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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Celebrating 100 years of CHOYA

Last weekend I was invited to Bird's Nest Restaurant in West End to celebrate the 100th anniversary of CHOYA.

I'm, what people would usually call, a cheap drunk, and I've never been a fan of the strong taste of most alcohol. But umeshu by CHOYA is my favourite alcoholic drink. I first discovered CHOYA (the most well-known producer of umeshu, founded in 1914 with its headquarters based in Osaka, Japan) when the other travel bunnie and I dined at a Japanese restaurant on the Gold Coast where we shared a bottle of this Japanese liqueur. I found the smell of the umeshu to be very appealing and the moment when I tasted the sweet and sour taste of the cold drink, I knew for a fact that CHOYA and I would get along, very well.

The celebration was a casual, unpretentious affair filled by arrays of mouthwatering yakitori and a selection of creative and very delicious cocktails made with CHOYA. I was quite surprised at the versatility of CHOYA as previously I've only drank it one way – on the rocks. Little did I know that you can let you imagination run wild with CHOYA and the end result most likely would blow your mind. The talented bartender of the day at Bird's Nest made several different cocktails using the Japanese liqueur including sangria and margarita using Himalayan salt. I personally loved the CHOYA sangria for its playful fruity taste, which is perfect for summer.

Between laughter and chitchat, somehow the delicious food and tasty cocktails finished all too soon, but it was a wonderful Sunday late afternoon soirée.

Move over champagne, I've got to make room for CHOYA.

Disclaimer: this bunnie was welcomed to Bird's Nest as a guest of CHOYA, Bird's Nest and Two Cents Group, however my opinion is as always, my own.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chur Burger | 20 Constance Street, FORTITUDE VALLEY QLD 4006

So Chur Burger is back and I can tell you that I am a fan! The other bunnie and I decided that we were in need of some burger lovin' last Saturday and so we packed up the family and jumped into our car to try the increasingly popular Chur Burger on Constance Street in the Valley. We were lucky enough not only to find a park right in front of the place but also to sneak in at peak hour and find a table for 2.1 of us at the window (scored … or should I say Chur!).

The place was pumping and despite the laid back/cool environment the sheer number of people made me feel like I was in a day club somewhere in Europe.  I placed my order with the other bunnie (who in turn placed it at the counter) and 25 mins latter arrived my Crispy pork belly, chilli caramel, slaw and aioli burger ($10) with a side of Iceberg lettuce, buttermilk dressing ($5).  In a word – Chur-licious.  The glossy sesame bun was a good size and well toasted, the pork belly was perfectly caramelised and sweet with just a hint of spice and the slaw added the perfect amount of crunch to each delicious mouthful of burger.  I was even impressed with my side which made for a relatively healthy alternative to chips while providing a punchy dressing that I attempted to soak up with the lettuce.  The other travel bunnie was a little less impressed with his Beef, pickle, cheese, tomato jam and Dijon mayonnaise burger ($10) and side of Chilli salted chips ($5).  He mentioned that the burger, while well put together, just lacked a little cheese and some sauce (which resulted in him giving it a good drenching of yellow mustard) and similarly the chilli salted chips where just not spicy enough.

We washed our food down with an organic ginger beer (a favourite of the other travel bunnie) and a house made pomegranate lemonade ($5 each).

Given the increasing popularity of funky burger joints in the CBD and surrounds I think that Chur burger is going to be a popular cheap eat amongst the people of Brissy for some time. 

Total Bunnie Dollars spent: $40 (and it was worth every chur penny)!

Chur Burger on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 15, 2014

Remy's (The Rogue Rennard) | 106A Latrobe Terrace, PADDINGTON QLD 4064

So the leafy streets of Paddington have long been a favourite of the other travel bunnie and I when it comes to grabbing breakfasts on the weekend. There is just something relaxing about jumping into the car and driving out of the city a short distance into this cultural and quirky suburb. The café on our list of places to try was the Remy's (formerly known as The Rogue Rennard). We had seen in a number of times while driving by on Latrobe Terrace and given the sun was shining last Sunday, we decided to give it a go.

This indoor/outdoor establishment is located in a converted Queenslander which is perched on corner on the high side of Latrobe Terrace. Upon arriving we were greeted by one of the waiters who sat us in the front, outdoor area of the café and advised us that they had recently been rebranded Remy's (from The Rogue Rennard) and that the only other substantial change was that they were now using counter service. I was relieved that the menu hadn’t changed significantly as I had already checked out what I wanted to eat and was set on getting it. I ordered the Brioche w' strawberries, maple, vanilla pod ice cream and white chocolate ($13) while the other bunnie decided on the Thick cut bacon, two poached eggs, rocket & relish on sourdough ($14). Both dishes came out fast and I have to say from the outset that I was impressed with the portions given the prices. My brioche was really well prepared (the right balance of doughiness and crunch) and the vanilla bean ice cream was the perfect constancy (just oozing into the brioche). Importantly, the dish was not too sweet and I found it a great kick start to the day with my latte ($3.80).  The other travel bunnie was equally impressed with seeing two thick cut pieces of quality bacon, nice, yellow, gooey eggs and some damn tasty tomato relish. He said the dish was just the right amount for a wholesome breakfast and I tend to believe him given he didn’t even want to try my dish. He washed his meal down with a pleasant (if not a little too sweet) glass of cloudy apple juice ($3.50).

All in all, Remy's (the Rogue Rennard) is a mouthful to pronounce and equally a tasty mouthful for a breakfast. This is just another great addition to the list of quality breakfast places to get to in Paddington.

Total Bunnie Dollars Spent: $34.30

The Rogue Rennard on Urbanspoon

The Fish House | 50 Goodwin Terrace, BURLEIGH HEADS QLD 4220

Given it was the other travel bunnie’s first ever Father's Day we decided (and by we I mean Minibun George and I) that we would need to do something special to celebrate. We had already planned to take a trip to the coast for the weekend and given my mother had claimed Minibun George as her own for the night I decided on trying the new sister restaurant of one of our favourites (Hellenika) which had opened at Burleigh Heads.

Owned by Simon Gloftis, The Fish House has attracted enormous media attention and raving food critiques. I made a reservation for 6pm at The Fish House and as evidence of this two-chefs-hat restaurant’s popularity, I was messaged two times in the day leading up to our Saturday evening booking to confirm the reservation. The Fish House is set just off Burleigh beach on Goodwin street and to be honest the views from inside at night are not the highlight given the relative darkness of the surrounding area. But I have to say things only got better from there. Upon entering, I was immediately taken by the cozy ambience of the room with the beautifully laid out dining room being highlighted with flickering candles, huge glass windows, dark polished floors and splashes of stone and art on each of the walls. Just like at Hellenika, the staff were warm, friendly and extremely informative. We were seated at a little table for two at the front corner of the restaurant and we wasted no time in ordering a bottle of sparking water (no alcohol for this mumma) and two of the Menus of the day (Chef’s selection served in a banquet style) ($75pp). The seven courses of delicious food seemed to flow effortless onto our table (and then into our tummies) throughout our 1.5 hours at the restaurant. We started with four freshly shucked oysters from Ceduna which truly where beyond fresh together with the Daily Raw Selection of kingfish, salmon and scallops which simply melted in my mouth. Let's just say that the freshly baked table bread was resting in a bed of olive oil for a little while as neither of us could take our eyes off the fish. Next, the oh-so-moorish and beautifully warming Simple Lemony Fish Soup came out with Pan seared Scallops w' Spring Onion (Canada). Now, scallops are a favourite of mine and I have to say that these little morsels were some of the tastiest I have tried anywhere. Next thankfully we were given small breather with a light pallet cleanser before we were again presented with a large serving of Fried School Prawns (NSW) and the Crustacean Risotto (QLD). At this stage the other travel bunnie was almost ready to give up (and only 6 courses in) but somehow he managed to finished the deep fired school prawns (I can vouch that there was not a little head left on the plate) and we both managed to finish the seriously comforting risotto (which given how difficult any good risotto is, I was taken by how well the Crustacean stock really shone through the dish).  Finally, we shared our 7th course being the Petuna Ocean Trout from Macquarie Harbour dressed with olive oil, lemon and mustard and served with sides of baked potato gratin, greens and fresh garden salad. The fish, just like everything else was cooked to perfection with the only downside being that I found 2 bones in my side of the fillet.

As if I somehow found control of my second stomach, I convinced the other travel bunnie to let me order a Classic Crème Brûlée ($14) and it, just like that my almost perfect dinner, was amazing (oh wait, this was a Father's Day treat for the other travel bunnie …).

Staying true to Simon's Greek heritage, he has kept every dish simple, using quality olive oil and lemon, yet this simplicity brings out the best in the seafood offered here. So I think I have run out of superlatives and can only sum up our experience as fantastic (other than a minor hiccup with the bones I found).

Get out and check this place out (and then check out Hellenika the next day)!

Total Bunnie Dollars Spent: $173.50

The Fish House on Urbanspoon
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