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!

Fox Glacier to Blenheim via Westport

After seeing the icy Fox Glacier, we headed up to Franz Joseph.  By now the hunger pains were setting in so time for a lunch stop.  The idea being lunch then back to the Franz Joesph Glacier.   We had missed the turnoff to Lake Matheson where we had planned lunch at the cafe.   Instead, we stopped as soon as we arrived in Franz, having a look at a lovely place called Blue Ice.  Not only was the service personal and friendly, prices were very good and the food itself was superb!  Top is the Seafood Chowder which I enjoyed immensely, below a burger meal.  Highly recommend taking the time to stop at this restaurant and bar.  If you’re coming from Hokitika, you will find this restaurant on the Southside of town, after driving through the main Franz Joesph township.

This little lookout at Franz Joesph was a short sharp hill walk from the carpark.   Franz is further back than Fox Glacier, so you have to do a lot of walking here to see the Glacier itself.  As we did not have the time today, a short walk to this lookout was all we could fit in.  A nice way to wear off the calories from that superb Blue Ice lunch.

Back on the road, we made a couple of brief stops for fuel etc as we headed towards our next destination.  Below are a couple of shots along the way.  Firstly one of the many lakes we had seen today, secondly, the iconic road road bridge near Hokitika.   A new bridge is being built next to it, so in a couple of year s traffiic probably won’t use this singe lane bridge.


Hokitika was a fuel stop for us and Greymouth we drove through.   Our main aim this afternoon was to stop at the Pancake Roacks at Punakiki.  This meant heading to Westport when we left Greymouth instead of towards Blenheim.


Punakiki is short distance from Westport and well worth stopping for.  A circuit walkway has been set up throughout the area so you can view the rocks and blowholes from many angles.   Today the rough West Coast sea was fairly calm which meant we didn’t see the water rising up high through the blowholes.  However, the incredible power of nature was very evident here.  We even found the island where seagulls live!

The West Coast of New Zealand is a incredible experience.  Rugged, natural, remote, rough yet beautiful.We took the trip from Queenstown to Westport in a day.   To see everything properly, we should have taken at least two, if not three days, however we did not have the time on this occasion.

Our stop off in Westport for the night was brief, but comfortable in a roomy motel unit at Westport Motels on the Esplanade.  Very easy to find as it was the first road on the left over the bridge.  After a quick unpack, we took a brief drive through Westport before eventually settling on the The Quarry restaurant and bar for dinner.  Lovely big meals. in a nice relaxed setting. If you are in Westport check this place out. The great down to earth West Coast service made for a nice relaxed evening.

After a well deserved sleep, we set off early in the morning heading for Blenheim.  Passing through the Buller Gorge, we saw some interesting sights, below are a few photos to show what we saw.

On a cloudy day, the Buller Gorge was today very moody.The iconic Hawks Crag is an interesting piece of one way road.    


We stopped in Murchison for a. very hearty warming breakfast.  Now thats quite an omlette, full to the brim with goodness. Well worth stopping at Beechwoods Cafe  Murchison.

The landscape started to change again as we headed towards our last roadside stop before Blenheim.Last stop, Lake Rotoiti.  We could not have visited on a better day, with the lake mirroring the towering mountains in the background.  Beautiful clear waters enhanced by the clear rays of sunlight.


Enjoy the atmosphere of these photos, I hope they have given you an insight into the spectacular ever changing scenery of New Zeal Zea  South. Is Is.  Next week, I will complete the blog of Marlborough area before we leave NZ until the next visit.   Take the time, visit here, its well worth it.

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!

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!

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!

Cafe Nui – Toowong

Stopped in here for a weekend breakfast recently.  Plenty of room at this venue, with big solid wooden tables, huge verandah area, good service and what could probably be best described as solid hearty meals.

Situated at the end of long ramp, overlooking a car parking area, the general vibe was quite pleasant.   Look for the umbrellas outside, framing the Cafe Nui sign.Menu choices had interesting names with various choices.  With a solid drink selection to pair with your meal, there shouldn’t be too much problem finding a beverage to suit your taste.  Maybe a Chanel Juice (watermelon, pineapple & mint), or perhaps The Hottie (carrot, ginger & pineapple).


Time to choose breakfast.   Today I thought I’d give the McKay a try.   Advertised as Haloumi, onion rings, avocado, poached eggs on Turkish bread, it certainly sounded appealing.

Not only did this sound appealing, it looked appealing and definitely provided a good solid food base to the stomach,  The Haloumi was nicely grilled, not tough, stringy, in fact one of the better grilled haloumi’s I have had.

Savoury mince on toast was Hubbys choice today.   A breakfast which he did enjoy, stating everything was fresh, and nicely cooked.

Corey was the name of the Potato Rossi dish,   A simple meal overall, I’m told was nice but not completely to the taste of the person consuming.   Presentation was simple, with meals still looking appealing.   The only issue we had was the delay in one of the meals, arriving when the rest of the party had finished around half of their meals.  Apart from this, service was fine.

Why not finish breakfast with a dessert?   This one might be becoming a habit, however the Canadian style Oliver pancakes were most definitely worth tasting.

WIth alcoholic beverages available, this venue would make a nice lunch venue or somewhere to wile away some time.   By the reviews on their page, this one looks to be a popular local hangout.   If you’re not a local though, head past and stop in for visit.   

Kith ‘n’ Chow

Returning to our Sunday Beeakfast outings, the choice today was the quirky food van Kith ‘n’ Chow, located in Mount Gravatt.  Quite an electic choice of seating including this van complete with stools inside and out.  A novel table for customers and one which, I have no doubt, is a hit with many.Today was a somewhat moody, wet, Brisbane day, which had us wondering what would happen, given the table settings are outside. We soon discovered there was no problem at all.  Why you may ask?   Simply because this food van operates in conjunction with a florist next door.   The florist shop provides the coffees to accompany the gastronomic delights of the food van.    

Seated under shelter, we perused the menu to decide upon breakfast choices.   Having seen some photos of the breakfast platters, Hubby was in no doubt what his choice would be- you guessed it a platter.

What a simply delightful  spread, not only the display, but for the taste sensations contained within.  Those cherry tomatoes pan seared in a herb vinaigrette were sensational.   Eggs and bacon I’m told were fresh, and the haloumi was a definite favourite of Hubbys.   His first time trialling this particular cheese.

More of those superb cherry tomatoes and grilled haloumi on this tomato bruschetta dish, with an added side of bacon.

Frozen  yoghurt topped with a bright pansy, contained crunchy roasted granola which mixed well with frozen creamy yoghurt and strawberries.Juices and Smoothies are offered on the drinks menu.  The choice, like the food menus, has been keep to a small yet varied number of choices.

Sunrise Juice, P nutter Smoothie, Green Glory and Pinkle.  My choice was the Pinkle, a very refreshing light, tasty juice where the watermelon apple and lemon mixed nicely to gently tease the tastebuds. 

Take the time to visit this interesting cafe.  The idea of incorporating a quaint food van into the area looks to have paid off, It certainly creates a talking point, and they have in no way skimped on the quality and presentation of their food.

Check this one out!

Gianni’s Kitchen – Newstead Brisbane

 

Buongiorno!  Time to visit Italy without leaving Brisbane.  Gianni’s Kitchen is a full restaurant, however, breakfast is in the deli area rather than the restaurant itself.   Here you can choose to sit outside underneath the huge umbrellas or, inside, surrounded by jars and bottles of Italian delicacies.  Various cured meats and cheeses, beckon you from their chillers, encased behind sparkling glass.

 

Friendly Italian staff added to the relaxed atmosphere.  Tea and coffee arrived, accompanied by thick pieces of tantalising biscotti.  Definitely a nice touch.    As customers started to arrive, many greeted staff in Italian, inciting excited chatter.

Here, there was no rush to push patrons through.  We were more than happy to catch up with our group over tea and coffee, and drink in the atmosphere.  Everywhere the eye wandered there was something else to look at.   To be fair, it would have been very easy to walk out with a bag of purchases including wine, cheese, fresh cakes, olive oils, the list is endless.   Restraint was most definitely a requirement today.   ( Although, obviously some of us didn’t have enough of that ..!)

 Plenty of choice on the breakfast menu, with our choices including Eggs with Sicilian sausage and the Box of Pan Brioche,, amongst others.  Adore the gorgeous little packets delivered go the table, holding your knife, fork and napkin.  Awesome👍

The Box of  Pan Brioche above, was my choice.  The brioche in the centre, was filled with honey spinach, topped with a poached egg.  Resting upon a bed of smoked salmon, avocado & ricotta mousse, this dish was a delight to eat.  The salmon, avocado & riccotta mousse paired beautifully with the spinach brioche.   A very tasty dish.

This was another venue which looked like the ideal place for a long lunch.  Arrivederci Giannis, see you soon!    In the meantime here’s a dish of the eggs and Sicilian sausage to tempt your tastebuds.