Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Era Cafe for Breakfast

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Era Cafe
102 Melbourne Street (corner Merivale Street), South Brisbane

I've mentioned my early morning roaming habits on this blog many times before. I wake up 7am at the latest on Saturday and Sunday and need to get up and do something right away. It's mighty annoying when I've had a late one the night before (which is usually the case) and can't find someone else who's awake at that hour (also a frequent occurance).

It's convenient staying in West End because I have South Bank, the CBD and potentially even Paddington at walking distance. Then there is West End itself. All up, there are enough cafes to keep my mornings occupied for years to come. It's just that... sometimes, I don't feel like wandering too far.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Lunch at Pho B

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Pho B Vietnamese Restaurant

Marc and I were just discussing how we rarely go to Chinatown in the Valley for food when an opportunity to do so came up. We met Garthritis there for lunch last Saturday. It happened to be Valley Fiesta weekend and there was a live performance at Duncan Street. We ducked around into Pho B where it was relatively quieter and started perusing the menu.

I noticed Pho B when it first opened, back when I was studying at uni. It came across as a fast food-style chain pho stall. I pictured big plastic bowls and lots of takeaway orders. Now that I've been inside, I have to ammend that to describe Pho B as a regular Vietnamese eatery with a multi-paged menu (including some Thai and Chinese dishes) and sit-down dining area. It's cleaner and furnished more pleasantly than the really authentic Asian eateries in Sunnybank and Inala but that's expected for an inner city venture.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Lunch feast at Little Greek Taverna

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Little Greek Taverna

This restaurant has been on my radar, but elusive, for a couple of years. I've actually been once before back in 2010 (and blogged about it) but on that occasion, my friends and I only tried the wraps and a couple of sides. Whilst they were good, we weren't blown away. I received so many comments from readers insisting that there was more to Little Greek Taverna that I knew I had to go back. Online reviews were largely positive and everytime I walked past the restaurant, it was packed. Surely there was something I had missed on my visit.

I tried to eat there at least 3 times after that and each time, was turned away because I didn't have a booking and they were full. On another occasion, I called to make a booking but they were already booked out. I'd almost given up when a sudden craving for Greek food stuck.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Laneway for Bar Snacks

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The Laneway

I've been keen on the Urbane Group for a while, despite the fact that I've only been to The Euro one time. I think I'm somehow subscribed to the Urbane Group mailing list because I get newsletters with awesome photos and food updates for each of their ventures. As someone who's favorite weekend dinner combination is cocktails and nibblies, The Laneway instantly appealed to me.

The Laneway is a small bar behind The Euro, up a set of stairs. The decor is dark and contemporary. Blossom and I visited last Saturday night for drinks and food, plus a whole lot of girly gossip.

Dinner at Malt

Malt Dining

It's not often that an eating establishment comes to my attention through nothing but compliments. Usually, there's a mix of promising feedback interspersed with the occasional bad review that I'm willing to overlook to give the place a go. Malt, on the other hand, had an untarnished track record. I heard rave reviews from everyone who'd been there.

Last Friday night, Marc and I visited Malt for a late dinner. I had made the booking online ages ago but didn't get a comfirmation call so I rang to check if the booking had gone through. It hadn't but luckily that was easily ammended over the phone.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ole Restaurant for Breakfast and Tapas Lunch

Ole Restaurant

I'd been interested in Ole Restaurant since it first opened. There was quite a bit of buzz online but I didn't cross paths with the restaurant so I didn't get a chance to see for myself.  I tried suggesting it a couple of times while I was out in South Bank Parklands but my friends didn't bait. I took matters into my own hands and headed to Ole Restaurant for solo breakfast one morning. This was a couple of months ago. More recently, Nina and I were planning on a lunch catch up and Ole Restaurant happened to be on her 'to try' list so we went along with it.

I'll start with my breakfast assessment. This was also my first impression of Ole Restaurant. I liked that openness, bar stools and sunny decor (the pops of yellow and metal lattice ceiling are lovely). It was fairly quiet when I got there but I am known for early roaming so the restaurant had probably just opened.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Quick Turkey Bolognese Pasta

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Quick Turkey Bolognese Pasta
Home Cooking

I pan-fried a batch of 16 mini turkey patties and felt overwhelmed with how I was going to eat them all. 16 x turkey burgers is alright for some but my burger quota is maybe once a week. Sure, some of them could be used in wraps or even mixed with leaves in a salad but I felt like diversifying.

This isn't going to be a complicated, fancy or 'proper' recipe. I just drew on inspiration from what I had available in the pantry and pulled together a quick and easy bolognese-style sauce to top some pasta with (I had papardelle on hand).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Our Haus for Breakfast

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Our Haus

The most recent addition to my breakast dates with Kat is Our Haus in Hawthorne. We headed there bright and early last Sunday. The sun was already up. I could definitely feel the heat. Summer is making its move early.

Our Haus is a smallish cafe located on Riding Road. The inside dining space is limited but there are quite a few tables outside (thankfully in the shade). We decided to soak up the beautiful weather outside. Actually, it wasn't totally our decision. The place was already packed so the table we ended up at was one of the only ones available. As the morning went on, I even saw a queue developing. It looks like Our Haus is a weekend breakfast/brunch hot spot.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Turkey and Sage Burgers

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Turkey and Sage Burgers
Home Cooking

As unlikely as it sounds, I 'accidentally' picked up a bunch of sage while grocery shopping on the weekend. It's not a herb I often use and I could have very well been stuck pondering over what to do with it, before following my usual strategy of spending $xxx to use up something that cost a lot less. Luckily, inspiration struck and I ended up pulling together a mishmash of what I had available.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bistro One Eleven

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Bistro One Eleven

After a brief absence from the Brisbane dining scene, I dived back in on the weekend starting with dinner at Bistro One Eleven. I recall seeing a press release for this restaurant back before it even opened. I'd been to E'cco a couple of times in the past and loved it so Philip Johnson's new venture definitely appealed to me.

We made a reservation for late dinner, 9pm on Friday. The restaurant is located in the recently revamped One One One building and the feel is distinctly corporate. We remarked that it was strange being in an open-style restaurant on the ground floor of a building. That's often the case with lobby cafes and hotel restaurants but I've never experienced it with an indepedant restaurant before. The decor is simple and sleek with a neutral colour scheme. Again, very corporate.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

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Cream Cheese Pound Cake
Home Cooking

Wednesdays were designated as my cooking and baking day but I've recently been incapacitated by having to do 5 days a week for the next couple of months. I thought that would be goodbye to my recipe posts for a while but my need to cook amplified and I ended up developing a little routine to make things work.

The key issue here is lighting. It might seem obvious to cook at night instead of on my RDO, since that's what most people do. However, because I like to blog everything, the ability to take good photos is crucial. Night time is terrible for photos but I figured I could produce the food at night, after work and get up early in the morning to take the snaps. It's been working out fairly well.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cairns Day 3 - Snow Yoghurt

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Snow Yoghurt
46 Lake St, Cairns

I'm ending my Cairns posts on a sweet note. Marc and I were killing time on our last day, strolling around the waterfront, perving on private boats and picking up sunburns unsuspectingly. At some point I decided I needed to have some frozen yoghurt. We'd walked past Snow Yoghurt a few times during our stay so I knew there was a frozen yoghurt vendor around... it was just a matter of locating where.

We found it purely by chance. Marc needed to get some cash out so he crossed the road to an ATM. I turned around and spotted Snow Yoghurt. Wonderful!

Cairns Day 3 - Lunch at Coast Roast Coffee

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Coast Roast Coffee

Day 3 in Cairns was also our final day before jumping back on a plane to Brisbane (and for me, driving another 2hrs home to Toowoomba). How sad it is that all good things must come to an end. Marc and I checked out of our hotel, dropped our bags at the concierge and wandered back down The Esplanade. It was reminiscent of our Day 1 explorations and we took the same route but stopped a bit further, this time at Coast Roast Coffee. After our stupendous amount of eating on Day 2, neither of us were in the mood for anything too heavy. Cafe food was agreed upon and this was where we ended up.

Cairns Day 2 - Seafood Buffet at Coco's Restaurant

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Coco's Restaurant at The Sebel, Cairns

Day 2 in Cairns should be nicknamed as The Day of Over-eating. We had a sizable meal at Ganbaranba and more food/drinks at Lure. By the time we arrived back in Cairns from Port Douglas, we were getting ready to head out for more food; this time, a buffet dinner.

There's something about travelling that makes my metabolism speed up because despite the prior ingestive efforts, I was starving when we got to the restaurant. It was a unanimous group decision to mark our last dinner in Cairns with a big celebratory feast. I hadn't been to a buffet restaurant in so long that the novelty of self-serve and all-you-can-eat flooded back. I was child-like in my excitement!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cairns Day 2 - Road Trip to Port Douglas and Snacks at Lure

Lure Restaurant and Bar

After our ramen meal at Ganbaranba, I was at a loss over how we were going to spend the rest of the day. We'd pretty much explored all of Cairns city and contrary to my expectations, there wasn't a big beach to hang out at. I was prepared to go back to the hotel and nap when Howl suggested a drive up to Port Douglas.

We ended up loading into his vehicle and going up a mountain range (name unknown), visiting a waterfall, cruising along the beach (loved that bit) and ending up in the city of Port Douglas just in time for afternoon refreshments. Ramen in our bellies and a smooth windy road had made us all fairly tired so we were in dire need of caffeine. Howl was happy to guide us to his favorite cafe.

Cairns Day 2 - Lunch at Ganbaranba Noodle Colloseum

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Ganbaranba Noodle Colloseum
12-20 Spence St, Cairns

On our second day in Cairns, Howl gave me a list of lunch options. I was in the mood for Korean but his favorite Korean restaurant wasn't open so we went to my second choice of ramen. The reason I had ramen on my mind was because when Marc and I were exploring the city, we walked past a ramen store that looked amazing. Lo and behold, the ramen joint that Howl took us to was the very same place. He had even eaten there the day before with Jaws (maybe as we were unbeknowingly walking past) so it was their second consecutive lunch at Ganbaranba.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cairns Day 1 - Dinner at Mecca Bah

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Mecca Bah

Mecca Bah brings me way back to the start of my blogging habbit. I remember it was one of the first restaurants I wrote a review about. I went to the one in Brisbane (in the Emporium, Fortitude Valley) and it wasn't my first visit but I loved that restaurant and was keen to do a post about it. I learnt many things about food photography that night, namely that I was bad at it. And that lighting was important. It's been 3 years since that day and my photography skills have not improved at all but I've probably gone through (i.e. 'destroyed') more cameras than I have fingers on one hand.

It was nice that I got to revisit one of the first restaurants I really developed a liking for in Brisbane, albeit in another city. Better yet, it wasn't even my idea. Marc's mate Shewy lives in Cairns and we planned to meet up over dinner with his girlfriend Dani. He chose the restaurant, demonstrating superb taste.

Cairns Day 1 - Lunch at Kani's on The Esplanade

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Kani's Restaurant

Queen's birthday long weekend = 3 nights in Cairns! We flew up Friday evening and came back on Monday. I had never been to Cairns before and didn't really know what to expect. My primary purpose was to visit my mate Howl and also chill/unwind in a different environment. We didn't preplan any really touristy activities and in hindsight it would have been nice to see the reef but I'm sure there will be plenty more opportunities for that in the future.

I didn't intend for this trip to have a gourmet focus so not once did I Google restaurants or make any advance bookings. Still, a girl's gotta eat. For most meals, Marc and I just wandered into any restaurant that looked good. Howl also showed us to a couple of his favorites.

Our first proper meal in Cairns was at lunchtime on Saturday. It takes me a while to get my bearings in a new city. The hotel we stayed in was at one end of The Esplanade, which I took to be Cairns' main dining strip, so we walked down to see what was available.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

San Kai for Lunch

San Kai Modern Japanese Restaurant
Shop 1, 164 Grey Street, South Bank Parklands

Going back a couple of weekends now, Marc and I were on the hunt for lunch on Sunday and got hit with a serious problem. We were both tired as anything, felt extremely indecisive (in an "I don't mind what we eat yet nothing seems RIGHT" way) and didn't want to walk too far. I had this severe sashimi craving and we were open to Japanese but the nearest Japanese restaurant was closed for lunch.

Unwilling to walk to the city, we remembered that there was a Japanese restaurant in South Bank. At least, I thought it was Japanese. Marc wasn't sure but he knew the restaurant I was talking about. We made it to South Bank, praying the whole time that we had remembered correctly and that it was open. When San Kai came into view, I had a heart-stopping moment of "oh that looks dark, it must be closed" but Marc pointed out that it was just really bright where we were standing outdoors and across the street so the restaurant looked dark by comparison. He turned out to be correct and San Kai was indeed open and it also served Japanese food. All needs met with. I audibly sighed with relief.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Honey Roasted Pumpkin with Goat's Cheese and Hazelnuts

Honey Roasted Pumpkin with Goat's Cheese and Hazelnuts
Home Cooking

One day, I was rummaging around in my fridge when I stumbled across half a pumpkin that I'd totally forgotten I bought. I didn't really know what to do with it and I couldn't be stuffed mashing and using it to bake something (which is what I normally do with pumpkin) but I couldn't let it go to waste either.

I roughly chopped up the pumpkin and threw the pieces into a baking tray. Making it up as I went along, I added a drizzle of olive oil, salt and some sprigs of fresh thyme. As an afterthought, I added some honey to the mix. The pieces were left to roast until tender. I had already eaten that night so I didn't even use the pumpkin until the following day but that's irrelevant.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Kettle & Tin for a Reunion Lunch

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Kettle and Tin

I had a genuine 'aww' moment of nostalgia recently when my old high school friend Thanh posted a photo on my Facebook wall. It was a picture of a cartoon I drew in school of the two of us, and a note declaring we would always stay in touch. Thanh and I hadn't seen each other for at least a year so I was definitely going slack on my word but we soon made plans to catch up on the weekend.

I chose Kettle and Tin because of its great online reviews. Kat (who also went to the same high school) got there first because she's good with directions. I had semi-Googled the location the night before but didn't go into memorizing the way because at the time, I thought "that's so easy" and closed the browser window. It apparently wasn't that easy or I was just not up for the task because I got completely lost, nearly ended up at the Sunshine Coast and at some point, had to pull over and whip out my GPS.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Savory Pumpkin Bread

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Savory Pumpkin Bread 
Home Cooking

I went cucko about a month ago about bought all these vegetables that I didn't know what to do with. Pumpkin was one of them. I thought about just boiling the bejeebus out of it and making mash but I didn't want to eat pumpkin mash so I started scouting around for recipes that I could use it in. I found this recipe on, which sounded perfect because it required 500g butternut pumpkin and that was EXACTLY what I had, once my pumpkin had been peeled and deseeded.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pop Up Gourmet Dinner at Restaurant II Hosted by Tom and Shane

Pop Up Gourmet Dinner at Restaurant II 

Sunday night, Marc and I attended a very special dinner event at Restaurant II, organized by 2 of their young and talented chefs. Pastry Chef Tom and Sous Chef Shane collaborated together to host a pop up gourmet dinner for an intimate round table of 10 guests. I had never been to anything like this before and didn't know what to expect. When we arrived, we found that the restaurant was entirely closed off for the event so the dinner guests had exlusive access to the whole of Restaurant II. Talk about VIP treatment!

After a brief mingling session with glasses of sparking wine in hand, we were lead to the solo table decked out specially for this dinner party. Tom and Shane gave us an introduction about their motivation behind this project. The idea of a pop up dinner is to allow chefs and guests to interact and exchange information first hand. From the chefs, we learn about what inspires them, where the ideas for the dishes come from and also facts about the produce being presented. In turn, the guests are able to provide immediate feedback on the things we love and provide suggestions on areas that can be tweaked. Moreover, it's an arena for people who love to cook/create/eat food to join together in a fun night of food, drink and discussion.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Nagomi for Dinner and Drinks

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Nagomi Bento

Something really unusual happened last weekend. Rather than having an exact plan for where I wanted to go for dinner on Friday night, Marc stepped in and presented a viable option. This is rare because he's usually so 'meh, whatever'. We were planning to meet friends for drinks on Eagle Street Pier so a restaurant (preferrably with bar) close by made perfect sense. His pick was Nagomi and as a lover of Japanese food, I was all for it.

Nagomi Bento is located near Grill'd and I expect that it mainly targets the working stock. It doesn't open on the weekends but is now doing Thursday and Friday night. I suppose that covers CBD workers for lunch and after work boozing. There is a specific menu for Friday nights.