Best Food Trucks, Brisbane

Over the past few years, the number of food trucks has been growing rapidly throughout Australia. Now, many roam the streets of Brisbane appearing at different locations from day to day. My favourite thing about food trucks is their diversity. It is rare to find trucks in the same location serving similar food. I have tasted my way around many of Brisbane’s food trucks and want to share a handful of my favourites. Check out Brisbane Food Trucks to find out where these food trucks and others are popping up!

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Best Laneway Cafés, Brisbane CBD

Melbourne is renowned for it’s uber-cool laneway coffee culture, and while the scene in Brisbane isn’t as expansive, it has some awesome laneway cafés that would give Melbourne a run for their money. So get on your best hipster wear and check out my five favourites!

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Season

I wasn’t sure if it was just pure luck, perfect timing or a little bit of both but two 16 year olds managed to grab the best seat in the house at Noosa’s beachside restaurant, Season. Having front row seats overlooking the iconic Noosa Beach led to a few funny faces from beach goers as they eyed two ‘kids’ downing some freshly shucked oysters and half-shell scallops. Their faces still make me chuckle to this day!

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My mate Aidan joined me again for this meal as he did for Betty’s Burgers too and he strongly suggested we start with the garlic, chilli & parsley pizza ($14) after both enjoying this dish last time we were there. The pizza was crispy and had enough garlic to add a kick but I found it was lacking in chilli to deliver a punch.

With such a great view of the water I decided to fully immerse myself in the beachside holiday spirit and ordered 5 freshly shucked oysters with chardonnay vinegar, dill and shallots ($19). The vinaigrette was tangy and contrasted well with the plump oysters. I only wish I could have been old enough to enjoy a nice Champagne to go with the beautiful oysters.

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Aidan, being a massive fan of scallops, ordered poached Hervey Bay half shell scallops with white soy, kombu, ginger, spring onions, coriander ($25). He thought the scallops were perfectly cooked and paired nicely with the sharp white soy sauce. While he didn’t struggle with the chilli on the garlic bread he did struggle with the chopped up chilli on top of the scallops and called for another lemon lime bitters.

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After a light and refreshing entrée I decided to order a rich main of pan roasted rolled pork belly, roast Moreton bay bug tail, baby purple carrots, sprouts, cider crème fraiche ($37). The pork was delectably unctuous with plenty of fatty goodness, however, it was let down by the crackling which was too hard to even bite. The Moreton bay bug was nicely cooked and added a ‘surf’ element to the dish.

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Aidan ordered crispy beer battered fish & chips, tartare sauce, lemon
($29), which he thought delivered with crispy batter but commented that the chips needed more salt.

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After two filling courses we decided to forgo dessert. A great view of the water and a pared back holiday menu makes Season a crowd pleaser for the many who flock to Noosa all year round.

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Hellenika

Okay, I have to admit that as a young gourmet my knowledge of Greek food is very limited. In fact, when Dad told me that at some Greek feasts, they allow the diners to smash their plates, I couldn’t believe it. But what I do know is that traditional Greek food is about three things: family, hearty food and having a good time. Hellenika is the epitome of the true essence of traditional Greek dining.

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When Dad told me that we were going to holiday at Nobby Beach, Hellenika was the first place that popped in my mind. I begged and fortunately Dad agreed to go on a Wednesday night.

It was only 6:30 when we arrived and yet the restaurant was nearly full. We took our seats and quickly placed an order for their signature slow cooked lamb, which I’m aware can sell out on some nights. We received the menus and instantly, we were enticed by the banquet, which I thought was very reasonably priced at $55 per head.

First up, two dips with some crusty, fresh bread. The taramasalata was creamy and thick with a pronounced taste from the fish roe. The red capsicum and feta dip was moreish and light.

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Next up, the grilled sheep’s milk cheese, served simply with a cheek of lemon. It is amazing how particular flavours are accentuated through a simple slice of grilled cheese with squeeze of lemon; salty, tangy, sharp. I could eat a plateful any day of the week.

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The Princess’ favourite food in the world was next, Tasmanian calamari, char grilled and hit with a squeeze of lemon. It was great to show the picky eater how equally enjoyable calamari can be without a deep fried crunch. It was ridiculously tender while still holding its body. I couldn’t resist trying to scoop every last bit of the cooking marinade from the bottom of the plate.

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Dad’s pick of the night came next; salty pork belly with braised leeks. I am not entirely sure how they were prepared but it definitely included time on the char grill before serving. The grill added some delicious smoky flavours to the pull-apart meat. Perhaps, a little too much grilling had occurred on my piece of crackling. Although the ubiquitous crunch was there the char itself verged on burnt and overpowered any of the tasty goodness that is usually derived from tasty rendered pork fat. Nevertheless, the sweet, soft leeks complemented the rich, salty meat perfectly. Even the Princess enjoyed that combo!

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The funny thing about the fish dish was that a few hours before our dinner, we were watching an episode of The Cook and The Chef, which was based on cooking King George Whiting. By happy coincidence, the daily local fish of the day was, King George Whiting, very simply served with a cheek of lemon, atop a bed of soft eggplant. The fish was impeccable but I thought the eggplant neither added nor detracted from the fish so on balance perhaps it was not necessary. On the side was a village salad with all my favourite things, feta, cucumber, tomato and olives. Instead of one square of feta placed strategically on top I prefer it to be crumbed throughout.

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Our last savoury course of the night was their signature lamb shoulder we pre-ordered. It was served alongside some potatoes cooked in lamb stock with dill yogurt and an eggplant dip. The meat was soft and succulent but needed some extra seasoning to enliven the glorious lamb meat.

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Before desserts were served I asked whether their halva ice cream, which QLD Good Food Guide editor Natascha Mirosch had tipped me off about, would be part of the trio of desserts. Although it wasn’t they thoughtfully served us a scoop. There was a certain distinctive nutty flavour, hazelnut perhaps? It also had a chewy dough-like texture reminiscent of the chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. It was simply marvellous!

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We were treated to three desserts served with watermelon and dried figs. The baklava was flaky and syrupy and beats any other I’ve had. The Turkish delight, of which I am not usually a massive fan, was far superior to the commercial version. The third dessert was my favourite, honey and walnut cake. The cake was very moist being infused with honey and remaining very light. The watermelon and figs were a refreshing way to finish.

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Hellenika delivered pure flavours simply, and I look forward to my next Greek food adventure, hopefully back here!

P.S Did you know, there is debate about the purpose of plate smashing, some say it relieves your worries while others believe it helps ward off evil spirits!

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Stokehouse

I have wanted to go to Stokehouse ever since it opened two years ago. I had even done work experience there twice before my family decided to have a leisurely lunch on a Sunday, which happened to be Australia Day and a long weekend. Well, in my view, the wait was sure worth it!

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Once my parents had committed to going, I had put off booking for so long there was a possibility they might have been booked out. Luckily, that was not the case.

As we walked in I spotted my friend and chef mentor during my work experiences, Liam, who works on the grill. After a quick chat, I found my way to our table, which sported a great view of the river. We all agreed to have a few appetizers, skip entrees, have a main each and share dessert.

Our waiter brought out complementary bread, both fresh and toasted, and some good quality olive oil from Mudgee, a special blend chosen by the chef. I loved the warm fresh bread studded with olive pieces.  A great start.

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For appetisers, we ordered ½ dozen of freshly shucked oysters with fresh lemon ($20). Mum hadn’t heard the waiter and unsuspectingly ordered them ‘al natural’ rather than with a mignonette dressing. We didn’t really mind, as they were Moreton Bay oysters and we enjoyed the flavour of the sea.

We also ordered breaded Spanish olives, three cheeses, almond, aioli ($10). It was the first time for me trying crumbed olives and I absolutely loved them. They were crispy on the outside, warm inside and complemented perfectly by the smooth aioli.

Our last appetizer was a crudo of fresh seafood which today was cobia and flathead ($16). The plate that the crude was served on was actually made by head chef Richard Ousby. In case you are interested, the plates are made out of white raku clay and glazed with Rockingham Brown and Oyster White Speckle. Also on the plate was a tomatillo pickle, which went very well with the firm fresh fish. However, I would have liked to have more of it on the plate.

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For my main, I couldn’t decide which steak to order out of the O’Conners 350g Pasture Fed Scotch Fillet ($52) or the Mayura Full Blood 250g Wagyu Rump Cap ($55). Luckily Dad didn’t know either so we agreed to order one each and split the steak in two and swap.

The steaks were served with a cauliflower puree, bacon, peas and roast onion. Out of the two, I preferred the rump cap which was cooked medium-rare to medium which Liam had suggested and it was perfect. The meat just melted in my mouth. The Scotch fillet, cooked medium rare was great and the fat, which can be chewy, was hot and soft, oozing bucket loads of meatiness. The additional puree was silky smooth although I could have done with some more. The peas, bacon and roast onions provided some extra textures contrasts to the distinctive wagyu beef.

Here’s the Rump cap :

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And here’s the Scotch Fillet:

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Today, we were joined by my Nan who always likes to order fish. Earlier, I assured her that Stokehouse would have a great fish dish on the menu and sure enough they did. She opted for the Diamond Scale, crushed potato, heirloom tomato, black olive, mojama, sorrel ($38). We all hadn’t heard of the Diamond Scale before but were told it was similar to barramundi. The dish was presented spectacularly and Nan thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Mum also had a fish dish; Coral coast barramundi, hand picked sand crab, zucchini flower, tomato fondue ($39). From my taste of her dish, the fish was moist and the crab gave some additional sweetness. Mum enjoyed her dish very much.

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After nearly polishing off my veal tortellini at Pane E Vino, we entrusted The Princess with a dish from the normal menu; Braised Wagyu tortellini, cave-aged taleggio, preserved mushroom consommé ($26 – entrée size). While she loved the pasta she wasn’t as keen on the earthy mushroom flavours which I more than happily slurped up. Delish!

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I have always wanted to try Stokehouse’s signature “Bombe” and have seen it being made but never tasted it. Now was my chance. The Bombe was layered with a frozen white chocolate parfait, strawberry sorbet, toasted meringue and topped with a few fresh strawberries ($20). WOW! It lived up to my high expectations. The combination of the smooth meringue with the fruity sorbet, creamy chocolate parfait and cake sponge was pure bliss. One of my favourite desserts ever!

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Mum and The Princess shared the Peanut butter parfait, candied popcorn, raspberry sorbet, salted caramel ($19). The dessert looked so pretty on the plate and looked too good to disturb. It was so good the Princess declared that she wants to come back time and time again just for that dessert!

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Stokehouse serves delicious Modern Australian food that is uncomplicated, well considered and executed perfectly. I sure hope I don’t have to wait another two years before returning!

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