and more" (from eumundi.info). So drop the date into your food diary and I'll post up more information about the day when it's available.
The winery which is setting the standard for Queensland wine is Boireann. Although they only make a very small amount of wine (about 900 cases a year), the quality is excellent. Not only that, but they are finally getting recognition across the country, with both James Halliday and Max Allen glowing about the wines from their 2007 vintage.
The wines on offer in the 2007 vintage are a Shiraz Cabernet, Shiraz, Mouvedre Shiraz, Mouvedre, The Lurnea (a merlot/cabernet blend), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Nebbiolo and Barbera.
The other thing about these great wines is their price. The 2007 wines are now available, with the most expensive being only $27. You'll need to get in quick though, as the limited production means they won't be available for long. You'll find an order form on their website. It's also worth paying the cellar door a visit next time you're in Stanthorpe (provided they haven't sold out).
26 Donnellys Castle Road
The Summit 4377
P - 07 4683 2194
E - firstname.lastname@example.org
W - http://www.boireannwinery.com.au/
Wednesday, 9 April 2008
For more information, have a look at the State Library's website. Tickets are $43, available through qtix.
Gay Bilson - Digressions on Food
Auditorium 1, Level 2,
State Library of Queensland
6pm, Thursday 24 April 2008
Monday, 7 April 2008
The zenith of my pizza world was found a couple of years ago in Naples. After wandering around some very dodgy parts of the city, we eventually found Da Michele, one of the most traditional Neapolitan pizzerias. Da Michele has been there for over a 100 years, and only serves two types of pizza - marinara and margherita (click here for a photo). Sure it sounds simple, but I could have stayed there all night, eating their amazing pizza and nattering on to the various strangers from all over the world who share your table, also in search of the ultimate pizza experience.
Luckily I found Da Michele before I my coeliac days, so the taste of its amazing pizza will be forever burnt into my tastebuds. Now I'm limited to a smattering of places that serve gluten free pizza, which brings me to Cafe Fuscia. I've already done a post about Cafe Fuscia, but it also happens to be the closest place that sells gluten free pizza. Not just any gluten free pizza, but good gluten free pizza, which can be very hard to find.
However, Cafe Fuscia's pizza menu isn't really one for traditionalists. The chefs at Da Michele probably wouldn't know where to start when faced with a menu that included Turkish (hommus, feta & roast pumpkin topped with lamb meatballs & a Moroccan sauce on a Turkish pizza base - $17), tandoori (chicken breast, mango chutney, cashews, snow peas & onion, drizzled with a mild tandoori sauce and minted yoghurt - $19) or Bali hai pizza (chicken breast with capsicum, onion, pineapple, spinach, snow peas and roasted cashews topped with satay sauce - $19).
After wading my way through these more modern takes on pizza, I eventually took the plunge with the five star beef (grain fed wagyu beef rump, mushrooms, roasted caramelised eschallots & baby spinach with a cracked pepper béarnaise - $22.90 with a gluten free base). This pizza was apparently crowned Queensland's best meat pizza in 2005, and after a couple of bites I could certainly see its merit.
As much as I'm not usually a fan of this take on pizza, it was pretty good. The beef was tender and tasty, the eschallots lovely and sweet, with the bearnaise as the perfect accompaniment. It was also a good, crunchy gluten free base. It was hard work to finish it off though - this is more like a meal on a pizza.
We also ordered one of the Mediterranean vegetarian pizzas without the olives or capsicum (eggplant, mushrooms, onion, feta & baby spinach - $18). Again this was a great, tasty pizza, with delicious mushrooms and grilled eggplant.
So if you're looking for a modern twist on a pizza, then Cafe Fuscia has twists a plenty. You can either take your pizza home, or bring along your favourite bottle of Chianti and eat in, as the restaurant is BYO. But if you're looking for a great, traditional margherita, whisk yourself off to Da Michele instead.
Corner of Audrey & Wardell Street
P - 07 3355 9800
W - http://www.fuscia.com.au/
Saturday, 5 April 2008
Anyway I'd been lucky enough to have a big lunch at Harvey's, so I was really looking for something relatively light and healthy. We'd pretty much checked out most of the places on offer at Broadbeach, before stumbling upon Pho Saigon on Albert Avenue. It's right next door to the always popular Manolas Brothers Delicatessen (or MBD as its known around here).
Pho Saigon only had about 2 tables of diners when we arrived, but we didn't let that put us off, as we were determined to gobble down some tasty Vietnamese. The menu is pretty comprehensive, and also covers a few dishes from around Asia.
For entree, we ordered the Vietnamese hot & sour chicken soup ($5.50) and the vegetarian rice paper rolls ($10). The soup was tasty, but not exactly what I was expecting. There was plenty of tasty, tender chicken, together with a few vegetables and 5 or so chunks of pineapple. It was a good soup, but a bit too sweet for my liking. It really needed a bit more sourness and heat to counteract the sweetness of the pineapple.
The vegetarian rice paper rolls were very fresh, with good quality tofu and were served with a spicy peanut dipping sauce. There were four very good sized rolls, so this was a pretty filling start to the meal. We only just got through the four of them.
For mains, we went with a Vietnamese beef salad ($14.50) and the Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce ($7.90). There are plenty of mains to choose from, with the menu split up into categories of lemongrass & chilli, curry coconut milk & lemongrass, sizzling garlic butter hot plates, sizzling hot plates with satay sauce, ginger shallots with oyster sauce, beef noodle soup, egg/rice noodle soup, laksa, congee, vermicelli, rice dishes, stir fried noodle, salt & pepper, sweet & sour, vegetable and salad. None of the main courses are over $18, so they are all pretty good value.
Again, my main course was not what I was expecting. The beef salad was more like Thai salads I had eaten in the past. It consisted of strips of beef, with plenty of bean sprouts, some cucumber, red onion and a bit of chilli. The salad was served with a fish sauce dressing. It was ok, but left me disappointed - as with my entree, if the flavours had been tweaked a bit, it could have been much better.
Our other main was the Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce. Unfortunately when it came to vegetarian options, the menu was very limited. There were only three dishes listed on the menu under the "Vegetable" section. We asked the waitress if there was anything else, but were told that the three dishes were it. As good as the Chinese broccoli was, it's a bit hard to eat an entire plate of it.
Service was ok on the night we were there. Our bottle of riesling sat on the table for the whole meal, with no coolers in sight. A bit more friendliness and attention to customers would greatly improve the service at Pho Saigon.
Pho Saigon is licenced, with a limited selection of wine. Alternatively it's also BYO wine, with a bottle shop not far away.
Overall, our meals at Pho Saigon were ok. The pricing of the meals though makes Pho Saigon very good value, especially considering you can bring your own wine. If you're staying at the Gold Coast and looking for some good Vietnamese food, I think you'll find The Rice Paddy in Surfers Paradise a definite a step up in flavour.
What does all this mean? Solid Vietnamese food at good prices, with BYO wine.
food bling ratings
Food - OK
Service - OK
Ambience - Casual, with seating inside and out
Value for Money - Good
Wine - Licenced (a limited list) and BYO wine
Vegetarian - Very limited options
Shop 17B, Aria
P - 07 5592 3393
F - 07 5592 3340
You can find out all the info about this year's fesitval here. This year, tickets are $15 and you can buy them from Ticketek, to save lining up on the day. $2 from every ticket goes to the Courier Mail Children’s Fund.
Wednesday, 2 April 2008
If you're fortunate enough to stroll in when the place isn't full (which isn't very often), you'll probably notice is the two video screens pretty much straight away. When we were there today we had Christina Aguilera featured for most of our lunch. I'd rather be watching a video screen than another boring restaurant wall, so its fine with me.
Anyway, we weren't here for Christina, we were here for the great Korean food. JJ Jackson has one of those handy menus which has a picture of most of the meals on it. It's great if you're not entirely sure what the octopus ball might turn out to be. At least you can get some kind of reassurance that it looks ok in the picture.
The menu offers a good selection of Korean food. If you are looking for something fairly safe, there's the Korean style marinated chicken fillet with vegetables on steamed rice ($10) or the beef stir fried udon noodles ($11). But if you're looking for something a bit different, then JJ Jackson is going to oblige. Try the octopus ball ($7), grilled eel with rice and salad ($19), BBQ beef with rice, kimchi, seaweed and flying fish eggs ($15) or the steamed pork hock with special sauce ($28).
Last time we were here for dinner I tried the Korean style marinated beef fillet with vegetables on steamed rice ($10) which was a good, tasty meal. Most of the meals are garnished with what looks like shredded beetroot, but I think its actually coloured vegetable noodles. Today for lunch I went for the Korean style marinated chicken fillet, vegetables and rice cake with spicy sauce on steamed rice ($12). Yes it sounds very similar to the beef fillet I had last time, and yes it tasted pretty similar. But it was a good meal, so I'm not complaining. The rice cakes though made for a contrast in textures, which always adds a little extra to the dish.
In my last few visits we've also ordered the Korean style marinated pork and vegetables with spicy sauce on steamed rice ($12), the vegetarian stir fried sweet potato noodles ($10) and the salt and pepper squid salad ($13.90) all of which quickly disappeared off the plate. The sweet potato noodles in particular were excellent, and not something you come across every day.
Most of the meals are served with kimchi, which I find severely addictive (luckily it only comes out in small dishes).
The best thing about JJ Jackson is the low, low prices. Most of the meals are between $10 and $12, and the servings are very generous. It's the perfect place for a quick lunch or dinner.
If you really want to round out the whole Korean experience, order some of the Korean alcohol. I've had the rice wine a couple of times now, with a tiro mixer, and it makes for a refreshing change.
Service is friendly and efficient. The staff here are more than happy to explain the menu (and the Korean alcohol) to make sure that you have a great meal.
Unless you aren't in a hurry, it's a good idea to book ahead. JJ Jackson can get very busy at both lunch and dinner, so don't expect to walk straight in and grab a table. Also, the meals are very generous. I'd be surprised if you could eat more than one of the meals off the menu, so its not the kind of place where you will spend hours lingering over your meals.
What does all this mean? Tasty, interesting Korean food at excellent prices.
food bling ratings
Food - Good
Service - Good
Ambience - Modern furnishings with music videos in the background
Value for Money - Top Shelf
Vegetarian - Limited
JJ Jackson Restaurant & Bar
Shop 4, 120 Edward Street
P - 07 3210 0007