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!

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!

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.

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.

Mecure Clear Mountain Lodge 

Sometimes you need to relax, chillout, have some down time,  What better place than the stunning setting at Mecure Clear Mountain Lodge.   From the time you arrive to the time you reluctantly leave, this location embraces your being with a feeling of peace.  

Stunning vistas unfold in every direction.  The ceremony area frames a picturesque background, who wouldn’t want to tie the knot here.   To have such an incredible venue on the outskirts of Brisbane’s Northside, is a massive bonus in itself.  Couple this with the friendly, helpful staff and food to a high inner city quality, and you have an awesome combination.

Your own balcony, should you choose to take advantage of the onsite accomodations will most likely provide you with a very restful area to spend some time whilst watching the city of Brisbane and surrounds, going about their business.   Planes landing, taking off, cruise ships disappearing into the distance, and a city just doing what a city does.

Pastel hues gave way to the twinkling Brisbane lights as night fell on the area.  Sit back, relax and enjoy.  Maybe from your balcony, maybe from one of the restaurants on site.  Wth a choice of the spacious Lakeview or the more intimate adults only, Mandy’s on the Mountain, you are sure to find something to suit your taste.   To do these restaurants justice, a separate review will follow.  Keep an eye out for it.

On site gardens supply the chefs with fresh produce in the creation of their meals.  Even a small vineyard, supplies grapes which find their way from vineyard to plate.

To give you a taste of what is yet to come, lets tantiilise your tastebuds with this platter for two. Superb!After eating your and drinking your fill, take the time to linger on the deck with a nightcap and drink in the twinkling atmosphere laid out before you.  Eventually you will have to tear yourself away to head back to your  comfortable room, or home, whichever the case may be.  Should you be lucky enough to have decided to stay, see if you can rise in time to watch the sun dawn on a new day.   Our hope is that upon reading this review, you will check this venue out.  Perhaps a wedding venue is what you are after, maybe just somewhere for a relaxing meal, or perhaps you will visit here to enjoy the onsite spa facilities.   Whatever the reason, enjoy your visit.  Remember to take time to relax, its a feeling oozing around you here, which just shouldn’t be resisted.   If you take time to enjoy a restaurant balcony meal, watch out for the local bird life, they enjoy a meat treat, and may feel the need to remove their own meat from your plate if you linger in feeding them!  

One last word in closing, Relax!

The Crofthouse Town Kitchen & Bar

Situated on the ground floor of the Sebel Brisbane, the Crofthouse is a result of a restaurant makeover around a year ago.   With a choice of indooor and outdoor dining, as welll as a mix of dining suite styles, you will are sure to find something to suit your tastes and wile away some time.


The Crofthouse  opens from early to late, catering for all daily meals as well as bar, snack and chacutierie menus.   

Lunches are $16, with a choice of two types.   Choose a protein meal and match to the interesting mix of salads at the bar, or choose an a la carte meal.    Today we both chose an a la carte option.

Mine was the Mushroom Risotto which had a some juicy mushroom pieces scattered throughout.   A nice mild meal, which suited me perfectly.  No spices, just herbs and goats cheeese making for a very enjoyable lunch.


Hubby chose the Flathead meal today.  Accompanied by chunky chips, I’m told the meal was tasty and enjoyable. As far as $16 meals both of these represented very good value for their cost.  Keep in mind too, if you are an Accor plus member, this restaurant accepts the accorplus card giving you discounts on your meals.


Wile away some time here, you may even find free entertainment outside the window.   We were lucky enough to be treated to a reverse parking display which took close to ten minutes from beginning to end, quite entertaining!

Should you feel the need to stay in the city, the Sebel has apartments and rooms available.   

Check the menus here as you pass by, there might be something which will catch your attention and provide you with the opportunity to stop off and relax.

Vagelis Bar & Cafe – Racecourse Road, Hamilton, Brisbane

  

A recent week day off work, led to a relaxing breakfast at Vagelis Bar & Cafe, located on the busy Racecourse Road restaurant strip.  Here you are spoilt for choice.   Today we chose Vagelis to enjoy breakfast.

For such a busy road, the setting here was lovely and relaxing.   A mix of Bali/Asian style meets western style.  Quite a mixed feel cafe, yet somehow this all came together to make for a nice place to enjoy a chill out breakfast.

  

The Japan Sencha tea was presened on its own wooden board, and made for a very enjoyable accompaniment to the meal.

  

The salmon stack above was my choice today.  Simple presentation, fresh food, even with one of the eggs being stone cold, this was not enough to ruin the meal.  Still a very nice meal, I’m sure the cold egg was simply an oversight on this day.

  

With a breakfast menu giving you plenty of choice, there is bound to be something on here to meet your requirements.    Service was friendly with everything being delivered to the table in a timely manner.   One in our table tried the Turbo Burrito and declared this to be a really nice dish.   I’m not a burrito person, but if you, perhaps is is one to try.

Luke I said earlier, the choice of dining on Racecourse Road is huge, however, this place is worth checking out.  It had the look and feel of a lovely place to spend a lazy afternoon or morning.   Check it out sometime. 👍

Powerhouse Brisbane

Met with a facade of brick, you can be forgiven for thinking this looks like a wall left standing from an abandoned factory, not an actual building.

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Yet, upon entry into this fascinating venue, you enter a whole new world. The combination of brick, concrete, steel, blended with deliberately designed graffiti, exudes an industrial grunge feel. Everywhere you look is another level, doorway, entrance or stairwell. The entrance leads you through to a huge balcony area on the other side with plenty of seating areas overlooking the Brisbane river.

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The choices are endless here, Bar Alto, restaurants, cafe, theatres, reception venues. We were attending a short course today, which I will cover separately, so this meant a quick bar snack and relaxing wine whilst watching the world go by. The bruschetta pictured above, was topped with roasted baby beetroot, ricotta and balsamic. Normally I am not a beetroot fan, however on this occasion, the bruschetta was tasty, without being overpowering and partnered well with a Marlborough Savignon Blanc.

An enjoyable and relaxing way to wile away the spare time was enjoyed by us on the balcony. Different groups were seated around, a couple of ladies enjoying a catch up over a bottle of wine, the young family encouraging children to expand their taste range, couples, groups. All were friendly, relaxing and enjoying the afternoon.

Like a big TV screen, the Brisbane river provided an ever changing program of shows. Jet skiers, City Cats, the Kookaburra Queen, planes arriving and departing Brisbane, pigeons as well as the odd albatross. Always something happening, with a backdrop of modern apartments and houses scattered about on the other side of the river.

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Three weddings were taking place in this venue alone on this one Saturday. The size of the place meant the wedding parties were swallowed after their respective ceremonies, into somewhere within the building.

On another section of the buildings outside wall, absailers learnt and tested their new skill. Possibilities here are endless!

I personally would return to try one of the restaurants on site. Although, I think I would probably have a preference for a cleaner lined building rather the grunge style, there is something rather fascinating about this place. Certainly is a nice area to catch up with friends or family. Worth checking it out.