Friday, 25 July 2014

Next Door Kitchen and Bar - the South Bank curse strikes again

I've not had a lot of luck when dining over at South Bank and over the last few years have had some pretty mixed experiences.  Ranging from the superb, Stokehouse (see post here) and Aquatine (see post here), to the fairly average and to the really poor, most of our dining experiences in the precinct had not been brilliant. So when we decided to go out with our usual dinner buddies, I was a little bit hesitant when I saw Next Door Kitchen and Bar on the list.  I'd heard mostly good things about the little restaurant in Little Stanley Street, so I thought that I'd take the chance and get in and test it out.

Next Door Kitchen and Bar poses as a 1920's style restaurant and while I could picture it in my mind if I tried really hard, I didn't really get the connection.  Sure, the tables and chairs could have resembled furniture from the '20s, the fit-out of the kitchen and main dining area more closely resembled a contemporary style restaurant with mismatched and stylish black tiles and dark wood panels.  It was a freezing winter's night, so I suspect that the very modern 'mushroom' heaters didn't help with the theme either.

We'd been to Regional Flavours earlier in the day (see post here), which had taken over a large part of Little Stanley Street and Next Door Kitchen had been pretty packed at the time.  It was also really busy when we arrived for our 7:30pm reservation and it looked as if it hadn't let up all day, so I was feeling a little more comfortable that we could be onto another winner at South Bank.  We'd arrived a little earlier than our dining companions as were able to have a look over the menu and get a bit of a feeling on what we'd order.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Festival Series - Regional Flavours

Something is always going in in Brisbane these days, it seems.  No sooner does one event finish, than another takes its place, and what's better, is that much of the festivities revolve around food.  Regional Flavours is the latest of the year's big events and is South Bank's signature food and wine festival, which has been running for six years and has fast become the highlight of the foodie calendar.

I still remember my first Regional Flavours, which was only three years ago, and the impression it has made on me.  It was a beautiful sunny winter's day, with Little Stanley Street completely transformed with food vendors from around the state showing their fare.  I resolved at that time to make sure I marked Regional Flavours into my diary and attend every year...  Of course, at the time I didn't realise that I would miss the very next year, the festival coinciding with my trip to New York (see posts here).  But as much as I loved my Regional Flavours experience, I certainty loved NYC more!

So, Regional Flavours 2014 became my first as a Food Blogger and the experience was enhanced by being a #Hunter for the Hunting Club, set up by the South Bank Surf Club (see post here).  Leading up to Regional Flavours saw me helping find other #Hunters to join in on the fun and spread the word about the event on social media.  

The Hunting Club was one of a number of major features of the 2014 Regional Flavours, with Eat-Show-Tell, All Day Breakfast and Savour at River Quay all providing opportunities to watch cooking demonstrations and celebrities involved in the food industry.  There were book signings and some pretty special guests strutting their stuff at the main stage at the Courier Mail Piazza.  We were wandering around when Master Chef's Matt Preston was performing and then doing a book signing!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Good Food Month - GOMA Harvest: Art, Film + Food

July just keeps getting better and better.  Good Food Month is a relatively new addition to the Brisbane calendar but it's already transformed the Brisbane foodie landscape.  Not only are there amazing festivals, such as the Teneriffe Festival (see post here), Regional Flavours and the Night Noodle Markets but a raft of top restaurants holding special Good Food Month events.  With so many amazing opportunities during the month, and no real way to get to them all, I've had to bee a little choosy about which ones to go to.

I started off the month heading to the Young Chef Dinner at E'cco (see post here), where some of the state's top young chef talent put on a show and demonstrated why Brisbane is fast becoming a recognised foodie destination.  One of the chefs doing-his-thing on the night was GOMA Restaurant's young gun Josue (Josh) Lopez, who has shot into the spotlight in the last few years with his creative take on native Australian food.  Winning a coveted Chefs Hat from the Brisbane Times Good Food Guide has only reinforced what an up and comer Josh is.

One of the highlights of Good Food Month was the alignment with the QAGOMA's Harvest: Art, Film + Food exhibition. Taking advantage of the food based exhibit, the restaurant, which is normally only open during daylight hours, has decided to open on Friday nights for the duration of Good Food Month.  Facebook buddy and aspiring Martha Stewart style domestic goddess and blogger, Digella arranged for a night at the museum (without Ben Stiller) for a group of Brisbane foodies and I was stoked to be part of the group.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Bavarian Bier Cafe -

What an interesting turn of events. I'd been invited along to check out the Bavarian Bier Cafe a while ago and kept putting it off, there just always seemed to be something else on or somewhere else to eat.  I finally made a concerted effort to make a booking for lunch, but I needed to pick the right person to dine with, after all, the Bavarian Bier Cafe was as much about the beer as it was about the food.  I thought long and hard about which of my mates I'd bring along and decided that sometimes lunch buddy and former work buddy C would fit the bill.  After all, we would be doing a beer flight and it would be wasted on me.

Now I'm not saying C is a booze hound, I'd leave that up to him to say, but he does like a drop of the amber fluid and it had been a while since we'd enjoyed a break away from the office for a meal.  It was a freezing cold Friday afternoon in Brisbane, the type of day where the southerly breeze is blowing in and making the city and uncomfortable place to be.  The type of day that would be perfect being in a warm environment and eating some comfort food and sinking a few to boot.  As I made my way to Eagle Street and the Bier Cafe, I had my hands in my pockets and was just trying to keep warm as the cold breeze did its best to strip me of life.

I'd been to the Bavarian Bier Cafe once before with another mate, quite some years ago, and of course am a local, so I knew exactly where I needed to go.  Located just upstairs from Grill'd at the Eagle Street precinct, the Bier Cafe occupies a huge space and is right next to Sake (see post here). There was no way I was waiting outside for C to show up, so I made my way inside and was shown to my table, which had fabulous views of the Story Bridge.  While I was waiting, one of the waiters kept me entertained for a while and we chatted about many things, one of which was the loaded question 'had I been there before?'.  I was quite upfront in noting that I had been, a few years before, and had left pretty disappointed with the meal and the value.  Recovering quickly, he noted that both their food and approach had improved significantly over the years - phew (but I thought I'd know more in an hour or so).


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