Sunday, 23 November 2014

Prive249 - The chef and the challenge


That’s what I’m chasing and I think it’s what you’re chasing too…

There are a lot of great restaurants around our fair city of Brisbane but as great as our restaurants are, there are very few unique dining experiences or UDX.  As much as it pains me to admit, there can sometimes be a little bit of sameness in our restaurants, especially when you eat out a lot.  Every now and then, something comes along to excite and tantalise the tastebuds, but after a while, even the exciting becomes the norm.

Whether it’s catering to a mass market or just not feeling inspired to try something new, I think our chefs have the inspirational spark to do the amazing, if only they are given the chance.

At least one chef in Brisbane is looking to shake off the shackles and try something new.  Prive249 is one of Brisbane’s few Hatted Restaurants and it’s an incredible white linen and silver service fine diner.  Chef de Cuisine and culinary wiz Josh Okorn is responsible for producing beautiful and award winning food that was good enough for European dignitaries during the recent G20.  He’s also a man in chains, just waiting to break out!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

G20 Global Flavours - Il Centro

Well, the G20 has been and gone and it went of without a hitch, pretty much.

It was interesting living in the CBD and watching the city clear out and on the Friday and Saturday of the event, Brisbane was indeed much like a ghost town....  During the day. At night, the city came alive with all of the dignitaries and city dwellers out and about seeing what was going on.

However, there was more to the G20 event than the leaders of the world coming to our fair city to discuss, well I'm not really that interested in what they discussed, but there was more going on than met the eye.  Given that the eyes of the world were on Brisbane, it's was (and still is) a huge opportunity for us to showcase our fair city and all that it has to offer.

In conjunction with Brisbane Marketing, many of Brisbane's best restaurants have joined the party by participating in a month of foodie celebrations.  Global Flavours is the culinary celebration of Brisbane's international-standard cuisine and local produce.  I'd been asked to help promote this once in a lifetime event by doing the tough job of visiting some of the restaurants that are involved - yeah, I know, but someone's gotta do it.  You can also get involved by visiting one of the city's participating restaurants and enjoying the best that Brisbane has to offer during the month of November.  See the complete list here.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Breakfast Series - Chow House

Another Saturday morning rolled around, but this one was a little different.  An early personal training session meant there was time for leisurely breakfast, a treat that normally is deferred to Sunday mornings (often depriving us of choices).  With the world at our feet, figuratively not literally, we decided to head into the Valley for a breakfast at the Chow House.

One of the funkier looking venus on James Street, Chow House is the Phoenix 'rising from the ashes' of the James Street Bistro.  Not that there were new owners, but more of a strategic move to freshen up a spot that hadn't really changed in a long time.  A move that seems to have paid off considerably! I'd never been to the previous incarnation, although I'd often wondered about it, and thought it was finally time to check out the space.

The Chow House is a fairly informal dining experience and is inspired by the street stalls of all exotic parts of the world, but mostly the Asian continent.  The menu reflects the use of the finest local seasonal produce and is prone to regular changes but regardless of how often, the menu always reflects its Asian inspiration.  

Feeling a little pooped from her PT session, we drove the short distance from our apartment in the CBD to James Street - yeah, I know, it's not that far to walk but we didn't want to waste any time either.  We were worried about parking, which can be quite unpredictable on a Saturday, but we were in luck, scoring a park (paid unfortunately) just around the corner in Robertson Street - which left us with a walk of only twenty metres - it was a great park!

Casual Dining - Dumpling Republic

I've always been a fan of Japanese dumplings, often called gyoza, with one Harajuku Gyoza being one of my favourite dumpling restaurants in Brisbane (see post here).  It was only recently that I started to see the benefit of other dumpling styles, most notably visiting Din Tai Fung in Singapore earlier this year. For those of you who don't know, Din Tai Fung originated out of Taiwan and specialises in xiaolongbao or soup dumplings....  Oh, Din Tai Fung also has a couple of outlets in Hong Kong that have been awarded Michelin Stars, so they're good!

While I was in Singapore, I developed a bit of a fixation on the xiaolongbao and found myself regularly dining at the Sentosa Island outlet of Din Tai Fung - I just couldn't get enough of those delicious soup dumplings.  They were exquisite, beautifully made and filled with the most amazing soup and highest quality pork.  Most amazing with the dumpling pastry, so thin yet so intricately put together, each one was perfection personified!

I was wandering around the re-developed Wintergarden recently and spied that a new dumpling restaurant had opened up right next to the now closed Wagamama.  Making a mental note to check it out, I decided that a lunchtime excursion would be required and it ended up being the week before Brisbane (essentially) shut down for the G20.  Making my way up the escalators that lead to Grill'd, I made a sharp right and found myself at the entrance to Dumpling Republic.  It was only 11:30am and the restaurant was pretty quiet, so quiet that there was no one at the front desk, so I had to stand around for a bit to try and catch someone's attention.

It didn't take too long before I was spotted and lead to the surprisingly large dining room, which was fitted out in very modern style with hints of Asian influences.  You'd never know how big the restaurant was from the entrance, I initially thought it would be quite small, but walking past the dumpling preparation room and kitchen area was eye opening.  I felt quite lonely at my table in the back of the restaurant with no one else around!


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