Friday, September 5, 2014

Deer Duck Bistro

Deer Duck Bistro
Address: 396 Milton Rd Auchenflower, QLD 4066

Z and I choose to try the Deer Duck Bistro degustation to celebrate our birthdays. We've heard good reviews about the place; however, most people seem to indicate that when they were there 2-3 years ago, the food has been amazing. No one seems to have a clear indication on what the restaurant is like now.

From the outside, the restaurant looked unassuming. It was not until we stepped into the restaurant that we realised it is separated into three dining quarters. The first section (as you stepped in), is very simply decorated. It had an easy, casual feel that you would normally get in a nice cafe. The second larger room is a little bit more closely packed. The decor is very much art deco (think 1920s; chandeliers, dark walls, wooden floors and dim lighting...). The third room, which is where Z and I were seated, was a little bit more spacious and it continues the decoration ambience from the larger room.

We opted for the 7 course degustation that night (the picture will only show 6 dishes - the amuse bouche picture has gone MIA). Instead of matching wine for each dish (Z doesn't like whites); we opted for a bottle of red that would go with (almost) every dish.

We started off with the crackle and the miso soup, which was simply divine. The crackles were made from fish skin and it complemented nicely with the sweetness of the miso soup (although I did think miso soup was a touch too sweet).

This was followed by the cured salmon. That was probably my favourite dish of the night. The salmon was cured to perfection. It had just the right level of tartness, smokiness and sweetness. Overall, I felt the dish to be very refreshing and I was hungry for more.

Next up was the egg yolk, barley & foam (what I called the garden barn) dish. The dish was seasoned well and the freshness of the egg yolk was complemented well by the grains and nuts.

For (I guess what you'd call) the main, lamb was on offer. However, given my dietary restriction, whilst Z happily chomped away on his lamb chops, I went for the vegetarian option, which was filled with a variety of mushrooms. The dish again was done well, very delicate texture and the seasoning was controlled.

Next up was the cheese plate and the amuse bouche. There was not very much needed to be said about the amuse bouche as it was mainly flavoured shaved ice with egg roll. The cheese plate on the other hand, I also won't comment much as I am not a big goat’s cheese (or blue cheese) person and the dish was unfortunately mainly those two cheeses.

Hence, Z happily ate both of your portions as I eager waited for the dessert, which was a chocolate beetroot brownie.

I have to say, I was quite amazed at how nice chocolate and beetroot complemented each other. As the dessert were a good balance of sweetness and a hint of earthiness.

Overall, it was quite an exciting set and I was happy that I had the opportunity to try it.

Recommended: The degustation was pretty good!

Deer Duck Bistro on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sushi Kotobuki

Sushi Kotobuki
Address: Shop 3 - behind fish cafe, 53 Lytton Rd, East Brisbane, QLD

Sushi Kotobuki is probably Z's favourite sushi place in Brisbane. I probably need to explain that when I say 'sushi place', I don't include the luxurious Japanese restaurants with the likes of Sake or Sono, but more like simple Japanese restaurants that concentrates on sushi and curry.

I suppose the beauty of Sushi Kotobuki is in its simplicity...

The restaurant is hidden behind two other restaurants along the busy Lytton Rd. The shop is actually quite small which means that whilst there are seats indoor, they remain scarce and most patrons just sit on the metallic tables and chairs outside (don't worry, the restaurant do provide cushions and wraps just in case you get cold).

The menu actually offers quite a wide range of dishes ranging from sushi, bento boxes, curry and other tad bits.

I normally just stick to the sushi when ordering. I have tried their snacks (edamame, miso soup etc.) before, other than the miso soup, the other stuff was pretty average.

But the sushi on the other hand, is generally quite amazing. I normally stick to the salmon rolls and the spider rolls. But the other sushi I've tried, the restaurant always manage to keep it a perfect balance of flavour and the ingredients are always fresh (no stale rice flavour you'd sometimes get from the takeaway joints).

In terms of price, I wouldn't exactly categorize Sushi Kotobuki as cheap...

To have a decent meal there, it'd cost you around $15-20pp (per sushi roll is ~$12).

However, given that everything is freshly made, I'd say it's worth the price.

Recommended: I try different things every time, haven't found a favourite yet as they are all simply delicious

Sushi Kotobuki on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bacchus Dessert Degustation

Bacchus Dessert Degustation
Address: South Brisbane, Podium Level of Rydges Hotel
Podium Level Cnr Grey & Glenelg Streets South Bank, QLD 4101

This, I admit was a bit of over-indulgence on my part when I saw the offer of dessert degustation from Bacchus thought to myself 'pft, I LOVE desserts. I can eat dessert all day. A dessert degustation will be a piece of cake...'

Anyway, Z and I decided that we will do this as a double date with a good friend of ours. Now, dessert degustation generally starts from 8pm every night, but luckily, we managed to secure a 7.15pm booking (and given that we spent a good 4 hours in the restaurant in order to fit everything into our tummy, I reckon booking for an earlier start is much recommended).

We've also decided to go with matching wines that - a decision which ended up being a double edged sword simply because you only have so much stomach space and in the end, it felt like you could either eat or drink (but doing both was impossible).

The ambience at Bacchus was also very posh but warm, like something you'd expect out of a five star restaurant. The waiters were absolutely lovely and offered perfect service (to the point where one of my friends wanted to take one particular waiter home because he was so ridiculously funny).

The desserts however, I don't know if I can write well enough to do them justice as each dish was so spectacularly unique and superb - from the white chocolate donuts and hot chocolate in the appetizers to the chocolate forest amuse bouche (which for Z was the highlight of the meal) to the decadent dessert for the dessert degustation...

We must have at least 10 dishes of sugary goodness for the 5 course degustation that we thought we were in for.

Of course, we each had our favourites, whilst Z preferred the amuse bouche; my friends preferred the raspberry & sorbet pannacotta (1st course) and the soufflé. Myself, I must agree that the soufflé was possibly the best soufflé I've ever had. The flavour was just superb and the softness texture of the soufflé really contrasted well with the crunchiness of the walnut inside.

Needless to say, the night was unforgettable (in the best - great great food - and worst sense - I could not look at dessert for the remainder of the week)!

Recommended: with the matching wine!

Bacchus on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 1, 2014

Ramen Champion

Ramen Champion
Address: Shop 50 Sunnypark Shopping Centre Sunnybank, QLD 4109

After hearing much rave about the new ramen joint in Sunnybank, my friend and I made a trip to Sunnybank one rainy Friday night, hoping the broth of the ramen would provide some warmth and comfort for the both of us.

The Ramen Champion shop front is hidden in Sunnypark Shopping Centre (it's located near Red Chilli Sichuan Restaurant). The shop is on that back corner and quite small. In total, I don't think the restaurant could fit more than 25 patrons at a time.

The decor is also very simple. With exception to the signage at the back of the small, providing a flash of colour, the idea of more like a street food stall that has some tables and seats.

Everything is also pretty much self-services. You find your own tables and chairs, you order at the counter and grab your own spices, water and utensils - like most Asian establishments really.

The menu is also quite simple. There are only 6 or 7 choices of ramen and 3 or 4 side dishes you could choose from.

Anyway, for our visit, I went for the simple Champion Ramen and my friend went for the Champion Ramen Men (yes, I think he specifically choose it because of the word 'Men' in the name of the dish).

The services was relatively fast given that the joint was fully seated by the time we arrived, we received our noodles around 15 minutes after ordering.

In my opinion, the ramen was not bad. The soup was flavoursome, the noodles had a decent amount of chewiness and the char-sui pork was so soft that it almost melts in your mouth and much more flavourful than Hakataya's. However, the egg was extremely bland and was not cooked to the same perfection as you would normally get (ie. yolk has set but gives the sign of slightly running and there's a slightly soy/salty flavour in the egg which compliments the ramen).

The Champion Ramen Men was basically the same stock, however, the noodles are thicker and are served separately. Instead of slurping away at the soup and noodle, you'd dip the noodle in the thicker stock.

I am not sure my experience at Ramen Champion is positive or negative. It simply left me with a sense of 'meh' after my meal.

Recommended: Champion Ramen

Ramen Champion on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Cowch Dessert and Cocktail Bar

Cowch Dessert and Cocktail Bar
Address: 2/179 Grey St South Brisbane, QLD

I love desserts.

By default, it generally also means that I love dessert bars.

Unlike restaurants, dessert bars provide patrons with an opportunity to sit and unwind after the hustle and bustle of dinner with some of best inventions in the society (in food regards anyway) - sugar, chocolate and ice cream!

Situated on the Southbank strip, Cowch creates a perfect atmosphere. It is casual, relaxed and the best (and worst part), the waiters don't come and usher you off if you decide to linger just that little bit longer.

From what I understand, Cowch provides quite a wide variety of choices. There are the alcoholic dessert beverages, the cakes, the hot chocolate (in udder mugs), frozen yoghurt and a range of ice cream varieties.

My companions and I tried a few different things that night. Whilst the cakes and the dessert plates were very delicious, the item off the menu that caught my eyes the most is the deluxe hot chocolate (served in the udder mug).

Now, the taste of the hot chocolate is pretty much stock standard (not comparable to chilli hot chocolate from San Churros, Lindt or a few other places I've tried), but what I do like, it how they make sure that it is not too sweet and presented so beautifully.

Pricewise, I did feel that it was somewhat expensive.

However, it was well worth the price for the atmosphere and the very friendly services that we received.

Recommended: The deluxe hot chocolate in udder mug

Cowch Dessert and Cocktail Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 29, 2014

Kwan Brothers

Kwan Brothers
Address: 43 Alfred St Fortitude Valley, QLD

I have been dying to go try Kwan Brothers since first hearing of its opening a couple months back as the idea of Asian fusion restaurants has always attracted, and at the same time, confused me.

But beneath the confusion of why would someone change the flavour of already divine dishes, there is also the acknowledgement that, yes, ingredients can alter their tastes in different countries (disagree with me if you will, but pork tastes significantly different in Australian compared to other Asian countries) and certain things would have to be approached differently.

Anyway, after much whinging and pleading with Z (as I did not want to go by myself), we finally made it to Kwan's Brothers last night.

Located next door to Alfredo's, on the block I generally known as the Alfred and Constance block, Kwan's Brothers adopted its sibling establishments' ambience with loud funky music and decor (There's a reason why my photos all had a red under tone as I didn't want to use my flash to ruin the dining experience of others in the restaurant).

Z and I were seated quite quickly despite that the restaurant was quite full already and unlike previous review I've read, the waiters were all quite friendly and attentive.

After much deliberation on the menu (since Z doesn't like rice and I don't eat lamb), we narrowed down our choices. For that night, we tried 6 dishes (and 2 drinks) from Kwan Brothers. They include Pork Bao Bao, Pork and Pineapple Skewers, Shaking Beef Salad, Deep-fried Cauliflower, Peking Duck Spring Rolls and Salmon in Banana Leaf.

At this point, I'd kindly ask readers to not judge us on our gluttony, we did enough of that after the meal...

Food came fast enough; the first to arrive was the Pork Bao Bao.

In essence, if anyone has tried Bun Mobile, very similar concept of delicious roast pork filing inside of plain steamed bun.

However, the baos are simply divine! The pork was juicy and so very well flavoured and when combined with the soft bun, it was simply sensational. I was blown away after the first bite.

The pork and pineapple skewers were also delicious. It adopted the similar flavour of the pork from the bao bao, however, there was an extra sense of bitterness and sweetness as it was barbequed with pineapples.

The deep-fried cauliflower was Z's favourite. In his words, "deep-fried batter coated with honey and sesame... how can I not love that"!

For me, the dish reminded me somewhat of the Korean deep-fried spicy chicken (except not spicy). I quite happily munched away on this dish as it went superbly with our drinks (although, it's probably better with a beer).

The shaking beef salad (we ordered the small one) was probably the least fusion-esque dish we ordered that night. It tasted exactly like the shaking beef salads I've tried in many Thai restaurants. It's sharpness and a hint of spices really hits the note. However, if you are not a fan of sour or sharp foods, this is probably not for you.

Following from Pork Bao Bao, my other highlight of the night was the peking duck spring roll with hoisin dipping sauce.

I do admit that there may have been some bias in that judgement as I am a big fan of peking duck and freshly made spring rolls. Rolling them together into one dish is pretty much a guarantee for success in my opinion.

The salmon in banana leaf was the last to arrive. But that stage, Z and I were so full, we are starting to look at food with apprehension.

But as the earlier dishes, the salmon, coated with its special satay sauce was also just beautiful. The salmon was perfectly cooked and the sauce was so delicious, if I had more room in my tummy, I'd eat every single bite!

Anyway, after stuff ourselves to the point of near explosion, Z and I ended rolling out of Kwan's Brothers rubbing our food baby in delight and our wallets (Z's really), lighter.

Recommended: Pork Bao Bao & Peking Duck Spring Rolls

Kwan Brothers on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 28, 2014

Little Greek Taverna

Little Greek Taverna
Address: 5/1 Browning St, West End QLD 4101

The Little Greek Taverna is one of my staples in West End. Most of my experiences at Little Greek Taverna has been positive - food has fantastic flavours, the prices being very reasonable and the staff generally quite friendly.

The only drawback at Little Greek Taverna is that because the restaurant is quite small and popular, getting a seat without booking on some nights are quite impossible. However, the restaurant do offer deliveries and my friends and I often just get the food delivered to The Cobblers next door on Browning Street whilst we enjoy with a couple of drinks.

This visit however, I went with a couple colleagues and given we had quite a few people; we went ahead and booked for the lunch.

For this visit, I went ahead with spanakopita for entree and a chicken souvlaki wrap for main.

The spanakopita arrived quite quickly and although it did not look like the traditional spanakopita I've had before in other Greek restaurants, the main flavours and key ingredients were all present and it tasted terrific. I found that the addition of the chilli powder on the side really set off the flavour and lifted the presentation of the dish.

The wrap was also delicious; however I would recommend the ones with haloumi. The addition of the haloumi lifts the flavour of the dish and provides an addition texture to the wrap that I find very pleasing.

Other dishes that really do deserve honorary mentions at the Little Greek Taverna include the lamb shank, where the meat really just fall off the bones and the stuffed capsicum which is another delight of its own.

And to top it all off, the price is also very decent. To be able to have have a great meal (entree and main) and cap it at under $25pp, there's not that many places in Brisbane that can do it with such such flavours and flair.

Recommended: The wrap with haloumi, the spanakopita, the lamb shank and many more...

Little Greek Taverna on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Roti Chenai

Roti Chenai
Address: 52/53 1000 Ann St, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006 (EMPORIUM)

Z and I share a great love for curry and roti and our favourite Malaysian curry and roti place in Australia would have to be Mamak in Sydney. The buttery fluffy roti bread that is golden and crisp on the outside, what is there to not love about it? And when that perfect roti accompanies with the flawless curry that is of just the right consistency and spices, it is match made in heaven...

However, it is unfortunate that whilst Mamak opened up several franchise around Sydney, it has not made the move to Brisbane and as result, we have been on the hunt for the perfect that perfect roti to replace Mamak.

Hence, when Roti Chenai opened up in Emporium and started getting good reviews, it gained our interest and attention and we looked for opportunity to try it out ourselves.

Thankfully, the gods were in our favour and we managed to chance upon a discount deal opportunity which allowed us to pay Roti Chenai a visit at fraction of what it would normally cost (not that Roti Chenai was expensive to start off with anyway, a meal that will set you back around $20pp).

For our meal, we went for the chicken curry and the dhal curry. Both arrived very fast (within 10-15 minutes of us ordering).

Now in terms of the roti, I have to say that I am a little bit disappointed. Whilst the roti remains very delicious and soft, it was a bit dense and not as fluffy as I would have liked (most likely because the roti was pre-made and not freshly made as you would have at Mamak in Sydney).

The chicken curry had a great flavour. However, I did find that it was too spicy for me (mostly because I had an inflamed throat). The dhal curry however was absolutely delicious! The consistency was nice and the flavours and the spices are well balanced - it was perfect for me to dip my roti into the curry to soak up that amazing flavour.

All in all, it was a great experience at Roti Chenai and I look forward to going back to try some of their other dishes too.

Recommended: The dhal curry

Roti Chenai on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ciccio's Pasta Bar

Ciccio's Pasta Bar
Address: 471 Adelaide St, Brisbane QLD

One of my good friend in Brisbane recommended Ciccio's Pasta Bar to me as she works close by and it is one of the places that her colleagues and her go to enjoy nice long lunches on a not so busy day.

A few others I have spoken to have also commented that years ago when it first started, Ciccio's handmade pasta was simply beautiful; however, most haven't been back for a few years and feel that their comment may no longer be valid.

On that basis, a few friends and I set out to Ciccio for catch-up and to give their pastas and pizzas a go.

Ciccio is located on the cusp between the CBD and the Valley. The decor of the restaurant is simplistic and modern and the waitresses are quite friendly and generally helpful. Whilst it's not first-date material, it is quite casual and relaxed and I do spot a quite a few lone diners there for their evening feed.

On the evening of my visit, my friends and I decided to go down different paths, whilst one decided to try the braised beef cheek (which has been recommended by other people who've tried it), the others decided to give the pizzas a go.

The speed of which our food was delivered was very prompt. However, my good impression of the restaurant quickly faltered when the food arrived.

Whilst everything looked appetizing, improvements were direly needed in particular to flavours.

The pizzas for one were charred down the bottom (although this at least assured us that it came out of a wood fired oven) and I will agree that the base would be very delicious had I not have to scrap off the char dust on the bottom. Although my friend disagreed with me and thought that pizza with char dust has character and she enjoyed the pizza base very much.

The topping I have found to be much too sweet, the 'meatballs' were tiny and had a particularly funny flavour (I am not sure what sort of herbs they put in it, it was just overwhelmingly sweet).

As for the beef cheek, although the pasta was quite tasty and flavour of the dish was good, we did discover a small piece of plastic in amidst the pasta.

We did take it up with the waitress and whilst she was very apologetic, she also never came back with an answer of how the piece of plastic ended up in the dish.

It just felt sad that we paid around ~$20 for the pizza and almost $30 for the homemade pasta and it really didn't feel like it was worth the money we paid.

In summary, maybe what we experienced was a one off and we may not have picked the right dishes, but I certainly won't be going back to Ciccio's in a hurry.

Recommended:...not really

Ciccio's Pasta Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Saj & Grill

Saj & Grill
Address: Corner Of Grey Street And Tribune Street, South Brisbane, QLD 4101

Saj and Grill is one the first eatery I visited when I first hit Brisbane and since then, I have been going there on a regular basis. It's a little hole in the wall with a few casual tables and seats which takes up a small area on the pedestrian walkway.

It is probably the most reasonably priced food spot in the Southbank strip (and possibly the friendliest as Dan the barista always got a big smile for everyone) and hosts not only great sajs but also fantastic coffees (Dan also serves that).

For a tiny little restaurant, Saj and Grill do host an impressive range of food from saj to wraps to salads.

Now before Saj and Grill, I've actually never heard of 'saj' before. According to Google, 'saj'is actually the metal dome that flat breads are cooked on (see the dome in the photo above) and further research shows 'saj' as a traditional Lebanese dish where the bread is cooked in a dome shaped oven and then infused with herbs and can be filled with different toppings.

Comparing notes with a couple of friends, the most popular dishes would have to be either the lamb saj or the garlic chicken saj. Everyone I spoke to have a good word or two to say about it. However, as I don't eat lamb, I often go for the garlic chicken saj or the zaatar special.

As I like to describe it, the zaatar special is the vegetarian saj which you get herbs with cucumber, tomato and olives (basically, all the good stuff).

However, whilst the zaatar special is nice, the garlic chicken saj would have to be my favourite. It's filled with the strong fragrance of garlic and taken with a mouthful of chicken, mushroom, herbs and the flat bread, the flavour just carries through and you are left salivating for the next bite...

Saj and Grill is one of the places I frequent for lunch and whilst they can be a little slow in the busy hours, it is still worth the visit.

Recommended: The coffee and the garlic chicken saj

Saj & Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 24, 2014

Kind Living Cafe

Kind Living Cafe
Address: Shop 1, 25 Maple St, Maleny QLD 4552

Visit to the Kind Living Cafe came about as Z wanted to have a healthy brunch instead of the normal high cholesterol but yummy stuff that we normally have. This place was his bid to prove to me that a healthy vegetarian brunch can be both rewarding for the body and the palate.

Kind Living Cafe is located on Maple St (the main strip) in Maleny; it is just a few doors down from Colin James Fine Foods, which is famous for its ice-creams, coffee and cheeses. Hence, when Z took me past Colin James, my heart gave a lil whoop and I thought his vision of healthy living has included ice-cream in the menu!

Of course, it was just me being delusional...

As a result, when we reached Kind Living Cafe, I was being sulky and was practically looking for every fault possible with the place. However, despite my best effort, the decor at Kind Living Cafe was pleasant and spotless. There weren't many people in the shop and the lady behind the countered greeted us with a warm smile.

The menu offered a decent selection (about 6-7 dishes for brunch). The price was on the expensive side, but given that we were getting organic products, the slightly elevated price is probably justified.

Anyway, on that day I ordered the mango banana pancake and Z went for the Kofte balls with salad.

The wait for the food was a little bit long, but given there was only 1 person running the shop and that I wasn't particularly hungry, it was tolerable.

When the food did finally arrive, I was however very impressed with the presentation. The mango pancake looked sensational!

I took a bite into the cocoa-laden pancake and the fragrant of mango, banana and cream filled my senses. It was delicious! It was almost like a dessert for me. This is definitely my kind of healthy food.

Z's Kofte balls and salad was also very tasty. The Kofte balls were filled with nuts and the salad provided the much needed crunch in the dish.

The only drawback was that we did find a strand of hair in one of the Kofte balls, which marred our visit to Kind Living Cafe. The owner was very apologetic, but all she did was heat up and replate what was left on the plate and served it back to us. Given that we paid around $20 for 3 Kofte balls and salad, I was at least expecting a replacement Kofte ball...

Kind Living Cafe, that's definitely a call for improvement!

Recommended: The mango pancakes

Kind Living Cafe on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cafe DOV

Cafe DOV
Address: 130 Victoria St, Potts Point NSW 2011

Cafe DOV is one of my favourite places for brunch in Sydney when I visit. It has great coffee, great food, friendly waiters... the only problem is that unless you live in the Eastern Suburbs, it's a bit of a pain to get to.

However, every time I went, the trouble is all worth it in the end when I sit down for my brunch. I have never sat outdoors, but the indoor is dark and cosy (fantastic for a sleepy Sunday morning brunch).

The waiters are always very friendly and attentive, they've even let me get away with ordering kid's menu once (as I wasn't particularly hungry and didn't want to pay for a full meal that I was going to leave behind).

In terms of food, I have tried a few things there. The specials on the chalkboard inside is always worth having a look. This time round, my friend ordered gluten free toast with spinach, egg and bacon and I had the kid size blueberry pancake with ricotta.

The wait for the food was a little bit long, but given how busy it was and that the waiter came back with our coffees quite promptly, we were happy to sip on lattes and chatter away whilst we waited for the food.

When the food did arrive, the flavours and the presentation were spot on. The blueberry pancake definitely was my favourite of the two meals that day, with the fluffy pancake and the balanced sweetness from the syrup to the ricotta and the blueberries.

DOV Cafe definitely gets thumbs up from me and I will be looking forward to going back the next time I visit Sydney.

Recommended: The coffee is pretty fantastic

café DOV on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 21, 2014

Odyssey Cafe & Bar - The Greek Club

Odyssey Cafe & Bar - The Greek Club
Address: 29 Edmondstone St, South Brisbane QLD 4101

Reviews of The Greek Club have often been mixed. Whilst some rave on about the wonderful and service they've received at the restaurant, others have told me horror stories of what could barely be described as food. Given so much contention on the establishment, I decided to embark on a journey to find out for myself whether or not The Greek Club is worth the praises and/or indeed, the negativity.

To help things along, it was fortunate that I managed to secure the Urbanspoon deal and The Greek Club offered 50% discount on my meal. As result, I set out on a Monday night on my own to enjoy the ambience and the food at the Greek Club (on my own mainly as result of Z refusing to go 'try' places with contentious reviews).

Either way, that was how I ended up on the veranda of the Greek Club, by myself, with a book in my hand and two extremely friendly waiters.

The dining area at the Greek Club is separated into two section, the indoors, which is big enough to host events and parties and the outdoor veranda, which overlooks Musgrave Park. Given the choice, I would highly recommend to sit outdoors as it does have a much better view and you won't have to deal with the rather old fashioned interior design.

On the night of my visit, I was feeling particularly hungry and ordered the spanakopita for entree and the beef stifado which the waiter recommended. Now, as I am not an expert on Greek food, I had to quickly google "stifado" and results returned indicated a meaty stew with onions - a lot of onions.

The spanakopita was served rather quickly and it was simply heavenly. The pastry was golden and flaky and the spinach filling inside was ample and not too oily. The size of the dish was also quite decent, the three slices of spanakopita would have been sufficient for a small meal.

I had a feeling that the chef that night was definitely timing my meal. Cos my stifado was not served until a good 15 minutes after the eager waiter (over friendly and eager at some point who kept on checking on me to see if everything was okay) collect my plates for the entree, giving me sufficient time to digest and savour the spanakopita.

When the stifado arrived, I was pleasantly surprised. It was well-sized in proportion (the dish was MASSIVE) and it came with heaps and HEAPS of beef and onions.

The dish was fragrant and the beef was well cooked and soft that I could almost break it apart with my spoon.

I sat in the Greek Club for ages trying to finish the massive meal and ended up taking most home (which basically was another meal in itself).

I understand that there might be varying experiences at the Greek Club, but I would definitely go back for more of that spanakopita!

Recommended: The spanakopita

Odyssey Cafe & Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Gunshop Cafe

Gunshop Cafe
Address: 53 Mollison St, West End QLD 4101

I hit the Gunshop Cafe with a few friends over the weekend after many months of procrastination. I have always been interested to try the place as I see lines on the weekend for brunch every time I go past. However, given that the Gunshop Cafe does not take order before midday on weekends meats that you'd either have to go early or line up (and I am not a fan of lining up for food, especially when I am hungry).

Anyway, a couple of friends decided that to overcome the problem of lining up, we were going to have a really late brunch (mostly lunch) and made a booking for just past midday. 

The Gunshop Cafe is located close to the Coles intersection in West End, of close proximity to The Burrow and across the road from Coles shopping center and Mu'ooz. Getting there by public transport is quite easy with 199, 196 and the Glider bus stops close by.

The restaurant itself has three sections, the outdoor, the inside and the back yard. Whilst the outdoor section is great for people watching, you also have to deal with the passing pedestrians and people lining up. The indoor hosts an array of really cool decorations, ranging from interesting head busts to nest-like hanging lights. However, on a busy day, the indoor section tends to retain all the noise and can get pretty loud. The backyard is somewhat better in terms of noise but the decoration pales in comparison.

On our visit, whilst we heard many good things about its toulous sausages, unfortunately, it was sold out by the time we ordered. Hence, we decided to go for smoke bacon, poached eggs, tomatoes, hollandaise and sourdough, prawn omelette with wakame seaweed salad and avocado on toast with quark.

The smoked bacon with poached egg was probably the table's favourite. 
The bacon was crispy and the eggs are done to perfection with runny yolks and all. Most impressively, the bread - as my friends described - was as crispy as the bacon!

The avocado toast with quark was pretty nice too, however the portion do tend to be on the small side.

I had the omelette and I had to say that whilst it didn't quite live up to my expectation, it had some redeeming factors.

Whilst the egg was soft and fluffy and the flavor well balanced with the mayo and the wakame seaweed salad, the prawns were difficult to find in the omelette. There were also suppose to be toasted panko (which is like breadcrumbs). However, there wasn't very much panko on my plate and I was hoping that the panko would provide a different texture than the fluffy eggs.

On the other hand, the use of wakame seaweed salad, eggs and wasabi was pure genius. The combined flavor left quite an impression on me and gave me some new ideas for my simple home meals.

All in all, whilst it was a pleasant visit and that the Gunshop Cafe definitely has some delicious food, it is somewhat on the expensive side. I would go back for its bacon, eggs and toasted and I remain curious of its toulouse sausages, the omelette was rather disappointing for the price paid.

Recommended: The toulouse sausages

Gunshop Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Swampdog Fish and Chips

Swampdog Fish and Chips
Address: 186 Vulture Street, South Brisbane QLD 4101

Located towards the Woolloongabba side of Vulture Street, Swampdog Fish and Chips is one place that you will often drive past and see, but not often think of stopping and eat. Well, I am here to let you know that it is definitely one place worth a visit.

The restaurant is remodelled from an old house and has both indoor and outdoor seatings. The outdoors is generally more relaxed but you do get the fumes of passing cars. I generally prefer to sit indoors (despite the cooking smell) as they offer ipads for me to play on and magazines to flip through. But most importantly, I like to sit inside due to its close proximity to the free lemonade that Swampdog offers.

Now this may sound a little el-cheapo, but the Asian in me gets excited over free food and it sings with joy when it's delicious, quality free food!

The homemade lemonade from Swampdog has to be one of the best lemonade I've tried in Brisbane! The flavour is balanced, the sugar level is controlled perfectly to balance out the sourness of the lemon and it is just so so refreshing! Sad as it is, sometimes I go to Swampdog simply because I miss the lemonade.

However, lemonade is not the only thing Swampdog does well.

Their fish and chips are also top notch (probably there amongst some of the better fish and chips places in Brisbane). The fish are fried to perfection, the outside is nice and crunchy and the fish is still moist and juicy inside.

Their spicy fish wrap is also one of my favourites for a light lunch. Unfortunately, the grilled section of the menu tend not be as consistent as the other options on the menu.

I have had the Cajun grilled fish to be excessively salty for most tastebuds. The grilled barramundi with pesto to be somewhat light in taste...

Swampdog will remain as one of my favourite fish and chips place in Brisbane. However, I do wish their grilled menu selections to be more consistent as it will greatly improve my opinion of the restaurant.

Recommended: The free lemonade is a must try

Swampdog Fish and Chips on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Yard Bird Ale House

Yard Bird Ale House
Address: 6/24 Martin St, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006

Yard Bird Ale House is hidden behind Montezuma’s and Hotel Bravo in the Central Brunswick complex. Given that I do not frequent the Valley, despite the fact that Yard Bird has opened for a while now, I never noticed its existence.

I chanced upon Yard Bird Ale House when a friend and I went looking for food following a comedy show at the Tivoli Theatre. Whilst it was probably not the closest restaurant to the Tivoli, it did have a casual atmosphere which allowed us to eat, drink and chatter (more importantly, as I later found out, he wanted me to see if I could handle the Death Sentence Wings).

The establishment offers craft beer and Southern comfort food. The range of beer is generally US-centric; however, they do host a few Australian ones. I am not particularly big on beer, but the given the chillin atmosphere, I joined everyone else in Yard Bird, ordered some food and sat down to enjoy with night with a cold and good company.

As for food, I understand that there are some pretty negative reviews out there. However, as I only tried the wings that night, I won't be able to comment much on the other options on the menu.

The wings comes in a couple of flavours – original buffalo and BBQ chipotle, death sentence wings and etc - all come with complimentary sauces and some celery sticks.

I remembered those three as it came highly recommended to me and I myself quite enjoyed their flavours which was akin to something that you'd really get in mid-west in the US (St Louis at least).

As for the death sentence wings, they are chilli! But finger-licking chilli!

And no, I did not shed tears over the spiciness (but I did take big gulps of beer and stole most of the celery sticks).

All in all, I reckon that if you to go Yard Bird for the beer and experience and concentrate less on the food; it is not too bad after all.

Recommended: Death Sentence Wings

Yard Bird Ale House on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 17, 2014

Viet Hoa

Viet Hoa
Address: 220 Melbourne St, West End QLD 4101

Located on the Melbourne St running down between South Brisbane and West End, Viet Hoa has to be one of the places that I frequent for lunch.

Although the little restaurant sports a simple exterior (and interior for that matter), the restaurant is neat little spot for a quick, relatively cheap Asian meal. And Sam, the restaurant owner always has a friendly smile every time I visit.

The restaurant offers a range of Vietnamese and Chinese cuisines - namely the vermicelli noodles, pho and stir fried noodles and rice.

I have tried a few items on the menu, but my preferred meal choice would have to be the vermicelli noodles. The pho, whist isn't too bad, generally is not as flavourful as what you'd get at the other Vietnamese restaurants down on Hargraves Rd. The chicken stir fried noodles was pretty tasty, with lots of chicken and vegetables. However, quite vigorous stir fry do mean that the noodles are somewhat broken and lacks somewhat in presentation.

The beef vermicelli noodles would have to be one of the better dishes they offer. The vermicelli is done perfectly -not clumped together or starchy, there's a nice balance of different type of vegetables and the grilled beef, that's the best part.

Whilst the beef can be a little bit dry (due to the cooking method), it has a fantastic flavour that really lifts the meal to next level.

The only drawback however, would be the amount of peanuts they sprinkle on the vermicelli noodle. As Viet Hoa do generally sprinkle quite a lot, the taste of peanuts can overpower the other flavours.

All in all, Viet Hoa is a nice little place to visit for a quick meal or lunch. Although probably not somewhere I'd suggest for a foodie's night out.

Recommended: vermicelli noodle with grilled beef

Viet Hoa on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Chili Macs Diner

Chili Macs Diner

Address: 510 Pine St, St Louis MO 63101

This is the Part 2 of my St Louis trip. I have to admit, as it was a work trip and I spent most of the time with my colleagues in US, I wasn't as comfortable as I'd usually be to take out my camera and take snaps of my food and the restaurant. As a result, there is a few more restaurants that probably deserves a mention but ultimately would miss out.

Chili Macs was suggested to me by both my colleagues and the concierge at the hotel as an alternate solution to my morning feed other than sourcing it from the hotel or Starbucks. And I have never been to a true American diner before, I was extremely curious to find out if it is anything like what I see on TV with the black and white checked floor and the red dining seats.

Given that I did not know downturn St Louis well, finding the diner took somewhat longer than I expected (despite maps and directions from the concierge). But once I did, I was feeling somewhat foolish as I managed to walk past the place to work every day and did not notice the big red and white exterior.

And the interior!

It's exactly like what I have seen on TV, with its red dining seats and checked floor (although not black and white I noticed).

All of the foods are reasonably priced. The bacon & egg plate I had was around US$5 and you are filled with toasts, fries, bacon and eggs. I mean where else in a first world country (other than McDonalds) can you get a decent breakfast at this price! At least not in Australia...


In terms of flavour, as I haven't tried that many American diners, I really can't compare. However, the eggs were cooked perfectly (runny yolk in the centre and all) and even the bacon (yes, I have been warned about American bacon - that it can be a bit plastic-like and people tend to deep fry them) was quite tasty too.

The fries was probably my least favourite part of the meal and that's probably because I took too long to get to it and it was a little bit soggy by then.

All in all, I had a great experience at Chili Mac's and can't wait to go back again next time I hit St Louis!

Recommended: whatever tickles your fancy, I really liked the bacon & egg plate

Chili Macs Diner on Urbanspoon