Monday, 31 August 2015

Chouquette - New Farm

As I've been exploring New Farm lately, and with my love of French Pastries, a friend suggested that I ought to give Chouquette a try. It was situated on Barker Street, just off Brunswick Street. 

Upon entering, we were greeted by the delicious sight of pastries and buns. W I note that the pastries had a much more basic looking colour compared to the vibrant colours that I am usually used to in le bon choix, which looks far more natural.

We ordered a Frasier and a Dulcey Tart to share.

It consisted of a genoise base, with vanilla mousse mixed with strawberries. A genoise cake can be contrasted to a regular cake due to the fact that the egg whites and egg yolks are beaten together (as opposed to separated). Air is then suspended in the batter to result in a rather elastic but dry texture. Although this may have been the case, the fact that it had copious amounts of vanilla mousse, which was delightfully light. The added strawberries added to the freshness of the cake. 

Compared to the Frasier, the Dulcey Tart had a much more richer taste to it. As a reference point, Valrhona Dulcey Chocolate refers to a famous brand of French Blond Chocolate which was made by caramelised white chocolate when heated and left. It has a biscuity and caramel flavour which definitely sets it apart from regular white chocolate. In our Dulcey tart, this was definitely accentuated by the actual caramel filling to which you can see at the bottom of the tart. It also had a type  of hazelnut dacquouise, which was complemented the tart very well.

Price Range: $10 - $20 per person (Cakes were $7.50 per slice)

Taste: 8/10
Value: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 8/10

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Saturday, 29 August 2015

Double Shot Espresso - New Farm

With my recent pleasant experiences in Pablo and Au Cirque, a companion of mine decided to try out another brunch place in New Farm - Double Shot Espresso.

We arrived to quite a crowd outside, and were told that we needed to wait for a table. Luckily we were given the menu to peruse whilst we waited.

After waiting 20 or so minutes we were given an outside table, on the side of the road, which is not my usual preference. Nevertheless we were grateful that at least the street was relatively quiet and we were not overly disturbed during our meal.

We ordered at the counter and were given a number.

My companion ordered a Russian Caravan tea, and I ordered a cappuccino. We really enjoyed the cappuccino, which had velvety froth on top. The Caravan Tea was quite interesting, we could taste the strong smokey oolong taste in the tea, which was quite distinctive to have with milk.

Our impressive meals arrived shortly afterwards. My companion and I shared both plates, so I was able to get a good taste of both.

I started off on the breakfast board, which was quite delicious. I particularly enjoyed the perfectly ripe avocado, which spread wonderfully on the sourdough. The poached egg was also runny on the inside, and the salmon was delicious and vibrantly red. I liked the nice touch that the salad and tomato did, but on the other hand, the feta cheese was a bit too strong for my palette so early in the morning.

Our other breakfast was the Croque Madame. Compared to other ones we've had, it was relatively less rich, which meant we found it a lot easier to eat so early in the morning. The onion jam was a definitely distinct touch, which made it quite delicious. The eggs were again done just right, and we liked how stringy the melted cheese was and how it complemented the ham to form a rather comforting breakfast.

Price Range: $20 - $25 per person

Taste: 8/10
Value: 7/10
Service: 6/10
Environment: 5/10 (I really dont like sitting next to the street)

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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Sugo Mi - Bulimba

Having had quite a positive experience at Alfredo's Pizzeria, we were up for trying new pizza places. Our quest lead us to Sugo Mi on Oxford Street at Bulimba, where we went for a lazy Saturday lunch.


The menu was short but detailed, having a large selection of pizzas and some pastas along with sides and entrees.

We were given a seat near the kitchen, where we could appreciate the chefs making the meal, which is something I enjoy very much.

Between the two of us we shared two pizzas and one side.

Each of the pizzas came with a cutter, so we were free to cut the pizza as we saw fit, which was quite fun.

The first pasta we ordered was the Palermo. It contained Sugo, smoked ham, prosciutto, smoked mozzarella, parsley and evo. For those who are unaware, sugo is a traditional slow cooked Italian tomato sauce. We found the pizza to be very flavoursome, with the sugo balancing out hte saltiness of the ham and proscuitto. We loved the tang of the smoked mozarella and the added parsely rounded it off very well. The base was just right, being nicely thin, but without being too hard and crunchy, it was very delicious and didn't flake everywhere, which made it very tasty. It was also quite an interesting oval shape, which is different from the usual circle.

The second pizza we ordered was the Arrostita. It contained slow roasted pork, caramelized onion, mozzarella, aged balsamic & rocket. I enjoyed the pork very much, and it added another layer of texture to the pizza. I didnt like the sweetness of the caramelized onion though, which was a bit over the top for my tastes. I guess next time I will definitely stick to the sugo pizzas, especially being the namesake of the restaurant.

We also shared a serve of fries with aioli. To this, I must say that I've never had fries that maintained their crispiness for so long. It was very impressive. On the other hand though, it was quite salty and we ended up tapping every fry that we ate to get the excess salt off. I liked how much garlic flavour the aioli had though. 

Price Range: $20 - $30 per person

Taste: 7.5/10
Value: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 8/10

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Saturday, 22 August 2015

5 Dogs - Fortitude Valley

One afternoon, we found ourselves in fortitude valley, waiting for friends to come later in the evening for dinner. Feeling peckish, we wandered up Brunswick Mall, foraging for sustenance of some kind and found ourselves outside 5 Dogs. 

Their menu consists of five different hotdogs (as per the name of the store) and a number of sides.

My companions ordered the German Dog, being a bratwurst and sauerkraut with onions. They said that the bun tasted like it was storebought, and the sausage was tasty, but nothing particularly outstanding. As you can see in the picture too, the onions were nearly non-existent. For the price though, it was definitely still quite a good deal.

I ordered a portion of the Poutine to share. They were quite delicious in my opinion, being freshly fried, the gravy was very smooth, warm and filling and the cheese was melty and stringy. For a snack, it was rich and satisfying. 

Price Range: Under $10 per person

Taste: 6/10
Value: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 6/10

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Thursday, 20 August 2015

Sono - Portside

One of my close friends and I had a rather significant victory to commemorate, and when he offered to take me out to dinner at whatever place I wanted, I jumped at the offer and asked that we go to one of the most prestigious Japanese Restaurants in Brisbane.

We went to Sono at Portside Wharf after enjoying The Man from U.N.C.L.E (which was very enjoyable and highly recommended.)

Having our past experience in difficulty obtaining a table on short notice, we definitely booked well in advance, which was a prudent choice, as the restaurant was full up for the evening.

I was pleasantly surprised to be given a sunken table which mimics the traditional Japanese tatami. Indeed I would have put in a request for one specifically, but wanted to avoid the hassle, so it was an excellent start to the evening. They had a shoes off policy for eating at the sunken table, which was quite novel in Brisbane. 

The surroundings were elegant and calming, as one would expect from such an establishment. 

We were provided water very promptly before we ordered food.

Rather than alcohol, we settled on a traditional pot of Hojicha to complement our meal.

Our two orders of salmon sashimi came with much spectacle, being served upon dry ice. Being a big fan of salmon (as my readers would know), I was very excited to see that they had Alpine Salmon on their menu. To draw a comparison, we ordered one serve of the regular Tasmanian Salmon and one portion of the Alpine Salmon. I was advised that the lighter coloured salmon with some skin was the Alpine variety, whilst the darker coloured ones with the skin completely off was Tasmanian. In comparing the two, Tasmanian Salmon had a much sweeter and smoother flesh, as we are normally used to, but he Alpine Salmon had a far more delicate fresh seafood flavour, and more texture to its flesh. It was quite delicious. We really appreciated the opportunity to try both types of salmon.

Next to arrive was the Gyu Tataki (very lightly seared raw beef sashimi), served with a citrus soy dipping sauce, crushed ginger and garlic. We loved how the beef was well marbled and melted in our mouth. The garlic and ginger definitely packed an extra zing to it and left us appetised and wanting more.

Luckily we didn't have to wait very long. Three dishes came in very quick succession after this.

Our two orders of sushi came served on one plate.

The prawn tempura roll was served with avocado to add to the creaminess of the roll, and tobiko to give it extra crunch. The rice was cooked to a wonderful texture, and it was all nicely wrapped in seaweed. If the topping to rice ratio was a bit more generous, this would have been the most perfect tempura prawn roll I have ever tasted.

Following on my comments on the topping to rice ratio, this was definitely corrected in the soft shell crab roll, which had very generous portions of soft shell crab, and ample rice on the outside. The crab was fried to a nice crisp, whilst locking in the juices on the inside. It was wonderfully enjoyable.

That evening, I managed to try something I've always eyed off on their menu. The fresh salmon tartare was very delectable. Whilst those little cubes on the bottom may look like tofu, they are actually little squares of fried rice patties. The raw salmon was delightfully infused with miso and sesame oils, giving it a smooth and delicious texture, which contrasted with the outside of the rice parcels. My only suggestion with this dish though, would have been that the fried part of the rice patty could have been thinner, which would have added to the complexity of the dish.

In the running theme of Crab dishes that my friend and I have going, we tried the Tempura Alaskan King Crab, which was served with sea salt. It was a simple but exquisite dish, which brought out the sweetness in the crab flesh, and allowed us to enjoy the basic element of crab for what it was without being overpowered by other tastes. 

In the name of variety, I also ordered the Ebi Avocado Yaki, being a grilled cheesy avocado prawn. Despite being grilled, the prawn was quite moist in texture. The cheese and avocado were very creamy, and definitely added much to the texture of the prawn and made it quite delectable. 

We rounded off our meal with a nourishing pot of Nabeyaki Udon (for further information relating to Nabeyaki Udon, please see my explanation in my Oshin entry). The nabeyaki at Sono contained all the essential elements, such as a comforting soup, squishy udon, egg, eggplant, prawns, chicken and shiitake mushrooms. I was particularly impressed with how attentive the chef was to separate the prawn and the eggplant, as it was fried, and the soup would have softened the tempura batter. In the top photo, to the right side of the egg, you see something that I mistook to be tofu. From the photo on the left, you can actually see that it was traditional Japanese Ozoni, a type of savoury grilled soup mochi which is often served during new years. I wanted to try this for quite some time now. It was very very elastic and chewy whilst being soft and smooth at the same time. I loved the experience.

I really enjoyed my night out at Sono, especially because we were lucky enough to also get to appreciate the sight of fireworks from the CBD. Whilst it was very expensive, I think it a worthwhile destination, especially for special events.

Price Range: $80+ per person

Taste: 9.5/10
Value: 7/10
Service: 9/10
Environment: 9.5/10

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