Novotel Brisbane South Bank

Spaciousness combined with modern, inviting surrounds, greet you in the bar/restaurant area of Novotel Brisbane South Bank.

Refreshing to see such a large area devoted to comfortable lounge style seating in front of the bar. Add to this the bar stools, and you know you’ve found the ideal space to enjoy a coffee, pre dinner drinks or just wile away some time.

Friendly staff help to make this home away from home experience even more enjoyable.Unfortunately on this occasion, we did not have the luxury of staying, this was merely a visit for a business function. Very lucky though to be given a tour of this fabulously fresh and new hotel.

Given the standard of the food we did try, combined with the atmosphere, delightful staff and overall feel of this venue, Dine Live Travel will be back.

A lot of thought went into the design and decoration of this new hotel. Only opened in May of this year, this particular Novotel has been based on a European design which embraces the local area. Here, the outside comes in.Given the handy location to South Bank and all amenities in this area, how cool to see rooms with the bed head area dominated by these incredibly real depictions of the local area!

Immerse yourself in the city of Brisbane, drifting off to sleep under the very real feeling, canopy of the South Bank Arbour. Or, perhaps your room will feature the Channel 7 Wheel of Brisbane.

What a nice surprise when you open the room door to see what delightful artwork is waiting to make you feel a part of this vibrant city. Looking forward to hearing what you think!

From standard hotel rooms to suites with their own lounge, there is plenty on offer for you to to overnight or take a well needed staycation. Some rooms face over the spacious greenery that is Musgrave Park, others towards Southbank and the city. Maybe you will be able to clearly see the real Wheel of Brisbane from your room.

Suites feature an inviting deep bath. Immerse yourself here, with bubbles and champers. Oh yes, can you feel it??

The on site restaurant Spice Central, gives you some pleasant dining options. Here you can choose table dining, or, perhaps you would like to interact with kitchen staff. In this case, choose the bar stools located around the open air kitchen. What a great way to become a part of your meal production process, without the work or the dishes!Highly suggest you pay this venue a visit. It really does tick those boxes. And for those looking to enjoy the many events on offer either at South Bank or in the city, then this location, will definitely suit your needs. Give it a test run, we are going back. Might see you there!

Check this link for more Brisbane information https://snaptravelblog.com/best-place-photograph-story-bridge/

Outback Steakhouse – Aspley

With a refreshingly different style of menu presentation, the Outback Steakhouse provided us with a very pleasant venue for a Fathers Day treat. Once you realise the markings throughout the menu are actually part of it and not the scribbling from a previous patron, you will be somewhat amused!

Staff here will introduce themselves before tending to your table. Overall service was fine, and suited the location. Bar staff deliver the drinks whenever ordered and your wait staff often arrive out with trays to deliver your main meals.

Even when you are the driver for the day, the non alcoholic Mocktails are quite tasty. Yum to this thirst quenching Cherry Limeade!

There’s always a popular favourite entree, here, its the blooming onions. Onion pieces, encrusted in the Outback Steakhouses special recipe, these golden delights are handcrafted for your pleasure. No double dipping now….

This is quite filling, plus those blooming onions, really are quite moreish, you just cant help picking away. Well, I guess its not an everyday thing so once off is ok.

Steak meals abounded at our table, I mean, after all, this is a Steakhouse. This steak was quite eye catching, it really looked like a little loveheart. Rather cute.

Of course Dad is going to want the all in, ribs and steak, no surprises there!Too big a meal for me but hubby loved it and ate every tantalising morsel.

On this occasion I opted for the steak salad. Very happy to see a really good serving of steak covering the salad. Not only that, the steak was quite tender. An enjoyable dish, not too filling, not too light, and, yes you’re right, there were more blooming onions throughout the salad! Too easy to get addicted too!

Now Ive saved this photo for last, if you’re a burger lover, I think you are going to like this.Check out out this packed bun, bursting at the seams. A little note here too, those side salads. Not only pleasing to the eye but very appetising. They side salads exceeded expectation, a lot more than just lettuce mix.

Usually I’d finish with delectable dessert, but on this occasion, we were just too full. Ooops, but I guess you have to knock back on the calorie intake somewhere!

Outback has a number of locations, plus they offer pickup or delivery takeaway meals too. Drop in, its a nice experience. Let me know your thoughts.

Luke Mangans Salt Grill – P & O Cruises Pacific Dawn

May I have your attention please! T bone Steak for two from our favourite fine dining restaurant. As I started with the Chefs Table, let’s continue with the dining on this series of cruising blogs.

Why is this our favourite fall back, fine dining experience? Well has a lot to do with service, atmosphere, food quality, but, I think it also comes down to the fact, a visit here usually means we are indulging in a cruise break.

The service here goes above and beyond, to the point that if you treat yourself more than once on the same cruise, staff will remember you and your favourite drinks. The job of the staff is make you relax, and enjoy an meal which is not just a meal, but an entire experience in itself. Is it worth the cover charge per person? Well yes, we believe it is.

Every meal is going to commence with this delightful bread starter. You then choose, your appetiser, entree, main and desert.

Now I suggest you decide before boarding your cruise, if you have any important nights you wish to celebrate with a fine dining meal, or, any evenings you feel might be best for you to dine out. Make a Salt Grill booking when you board, either by dropping past the restaurant, or calling in your booking from your cabin. Be advised though, many people like to call through bookings upon boarding, we find it much quicker and easier to head to the restaurants direct to make our bookings. When you book, staff will enquire as to allergies of any patrons at your table. Be sure to advise as they are very careful to ensure those with allergies are looked after too.

Through the softly veiled windows, we were treated to superb horizon sunset. Order from the drinks menu, take your drinks in from the bar if you still have them in hand. We had preordered some packages which included a bottle of wine in the weeks prior to the cruise, hence myself arriving with the ice bucket and bottle in hand! No problem doing that either.

Tempura prawns and carpaccio pictured above. It’s really very difficult to describe the dishes as they are all simply superb. Upon ordering you will have been asked to order sides for your table. There’s quite a selection to choose from, don’t be shy! Order to ensure there are sides enough for everyone.We always say if the sides are for one or both of us. We don’t often share sides as we both have different preferences, hence advising the staff so we are not inundated with plates of sides.Dessert is always a nice finish to the your dining experience. If you can fit it in!

Another tip for this restaurant, let them know when booking if you want to take your time to dine. Staff are trying to accomodate many different bookings, you need to be fair to the staff and clear on your intentions.

We have referred a number of cruisers to Salt Grill, every one of them has always enjoyed and remarked on on the outstanding ambiance, food quality and service.

I’m hoping one day to run into Luke Mangan himself on one of the cruises. As a hint I hear he does tend to favour the shorter food & wine cruises. One day we hope to have the opportunity to personally thank Luke. We have probably dined more than a dozen different times now, and still the experience does not wear thin.

Well done to Luke and the staff. You all do a fantastic job!

An Exclusive Chefs Table Showcase – P & O Cruises (Pacific Dawn)

So much to tell you about, I really don’t know where to start!

Firstly, we have just enjoyed our first short cruise, a mini break. Wow! After having always cruised on longer holidays, this one was a superb, refreshing, clear the mind sort of cruise. Oh and did I mention the theme was Food & Wine…aaah wonderful!

Ive decided to start with the Exclusive Chefs table dinner we attended. Limited to 14 lucky cruisers, my first mission onboard the ship was to book. First names down, nailed it!Yes there is a cover charge, yes it is over $100 per person, BUT! the charge does include the matching wines, superb food, with everything fully explained by your wonderful hosts.

On this occasion, we were fortunate to have our culinary creative Chef, Prue Daly who started out with the purchase of a unique inverted bakery in Deagon Qld. Prue had partnered with Peter Gross who was representing Black Pearl Epicure, Brisbane, and last but definitely not least, Tim Davidson representing Wirra Wirra Wines, South Australia.Located near the entry of the Waterfront restaurant, a wonderful wall of wine, provided the backdrop for this highly anticipated evening.

Our hosts were not only engaging, extremely informative, but also very entertaining. The three personalities blended well and provided the guests with an outstanding evening. A mention here to the staff, both back and front of house. Their skills and assistance were above and beyond expectation, for that, I give you a big thank you!Lets get down to the business at hand, indulging in this delicious degustation feast.

Our starter dish consisted of oysters, au naturel. Simple, yet eye catching presentation, they did pair wonderfully with Wirra Wirra’s Hiding Champion Sauvignon Blanc. Prue offered a little tip here, try one of the oysters after pouring a little bit of the Sauvignon Blanc over it. She was right! This completely changed the taste of the oyster compared to the first one. Try it sometime, with this particular wine, it really was a superb little experiment.

The pale straw colour of the wine, with the odd glimpse of green, added to a bouquet bursting with lime, passion fruit, grapefruit and gooseberry, created a wonderful mix, which saw lime juice, enliven the mouth, finishing eventually with the grassy lemon and fruity palate. Yes, I’ve spend a bit of time describing this wine, as you will find it paired with a couple more dishes on this menu.

We moved onto the Chicken Pate and Goats curd. Hiding beneath the thick layer of melted butter, which, as Prue advised, was entirely your choice of eating or moving aside to indulge in the mouthwatering pate lurking underneath. The butter was to provide an interesting touch to presentation. Most certainly did that, with its bright colour and smooth finish.

The light, creamy texture of the goats curd, provided a fresh, clean flavour to match the delicious pate. Team this with the Hiding Champion Sauvignon Blanc, and we have another winning dish.Beautifully soft Gorgonzola Gnocchi followed, delivering a wow factor to the taste buds and teaming exceptionally well with the Scrubby Rise Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon, hinting at mulberry, dried herbs and raspberry. A bold wine, enhanced by the delicious creamy, cheese enriched gnocchi. Another superb match, perfectly showcasing the produce of all our hosts.

Time to cleanse the palate. Exactly what this Green Bean, Cow Feta, Hazelnut and Fennel Salad was designed to do. Would have to say, this delightfully simple dish, served its purpose well. Enticing cow feta, followed by the soft fennel salad and finished with a crunch of green bean and hazelnut, was just superb. Match this with the zesty lime of the Hiding Champion Sauvignon Blanc and again we race past the winners post!

Palates now cleansed, we moved on to the main dish of the evening. A wonderfully superb Peppered Lamb rack , resting on a Wild Mushroom and Leek Risotto. The intense, ripe tannins of the blended Church Block Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz Merlot, boldly marched on the palate, providing an extra zest to the succulent peppered lamb and superbly blended softness of the risotto.

How did we finish? Well by now everyone was overflowing with an overwhelming amount of good food & wine, as well as great company. Wth much laughter, hilarity and camaraderie, we moved on to the final dish.Time for the sweet, savoury finish. The visually appealing Berry Cheesecake tasted as good as it looked! Simply delicious! Paired with the deep golden sweetness of the Margan Botrytis Semillon, the burst of berries from the creamy cheesecake was certainly an awesome finish to what can only be described as a superb meal and evening.

But wait there’s more! Black Pearl Epicure supplied some vastly different cheese blends to end the meal. Cream and a dash of sharpness were really the final taste sensations of the evening.

Thank you to our engaging hosts who provided us all with a superb evening of insider knowledge, wining, dining and hilarious entertainment. Support all of their businesses, and don’t forget to book yourself in to this awesome opportunity on your next cruise.

We received a copy of Prue’s the Grass Tree Kitchen Cookbook, autographed by all three hosts, a special copy of the menu and a wonderful group photo to keep the memory alive.

Oh for those of us celebrating our special day, a surprise little plate!

Make sure you treat yourself! Not only are you creating an enriching memory, these experiences are great for the soul!

Cyren Bar Grill & Seafood – Darling Harbour, Sydney

This expansive corner restaurant dominates the Darling Harbour frontage. Choose your ambiance with generous comfortable booths outside, or dining space with an elevated view on the verandah above. Plenty of room inside with stunningly designed interiors, should you prefer. There is plenty space around the tables, nice not to be crowded against your neighbours. We always prefer places where you are not banging chairs against other patrons. Added to which, even on a dull day, there is still plenty to see.

With plenty of helpful, friendly staff on site, the operation ran like clockwork.

Enjoy a coffee or drink whilst you soak in the atmosphere and peruse the menu choice.

Lunch options included a $35 menu, consisting of entree, main and certain beverages.These two entrees were filling enough on their own! Team them with the following two mains and you have a very substantial meal.All of these dishes were quite simply delicious. The soft meat simply melted in the mouth and I’m told the crispy skin salmon was also a winner.Lobster Mornay was another delicious dish today. Soft, mornay lobster flesh dominated the plate and I’m told was a beautiful meal.

We visited for lunch, however if, you have an opportunity to stop by in the evening, I’m sure the lights of the city and harbour would be mesmerising. Particularly if Vivid Sydney is on from mid May to mid June each year. Darling Harbour has its share of intriguing lighting to light up your night.

Definitely consider Cyren whilst you are in the Darling Harbour area, it’s definitely worth a visit! There’s always something happening in this area of the city.

Blockhouse Coffee & Eats

Tucked away in the Northside suburb of Nundah is a really cool collection of specialty shops, which include the sleek, clean, Blockhouse Bar.Seating is a mix of tables, bar stools, indoor & outdoor settings, there’s plenty to choose from here. We dropped by early in the week for a brunch and were not disappointed.

If you’re seated inside, the big floor to ceilings windows add a feeling of spaciousness, beautifully blending the line between indoors and out.

The menu choice on this particular day was the Mothers Day brunch menu, which boasted some very interesting, mouthwatering meals.

We took our time to choose, after all, it’s not easy when the selection is so inviting, and different to the normal brekky / brunch choices.

Eventually though, after careful consideration, whilst sipping on refreshing wine and mimosa, the choice was made. I chose the gnocchi.

Certainly not disappointing, in any way, shape or form. This dish was simply delicious. Soft, melt in the mouth gnocchi, blended fabulously with the goat cheese, pumpkin and all ingredients. Not only a filling dish, this one was very tasty. Overall, very happy with my choice!

The other dish chosen today was an interesting chilli scrambled egg. The chilli was not overpowering, and the maple bacon, simply delicious! Oh yes I did have just a little taste, luckily!

As I mentioned there’s plenty of seating choices and we enjoyed the outdoor view, wiling away some time, watching the world pass by.

Stop by, spend some time and browse the interesting specialty shops, before you indulge in a bite to eat or refreshing beverage.

Keep this one in mind, it’s certainly worth a visit!

Sofitel Brisbane Central & Queensland Ballet Mothers Day Performance

Sofitel Brisbane Central hosted High Tea with a performance by Queensland Ballet pe professionals for Mothers Day 2018. I was one of the lucky mothers to be treated to this experience.

High tea was superb with a mouth watering selection of finger sandwiches, scones and pastries. Table were set to impressively high standards, with crisp white linen and every little detail covered.

In the background beautiful music gently flowed across the tables of families spoiling their mums, daugthers and sons treating treating their mothers, as well as groups of friends.

The premium package gave us stage side seating with free flowing French Champagne. Ooh La lah!! Clever lighting added to the ambiance of the entire ballroom, with wonderful lavender hues flooding across the tables.

Even the lights above looked superb!. We were treated to a most spectacular performance from Queensland Ballet pre professional students.

Raw emotion was etched on the faces of these superb dancers as their fluid movements told a nurturing story, ending with true love.

The strength, agility and impressive expression of these highly talent dancers, drew you into feeling the emotion behind the performance. Choreography, direction and execution of this heart wrenching story was simply superb.To experience this, whilst sipping on French champagne and indulging in a painstakingly put together high tea was quite special. The high tea included a sense a humour from the chef…

We were also treated to a short heartwarming speech from the very special Li Cunxin. Author of the autobiography, depicting his life as he fought to rise from poverty. Number six of seven brothers, Li started from humble beginnings to progress and become a hugely talented director. To be a mere few metres from such a respected being, was humbling, to say the least.

There was a Q & A with the director and choreographer of todays performance. To be honest I think the audience was awestruck with the day and unable to ask questions, however the host had questions which were answered by Queensland Ballet. Wonderful to hear the young dancers explain that to reach their level takes hard work and commitment. Traits which humanity loses on occasions. And to the direction and choreographer, the emotion you put into this performance was incredible. For these students to portray this emotionally drawn performance was a huge credit to their respect of you, to say the very least,

Thank you to all involved in hosting this day, the hard work and effort was appreciated by all. Look forward to seeing these pre-professionals as they make their mark in ballet history.

And for the Sofitel, never do you disappoint. Drop by sometime, and enjoy the friendly ‘bonjour’ ! Merci !

FV By Peppers – Fortitude Valley Brisbane

Thank you to Travel Massive and FV By Peppers for an interesting, informative evening last week. To attend a meeting at this newly opened complex was a privilege to say the least.The view from the restaurant and bar located on level 6, was certainly stunning as the sun set. Huge, inviting lounges, invite you to rest your feet and enjoy the location. The bar and restaurant area has massive doors opening to this secluded location.

To give some background FV by Peppers is still under construction. In saying that, its only the third accomodation tower which is yet to be finished. Tower One & Two are open for business. Offering both hotel and apartment accommodation, FV by Peppers gives you plenty of choice. Oh yes and you can live here too! Short stay, long stay, corporate, everything is on offer.

Based on skyscraper architecture, New York style, the building is impressive, including the u shaped swimming pool which offers a breathtaking area to both swim and chill- and includes a swim up bar, looking towards Brisbane city.

We were incredibly lucky to be treated to a private tour. So many hidden surprises here, and I would have to say, we were impressed. In fact so much so, that already we have a few groups of people we know making plans to stay. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool.

Hotel rooms, one bedroom and two bedroom apartments, there’s plenty of choice. And when I say apartments, I’m talking full kitchens. These apartments are built to live in, not just stay.

The two bedroomed apartment we viewed, had a gorgeous view of the story bridge at night, as you entered the second bedroom. Muted colours throughout enhanced the beautiful lights outside.

Comfortable lounge setting, leads onto the enclosed glass balcony. Everything you need for a chilled out stay has been included.

There are some impressive extras here you can enjoy with a group of friends or family. For a mere $30, hire one of the four large, beautifully appointed spa rooms and enjoy 4 hours of fun and relaxation.

Relax in the bubbling spa, letting your stress disappear and muscles relax, whilst you either enjoy the city view or watch the TV. There’s plenty of comfortable seating and even your own private bar where staff will provide you with food and drinks (not included in the hire fee), during the course of your four hours.

Should you maybe wish to continue your fun, there is also the moonlight theatre for hire. Again you and your friends relax, enjoy, whilst staff tend to your tends using the private bar (not included in hire fee), contained within the theatre. Bean bags or comfortable lounges make for a sprawling good time!

Even the gym is impressive, roomy plenty of new equipment to keep everyone happy, a wonderful city view, and the cherry on top, will be a new yoga area due to open soon.

Mantra Group have done well to ensure not only do you have the comforts of home, but that extra added luxury at a very reasonable price. For those of us who are Accor Plus members, be sure to keep on checking on how the Mantra Group bid is progressing. To have the Peppers and Mantra complex’s added to Accor portfolio options will be quite the feather in their cap!

And, should you be looking for something special, keep these hire rooms in mind. They aren’t available unless you are staying on site, but what a wonderful treat this could be!

Finally, as with most venues, weekends are busier and it might be that bit harder to secure a private spa or the theatre, so if you are able to stay during the week, chances are you will have most opportunities open to you. Enjoy, we are looking forward to visiting again, perhaps we will even see you there!

Site Cafe – Banyo

A relaxing start to Sunday morning with SereniTea at Site Cafe Banyo. Located next to the Banyo Train Station, this cafe makes up for size with what it has to offer. Enjoy a meal, partake of cake and coffee, or if you cannot spare the time to visit yourself, Uber Eats will deliver to you.

With an interesting choice of meals, the dilemma of what to choose, was no easy task. Site’s menu descriptions have you starting to salivate whilst deciding on the choice. Eventually, after narrowing it down to 4, I chose the Site Fritters, adding salmon instead of bacon.

Now the photo is somewhat deceiving as these fritters were huge, and try as I might, the last one, just could not fit it in my packed belly. A mix of pumpkin, zucchini and corn, the fritters are a solid filler to start your day. My favourite part, was the labna on top. This really is a delightful velvety sauce, originating from Middle Eastern culture which paired extremely well with the fritters. Best part, there was plenty of it!

Spicy Chorizo surrounded the towering vegetable stack. Resting in a superb truffled hollandaise sauce, the stack was made up of crunchy croquette hash, bacon, egg and wilted spinach. I’m told the dish was delicious, maybe needing just a little more of the beautifully spicy chorizo, with the truffled sauce certainly helping the meal hit the right spot.

For those sporting a hearty appetite, the Breakfast Tapas might be the right choice for you. A full plate with cauliflower and Parmesan fritter, bacon, eggs, mushrooms, croquettes hash, the list goes on! There is a vegetable Tapas meal choice too, should you wish to go meatless.

Or perhaps you would like to try the Arabian Eggs? Cooked then presented in the same pan, this mix of baked eggs, bean and chorizo, haloumi , savoury mince with a side of Turkish bread, also makes for a belly full of food.

Whatever your choice to start the day, you will definitely find something on this menu to satisfy your hunger. Staff are friendly and helpful, willing to go just that little bit extra to enhance your overall experience.

Pull up one of those seats next to the large opening window, and wile away some time whilst you indulge in a meal or coffee. With the corner site, there is plenty to see. If you’re really wanting that sweet finish, choose from the cake cabinet, or, how about trying the sweet waffles. And on that light, sweet note, I shall leave you for now….

Silky Oak Tea Gardens ~ Kia Ora Qld

Driving along the Tin Can Bay Road, after leaving Gympie, you will see this sign. If you are an adventurous spirit, don’t pass by, stop in. Should you choose to drive in, you are going to blown away with what you find, the name really doesn’t give away what wonderful secrets lie within.

Firstly, yes tea and cake if you wish, or perhaps a craft beer? Or, if you really do have an adventurous spirit, why not visit for one of the famous pig on the spit nights, which are bound to be filled with music and and a fantastic party atmosphere of some sort.

Your hosts, Helen & Daryl, have built this incredibly diverse country hotel business, over the past twenty years. And yet, this place seems to be one of the best kept secrets in Queensland. Take some time to have a chat to Daryl & Helen, they are the secret behind the success of this business. Plus the stories and down to earth chatter will have you in stitches.

The area is huge, with tall shady trees and interesting gardens opening into a number of different areas. Plenty of seating, starting with the plastic chairs, tables, and umbrellas for extra shade. Follow through though, as you will not be expecting what you find at the end. I’m not going to give all the secrets away, you need to satisfy your curiosity with a visit. It will be worth it!

Every pocket hides a new surprise, the mish mash of ideas here, really works well, blending to morph into one of the most iconic and interesting places we have visited. So many photo opportunities here, but I showed huge restraint, only because you need to go yourself.

Try a pub meal, test that cold beer, savour tea and cake, purchase some lemonade fruit, or country preserves. Oh and we highly recommend the pig on the spit! Unfortunately though when you are enjoying yourself so much, you forget to take photos 🤗. Whatever you do here, one thing is certain the stress of life will be forgotten whilst you linger beneath the canopy of shade.

This best kept secret needs to be unveiled, be sure to include Silky Oak Tea Garden on your next exploration journey. We are already planning the next visit!