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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Gauge | 77 Grey Street, SOUTH BRISBANE QLD 4101

Although located on a busy street, for those who don’t know what they are looking for, Gauge can be easily missed. There is an easing presence about the simple, sleek, almost industrial design of this space that caters for twenty-something diners.  We found out that the Head Chef, Ollie Hansford whom was awarded the Brisbane Times Good Food Guide 2016 Young Chef of the Year, has been hunted and is moving to Stokehouse Melbourne. Gauge was immediately placed on the priority list.

Stepping inside this café, the first thing that you will notice is the airy, open-plan kitchen. Minibun George got a friendly wave from the chef which made us free extremely welcome. We found a table at the corner of the café that’s a little more ‘tucked away’ and ordered our morning necessity: caffeine. The cups of coffee arrived with skillfully executed coffee art; I almost didn't want to sprinkle any sugar on top to ruin the pattern. Underneath the thick, creamy froth, was solid, strong coffee supplied by Coffee Supreme. That’ll wake you up!

If there is only one thing that you can order from Gauge, make it the black garlic bread, brown butter & burnt vanilla ($8). This amazing modified creation of bread and butter is absolutely mind blowing. It’s the sweet, rich butter, it’s the garlic taste, it’s the soft yet crumbly texture of the bread and it’s the fact that I just couldn't stop shoving it down my throat. It’s so good.

You will also find creative items that are not on a regular breakfast menu – items like warm brioche pudding, date milk, poached pear & olive ($15) and ash sourdough, almond cream, raw beef w’ XO style sauce, soft egg & pickled green tomato ($19).  Both wonderfully presented dishes were as tasty as they looked, especially the raw beef with XO style sauce. Covered with bright yellow runny egg yolk, the already soft and tender beef was graced by the delightful balance of sweet and salty flavours from the XO style sauce.

Wanna hashtag #finedining with your breakfast experience? Think Gauge.

Total Bunnie Dollars Spent: $50.50

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Paddington Deli & Epicerie | 153-155 Latrobe Terrace, PADDINGTON QLD 4064

We were at the Paddington Antique Centre recently looking for some unique pieces for our new home when I discovered the Paddington Deli & Epicerie a few doors down. I was instantly attracted to the old world charm and décor of this place.

The following weekend, we took mum and minibun George there for breakfast.

It was a chilly morning despite the beautiful sun and cloudless blue sky. Luckily the café was warm. We found a table nestled in the corner of the dainty eatery and I immediately sank into the comfy brown studded leather couch against the window.  It was a fantastic position for people watching. I love places like this - old gilded mirrors hanging on red-hued brick walls, vintage chandeliers sparkling away above your head, a room filled with aromatic smell of grounded coffee beans and freshly baked pastries, teas that are served in pretty floral cups and saucers.

On a blackboard a few meters away, were the specials of the day and they all sounded irresistibly delicious in a rustic, humble kind of way. Our waitress promptly took our orders for breakfast and it didn’t take long before we were impressed with the look of our dishes. The serving portions of the dishes alone justified a big tick from me.

I absolutely loved my dish – bubble & squeak: double smoked pork belly, garlic aioli and roasted veg ($16). What’s not to like when you get the sweetness of sweet potato, the fragrant roasted aroma of garlic without any of its raw sharpness and the slightly salty and smoky taste of pork belly rendered to just the right amount of fat. All these things were found on one plate and in every mouthful and the flavours provided my palate so much excitement. My hand kept putting food into my mouth and that robot movement only happens when I eat something extraordinarily delicious.

The other travel bunnie watched with envy as I devoured my dish, but he could hardly complain as his hash browns crispy corned beef, herb mayo and egg ($14) looked very enticing and tasted equally as good. Mum’s zucchini fritter w’ haloumi, poached eggs and avocado ($17) was thoroughly enjoyed too.

I couldn't fault the experience. It was a perfect breakfast, and perhaps my favourite one in a long time.

Total Bunnie Dollars Spent: $65

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Izakaya Kotobuki | 93 Albert Street, BRISBANE QLD 4000

Recently, we stopped by at a newly opened izakaya on Adelaide Street on our way home after work.

Much remains unchanged at the previous site of Jeremy’s Bistro’s time and unfortunately, another old favourite of mine bites the dust.

If Kotobuki rings a bell for you, chances are you’ve been to the extremely popular sushi restaurant located at Kangaroo Point.  Izakaya Kotobuki is the new venture by the same people that offers a lot more options than just sushi. 

Like quite a few Japanese places in Brisbane, iPads are provided as your ordering system. The good thing about this system is that it is extremely efficient and assists in the visualisation of the menu items. The bad thing is, well, you might go overboard with the ordering because your eyes are often bigger than your tummy and it’s simply too easy to place an order.

A cup of Japanese green tea ($2 per teabag) and some salmon sashimi ($8) later, we were presented with Lion King ($9), our favourite sushi from Kotobuki. It’s a combination of crab stick, cucumber and avocado topped with slightly grilled salmon and cheese, and can I say I love the slightly burnt taste of the fat from the salmon pieces. We also shared a Wagyu beef tenshoku ($17.50). Served on a sizzling hot plate, the wagyu slices were drizzled with garlic Tamari soy sauce. The meat lacked the tenderness and any real flavour so it’s not something that we would order again. We finished the meal with a set of Kotobuki Rolls ($10). These tempura sushi were stuffed with crumbed chicken, cream cheese and avocado, and as you can imagine, they were fairly rich in texture. I found the concept of tempura sushi to be quite interesting and they are worth a try for $10.

We walked out of Izakaya Kotobuki with mixed feelings. As much as we would’ve to love this place, we both thought that the experience was mediocre.

Having said that, the wall decorated with traditional Japanese paper lanterns adds a nice touch to the restaurant’s décor. 

Total Bunnie Dollars Spent: $48.50

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Zeus Street Greek | 14 Little Stanley Street, SOUTH BRISBANE QLD 4101

There is a new man in my life, Zeus. He’s fun, delicious and Greek.

I had a dinner date with Zeus only recently and it was awesome.

It was on a Saturday night and I had been excited about the rendezvous all day. Zeus, is one of the newest additions to the South Bank dining precinct. With a street food style in mind, Zeus serves up traditional Greek food with a modern twist including a good selection of yiros – marinated meat on a spit with salad wrapped in pita bread. 

I’ve always had a thing for yiros; my favourite yiros of all time was had on an overnight ferry from Athens to Crete, with a €4 price tag. It’s one of my favourite cheap eats because when done right, yiros can be so satisfying.

Orders are to be placed at the counter and while you’re waiting for your meal, you can have a quick browse at a corner that is packed with Greek products for purchase, such as Kalas Golden Greek Salt and dried oregano bunches. Or you can simply sit in your seat and get mesmerised by the smoke coming from the open kitchen as a result of the tantalising meat slowing turning on the spit.

The food came quickly. Served on a wooden planks were Spartan chicken – chicken with Aegean slaw, preserved lemon mayo, caramelised onion and parsley ($10.50) The Zeus – signature lamb with Aegean slaw, smoked eggplant, onion and parsley ($12.50) and a chicken pita ($8.50) for minibun George. Perfectly wrapped in paper printed in the Greek key design, the pita bread was soft and warm, and the flavour of the meat had a touch of smokiness which was not overpowering. A side of the feta & oregano chips ($8.50) completed our meal. It was difficult to pick a favourite out of the Spartan and Zeus, and we would definitely love to try some of the others in the selection.

We had to get some of the chocolate loukoumades ($9) into our bellies before we called it a night. Adding a twist on the traditional recipe, these Greek bite-sized doughnuts were generously drizzled with hazelnut chocolate sauce then sprinkled with crushed walnuts. Inside, the perfectly golden, crispy surface is puffy yet gooey that will make you lust for more.

You really can’t go wrong with Zeus.

Total Bunnie Dollars Spent: $57.50

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