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!

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!