Monday, 28 July 2014

Grilling Art

I was driving to my best friends house one night, and stopped in to buy a bottle of red to have with dinner, just off Rode Rd at the border of Chermside and Stafford. As I left the carpark of the BWS I noticed 2 of those big flame heaters out the front of a restaurant. On this chilly winter’s ever, I thought it looked absolutely charming, if not a little out of place in the Northern ‘burbs.

Once I had gotten to my destination, ate dinner and had some wine, I thought I’d look up this charming mystery restaurant I had seen on my journey. I was Grilling Art, and had very good internet reviews/ratings..

Now before I go on, I would like to state, I think the Brisbane burger market is incredibly flooded at the moment, it seems you can’t go more than 2 blocks without passing a trendy burger joint announcing itself as gourmet or otherwise.

For me, a great burger doesn’t take too much: a bun that holds together, juicy, well seasoned meat, a good sauciness ratio, texture differentiation and a great side (chips, onion rings et al.) (See GBK Liverpool post / Paris airport post). Truffled fries, wagyu pattie, lettuce imported from Iceland… none of this is important if those other things are spot on.

So in this Great Burger Flood of 2011 onwards, it would seem, some burger joints are destined to drown.

It was actually the night of my birthday that an imprompu catch up with my brother had lead us to to visit Grilling Art.

For a bitterly cold Wednesday night, it was a pleasant surprise to see a two thirds full restaurant in the 'burbs, we were shown to an indoor booth and given menus. Grilling Art offers beer, wines, spirits and mocktails or BYO.

The menu is expansive, with breakfast lunch and dinner offering, burgers and other mains. We decide to go all-out. My brother is very health conscious, so I always feel blessed when he opts to have a ‘cheat day’ with me.

Bro orders a meal deal that comes with a drink and fries, and chooses the Tokyo Art Burger (meal $15.40), I go for the Art Works Burger by itself ($11.90) and between us we order the half serve of beef ribs ($22.95) which also comes with fries and a serve of the chicken nibbles ($7.50).  To drink I grab a glass of Giesen Sav Blanc ($8.90).

We request everything come out at the same time, and it does.
The burgers are presented beautifully, with their 'hat's a little off to the side. The ribs are a huge glistening rack and the wings are a very good size indeed.

The Tokyo Art: chicken, teriyaki, caramelised onion, cos and aioli.

Bro doesn’t rate his burger as highly as I do, but I sense he is a little underwhelmed with the size. I think for the circa ten dollar mark, they are excellent value.

The Art Works, beef, salad, onion relish, egg, bacon, beetroot, cheese, aioli.
My burger is outstanding, everything I love in a burger. Great amount of sauce (channeling Manu)

Perfect burger ratio.

 Chicken nibbles

The ribs are absolutely sumptuous, so much juicy, slow cooked meat, no taste of fattiness and the marinade is good enough to drink.
Even the fries get a sold 4/5. (Although, like the Great TFP, I also believe meat should not be served on top of fries as it has a steaming effect and makes the fries prematurely sioggy.)

As we eat our meals, the restaurant fills with diners, all seem very happy with their meals.
The staff is chatty and courteous and the décor is warm and inviting, (and not a plastic crate seat or jam jar glass to be seen *bonus 5 points).

I really enjoyed my visit to the Art of Grilled and look forward to my next visit.

Oh and yes, we ate everything we ordered.

(07) 3359 0003

Monday, 7 July 2014

E'cco Bistro

The second of July was this blogger's birthday, and also the one year anniversary of the Supper Club.

We had decided on E'cco Bistro on Boundary Street in Brisbane, and met just prior to 7 for a pre-dinner drink at the lovely Gresham bar for a Whisky Sour.

As per usual, I had perused the menu before we arrived, and all three of us were so excited to get in and make our choices.

We started by ordering drinks: a half carafe of red for Miss A and Miss C to share and I started with a glass of bubbles. The waitress gave us a selection of breads to choose from.

To start, I could not go past the scallops, pork belly and mushroom in duck consomme ($24.50) . It was all of my favourite things in one dish, and it was incredible. The scallops were fresh and sweet, the pork belly was flavoursome, and the consomme was delicately accentuated with Asian inspired flavours, the ginger was divine.

Miss C also went for this option and Miss A had decided to get the gnocchi with prosciutto and clams ($24.50). The gnocchi was absolutely breath-taking. These two entrees were by far, two of the best I have ever tried.

For main I decided on the slow-cooked wagyu short rib ($42.50) served with pumpkin puree, swiss brown mushroom and chestnuts.

The meat was rich, and cooked to perfection, the puree sweet and all of the extras were delectable. This was a great choice for a mid-winter's eve main. I loved every second of it.

Miss C had the eye-fillet of beef with char-grilled vegetables ($42.50) which looked divine, and Miss C looked and sounded very happy with her choice.

We also ordered a side of greens and a side of chips and aioli ($8.50 each). Miss A and I always get the chips, and it always drives Miss C crazy cause we never get close to finishing them.

What can I say? I am really intrigued with chips. I've had great chips and really bad chips in both greasy spoons and top restaurants, you can just never pick what you are going to get.

In this instance they were seasoned immaculately and perfectly crisp, but I do believe they were from a packet.

Miss A was kind enough to let me try a bit of her lamb- porcini crusted with mushrooms and leeks ($42.50). It was very impressive.

I really believe that E'cco has their winter menu perfected.

With my main I also treated myself to the Bindi premium pinot noir ($25 glass). I really enjoyed its lightness (as I am not much of a red drinker), however Miss C, who only drinks red, didn't rate it at all.

The dessert menu was platinum, and we were all certain that we would be happy with out choices.

Miss C chose the affogato ($17.50):

I got the milk sago with passionfruit sorbet and rum bananas ($16.50). When I used to work in a Leagues club years and years ago, the kitchen used to make sago for the oldies, that's where I first fell in love with it, and have loved it ever since, even making it myself. The texture can turn people off though (fish eyeballs).

I loved everything about this dessert, it was fruity and tropical, not too sweet, I loved the varying textures and flavours.

Miss A loves peanut butter and chocolate and this dessert was obviously made with her in mind. She loved every bite. Chocolate brownie, peanut butter mousse and dark chocolate ice cream ($17.50).

Overall, a very enjoyable night.

The restaurant and service is refined but still has a casual air. The menu had something that each of us truly loved.

Would really like to go back in either spring or summer to try a change in the seasonality of the menu.

A great big thank you to Miss C for taking the photos and thus allowing me to enjoy a few birthday drinks.

E'cco Bistro

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Eat Street Markets

Brisbane is changing... and changing quickly.

For as long as I can remember, Brisbane has been the "sleepy backwater" of the larger cities in Australia. Nowhere near cool enough to be Melbourne, and nowhere near the league of Sydney (not a bad thing, in my opinion).

But Brisbane is beginning to come of age. She's coming out of the awkward adolescent gawkiness and is beginning to find herself, to develop into the woman she aspires to be. (Or man, if she's actually male.)

Eat Street Markets is a fantastic example of Brisbane coming into her own.

Occupying a block near Portside, in the currently-changing, ex-industrial area of Hamilton/Eagle Farm by the river. The buzz surrounding the markets in difficult to ignore.

I called up my dad, WG, gave him a quick rundown of what was going down, and within minutes we were en route.

As we got to the end of Nudgee Road, the traffic was unbelievable, so we pulled down a side street and found a carpark to double back on foot.

As you arrive, there really is a buzz... like a festival, fair or circus. With colourful lights on strings, smells of all lovely things cooking, smoking and frying. Families, couples and groups of people milling around. It was the first weekend of winter in Brisbane, but the night was a very agreeable 18 degrees, and folk looked to be happy to be out of the house and surrounded by deliciousness.

There is a $2 per person entry fee into the markets.

As we enter, the sheer number of people about is somewhat overwhelming, and I really underestimated the market's popularity.

WG and I cautiously assessed the situation. I really wanted a steamed pork bun, but everything else would be little surprises. We did not want to leave having overeaten, which is a problem we both have.

Our first stop was the BBQ Kitchen, specialising in dim sum type delicacies. WG and I got a steamed pork bun each ($2.70 ea). It wasn't the best pork bun I had ever had, but pork buns are one of those wonderful foods that even if you get an average one, it's still awesome.

Our next stop we notice a place that does Hungarian and Transylvanian goods. We decide to share one of the Fánk, a Hungarian Star Donut ($4). It is warm and soft and sugary, but has the most wonderful slightly bitter, or acid taste to it- almost like citrus, or yoghurt, which is is a pleasant surprise and makes a change from the sweetness of regular donuts.

The next stall that catches our eyes is gloriously named "Graze" and they do meat! Like an Italian style kebab on a stick. We order 2 sticks of beef with sweet chilli and molassis ($5), we get 4. No complaints.
The meat is cooked perfectly and the flavourings work really well.

Next stop is a South American stall. Their full plate meals look spectacular we we decide to settle on a spicy empenada ($4). This becomes one of my favourites for the day. Like a pastie but with more of a short crust as opposed to flaky pastry, and the filling is spicy and flavoursome and has the most glorious seasoning.

Next door to South America is Tasmania, that is, The Gourmet Tasmanian Food Co.

We hear talk of scallops and truffled fries, but Dad has developed eyes for the Gamekeeper ($7). A venison and wallaby sausage with cranberry and lemon myrtle. It comes served on a bun with onions and cheese, we get no cheese or sauce so we can really taste the sausage. I also get a Gillespie's Ginger Beer ($5.50).

The sausage is fantastic, as good as any sausage I have ever tried, it's flavour is bold and strong but perfectly balanced. The ginger beer is tasty and refreshing.

At this point I start developing concerns about how much more I can eat and consider one more something-or-other (and then a sweetie).

We have done a complete lap by this stage and think we have seen just about all there is, so we start on a re-do.

The first I-failed-to-notice-it-on-the-first-lap stall is called "I LOVE Mushrooms"! Holy Mackeral... I DO love Mushrooms!

I look at their menu, and it's all mushrooms all right, and then I notice on the counter a bain-maree of Lamb Shanks of all things. I LOVE lamb shanks. I opt for a lamb shank with mushrooms ($12).

It comes served with sour cream and mint sauce.

This is the first meal of the night that have involved cutlery so we find a seat, literally glance sidewards at the meat til it falls away from the bone and hook in.

The lamb is incredible (my other favourite meal for the night.) Beautiful young lamb flavour and cooked for ages. The mushrooms are outstanding, the mint sauce and sour cream are the perfect sides.

We continue with our second lap but realise we're probably full, so we pick up my brother a takeaway Currywurst and think we should get a cronut to try, but the lineup is huge and we opt instead for some cupcakes instead.

The cupcakes (sticky date) are very tasty ($3.50 ea).

The vibe at Eat Street is excellent. I love that even though it is very busy, you can find a quiet spot for a seat. The bars also look fun.

Currently I am contemplating moving to Brisbane in a couple of months, thanks in part, to wonderful spots like this opening up around the place.

Brisbane is certainly growing up, and getting... interesting.

EAT STREET MARKETS - Open on Friday and Saturdays from 4.00pm till 10.00pm,  and on Sunday from 11.00am till 7:00pm on the river right next door to Portside.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Boston Coffee House and Warehouse Grill

To Whom It May Concern,

I have never been overly drawn towards the 'Americana' food phase that seems to be all the rage at the moment. You know what I'm talking about, big cheesy burgers, hot dogs, chili fries... all of that Man Vs Food type stuff.

Don't get me wrong, Man Vs Food makes me drool (as much for Mr Richman, as much as the trillion calorie meals he presents), but maybe it's just been a lack of availability til recently, or a fear of turning into a giant fatty.

because I can.

My two dinner pals, however, have visited the USA several times, and LIVE for its indigenous cuisine.

I was around at Mr D and Ms S's house playing with their new puppy, Ghost, when we tried to decide what to have for dinner.

The Sunshine Coast has had an explosion of new cafe's, bars and restaurants in the last 12 months, it's really been quite extraordinary. One of them is the Boston Coffee House located in the quiet and relitively new residential area of Brightwater. Whispers of their burger menu had made it's way to our ears and one of those whispers contained talk of the Fenwick Park, aka the burger served on a glazed donut.

We made our way out to Brightwater. The Boston Coffee house would have been quite missable had we not known it was beside the Aldi, so we parked the car and went to see if it was in fact open.

Located in Brightwater, about a 5 minute drive south-west of Mooloolaba

By day, the aptly named Boston Coffee House serves (oddly) coffee, breakfasts, lunches, and sweets. The waitress informs me that by night, the coffee house becomes the Warehouse Grill, and has been doing so for about 5 weeks.

We are informed that we may grab a table and a menu and order when ready. We take a table inside and make our way through the expansive menu.

This excerpt is just the beef burgers. Also available is chicken, pork and lamb burgers.

I decide that I simply MUST try the donut burger aka the Fenwick Park. Mr D opts for the Bullpen, and Ms S the Breaking Ball.

For sides we decide on the Frickles (Deep fried pickles), onion rings and fries.

Ms S decides to get a vanilla milkshake, while Mr D and I take advantage of the BYO option and pick up some Blue Moon beers from the bottleshop next door.

We make our way up to the counter where we wait behind 2 other patrons.

The patrons in front of us wait about 2 minutes before being served, and then Ms S and I get served about 5 minutes after waiting at the counter.

I didn't like this, but it is forgivable. The cafe wasn't busy.

Ms S's milkshake arrives in a timely fashion and looks absoutely adorable in a olde style glass milk bottle.

Before too long we are greeted with our dinners.

My Fenwick Park:
Let me say...

I would so let myself gain 100kgs if it meant I could eat these everyday. It not only lived up to my Adam Richman created dreams but surpased it many times over.

I had an idea that the sweet and salty/savoury would work well, but it's so much more than that. The spongy, squishy texture of the donuts against the meats, and the crystally, syruppy glaze versus the slowly meating cheese... Oh it's almost too much.

Mr D's Bullpen:

 This burger was an absolute stonker, two massive patties, cheese and onion rings. It really was quite a sight. D complimented the use of turkish bread as a bun, however, there was no "hot flowing cheese centre", as advertised on the menu.

The sides were a real highlight. They were out of frickles, which literally broke our hearts, so we replaced that segment with hot wings.

But the chips were perfectly seasoned and were cooked as well as any chip I have ever had.

The onion rings also had the perfect crunch when you bit into them, beautifully sweet onion inside and not a sign of greasiness.

The hot wings (with chili sauce) were beautifully cooked, flavoured and with a nice strong hit of heat. Aioli was kindly provided as a side which came in handy when that heat kicked in.

Ms S's Breaking Ball
Ms S asked for this burger with no onion and with sauce on the side. It did come with onions, and the sauce didn't come til requested, it also came with bacon on it, which wasn't on the menu and was not requested.

The meat did have a lovely bourbon flavour, but I thought they might have gone a little heavy handed on the peppers, lovely flavours but we all decided after tasting that this burger needed something creamy on it.

Apart from a few forgivable faux pas, I would really recommend a visit here to try to burgers. I will certainly be coming back to try the Home Plate, with pastrami, saurkraut and swiss cheese on a beef pattie and of course for another Fenwick Park and more onion rings. And to hopefully try some frickles.

The cafe itself has a really lovely atmosphere, and plenty of outdoor tables as well.