Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Keri Craig Emporium

Keri Craig Emporium
Address:160 Queen St, Brisbane, QLD 4000

I would like to start off by acknowledging that I am passionate about high tea.

The idea of a relaxing afternoon with lots of good tea, delicate sweets and good friends gossiping away... Just blissful.

But the trcky thing abut high tea is that it can come in so many forms and variations (and good china can be optional at some places... ><). I have had high tea which served me sausage roll (as part of the savory tidbits), places that organized buffets, indoors overlooking the Hong Kong skyline and outdoors picnic syle looking at the bushes and trees.

Keri Craig Emporium however, was different to them all. In fact, finding the place, was a tny challenge.

Located on the Queen Street Mall, it is hidden in the basement of the Arcade. At this point, if you are familiar with the Arcade, the question popping up will be, 'you mean that clothing shop'?

Yes, at Keri Craig, you will be high tea-ing amongst racks of clothing and other fancy nick-nacks. Talk about a different type of view huh?

But despite the initial quick raise of eyebrow of the different setting for high tea, what I experienced at Keri Craig was nothing but pleasant and relaxing.

All the little touches from the flower arrangement on the tables to the lacey doilies the cakes and sandwiches are presented on, it tied in well with its surrounding and gently hinted its vintaged elegance.

Food wise, on the savory slide, you had your usual suspects - the cucumber sandwiches, the chicken sandwiches, the ham and cheese, the salmon sandwiches and the mini quiches.

My favourite would have to be the cucumber sandwiches. Not because it was spectacular or anything but the simple fact that nowadays, most of the high tea places have swapped out the cucumber for the egg and mayo sandwiches and it was just refreshing to see someone still serve what was a part of the classic english high tea.

The scones I will not comment much. I am massive fan of jam and cream on scones (in fact, it's a treat that I give myself at least once a fortnight). And for me, the only way you could ruin scones when you don't get the fluffiness of the scones right and so far, I don't think I have been to one high tea where people have mucked that up.

As for cakes - a duo of petite fours - there was the lemon curd heart & blueberry creme tart. Again, Keri Craig was stuck firmly to the traditional and choose not opt for the generally popular option of the decadent chocolate varieties and kudos to them for doing that.

The only trouble with that is not everyone enjoy the sweet and sour lemon cakes. Whilst I wolved it down, my friend who accompanied me didn't find the lemon cake very attractive...

In all, Keri Craig was a pleasant, albiet different high tea experience. Proving to the world that it old fashioned elegance still works in this modern era.

Coffee Lounge at Keri Craig Emporium on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 29, 2013


Address:Cnr Given Tce & Dowse St, Paddington, QLD 4064

I will start off noting that I went to Iceworks for a work function and my judgement of the food could be clouded by all the free alcohol I was able to consume before I even opened the menu.

On a normal occassion, Iceworks would be one of those restaurants that I would have hesitated to make the special effort to go. It is a little bit out of the way for those who don't drive (or drive well in my case) and it is very pricey (especially in the formal dining section - where wine and a three course meal can easily surpass $100 pp).

Iceworks is separated into two section - the bar and the restaurant. The bar is quite casual, with a very relaxing atomshpere, which I could imagine myself going to afterwork on a Friday afternoon with a few friends. The drinks are also decently priced and won't leave you out of pocket by the end of the night.

The restaurant section is more sultry, with the dimmed lighting and the dark interior, It shouts to the world 'I am expensive but damn I am worth it!'. For those of you wanting to celebrate something special, I think it'd be a terrific choice.

Food wise, I believe the word amazing will be repeated many times throughout my ramble. I will in turn do my best to introduce a few variations where possible.

For my entree, I choose the mud crab and tuatua clam linguini pasta with fresh herbs, chilli and white wine cream whilst my friend choose the sashimi of fresh fish with pickled radish, daikon, wasabi mayonnaise and sesame dressing. Both were delightful, although I do have to admit, I much prefered the linguini than the sashimi. Whilst the sashimi was fresh, wasabi mayonnaise really wasn't my thing (perfered good old wasabi and soy sauce you see).

On the otherhand, the linguini was flavoursome and rich and it made me want to EAT MORE! Although I did realise that if I wanted more, I could have just went for the main size of the dish... And there were much better choices for main to choose from. Again, the Asian thinking of value-for-money kicked in...

For main, I selected the market fresh fish, crab croquette, sweet pea puree’, sun blushed tomatoes, confit shallots and capers, samphire and beurre blanc. And it was - wait for it, wait for it - devine! (See, told you I would try my best)

The skin was crispy and the seasoning behind the fish and the vegetable was well balanced. Plus the decent serving in size, I was rubbbing my belly in satisfaction afterwards.

Now despite how full (and possibly drunk) we were, the ingenius choice of dessert was decided upon. And as soon as I saw the words 'peanut butter', 'chocolate' and 'caramel' in once sentence, I was sold.

Yes, I had the peanut butter parfait layered with chocolate brownie and butterscotch, espresso caramel, gold leaf and cocoa nib tuile.

At this point, I don't think any words would do the dessert its justice. All I have to say is that it was so rich and decadent and filled with peanut butter, chocolate and caramel goodness, it's something that definitely wont' be allowed in heaven.

Iceworks, I would love to come back to you! My only problem, my diet and my wallet won't like me so much if I visit you too often...

Recommended: They were all pretty amazing!!

Curious to Try: Kilcoy eye fillet, pommes mousseline, mushroom ragout, herb crusted onion rings, kalamata olive and bordelaise sauce

Iceworks Bar & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 26, 2013

Street Cafe - Regatta Hotel

Street Cafe - Regatta Hotel
Address:543 Coronation Dr. Toowong, QLD 4066

Due to 'recent' relocation, the Regatta has became well... one of my local drinking/eating place. Well, technically, until last Monday, it was only drinking as I have never tried any of the food given its poor reviews on Urbanspoon.

But given that Monday was a miserable rainy night, I have just had a horrible conversation with Z and a work call that should have been filtered out, cooking was the last thing on my mind and I headed off to the Regatta looking for some comfort food.

Now I generally only goes to the Regatta on the weekends and I can understand some of the complaints about services being poor. They have in fact more than once got my orders wrong and charged me for the wrong amount. However, on that Monday night, I was pleasantly surprised at the attentiveness and friendliness of the staff. I was served promptly and my food came out after only a short wait.

I opted for the medium steak with potato, salad and mushroom sauce that night and I have to admit, due to lighting, the photo doesn't do the food the justice it deserves.

The steak in fact, was juicy and tasty. The mushroom sauce was rich, flavoursome and ample in serving (there was also a lot of mushroom in it, which really rocks my boat). The serving of the salad and the potato was just in the right proportion to balance the steak, and the achievement of that delicate balance also makes me happy.

Following the steak, feeling like something sweet to nibble on, I decided to go for the portugese tart.

Given that they were only $3 each, I wasn't expecting much. So when it arrived like it did, with chocolate sauce drizzled over the plate and garnished with berries... I was blown away.

To top it off, the pastry for the tart was warm and flaky and the filling was of the right sweetness and was not too eggy - exactly how I like them really!

Now whilst, they still have some way to go to match to the jaw dropping one from Portugal or Macau, I reckon I'd happily keep on eating them!

Overall, I'd like to report that I had a quite pleasant experience at the Regatta. Yes, it is a bit pricy, but the food was tasty and yes, I'd definitely go back (possibly a quieter weeknight though).

Recommended: The pizzas and the portgugese tarts

Street Cafe - Regatta Hotel on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bar Barossa

Bar Barossa
Address: Cnr Adelaide & Macrossan Sts, Brisbane, QLD 4000

I have often heard/read about Bar Barossa. Honestly, it was not one of those places that I would have tried given its location and the lack of parking in the surrounding and you'd need to take a short walk getting there by public transport. But after the experience last night, I would definitely be making my way back!

Situated on the corner of Macrossan and Adelaide Sts, its brown, red and white exterior and little red bar chairs and the wooden wine tanks as tables gives Bar Barossa character and makes it rather hard to miss.

Once inside, Z and I was greeted by Wayne (venue manager), who showed us to our table and nothing but helpful and friendly the whole night.

Coming to the important part - the food, Z and I decided to share the seared scallops for entree and both have the braised beef cheeks for main.

Not that I am boosting, but I reckon we made fantastic choices. The entree (pan roasted scallops, morcilla, cauliflower purée, squid ink aioli and pickled nashi pear)was arranged with an artistic flair on a white rectangular china plate. The scallops was sweet and tender and went fantastically with the caulflower puree and the squid ink aioli. I didn't know what was morcilla at the time and was glad I didn't google it on the spot. It's basically black pudding and surprisingly, it was delicious and went surprisingly well with with scallops.

Now, I am normally not a fan of describing the vessels my food is served on. But in this case, I believe Bar Barossa deserves the honorable mention. As the braised beef cheek, spiced carrot purée, baby heirloom vegetables and bacon crumbs was served on a matte black ceramic plate that contrasted that was simply a visual feast.

Z commented that he was glad that we both decided on the braised beef cheek, otherwise one of us would have a terrible case of food envy.

And I'd totally agree with him there, the braised beef cheek was rich, flavoursome and soft to pull apart... It would have been difficult for me to part with it.

The only draw back with the dish was that (and I can't believe I am saying this), I wish there was a bit more vegetables or a little bit less beef. Two massive chunks of braised beef later, I found that I needed a bit more vegies to balance it out in the end.

And after that serving, dessert was completely off the plate. I simply could not eat anymore, even though I wished I could continue.

Overall, Bar Barossa has been a wonderful experience that I look forward to repeating.

Recommended: The braised beef cheeks! Drool!

Curious to Try: The duck and the pork belly.

Bar Barossa on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lychee Lounge

Lychee Lounge
Address:92 Boundary St, West End, QLD 4101

West End has bee none of those areas that I go often but has always been a bit too shy to whip out my camera to take photos - for fear of being completely uncool (Funnily, I don't seem to have that problem at any other fancy restaurants... possibly that there's someone there that I am trying to impress?).

Either way, a lil while ago, a girlfriend and I ventured into Lychee Lounge after walking past it many times and being intrigued by its Asian inspired decor that also gives the air of warmth and cosiness in the winter.

We were purely there for drinks but after seeing its menu, we are quickly decided that yes, we also want dessert (massive sweet tooth we have and we completely had our priorities straight there).

I had the watermelon martini and the dark chocolate and hazelnut tart, red wine poached Morella cherries, lavender crème fraiche gelato.

I will not comment much on the drink as Lychee Lounge has a very comprehensive list of cocktails (31 pages that it)to ensure that something there will tickle your fancy.

But boy, the dessert was simply delightful! It was decadent, rich and presented with an artistic flair - everything you shouldn't go for if you are on a diet really.

The only downside to the place is that it is rather expensive and the servings are not big enough that you could share (not that I am ever likely to want to share dessert). You are looking at around $30 per person for the main, $20 for dessert and $16 per drink and the cost can very quickly add up.

And given how Asian I am and where value-for-money is rated as closely as flavour and ambience, I reckon as much as I have enjoyed Lychee Lounge, this one is going to have to be kept under the 'indulgence' tab and only visited on a special night out.

Lychee Lounge on Urbanspoon