Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Verve Cafe & Bar - Brisbane CBD

Working in a large office invariably means that corporate lunches are a frequent occurrence. My readers would know that we've had a recent obsession with gastro pub style restaurants, due to their variety and proximity. However, on this instance, we decided to try something else, and a colleague recommended Italian, and after much research, we opted for Verve Cafe Bar, along Edward Street in the CBD.

Verve is situated underground, in a cozy little basement with wooden tables and orange chairs amongst a brick backdrop.

The food menu was consise, offering a variety of entrees, pizzas and pastas.

We were given complimentary cheesy garlic bread to start us off, which was quite substantial and well seasoned. 

I had the spinach and cucumber risotto, which came in a red sauce topped with parmesan. Whilst the risotto was well done, I did find that the sauce was very very overpowering to the extent where I was unable to taste the cucumber and spinach at all.

My neighbour had the "Fire" pizza, which was also quite a generous size. Taste wise though, he said that it was a lot thicker than the bases of other pizzas he had, and a lot more doughier. Also, in line with the pasta, the tomato sauce was very strong and overwhelmed the flavours of beef, and salami. Only chilli could really be made out above the tomato flavours.

Price Range: $15 - $25 pp

Taste: 6/10
Value: 6/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 7.5/10

Verve Restaurant Bar Cider House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Genkotsu Ramen - Toowong

With my enduring love for Japanese Food, my friend and I decided that with the onset of chilly weather, it would be a good time to go to Toowong and try out Genkotsu Ramen. Whilst it is situated on Sherwood Road, which is a main road in the area, it was considerably well hidden at the back of one of the little arcades outside Toowong Village.

The menu was provided at the door, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were significant variations in the menu to what their Runcorn store


Despite the difference in menu though, the decor and condiments were thankfully the same. Again, we ordered at the counter and were given a number.

At my advise, my companion ordered the black garlic ramen with shoyu base. The serving size was generous, as he did not need to ask for kadaema. The black garlic was very fragrant, and was the highlight of the dish. We would have liked the soup to be more emulsified, but we definitely enjoyed the strong soy sauce flavours. The meat was relatively tender, but the egg was sadly overdone for our liking.

As for myself, I ordered the soft shell crab ramen, and the whole crab came on the side. Sadly, I didn't have a choice for soup base, but I believe I had the Shio one, which complemented the seafood flavours of the crab. Again my egg was also considerably overdone, with the yolk almost completely cooked and no remnant of liquidity. I also enjoyed the texture of the noodles, which was springy, but not too hard.

We also shared the gyoza, which was one of the better ones that I've had. The skin was very thin, and thankfully they were not stuck together. The fillings were meaty and juicy, and the bottom was crisp. The only thing I would have enjoyed was if the fillings were more seasoned.

Price Range: $10 - $20pp

Taste: 7.5/10
Value: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 7/10
Genkotsu Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Sakuraya - Runcorn

Being a regular at Warrigal Square, it was only a matter of time before I headed to Sakuraya for afternoon tea. After having lunch at Sushi Train, we thought that it would be a nice opportunity to round off our meal and chill with our friends for the rest of the day.

Having multiple loyalty cards from multiple coffee joints which I frequent, I was surprised to be given a loyalty card with cute little cat stickers, rather than the usual run of the mill stamps.

I ordered the jasmine green tea, whilst my friend had the matcha latte. The jasmine was light on the palatte, and a refreshing way to round of the meal. I think I still prefer the stronger tasting blue mountain green tea from cha time though. My companions' matcha latte was interesting in the sense that neither the coffee nor the matcha overpowered each other, and were instead rather complementary, which he enjoyed greatly.

Price Range: $4 - $7pp

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

Sakuraya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 21 March 2016

Corbett & Claude - Brisbane CBD

Working in the city often means that one is inundated with choices when it comes to lunch. Often after being spoilt for choice for an extended period of time, laziness tends to dictate where I dine. That is why we decided to just head downstairs to Corbett & Claude, situated in an alleyway behind Elizabeth Street when I forgot my lunch. Since my getting a coffee at Mr Claude, this review has indeed been long overdue.

The decor was very rustic and had a definite Italian feel to it. We were promptly seated, and the waitress was one of the most efficient I have ever seen, which was a great help when you're pressed to finish a meal during the lunch hour.

Cutlery and sharing plates were provided very quickly, and our food came out within 15 minutes of ordering.

Between the two of us, we shared two mains and an entree, but the entree was so large, it seemed more like a main.

The "entree" was a garlic bread, which turned out to be more like a full sized pizza. It was covered with Parmesan, Rosemary and Seasalt. The cheese was surprisingly light, and complemented the garlic taste quite well. The pizza base whilst remaining quite thin, turned out to be quite substantial and filling. I would have enjoyed a bit more rosemary to add flavour to the dish though.

My companion, being a passionate lover of pasta, my companion ordered a pan fried linguine served with creamy mushroom sauce. Whilst the garlic bread was very big, I was surprised at how small the portion of pasta was. Interestingly as well, the pasta was served unsalted, so we had to hunt down a salt shaker and add it ourselves. Nevertheless, it had a decent portion of mushrooms, and I really enjoyed the texture of the pasta, which was not too soft and not too hard.

With the bread and pasta lacking in meat, I opted for the pizza which was closest to a "meat lovers", and settled on the "Top Paddock", which consisted of salami, turkey, ham and BBQ sauce. Indeed, my companion was asking me to toss in some meats to his pasta. Whilst the pasta itself was light and subtle with its flavouring, the pizza hit me head on with its overwhelming bbq sauce, spiciness of salami and saltiness of ham. As most of the ingredients were strongly flavoured, they still managed to strike a balance with each other. Again, the pizza base was very filling and substantial. 

Price Range: $15 - $25pp

Taste: 7/10
Value: 7/10
Service: 9/10
Environment: 8/10

Corbett & Claude Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, 18 March 2016

Cafe 63 - New Farm

In my efforts to try out new brunch places on weekends, I stumbled along Cafe 63 along Brunswick Street, next to New Farm Park. Initially it was a bit lower down on my list of places to try, but the sign outside really caught my attention. Apparently for $3.50, you can get a coffee, with a free biscuit and a complementary bottle of water. In this day and age, I consider it to be a great deal and so we headed in to see what else we could get for breakfast.

The menu was very very long and had interesting peoples names for their items, which made it slightly confusing on our part. Nevertheless, the menu was very very long and comprised a large number of different options, which we appreciated.

We were also given complementary bottled water before we ordered, it was nicely chilled, and interestingly labelled with the cafe logo, which indicated specialisation as opposed to store bought.

There were a variety of spreads on the table, including jams, peanut butter and vegemite, this was in addition to chilli and vinegar for the lunch dishes. Other than Mcdonalds, I haven't been to any other places which offer such a large variety of condiments.

My first companion ordered the Stephanie Rice, which after its namesake was very healthy, containing an omlette with chicken, feta and spinach. The omlette was very very big, but it wasn't the fluffiest that we've had. It was served with two slices of wholegrain toast, which she put some of the condiments onto.

Another companion had the egg benny with bacon. Compared to the other dishes, this was considered the relatively small one (and also one with a very literal name). My companion enjoyed the generous lashings of bacon and the creamy hollandaise sauce, but she found the eggs to be more well done than she would have liked it to be.

My final companion ordered the Carbon Tax - It contained scrambled eggs with sausages, hashbrown and wholegrain toast. Again, the portions were really quite big to the point where she had to have some take away. The sausage were the skinless type, and the hashbrown was freshly fried and very crunchy, but the scrambled eggs could also have been fluffier.

I had "Deeps Breakfast", whilst I don't know who Deep is, it contained bacon, beef patty, pork belly, sausages, hashbrowns, grilled tomatoes, scrambled eggs and toast, with a cappuccino on the side. My companions definitely had some food envy when they saw my meal came. Whilst I enjoyed the sausages and tomato. However I found the pork belly to be way too strong in taste due to it being drenched in bbq sauce. Again, I've had better eggs, and the wholegrain bread was a let down for me (as a white bread eater). The bacon was nice and crispy, which I liked, and the beef patty was also a good meaty way to start the day. As for the cappuccino, it was quite a large cup, but a bit too acidic and burnt for my liking. The little individually packed biscuit on the side meant that I could take it away for later consumption, which I did.

Price Range: $15 - $20pp

Taste: 6/10
Value: 8/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 7/10

Café 63 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 14 March 2016

The Whisk - Upper Mt Gravatt

Being quite a fan of french patisseries, despite living in the southside, my regular go to is at Le Bon Choix in the CBD, or at Chouquette at New Farm as I can't find another authentic bakery nearby. Fortunately though, I read quite a number of articles recently on a new patisserie situated near Garden City at Upper Mt Gravatt opened by an award winning pastry chef, Justin Yu. Having heard that they sell out early, I convinced a friend to take me there in the early hours of Saturday to try it out.

Arriving just before 8AM, I was surprised to see a large crowd there, and the croissants almost gone. In fact there was only one chocolate croissant left meant that we definitely just made it in time.

There were a number of macaroons on display, despite it them all being chocolate coloured, they were labelled with a variety of flavours, and had different flavoured fillings such as peanut butter, mango, sesame and strawberry. There were also a small row of chocolates. What really caught my attention though, were the two types of cakes on display, one being the passion almond tart, and a chocolate brownie. Most of the seating was outside, but we were lucky to be able to grab one of the three inside tables.

Between the two of us, we shared a plain croissant, an almond croissant and a passion almond tart, along with some English breakfast tea. 

I really enjoyed the plain croissant, which was very flaky whilst being soft on the inside. It was slightly savoury, but had a slight sweet glaze on the outside, which made it quite a delicious way to start my morning.

Initially I had some hesitations about the chocolate croissant, because I may not have been ready for the full intense flavour of chocolate so early in the morning. This turned out to be quite unfounded, upon biting into the croissant, I realised that there was very little chocolate, and quite a bit of croissant, which agreed very well with me, but would disappoint if you were hoping for something akin to the Love at First Bite from Doughnut Time.

As for the Passion Almond Tart, I really enjoyed the strong fruity taste of the tart (even though my companion initially misconstrued the passion fruit taste for lemon). I also liked how it had blueberries in the biscuit base, which was crunchy and crumbly, but the standout for me was definitely the yummy fruity custard on top, which was soft and not over the top sweet. It's also noteworthy though, that I didn't seem to taste much almond in the tart. 

I wanted to also mention the tea, because for once, the tea was strong enough for my friend's liking, and it was also loose leaf. The design of the pot though meant that pouring was not easy, and it was prone to spilling when poured.

Price Range: $5 - $10pp

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

  The Whisk Fine Patisserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato