Saturday, 20 December 2014

Casual Dining - Communal Bar and Eat House at Brisbane Square

communalbrisbane.com 

Change, change, change!  The amount of change that's happening in Brisbane seems unprecedented, right?  I was completely blown away by the big hole in the ground that used to be the Law Courts up on George Street and pretty excited for the high rise apartments and hotel that are slated to be built in their place. George Street has seen a transformation over the last few years and it seems as if the 'top-end-of-town' will continue a resurgence.

One of our funkiest buildings is the Brisbane City Council building in George Street, which houses the Brisbane library and from a distance, looks like a colourful kaleidoscope of falling books.  The BCC building has recently undergone a new transformation, with most of the older style eateries being transformed into a 'diner's delight' that includes a pretty wide range of modern looking cafes and restaurants.  I'd already checked out Meat and Eat (see post here) but was pretty excited to get along and check out the showpiece of the Square - the gastro pub style Communal Bar and Eat House.

As part of the ever growing stable of cafes and restaurants run by General Manager Anthony Attard, The Communal Bar and Eat House is the biggest and boldest of the group's ventures, which includes The Cutting Board (see post here), Hive (see post here) and Meat and Eat (see post here).  Communal Bar and Eat House is inspired by the gastro pub culture and combines this with the communal theme by featuring many share tables among the two hundred available seats (yeah, it's big).


What turns Communal into a gastro pub is the huge mix of food and booze options, with both a huge food menu and an even bigger range of beers on tap, as well as a huge range of cocktails. In fact there are twenty four beers on tap as well as twenty different cocktails and eight cocktail jug specialties!  While a gastro pub should have plenty of alcohol options, for me it's always going to be about the food and I was keen to see what head chef Ben Limpus had done with the menu, which included a wood fired pizza oven, plenty of burgers and dishes from a flare grill.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Coppa Spuntino - the Italian snack shop

https://www.facebook.com/CoppaSpuntino/timeline

The ever changing Brisbane CBD restaurant scene has been active again, with a brand new Italian spot opening in the heart of the city. No, I'm not talking about Jamie's Italian, which opened up a few weeks ago. I'm talking about a funky little spot in Creek Street called Coppa Spuntino, which as luck would have it, can be seen from my office window!

There is a little spot in Creek Street that has had a little bit of misfortune over the last few years. Originally part of the new development at the back of the National Australia Bank building on the corner of Queen and Creek Street, the little spot at 88 Creek Street was once slated for bigger fish.  It was rumored that Melbourne institution Taxi was to take over the lease, but a little thing called the GFC kicked in and killed that plan.  Adelaide coffee institution CIBO espresso got a little bit further, establishing yet another attempt at the Brisbane market before fading away (pretty quickly too).

Cursed site?  Maybe, but well respected Brisbane duo Bonnie Shearston and Tom Sanceau, of Public and Red Hook, saw an opportunity to expand their culinary empire and had Italian cuisine firmly in their sights.  The site is quite compact, so instead of going with a full blown Italian joint, the pair have come up with an interesting concept.  Spuntino means 'snack' in Italian, and that's pretty much the concept for their restaurant Coppa Spuntino.

I'm a huge fan of Public, which in its first year of operation won a Brisbane Times Good Food Guide chefs hat, as well as taking out that year's 'Best New Restaurant' (see post here).  I'm less enamored with their US of A style offering, Red Hook, which is OK, but inconsistent (see post here), but given I love Italian cuisine, I couldn't wait to get in and check out Coppa.  As it turned out, I loved the place so much, I've practically lived there since!

Cheap Eats Lunch - Meat and Eat in Brisbane Square

http://meatandeatbrisbane.com/

The construction around Brisbane town continues with a brand new food development at Brisbane Square replacing the tired old food court.  If you've not been up to Brisbane Square in a while, you will surely be surprised, with a handful of new eateries opening up spiffy looking new venues.  It's been a slow transformation, with most of the old fast food joints closing down and the area looking like a bit of a construction zone for what seemed like an age.

Of course, once I knew that the space had opened up and the new restaurants were trading, I headed down for a sticky beak, which lead to a quick bite to eat at Meat and Eat, a sister venue of the Cutting Board (see post here) in George Street and Hive Coffee and Eat House over at Eagle Street (see post here).  General Manager of the group, Anthony Attard, has been a busy lad, not only opening Meat and Eat recently, but a number of other venues at Brisbane Square.  Anthony (great name by the way) is clearly a man who loves his meat, as each of his venues focus on different parts of my favourite animals (to eat, that is).

Meat and Eat is pretty much a carbon copy of the Eagle Street eatery Hive Coffee and Eat House, its nice and casual and it targets the lunch time eating crowd.  With a menu that focuses on meat based sandwiches and cuts of meat that come with salads, it's not a place that will be mistaken as a vegetarian hang out.  I guess the title of the cafe says it all....  Those of you that love your Reuben sandwiches will love this place, the Reuben takes pride of place as the first item on the menu.  Other sandwiches include the Watson (rare beef), the Spaniard (chorizo) and the Corporate (ham), each catering to a different animal.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Sake Brisbane - Sunday funday champagne and sashimi

http://www.sakerestaurant.com.au/


Now that we're getting into the warmer months, I bet you're looking for a cool spot, hopefully with river views and a nice breeze. Someplace that you can sit down, chill out and have a fabulous Sunday-funday.  I'm guessing it would be even better if there was some relaxed tunes and the type of refreshments that just work on those hot summer afternoons.....

As part of the recent #G20 global flavours, I was invited along to such a spot and spent a completely relaxed and chilled Sunday afternoon in one of the best dining spots in Brisbane.  Sake Restaurant is arguably the best Japanese restaurant in Queensland (tied with Sono Portside and Wasabi) and turned out to be the perfect spot for a quiet Sunday afternoon leading up to Brisbane's own global event.

With a coveted Good Food Times chefs hat, you're always guaranteed to have a sensational Japanese meal at Sake, which has a lot to do with the way Executive Chef Shaun Presland has set the place up. Teamed with Head Chef Daisuke Sakai, Sake Brisbane distinguishes itself from its sister restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne with its use of regional produce that, in my opinion, is the best in Australia.

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