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Monday, September 1, 2014

The Foraging Quail | 148 Merthyr Road, NEW FARM QLD 4005

The Foraging Quail had been on our ‘to-eat’ list for a long time. We were intrigued by its creative presentation, exotic menu items and the unique idea of shared degustation dining. We were so eager to go but the only hesitation was whether Minibun George would be well behaved enough to stay quiet in the pram while his parents dined.

If you recall, two weekends ago Brisbane was in midst of some terribly stormy weather. Looking out of our window thirty-six storeys up it was so gloomy, wet and depressing that we thought to ourselves what the heck, we were in needed of something to shake off our weekend blues.

We arrived at The Foraging Quail at 5:30pm on the dot and were led to the Chef's table by our host. Focusing on seasonal and local produce, the menu items here change regularly to ensure sustainability and seasonality. For $65 per person, the diners at a table can choose any five courses from the menu. The other travel bunnie and I, being major meat lovers, knew that there was no way for us to forgo both the Slow Braised Pork Belly, Capsicum Puree, Baby Apples, Young Bamboo and Honey Gastrique, and the Saltbush Lamb Belly, Baby Vegetables, Olives and Jus.

To start off the culinary affair, we were offered the amuse bouch and some crusty bread and butter, following which our first course arrived being the Heirloom Tomatoes, Buffalo Mozzarella, Samphire, Wild Herbs, Milk and Tonka Bean. The dish was light and visually alluring; the perfect dish to get our taste buds excited. The dish that followed was something that I had never had before and probably wouldn't have dared to order on my own. The Butter Poached Crocodile, Mojama, Watermelon, Capers, Cornichons and Dehydrated Bisque was equally as elegant on the plate for something scary like crocodile meat, however as much as I tried to like it, its strong gamey flavour wasn't for me. I felt that the crocodile flesh was tough (which I expected) but the funky taste, despite being carefully mixing with sweet watermelon, was still just a little too foreign for me to like. The third course of the night had to be the highlight as the pork belly was simply on another level. The meat melted (literally) in my mouth and the rich sauce on the plate was simply the perfect compliment. While the signature quail dish was perfectly prepared and presented, I felt it was just missing a slight punch in seasoning that would have made it a truly memorable dish as well. We finished off with our fifth course being the lamb and again, tender, carefully prepared and presented food that was a delight to eat.

While each of the five courses were flavoursome and fairly proportioned for a degustation, I could not go past ordering the Chocolate Forest Seven Textures of Chocolate with Orange Marshmallow, Strawberry and Meringue ($16) and we were not disappointed. Each of the techniques used were perfectly executed with the tempered and aerated chocolates my favourites. The plate really captured a moment and told a story that I was impressed to be able to experience in suburban Brisbane.

It was so beautiful watching chef and owner Minh Le and his team of chefs preparing our food in front of our eyes with each ingredient carefully presented onto the plate with precision and passion. Indeed, I would have been happy to eat at any of the tables in the restaurant as the pleasant wait staff all help to create an unobtrusive experience where the food really does all the talking.

Total Bunnie Dollars Spent: $153

The Foraging Quail on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Swampdog Fish and Chips | 186 Vulture Street, SOUTH BRISBANE QLD 4101

I used to think Friday wouldn’t be as special to me now that I'm on maternity leave as every day is like a day off, but I've come to the realisation that I love Fridays more than I ever have. Fridays mean the I would have the other travel bunnie home for a solid two days, without him having to wake up early in the morning to go to work, even though it's only a three minutes walk down the street.

So every Friday night, the other travel bunnie and I would do something different to kick off the most exciting time of the week. Last Friday, we took a nice stroll through the botanic gardens and over the bridge, and ended up at Swampdog Fish & Chips.

Swampdog isn't a flash eatery. From the outside, it looks like any other ordinary take away corner shop but it's food is the type that would make you want to go back there on a regular basis. Operating on the motto “Good for you, good for me and good for the sea”, it's the sustainable seafood that made this place what it is today.

Although the former owner and chef Richard Webb said goodbye to Swampdog in July this year, the quality of the food offered by the new owner certainly didn't disappoint. The other travel bunnie had a tempura dinner pack ($19) which comes with two tempura prawn cutlets, tempura whiting with ginger prawn mousse, tempura fish, salt and pepper calamari and chips. As for me, I had battered whiting with chips ($12.90) and a side of salt and pepper calamari ($3.50). Both mains were tasty and the portions were generous and if anything, we probably ordered too much between the two of us. Even though that bottle of organic honey cola ($4) did help us slide down the food. Did I mention that we sat at a table under the stars with a wood fire pot belly stove a meter away?

Swampdog is definitely one of those places where you can visit if you're after a quick, relaxing but decent meal. And while you're there, remember to order a side of their divine aïoli ($2) to go with your chips.

Total Bunnie Dollars Spent: $41.40

Swampdog Fish and Chips on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Kwan Brothers | 43 Alfred Street, FORTITUDE VALLEY QLD 4006

For those of you who follow me on instagram, you probably would've recently seen a photo of a beautifully made Miss Dior Promenade from the other travel bunnie. Despite my ever growing collection of bags, it is actually my first Dior bag. “The bag calls for a celebration” I said to the other travel bunnie as we walked out the boutique.

And that's how we ended up at Kwan Brothers today for lunch.

Kwan Brothers was one of those places that the other travel bunnie and I had been wanting to visit for a while, but I had always been worried that its loud music and busy crowd probably wouldn't make Kwan Brothers the most baby-friendly restaurant to take Minibun George to, especially for dinner.

We got to Kwan Brothers just as they had started their lunch service for the day and just as I expected, the restaurant was very quiet with only two open tables. The interior of this place is very funky. Think hip nightclub meets izakaya with an open kitchen, and Kpop star Psy is a guest visitor (on their wall paper). Our waitress was a lovely Asian girl who was quite informative with the menu. At her recommendation we ordered Pork Bao Bao Yippie Yo Yippie Yay ($9.90 for 2), Soft Shell Crab Bao ($12.90 for 2), Fried Chicken Wings ($14.90) and Charcoal Grilled Lamb Ribs ($15.90).

The food didn't take long at all and it all came out at around the same time. I must admit that I was quite skeptical about the food at the beginning, thinking it might be all show and no substance, but the flavoursome dishes really took me by surprise. I especially enjoyed the tenderness of the pork belly and the lamb ribs. Although the twice cooked chicken wings were nice, it was probably a take it or leave it sort of dish.

As for our happy ending, we couldn't say no to the… wait for it... Too Bao to Handle and Too Cold to Hold ($14.90). Basically, the dessert consists of three cute looking deep fried bao buns, each bun with a different flavour of ice cream in the centre. I found it extremely hard to pick a favourite out of toasted sesame, pandan and palm sugar or the ginger ice cream, but I have to say that the distinct ginger flavoured ice cream was quite memorable.

Personally, I think the prices of the dishes are slightly on the spicy side for what you get, but the food is tasty and unique. With its funky décor and awesome looking cocktail menu (although neither of us are drinkers), Kwan Brothers are pretty cool to hang out with.

Total Bunnie Dollars Spent: $76.50

Kwan Brothers on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Red Hook | Gresham Lane, BRISBANE CBD QLD 4000

It was 2.30am and my eyes were wide open.

I was drooling over photos of the afternoon tea offered at Sketch in London when one thing led to another and I started reminiscing about all the food adventures that the other travel bunnie and I had abroad. When we were in the States, one of the proteins that I had most was lobster. Roasted Maine lobster au curry at Alain Ducasse's restaurant in Vegas, tender lobster at Le Bernadin in the Big Apple, lobster tail with steak on a cruise around the Caribbean, but the dish that struck me the most was a simple yet tantalising lobster roll from Luke's Lobster in New York City.

After we came back to Australia, I often craved a decent lobster roll but I had never been successful in finding one. Until recently when I got my hopes up again.

Red Hook in the Gresham Lane was my hope.

Red Hook is tucked away in the Brisbane CBD and this hot lunch spot intends to get you hooked on its New York street style food. It has a simple menu with all the usual favourites, cheeseburgers, hotdogs, burritos and wait for it, my favourite lobster rolls.

The other travel bunnie and I went there for lunch at the very early stages of their opening and it was packed with people, which is testament to the proven popularity of its big sister establishment, Public. The outdoor seating arrangement somehow reminded me of that day when the other travel bunnie and I were having Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. We placed our order at the counter, a Red Hook Lobster Roll($20) for me and a Brooklyn Cheeseburger ($12) for the other travel bunnie with a side of Champion fries ($4).

We waited for 45 minutes for our lunch. By then, I was so hungry that the feeling of hunger had already left my body. The lobster roll wasn't bad, but it lacked the sweetness that you can find in a really good lobster. I also found the abundance of red onions to be overpowering. But I am biased. The simple lobster roll that I had at Luke's Lobster was so delicious, it was orgasmic. It truly scarred me for life. Never will I be able to forget that toasted, buttered, split-top bun with a slather of mayonnaise, topped with 4 ounces of pure lobster and secret spices...

The other travel bunnie's burger was a simple American classic but probably wasn't worth a 45minute wait.
The guys at Red Hook worked very hard to get their orders out on the day of our visit, which as I have mentioned was during the very early stages of their opening when I believe they still had a few teething problems.

Red Hook is a great addition to Brisbane's dining scene. I'd love to go back and try something else but perhaps I'll wait for the hype to dye down a little.

Total Bunnie Dollars Spent: $40

Red Hook on Urbanspoon
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