Monday, 21 April 2014

Mario at the Dining Room - it just didn't do it for me


I have a goal to get along to all 45 of the Australian Good Food Guide hatted restaurants in Brisbane this year.  I've done pretty well so far, visiting practically all of them over the last twelve months, with only the hatted restaurants in the suburbs still yet to be visited from my list.  With only five left on the list, each time we head out for dinner, we seriously consider getting to one of these remaining restaurants.  Over the Easter long weekend, I decided it would be time to check another off my list.

We felt like Italian, so that left three restaurants that fit the bill, Bar Alto in New Farm, Viale Canover in Clayfield and Mario at the Dining Room in Hendra, which was the restaurant we decided to visit.  I'd had a buddy from work mention Mario's to me last year and I'd had it in my mind to visit ever since it was mentioned to me.

Hendra is not a part of Brisbane that we spend a whole lot of time but driving down Sandgate Road on the trip out was a little nostalgic for both of us, for different reasons.  SC had spent time out that way to visit her Grandmother when she was still around and I'd spent time in the area well before we'd met, when I first moved to Queensland.  So, with our rudimentary knowledge of the area, we didn't need to use our SatNav to find Mario's and after a relatively short drive, found a park in what seemed just like an ordinary suburban street.

Breakfast Series - Buzz Bistro and Bar Gasworks


I love the Easter long weekend.  It's a way to get a nice little mini break from work and have a lovely relaxing weekend and Easter 2014 has been superb with blue skies and sunny warm weather.  The Easter weekend does present a little bit of a problem for foodies, with many restaurants and cafes closed for the duration.  While there were not the usual assortment of places to dine out, there were still plenty of dining options open with just a little investigation and searching on the web.

We'd planned on going to breakfast and the first couple of options we looked at were all closed for the break but eventually I came across Buzz and thought we'd give it a go.  Buzz had recently opened up at the Gasworks, which is fast becoming one of the 'go-to' dining precincts in Brisbane.  Buzz Bistro and Bar is actually a burgeoning chain of cafes that numbers four in Brisbane with the other locations including Emporium, Tennyson and the Rocklea markets.

We arrived at Buzz nice and early and were easily able to find a seat in the very bright and accommodating space.  There is a pristine feeling in the dining area at Buzz, with stark white tiles offset by a calming leaf green trim.  The clean lines continue with wood tables and bench tops that accommodate large and small groups as well as communal seating.  There is a large bar area that would get some heavy use on a Friday and Saturday night and the kitchen is off to the side with glimpses of the team of chefs in action.  I also loved the exposed pizza oven, with a glass backing, you could see the flames that would ultimately cook the pizzas on the dinner menu.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Champ Kitchen & Bar - dining on a public holiday


I'd been pretty concerned when I found out that one of the great open spaces at South Bank was going to be torn up and developed into the new ABC studios.  I love to see Brisbane develop, but I'd wondered at the logic of tearing up one of the nicest areas of the precincts for another building.  As it turned out, the development went ahead and the space was transformed into a pretty decent looking building that felt as if it's always belonged there.

In that new building was a lovely looking restaurant created by Justine Whelan of very popular Paddington cafe, Anouk, which is one of my favourite breakfast spots around town (see post here).  Champ Kitchen and Bar has been designed to be in perfect harmony with its surrounds in South Bank, with a very open and modern feel that lets the outside in. It's located right outside the Brisbane Wheel and the forecourt of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, which makes it a perfect location for a quick meal before a show or a lingering meal if you have the time.

It was the Easter long weekend and we'd been for a meandering walk over the Story Bridge, then along the Kangaroo Point cliffs and finally to Southbank, where we spotted that Champ Kitchen was actually open for the weekend.  We wandered into the dining area to check if the dining room would be open for dinner and decided to make a booking on the spot.  Unsure what else would be open for the public holiday, we thought that it would be better to be locked in for dinner early to avoid disappointment.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Fish Lane Bistro - An orange and caramel sauce to die fo


"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again" is a quote that's attributed to William Edward Hickson and is fairly self explanatory.  The Fox Hotel certainly lives by these words after recently 'retiring' its dedicated meatball venture (see post here) and establishing a more traditional bistro style restaurant in the space formerly occupied by the Meatball Company.  The Meatball Co had a very short and unremarkable stay in the Brisbane dining scene, which was a shame as I'd personally had high hopes for the concept after enjoying a number of meatball style restaurants in New York (see post here).

The Fox Hotel has named their new venture the Fish Lane Bistro, aptly if not a little unimaginatively named after the lane that runs right next to the little bistro.  To help ensure that Fish Lane Bistro got off to the right start, the Fox acquired the services of well known Brisbane chef Jonno Bryant who most recently had moved from Peasant and Cabria at the Petrie Barracks.  Using his experiences at the Barracks restaurants as well as a stint at Montrachet and time in charge at Anise in Newfarm, the Fox is hoping that Jonno can use his experience to create a new and iconic bistro. 

I'd been hanging out with some blogger friends for some Eat Drink Blog planning over at the State Library, which had taken up much of the afternoon, so I'd arranged to meet SC over at Fish Lane.  It was a short walk from the state library to the restaurant and even through it was a wet and miserable evening, I managed to get over without being soaked.  I ended up arriving right on time and was shown directly to my seat to wait for SC, who was struggling to find a park near the restaurant.  Eventually SC trudged through the door looking a bit miffed that she'd had to park so far away.  Note to self, parking in South Brisbane can suck...

Friday, 18 April 2014

Breakfast Series - Scout Cafe


I quite often go through 'eating-out' phases, with breakfast being one of my favourite.  It had been quite some time since we had been out for breakfast and I was feeling a bit scratchy about it. There was a period late last year when we would go out for breakfast religiously but strangely we'd stopped. It took a late night text from our buddy DruBoy to see what we were doing for breakfast the next morning and seeing if we wanted to come along to check out Scout Cafe.  It's always fun catching up with DruBoy, so we quickly agreed to breakfast and arranged an 8:00am start.

I'd been hearing great things about Scout Cafe but had only a vague understanding of where it was located, but oriented myself as soon as we parked our car across the street on Petrie Terrace.  We'd walked along Petrie Terrace a thousand times over the years and I'd not really noticed the little shopfront on the corner of Petrie Terrace and Princess Street before.  Petrie Terrance had always been a bit of 'no-mans-land' and the quaint little shopfront had been an empty shell for a long, long time before owners Suse Whitehouse and Candy Smith took carriage of the spot and turned their long held dream into a reality.
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