Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Breakfast Series - The Hutch Bistro

It's increasingly difficult to find breakfast spots that I haven't tried close to home, so I've been casting my foodie net a little further of late.  It's not that I can't find cafes that I haven't been to before, but it's hard to find a cafe with a menu that appeals.  Some of them are too fancy and some of them don't really have enough options to make it interesting for me, and by interesting, I usually mean chorizo on the menu.

When looking online for a breakfast spot, I usually look for areas that I know or have lived in before, so I went searching for cafes in the half dozen or so suburbs I lived in previously.  We ended up finding a cafe in the Grange, which is one of the northern suburbs SC and I lived in for a whole six weeks!  Long story short, our awesome house at the Grange was sold out from underneath us and we had to find a new place to live - which resulted in finding an even more awesome house in Bardon.

I'd never heard of The Hutch Bistro before, but I was intrigued by the web site, which had proudly displayed a Dimmi badge noting that it was their 'neighbourhood gem' for 2013.  It was enough to entice me to look over the menu, which didn't have a heap of options, but did list chorizo as one of their 'extras'.  It was enough for me, so we jumped in the car and drove north.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Breakfast Series - The Cutting Board Brisbane

I'm a big fan of any cafe or restaurant that specialises in meat, even more so when chorizo is prominently displayed on the menu.  This is quite well known, so when I was asked to get in and check out The Cutting Board, it was a no brainer, the lure of a chorizo breakfast was way to much for me.  Ironically, I'd arranged to catch up with my regular mid week breakfast buddy, DruBoy, who happened to be a pescatarian.  After being taken to an almost completely vegetarian breakfast spot a few months ago (see post here), I thought of it as a bit of sweet revenge! 

Unfortunately, my plans of revenge were usurped by family emergencies, not once, but twice, with DruBoy needing to pull out at the last minute each time.  We'd postponed after the first one, but I thought fate was having a laugh at me for my dumb revenge plans, so I spoke to my beloved, who was only too happy to step in and have a hearty breakfast to kick off the last working day of the week.

The Cutting Board is a week day only cafe located at the top end of George Street, underneath the Telstra building.  I'd walked past a number of times when visiting friends and colleagues in the Telstra building, but was not aware that it was open for breakfast until invited down.  Wanting to get an early start on the day, we got out of bed just a little bit earlier and made our way down for a 7:30am weekday date for breakfast.  After arriving and meeting proud owner Brett, we got a little bit of a lowdown on what the Cutting Board was all about.  Firstly, it was a loud and proud meat venue, which was ironic as Brett's partner was a vegetarian.  The most popular part of the menu are the 'cut sandwiches', which are chocked full of meaty goodness! But it wasn't only about meat, with some pretty spiffy muffin options available on a daily basis.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Fish House - worth the drive to the Gold Coast

There are certain events that happen each year that signify the passing of the seasons.  The transition from the cooler months of winter to the perfect days of spring and summer are marked by one of our favourite events.  Each year in September, local, interstate and international artists compete in the Swell Sculpture Festival at Currumbin Beach.  Each year for ten days, some pretty amazing sculptures are dotted up and down the beach and foreshore.  It's one event on the calendar that is a must visit and this year was no different.

What was different about our 2014 visit was that we'd planned a little more carefully than normal and aligned a visit to one of the country's hottest restaurants.  Instead of jumping in the car and hoping to find a corner fish and chip shop open, we made a reservation at The Fish House at Burleigh Heads.  I guess we were still having fish and chips in spirit, but in reality, the plan was to dine in style.

There has been a lot said and written about The Fish House this year, mainly on the back of having amazing food and a reputation for service excellence.  It didn't hurt getting a second chefs hat in the Brisbane Times Good Food Guide and being ranked 74 in the Gourmet Travellers list of top 100 restaurants for 2014.  Owner Simon Gloftis has spent a long time in hospitality and had owned and run several successful cafes before achieving a life long dream and opening Hellenika at Nobbys Beach, itself a hatted restaurant.  With an obvious flair for creating memorable dining experiences, The Fish House is Simon's most successful restaurant to date.

It must be said that apart from our annual pilgrimage down to the Swell Festival, we are not regular beach bums, which in some ways is sacrilegious while living in South East Queensland.  We had a general idea where The Fish House was, but it was down to our trusty SatNav to get us to our destination.  It had been a bit of a crappy and overcast day when we'd left Brisbane for the coast, but by the time we pulled up at our park, just around the corner from the restaurant, there was nothing but blue sky's above.  A great sign for both lunch and our walk amongst the installation artwork that would come later.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Casual Dining - La Via the South Bank pizzeria

There had been all sorts of excitement.  We'd just bought a snazzy new apartment in the city, well, a new apartment in our building, and had been busy cleaning up our place to start to show prospective purchasers through.  It's a pretty nervous time, you want people to love your place enough to want to buy it.  Being pretty lazy, our plan had been to hire in some cleaners to completely spruce up the place before it formerly went on the market, a plan that went off without a hitch.  We were pretty wiped out from a day of keeping busy while the cleaners went to work, so unsurprisingly, we decided on dinner out.

Being a last minute thing, I'd wanted to go somewhere easy for dinner, but I also had an almost zealot like desire for pizza, so we needed to find a place that did decent pizza.  South Bank is not normally a location that you'd normally associate with great pizza, but I seemed to remember walking past a restaurant in Little Stanley Street that did pizza.  I really couldn't recall it's name, so took to the interwebs to see if I could find it and make a booking.  You've really gotta love Google, it doesn't take much to find anything these days, and before I knew it, our table was secured and we were on our way.

It was a pretty nice day, so we decided to walk over to South Bank.  While we wandered over, we reflected on the hit and miss nature of the restaurants at South Bank.  Our conclusion was that with so many restaurants, and being so busy most of the time, it was hard to have a consistent service and we'd just had some crappy experiences.  I also wondered if the high level of walk in traffic mean that restaurants didn't have to worry about repeat business and therefore didn't always focus in on the little things.  All completely speculative, of course.

La Via was much further down Little Stanley Street than I remembered it being, so far down in fact it was right by the 5th Element (see post here).  We'd arrived about thirty minutes before our reservation time, hoping to get in a little earlier.  The little Italian restaurant was completely packed and we wondered if there would be a little bit of a wait before we were seated.  We were in luck, and were seated early in probably the only two seats left in the whole dining area.


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