Aarth Cafe, Taigum – New Menu Reviewed

This week we were privileged to attend Aarth Cafe for an early introduction to some of the new menu changes. Starting with entree, choices on tonight’s test menu were a couple of new bread, calamari, Haloumi, soft shell crab and pork belly.

Lets fade into these entrees as we begin our food journey ….

My choices this evening I decided, needed to be foods which can be overcooked easily. Tonight I chose to start with the Grilled Haloumi Salad which sat atop a delightful mixed salad accompanied by an interesting mix of pomegranate & date jam. This jam lifted the Haloumi with a flavour burst which brought the taste buds to life. The thinner slices of haloumi were that little bit crisper compared to larger pieces and were for me, my preferred choice of size. Interestingly the cold carrots on the salad provided a good partner for the jam and haloumi. Will also add here the Endless Pinot Grigio paired beautifully with this dish.

Hubbys choice was the Soft Shell crab with mascarpone and a green apple verjuice salad. We were both tasting the dishes and I did try this soft shell crab was beautifully crispy and again married well with the salad. In fact the selling point here is Hubby ate all his salad, nothing left on the plate. Now as someone who avoids salad whenever he can, that has to be a good advertising point!

Onto the mains. Tonight’s choice included a burger, chicken schnitzel, salmon, duck, steak, lamb, pork belly and pork ribs. Plenty of choice here. For me, it was to be the confit duck leg and candied orange salad. For hubby, grilled lamb with garlic reduction and a poppadum topped with sumac yoghurt salad.

Presentation of the dishes was certainly eyecatching. The poppadum filled with salad not only looked good, it gave the lamb a boost. As Hubby pointed out, the lamb itself was plain, very tender, and paired exceptionally well with the salad. Again, this salad plate was cleared by Hubby. That’s saying something! I did try this dish and in my opinion, felt the lamb should be plain and not flavoured as the yoghurt salad definitely added the flavour, whilst the poppadum gave you your crunch. Here’s a closer look below at the two dishes.

The duck where do I start. These were very large duck legs, and knowing how duck can be easily dried out during cooking, it was with some trepidation, I sliced into the leg. Juices flowed and the meat simply fell off the boat. Never, have I enjoyed such a beautifully tender duck with the slight crispness around the edges making this a superb dish. The salad also held its own surprise with small candied orange pieces popping up at random. These crunchy citrus delights added to this gastronomical delight, were a fantastic additional choice. I paired this one with a French FB Pinot Noir. Not too bad a match for this dish either.

All credit to Sunny and his team, they did do a fantastic job not only with the running the evening, but also with designing this new menu. I did talk to Robin the chef at the end and he told me the duck is slow cooked, well however its done, keep it up as it most certainly works.

To finish tonight was one dessert, a Belgian Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Bean Icecream, chocolate fudge and whipped cream.

The brownie simply melted in the mouth, a soft chocolate delight. Icecream, big tick, loved it!

Talking with Sunny, his intention was for everyone to give an honest opinion or suggest any changes on the dishes. My husband suggested perhaps a jus or sauce drizzled over the lamb, again this I think depends on your taste.

Sunny and his staff are interesting to talk to and happy to explain or answer questions. The reason behind using the pomegranate was nice to hear, especially how common it was for Sunny growing up to have this fruit which is now not as accessible.

We agree that this menu has upped the ante. These are dishes which need to be going out to the table as soon as they are prepared. The pressure is going to be on the kitchen to uphold the standards and front of house to ensure everything is delivered to diners as soon as it is ready.

Drop in and try for yourself. New menu launches fully on December 6. Check it out and remember Choose YOUR Mood!

Tin Can Bay

Taking a break this week from the NZ blogs to write about Tin Can Bay. After we returned from NZ, we undertook the short 2 1/2 hour drive from Brisbane to spend a few days relaxing at Tin Can Bay. Our choice for accommodation here was at Dolphin Waters Motel, on the Esplanade. Very friendly motel managers, big roomy apartments including kitchen and laundry facilities. All in all good value for the price.

Upstairs, we had a wonderful peaceful view across the Esplanade. The generous balcony was plenty roomy enough for us, also making a fantastic temporary outdoor office for keeping up with work commitments. Sunrise was definitely worth being up and about for. Filtered golden hues of sun rays dancing across the water, providing a wonderfully colourful backdrop from the motel balcony.

The pool area is inviting with a natural rock look, your eyes are drawn across the mirrored pool to the esplanade beyond. Here, we were lucky to meet an amazing group travelling through who were also out to relax and enjoy.

Exploring our area, we stopped in for lunch at the Marina, where we discovered the laid back restaurant Marina Bar & Grill, with lovely, well presented food and an entertaining owner who fed the fish in the marina for us to show how many there were. Enjoying our view across the Marina, the stresses of life started to slip away. Usually all the water is clear, however recent rains had left a muddied look through the sea water. We still had a clear view of the many fish swimming happily around the marina area.

700 metres approximately from the Dolphin Waters Motel, Barnacles Cafe & Dolphin Centre, not only a cafe which provides fulfilling meals but also the opportunity each morning to feed the wild dolphins. For a $5 entry fee you can learn about the dolphins plus receive a discount on your breakfast. Nice, hearty meals, certainly worth sitting here with a cuppa whilst watching the dolphin, listening to the volunteer talks and, participating in the feeding. On two days we made the trip down to hand feed the dolphins. What a wonderful soul cleansing experience. There is no other way to describe this without experiencing for yourself.

We found the locals to be friendly, relaxed and out of all the places we have visited, this little gem close to home really tugged the heart strings. We loved it. All the meals we had were fantastic, accommodation was great value and the dolphins, well that was on another level again.

After being invited by the lovely group we met at the pool, we joined them for dinner at the local bowls club, making use of the bowls club courtesy bus.

True honest meals at a very affordable price, with raffles and a couple of pokie machines, the evening was a lot of fun.

Close by are Rainbow Beach and Inskip point, where we took a drive one day for a look around. Beautiful vistas everywhere we stopped. Well worth a drive around.

We have yet to visit Fraser Island, but for anyone doing so, take particular care to read and understand all the warnings and advice given, particularly for 4WD vehicles heading over.

We fell in love with Tin Can Bay, mainly due to its fabulous relaxed feel. Most definitely heading back. Ill leave you with this chap, a pelican with attitude who frequents Barnacles Cafe. Happy to have his photo taken by his adoring fans, however everyone was warned not to get to close, he has been know to show his disapproval with a little more than a peck!

Frankton Arms Tavern New Zealand

Stunning scenery is par for the course in Queenstown.  However you cannot deny the breathtaking scenery whilst visiting Frankton Arms Tavern.

A big complex located in Frankton, which is next to Queenstown on Lake Wakitipu.  Staff here were very friendly helpful and looked to enjoy their working environment.


Outside there are some very impressive wooden tables, and again, that view!

We loved the meals here, with all of us agreeing the presentation of the bangers and mash was outstanding.  Take a look at this:


This simple meal was turned into a work of art.  Very impressive.


Meal sizes are extra large.  Take a look at this pizza!   

Highly recommend a visit to this great value venue.  It’s worth a trip to Queenstown to enjoy the meals whilst you soak in this beautiful area.   Enjoy😋

Forty West Cafe – Ripley


Enticing comfortable couches overlook the even more enticing playground.   Sit back, chill and relax whilst the little ones release some of that seemingly endless supply of energy.

We recently stopped by here for breakfast and were impressed with the setting, food, plus very friendly staff.   If you’re not particularly child orientated, visit early in the morning, we were among the first for breakfast which gave us a very tranquil relaxed start to the day.


Its not a huge breakfast menu, but then I dont believe you need one if you can have something covering most tastes.  

Hubby was very keen on the bubble and squeak, adding a side of cheese kransky.  Hes still talking about this meal, so definitely this dish was a winner!   Food here was fresh and tasty.   Presentation of this dish had the bubble n squeak tucked underneath the juicy sausages and fresh eggs.


A reasonable selection of drinks too, the nice touch for me being the mint fusion tea which was tea leaves and not tea bags.    For later in the day, alcoholic drinks are on offer as well.


Avocado & feta smash with a side of deliciously juicy mushrooms made for a very pleasant start to the day.

Thank you to the friendly staff here,  Even a staff member coming in to start their shift, took the time to chat on the way past.    Turning on the outside heaters was no problem at all and offered to us as soon as we arrived.

Take the time to stop by, either with the children or just to kick back and relax.  Enjoy!

Sake – Eagle Street Pier Brisbane (Subarashi!)

Time to sit back relax, enjoy this first class experience.  Lets take a flight!  How about a degustation experience combined with a sake flight.  To experience the Japanese menu with service that went above and beyond, whilst seated in a beautiful expansive restaurant overlooking Eagle Street Pier and Brisbane River, is not only heartwarming, but extremely memorable.

Sake anyone?   This incredible wall of sake kegs is awe inspiring.   Are there really this many sakes?  Well lets take a flight and trial some these babies.

Three sakes start on the right with a lighter sweeter style sake, then work your way down.  The ever attentive staff even suggest to you which sake goes with which meal or dish.    Take your time with this, it may look small doses, but sake packs a heafty punch.

Today was a special birthday treat.  To be fair I wasn’t entirely sure of the menu so left that choice to my birthday treat host.  What better way to experience the delights on offer, than with a set menu.   Now normally you need a few people at your table for any restaurant to offer you the opportunity of a set menu, this menu though, only two.  Chefs New Classic Set Menu that was today’s choice.  What a great way to trial a number of dishes on the menu in one go!  So relax, let those taste buds salivate as we take a flight through the menu.   

First up, Norri crisps.  Delightful crispy seaweed, pairing fantastically with that little soft touch of tuna and seasame on top.  Devine.

With fabulous, yet simplistic presentation, Hiramasa Kingfish drizzled with housemad lime & jalapeño kosho, followed.  The Kingfish had been replaced with another fish, as there not was enough stock on this particular day.  However, this dish was soft, delectable and enjoyable.

Now I hear a few of you, going hmm not much.  But, this to me is the epitome of a degustation style meal. A wonderful opportunity to experience flavours, understanding what you eat and quite simply savouring for enjoyment.   

Grass fed Beef tatakai.   Staff were right, this one matched perfectly with one of the Sakes!  With a little bit of crunch, mixed with a light salad type topping, this rare beef was an absolute treat.

Coated in an incredibly light batter and even lighter mayonnaise, thevpopcorn shrimp dish was superb to say the least.  Totally different to the previous dishes, it was an enlivening dish, which woke not only only your tastebuds, but your whole being with the simple flavours and the pop of shrimp.

And the dishes kept on coming.   Next up this fabulously presented Bass Grouper.  Yum!

House salad topped up the vege intake, providing a refreshingly different taste sensation to the previous fish and beef dishes.   Also an excellent cleanser before the Cape Grim short rib bo ssam which followed.Combing light, crispy and hot, this was an intriguing, very tasty treat!   The pickles confit garlic and ssam sauce paired wonderfully well with the short rib.

What better way to cleanse the palate before finishing with than with traditional miso soup.  Tofu, spring onion and wakame filled this delightful miso was a sensational cleanser.   

Only one dish left to go on this set menu, the Chefs choice of dessert.Oh WOW!   This colourful eye popping delight was a lovely surprise, added to which the combinations of desserts on the plate were enough to give you a sweet taste experience which finished off this meal beautifully.

I cannot recommend this venue highly enough.   Every now and then we do need to treat ourselves.   This $98 per person sensational taste journey was worth every cent.

Thank you Sake!  Kanpai!

Novotel Surfers Paradise – Hanlans Restaurant/Bar

Mini Breaks are a great way to give your mind and body a chance to take a breath before you launch back into the routine of life. This view of Surfers Paradise Main Beach area, could be all yours at Novotel Surfers Paradise.  As an Accor Plus member, the complimentary room for the year was still waiting to be utilised.  Hence a visit to Novotel Surfers Paradise.

Our view from the room, was mesmerising.  From here we could watch the activity on the streets below, check for whales passing out at sea, view the river and its boats, or simply chill out and enjoy the landscape canvas rolled out before us.   Sunset and Sunrise views, were nothing less than superb!

Day rolled into night, with outstanding orange hues as the sun dropped in behind the Western Ranges.  As the hunger pains set in, we visited the Novotel Restaurant, Hanlans.  Located on Level 1 of the complex, the expansive restaurant mainly operates as a buffet for both breakfast and dinner.   On the ground floor, Hanlans Bar is open through the day, with a breakfast and lunch mini menu to keep you going.Staff here are attentive.  Water is topped up throughout your meal, plates are cleared in a timely fashion and above all else, every staff member we came across, throughout the hotel, from reception, concierge through to bar, restaurant and cleaners, were professional yet friendly.  Its a rare venue to have all staff displaying good quality customer service.

From fresh seafood, to seafood salads and other salads or meats, through to a delectable dessert selection, along with many options in between, there is plenty to choose from.

Should you have the prilege of being an Accor Plus member, you will receive big discounts of your meals.  For two people with one membership, this results in a 50% meal discount, essentially one of you eats for free.

Rooms are comfortable, clean, with balconies plus the added bonus of being so close to a lot of options, where you will likely park the car and leave it there.  Shopping is below the hotel, or walk to the beach in 5 minutes.  Check out the Q1 tower for a birds eye view, barely 10 minutes walk or visit the many other attractions in the area.  

As night falls, life does not become quieter on the streets below. Patrons flock to the nightlife, bathing in the depth of colourful lights, twinkling around them from all angles.

A winter sunrise in Queensland is stunning.  Orange hues light up the fiery sky before fading through to the daylight blue.  Take a short walk to the beach and you may have the opportunity to see a surfer disappearing into the waves. 

Silhouettes outlined by. the rising sun provide not only fantastic photo opportunities, but also those moments where time stands still, momentarily.  Indulge yourself, take the walk and wonder at the colourful birth of a new day.

All the food we enjoyed at the Novotel was fresh, nicely presented, and enjoyable.  Below are some food images from our weekend stay.Caesar Salad with Chicken tenders at Hanlans Bar.

Love the presentation of the loose leaf tea.

Calamari & salad at Hanlans Bar.

Cheese plate at Hanlans Bar.Burger at Hanlans Bar.

Ice cream is made fresh on the premises.

I love this personal touch with what we think are staff handprints across the front window, making an interesting view from Hanlans Bar.   Sit down in the bar, enjoy a barista or bar drink whilst you watch the world go by.   There is always something happening in Surfers. This is a venue we will return to, look forward to seeing you there!


Bribe Island – South East Queensland

Brisbane winter weather can be absolutely stunning.  Beautiful clear warm days without the summer humidity, lend themselves to exploring the great outdoors.

On this particular recent winter day, a visit to this interesting piece of beauty, seeped in history, was a most enjoyable experience. Here you could feel the light breeze, soak up the stunning scenery and explore the different areas dotted across the island. Since 1963, when the bridge was built to connect Bribie with the mainland, accessing the island became an easy drive for Brisbane and surrounding area residents.

We found a meandering little walkway. siting between some lucky residences and a bird sanctuary.   A couple of hides had been built along the way to enable you to spend sometime viewing the different bird species as they mingled near the waters edge.

At the end of the track lies a waterway giving local residents access to the bay.  Sun rays danced across the glistening blue water,, highlighting the moving reflections stretched across the mirroring water.

Explore the different areas across the island, there is plenty to see and do.  A number of  cafes and other venues, leave you plenty of choice to enjoy a relaxing bite to eat.

On this occasion, we stopped by the Blue Anchorage, situated near the jetty, for a pleasant lunch.

With a choice of inside, outside dining and table service, the venue was a lovely place to wile away some time,

Enjoy your visit to Bribie Island, its an easy drive from Brisbane.  In fact from Northside you will do this in well under an hour.  Always nice to visit on on a weekday as weekends can be busy out here, with everyone trying to enjoy a slice of heaven on earth.

Carseldine Roadhouse

An impromptu visit to the Carseldine Roadhouse recently, was in no way disappointing.  Part of the Caltex complex on Gympie Road, the final Brisbane service station stop on the main road out of the city heading north, 

Enjoy the Roadhouse restaurant atmosphere here, whilst you maintain expectancy to indulge in a good hearty meal.


Dropping in for breakfast, the simple all day menu still gave enough choice for us both to enjoy a meal.  Staff were friendly and efficient, with not too much of a wait before meals were delivered to the solid wooden table.  

Bursting with flavour, the Italian omelette was my choice today.  Certainly a bigger meal than expected and not one that would leave you hungry afterwards.   


Hubby’s choice was the Grill breakfast with an added extra or two.  The only problem he had was making his way to the end! 

All food was fresh and nicely cooked, without being overdone or tough.   It was a pleasant start to the day,  partaking of the good quality food at the Roadhouse.

Open 7 days with other meal choices available, and some specials available, stop in before you leave Brisbane, or just drop by if you’re in the area looking for a reasonably priced hearty meal.  We were told Thursdays have good specials 👍.  We will have to check that out sometime.


And those large cups on the menu are exactly what they say!

Lakeview and Mandys on the Mountain Restaurants, Mecure Clear Mountain

Beautifully located on the side of Clear Mountain, with incredible vistas to the side and front, you will find the Mecure Clear Mountain Resort.   Two restaurants are onsite.  One being the general Lakeview restaurant boasting a wide wrap around verandah area giving you a choice of indoor or outdoor dining.

The second is the adults only dinner restaurant Mandy’s on the Moutain.  Menus are similar and simplistic, in a good way.  We enjoyed a lunch at Lakeview on a balmy weekend day, followed by an intimate dinner at Mandy’s, with a backdrop of wine, and nightcaps on the balcony overlooking the evertwinkling Brisbane & surounds lights.

This soft shell tempura crab lunch special, was incredibly soft, with the light tempura giving some crispness to the dish.  Presentation was superb.

Pairing well with the stuffed jalapeño dish and delightful platter, lunch was most enjoyable.


With lunch definitely not disappointing, we were left wondering what delights would be in store for this evenings meal at Mandy’s..  

We had a lovely conversation with new restaurant managerduring lunch.  Interesting  to see new staff learning the ropes.  Certainly no complaints from us regarding staff, everyone we came across was friendly and helpful.

Natural oysters displayed on a bed of salt with crisp lime slices,  provided that wonderful raw seafood flavour to the tastebuds.  They were also a perfect starter to our dinner at Mandy’s on the Mountain.Crispy duck was my dinner choice.  Never have I eaten such a delectably soft duck.  With a crunch on the outside, the inside meat simply fell apart and melted in the mouth.Hubby declared his bangers and mash to be superb.  Apparently a very enjoyable dish.Why not finish with a dessert?  This tiramisu with pistachio ice cream, finished off hubby’s meal with that taste of sweet, but not too sweet.  Again service here was superb.

There is no doubt we will be going back to either of these restaurants. To combine this wonderful food, with the atmosphere, views and service, why would we not return!  Look forward to our next visit.

Dragonfly Restaurant – Eden Gardens Carseldine

Situated on the busy corner intersection connecting Beams & Gympie Roads, lies the Eden Gardens. Browse the gardening, landscape and homewares or treat yourself to meal or drink break at the Dragonfly Restaurant.

Local wildlife enjoy the comfortable safe environment, which adds to your relaxing entertainment for the duration of your stay.

Today’s choice for lunch was two of the delectably described salads.   Once you have selected your meals and or drinks, head up to the counter for pay & order.     

The first meal delivered by a very pleasant staff member, was the Avocado Caesar which not only looked superb, but I’m told was most enjoyable.Choosing the Pork Belly salad I was not disappointed.  Juicy pork belly, married beautifully with the soft, slippery noodles and combination salad.   


A very enjoyable meal, nice fresh food and beautiful setting.  Certainly a lovely place to enjoy lunch.

With an intriguing selection of cakes and desserts as well as cold drinks and coffees, you are likely to find something nice here to treat yourself.   Enjoy!