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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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Monday, August 17, 2015

Asana by Pete Evans | Capri by Fraser, BRISBANE QLD 4000

A few Friday nights ago the other travel bunnie took me to Asana for a date night. Asana is celebrity chef Pete Evans first venture in Queensland. The style of cuisine places a huge emphasis on clean, locally sourced fresh produce and paleo-inspired dishes. The restaurant is situated in the Capri by Fraser Hotel on the corner of Albert and Mary streets, and the first thing you'll see is the beautiful green live wall contrasted by the bright yellow tables and chairs. Walking into the Capri Hotel, we couldn’t help but notice the gorgeous smell at the reception area and the beautifully finished foyer decorated with rows of books.  A nice touch I thought, as Folio Books once occupied the space that is now Asana.  

The restaurant is sleek and colourful with an open-plan kitchen featured in the center together with a long, wooden chef’s table. Our table was by the window providing views onto the streets which were already crowded with Friday night party goers. The other travel bunnie and I clinked our glasses, making a toast to the weekend – I had a mocktail made with coconut cream and fruit juice, and the other travel bunnie ordered a lemon, lime and bitters for something different.

I was slightly disappointed to see that they had removed the roasted bone marrow, native heard and chia dressing with paleo bread soldiers as I had wanted to try it for a while, but I ordered the grass fed Manning Valley Rib-eye with bone marrow chimmichurri ($36) instead.  Cooked medium rare, the rib eye was extremely tender and juicy, with a hint of smokiness and I would’ve definitely loved more of that salty, creamy bone marrow. Equally tasty was the other travel bunnie’s dish: the special of the day, Cape Grim grass fed hanger steak w’ smoked garlic & beetroot puree, kale, saltbush and asparagus, dressed with forestiere sauce and picked onion ($30). Feeling greedy, we also shared a confit leg of duck with papaya, lychee, walnut and orange salad ($20). We nodded in agreement that the dishes were beautifully executed as we wiped our plates clean. The salad that came with the confit duck was light and refreshing, providing a wonderful balance to our heavy, meaty mains.

Before we left, we decided to try the cacao and coconut mousse with warm brownie and nut bark ($14) to put some sweetness into our tummies. The dessert was nice but overshadowed by the deliciousness of our mains.

We both felt that the service was hit and miss but perhaps that can be expected from a new opened venture. Our waitress, albeit extremely nice, had limited knowledge of the menu and seemed quite rusty with her service. That was a major let down given the fact that we actually really enjoyed the food.

Total Bunnie Dollars Spent: $120.

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