Sunday, 30 December 2018

Soho Gardens - Fairfield

Festive season is always stressful and Christmas present shopping is one of the hardest things to contend with whilst still keeping up with the holiday scheduling. Whilst we were out doing our end of year shopping though, nothing beats a quick rest stop for lunch to catch your breath and appreciate that you are in fact on holidays, which is why we opted for a nice relaxing lunch at Soho Gardens amid the shopping frenzy.

Situated in Fairfield Gardens, it was quite spacious and had both indoors and outdoors seating. Of course we opted for indoors seating to avoid the heat of the sun and bathe in the cool respite of air conditioning. 

The menu was quite innovative with a fair amount of share plates, grilled dishes as well as an option of a lazy banquet for the indecisive. 


With the drinks menu being quite extensive there was an interesting selection of cocktails as well as gin and tonic.


For once, I didn't opt for the Espresso Martini, but Adam couldn't resist the Bombay Chai, being the massive fan that he is of Fonzie Abbott espresso. Tasting a bit, I liked the subtle spices.  Wanting to go the refreshing rather than creamy route, I tried both the blood and water gin and tonics. Both were refreshingly bitter and really hit the spot, I especially liked the refreshing citrus tang of orange.

Kicking off our shared starters, this was the Salmon Tartare. It was an interesting change from the standard steak tartare that we normally get. Although the seasoning was largely similar with capers and vinegar, it was definitely lighter and more refreshing compared to beef. To the side was wasabi kewpie. I didn't taste too much wasabi, but the kewpie added creaminess and texture to the dish. Rather than bread, it was served with some deep fried crispy wanton puffs, which added to the lighter elements of the dish. We really enjoyed it.

Our other shared starter was the Seared Beef Carpaccio. Whilst it didn't have the vibrancy of salmon tartare, I loved how tender and lean the cuts of beef were. Served with a sprout salad and topped with crunchy sesame, it had an abundance of textures and tastes. Topped with sweet Thai Nam Jim sauce, it definitely wasn't something you could find elsewhere.

Mains came before long. Letting him decide both for the day, this was the Herbed Spatchcock, which came with salad, salsa, mustard and herbed turmeric butter. Not a frequent consumer of spatchcock, I really enjoyed how it had a smooth texture similar to that of quail, but roughly the size of a pigeon. It had a wonderfully grilled charcoal flavour to it, and with the slow sous vide method of cooking, moisture was thoroughly maintained throughout the meat, it went especially well with the herb butter.

Our other main was the BBQ Beef Ribs. For the price, the quantity was very generous. The meat was wonderfully tender and fell off the bone, and I loved the thick sweet bbq sauce on the ribs. I really enjoyed the smokey meaty texture to the meat, but found it to be an odd combination with the same sides as the spatchcock dish.

Espresso and Matcha were invited guests of Soho Gardens, but as always, our opinions are solely our own.

Price Range: $30 - $50pp

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

Soho Gardens Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 27 December 2018

HiHi Tea - West End

Wandering around West End after another successful food crawl, we had aimed to walk off some of the bloat. We ended up walking straight into HiHi Desserts and Drinks for his fix of bubble tea and cake. 

I appreciate the bright and crisp interior. Service was quick and efficient at the counter and we were soon seated at one of the last tables in house. Customers streamed in and out during the evening, most of them had take away, as is expected from a bubble tea joint. 

With both Matcha Mousse and Tiramisu, it was a hard choice for me that evening. I guess I’ll just have to come back at a later time to try the matcha. 

The Tiramisu was simple and elegant. I loved how delicate and refined it looked. The mousse was airy and light with not much by way of cheesiness, and the cake inside had hints of coffee at best. I wish it were stronger. 


Our drinks came soon after the slice of cake. He had the Brown Sugar Milk Tea with Pearls and I had a hot Matcha Latte. As a guy who loves his sweets and always orders his drinks at full sweetness, even this was too much for him to handle. I tried one sip and gagged at consuming my whole days’ worth of sugar in a mouthful. It was almost as if the sugar in my cup had been given to him instead, as my Matcha latte, which I had ordered less sweet, came out completely unsweetened (thank goodness). It was rich and creamy with a granulated powdery texture of matcha infused throughout the cup. 

Price Range: $5 - $15pp

 Taste: 4/10
Value: 4/10
Service: 6/10
Environment: 7/10

Hihi Drinks & Desserts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 24 December 2018

Smoked Paprika - Paddington

Making some progress through our hitlist of places to try, Adam and I found ourselves at Smoked Paprika one sunny Saturday morning to kick off an epic weekend. I had long wanted to try out the food here, but he has been a long time fan, so I knew I was in for a treat. We arrived early on at 9AM in the morning, and it was lucky we did before the midday heat. Seating was largely outside and we had a seat close to the kitchen. 


Service was friendly and attentive and we were soon provided very comprehensive menus. I really liked the creativity of the options available. Despite how captivating the standard menu was, we were there to try out their weekly specials (because everyone knows that he can’t have enough of blueberries). 


Before food though, our drinks came. He ordered his usual iced long black, and seeing how warm it was, I had a skinny iced latte. Both were refreshing but could have had a bit more strength for that additional caffeine hit. 

To share, we also had the weekly special mango and raspberry frappe. It was very smooth, fruity and rich. I really loved the flowery embellishments on the mason jar which made it stand out from all the smoothies I had ever had before. Whilst the coffee was a little lacking in strength, the frappe packed a fruity punch and we both enjoyed sharing it. 

Halfway through our drinks, our savoury food came out. The spread was so beautiful and plating was wonderful. It was like a work of art on our table. 

This was the off menu scallop special, which comprised of pumpkin puree, poached eggs, toast, beetroot, salad and charcoal Hollandaise. For a breakfast dish, it was definitely very generous in terms of scallop content with ten pieces. I liked the caramelised exterior and spongey texture which complemented the creamy pumpkin puree well. Charcoal hollandaise was a new experience for me and added a toasty flavour to the standard eggs benedict, the eggs of course had a good consistency with a fully cooked white and a runny centre. 

Last of our savoury dishes was the Slow Cooked Tripe, served with wild mushroom stew, pumpkin puree, grilled haloumi, herb oil, confit garlic, sourdough, poached eggs and bearnaise sauce. It was pretty much a feast on a plate. The tripe was soft and tender, whilst a little foreign to Adam, it has always been a favourite for me at yumcha and being cooked with star anise, the flavours were very familiar and comforting to me. The haloumi was well caramelised and the confit garlic was surprisingly soft and mild in taste (I could have eaten them all if I didn’t need to share). 

Then our desserts started arriving (yes, two course breakfast is taking life to a new level of extravagance). This was the other weekly special, the Blueberry Waffle with mocha panna cotta, Italian meringue, toasted hazelnut biscuit crush, Nutella and fresh strawberries. To put it simply, it was everything wonderful on a plate. The waffles were fruity and I loved their homogeneous texture, whilst the panna cotta struck a good balance between coffee and chocolate and was super creamy. Meringue and biscuit contributed to the texture as well. I really enjoyed this dessert. 

As he is really good friends with the chef, Adam was saved a slice of peanut butter and jelly cheesecake. I snuck a bite for taste (being very full at that point). It was extremely rich and creamy with an intense taste of peanut butter and jelly. He polished of most of the slice even after such an intense breakfast.

Espresso and Matcha got to enjoy this complimentary meal by freeloading off FoodieAdam's invite. But as always, my opinions are solely my own. 

Price Range: $20 - $30pp

Taste: 8.5/10
Value: 8/10
Service: 8/10
Environment: 6/10

Smoked Paprika Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, 21 December 2018

Special Rub - Coorparoo

Saturday morning we were feeling hungry for breakfast. Not really wanting to brave the crowds at New Farm or Bulimba, we thought outside the box and found ourselves at Coorparoo Square, specifically at Special Rub for an American inspired diner style breakfast. Kicking off at 9AM, we were the first in the door. With seating both inside and outside, I would normally prefer indoors, but he preferred the sunlight and morning breeze, so I acquiesced (things you do for the ones you love I guess). 


The menu was short and sweet. You could definitely tell that the options were very American inspired. Having unlimited filter coffee though, was definitely something that struck me. We had to have it and at $5 per person, it was such a steal. 


With a filter coffee setup inside, I went in and fixed us both cups. He had his black and I had mine white, so we had the best of both worlds. With I liked the brew which was clean and crisp whilst maintaining a level of strength, which is why we had three cups each. If they had this closer to home or work, I would definitely be a regular. 

Being the adventurous type, he had the fried chicken French toast topped with coffee maple. Apparently they had forgotten the bacon on his dish. I really enjoyed the chicken which was fresh, juicy and crispy, but would have been so much more enjoyable if it was boneless. The French toast was also thick cut, fluffy and the crust wasn’t overly thick and chewy. The maple glaze was definitely infused with coffee, and was quite tasty. 

I had a serve of bacon and eggs with toast and an added side of avocado with feta. The bacon was a good level of thickness with a toasty caramelised edge to it. Being the considerate girlfriend that I am, I gave him half of my bacon, which he wolfed down (things you do for love, right?), My fried eggs were fairly standard, I would have liked a crispy edge and the option for salt and pepper to top it off. Toast was fluffy and delicious, whilst the avocado was generous in portion and I liked the sharp tang of feta that added some depth to it. 

Rounding off, we had to have some hash browns to conclude our meal. These were freshly fried but tasted a bit processed and much like the ones that can be found in the store. Nevertheless, deep fried potato is a weakness of mine and they were devoured with much appreciation. 

Espresso and Matcha got to enjoy this complimentary meal by freeloading off FoodieAdam's invite. But as always, my opinions are solely my own.

Price Range: $15 - $25pp 

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

Special Rub Smoked Meats Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

The Meating Room - Teneriffe

With the arrival of December, comes the frantic end of year festivities. It doesn't help that there's also an onslaught of birthdays, mine included, adding to the chaos that comes with scheduling when everyone is busy. For this reason, my birthday festivities commenced two weeks early, with a large group gathering at the Meating Room, a premium steakhouse along the main strip of Teneriffe, having long wanted to go since seeing photos of food online.

Our table was set at our time of reservation. I loved the rustic vibes of this space.

The drinks menu consisted of a selection of champagne, rose, wines and cocktails.

Our main focus however, was always going to be the food menu. With a meat heavy emphasis, it had everything to satisfy our carnivorous sides.

In a celebratory mood though, I started with a glass of champagne.

Our entrees started coming soon after ordering. This was Adam's Three Cheese Arancini balls, as the Cheeseburger wasn't available, nor were the croquettes. The arancini balls were steaming hot, and filled with fluffy rice. The coating was quite thick and hard, but the cheese sauce was rich and creamy.

My entree was the steak tartare of course. It was served mixed with pickles, mustard, parmesan, egg yolk and a side of bread. Compared to other tartare I've had before, the steak was chopped quite coarsely with pieces substantially larger than others. I loved the mix of pickle and mustard, with its delicious sharp zing. I also found it to be generous in portion and overall very enjoyable.

Around our table, we all had the Bavette, as it was the special that weekend. Adams was served with a side of Cafe De Paris Butter. 

My Bavette was served with Truffle Butter and topped with herb bearnaise. The steak was cooked to a default medium rare. It was unbelievably tender and juicy. I love the crisp chargrilled exterior and the soft moist meaty centre. The bearnaise was wonderfully tasty with a rich and creamy texture. The truffle butter was of course decadent and fragrant, adding to the depth of the dish. The serving of fries was generous, and they worked well to soak up the meat juices and sauce. 

We also opted for three sides to share, this was the wedge of lettuce with blue cheese, tomato, and bacon. It was crisp and refreshing balancing the richness of sharp blue cheese and well received throughout.

Our second main was the house made gnocchi. I liked the crispy base and chewy interior, offering a different texture of potato compared to the fries.

Our third side was the baby carrots with house dukkah. Roasted to a tender softness, the tips were slightly crispy and the dish was quite enjoyable.

Of course when the steaks come with unlimited fries, we would not say no. So after we were done, we had another serving. It was freshly fried and super crisp and as most cultured people would know, there is nothing which brings as much joy as bottomless fries.

Price Range: $30 - $50pp

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

The Meating Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato