Looking For Winter Comfort Food, Head To Vapiano Garden City

I visited Vapiano at Garden City to check out their new Yumderland menu!

Specifically, I was there to try the new hearty pumpkin soup. Everyone knows that Queenslanders can’t handle the cold very well, so it should come as no surprise that we start hunting out our favourite comforting winter foods. Pumpkin soup and pasta are definitely that for me.

I was impressed at how busy Vapiano was for a Sunday evening. The place was packed with groups celebrating at the newest Vapiano restaurant.

Anyway, back to the food! I ordered the pumpkin soup to start, and the Gamberi pasta; prawns, tomatoes, spring onion in their homemade tomato sauce. The soup was creamy in texture (they put the cream on the side for me as I am lactose intolerant) and full of flavour. The croutons were sooo good at the end all soaked in the soup but still slightly crunchy, mmm. I at the entire bowl in about two seconds flat. A bit later my pasta came out (you have to order pasta at Vapiano, it is made fresh on site!), beautifully cooked, a lovely, rich tomato sauce and lots of prawns, al-dente of course. Dave tried a pizza and a mojito and gave rave reviews.

Did you know that you can also buy fresh pasta from Vapiano? I didn’t! I took home two packets and they were amazing! Perfectly fresh and al-dente, highly recommend grabbing a pack or two on your way out the door.

Vapiano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

*While this dining experience was complimentary, this review is true and authentic.

Rustic Italian At Mariosarti Toowong

Who knew that there was a beautiful rustic Italian Restaurant hidden in Toowong?!

Mariosarti’s is right next to Toowong Village not far from Brisbane city and from the outside looks quite unassuming. Inside, you know you’ve stumbled into somewhere special.

We ordered the scamorza to start – best choice ever! You could smell the wood smoked mozzarella before you see it. The beautiful smokey flavour was just delightful and mouthwatering. The smokiness had permeated throughout the entire cheese. Be sure to pair with the lemon and the salt for that little bit extra.

We tried the Frutti di Mare, Moreton Bay bug sauteed with chilli, garlic and ginger, finished in a light creamy tomato and cognac sauce next. This came out differently to how I expected, served almost as a soup which was perfect for dipping the housemade, crusty bread in.

The Ragu (Rigatoni al Ragù di Agnello) was amazing. A stand out dish. The sauce was incredibly flavoursome. The lamb was soft and delicate, probably because it was cooked for 6-8 hours, then simmered again with root vegetables and then with the wine. I know all that because I was so impressed I made sure to ask why it was so good! The basil made for a beautiful flagrant hint and was the perfect pop of freshness with the rich sauce.

We also tried the veal (Vitello Funghi) which was a lovely, light mushroom sauce with tender meat. I’ve found at other restaurants the sauce can be somewhat overpowering but here it was creamy and flavoursome, nicely contrasted with crispy, fresh greens. It delivered on everything it said.

Finally, (with giant, happy stomachs) we tried the spaghetti con polpette. Black angus Wagyu meatballs filled with smoked white mozzarella, cooked in a Napoli sauce served with truffle infused ricotta and fresh herbs. Yup you read that right! A lovely dish and definitely one of the unique menu items.

Now, the wine list here is very impressive. We went with a lovely bottle of chainti, and I highly recommend asking the staff which wine will go with your meal. The list is extensive and I was more than happy to leave it to Kim (the owner) to make a decision for us.

Hot tip: Make sure you try Mariosarti’s house-made lemonchello! It is made the traditional way and is lovely and light with no preservatives. A very different taste to the commercial versions. It takes six weeks to soak the lemon skins and then it isn’t ready for another six weeks. It’s gooood.

Also, make sure you check out the private dining function room at the back, I was gobsmacked!! It’s like stepping into a room in Vegas. Very impressive and worth a peep!

Mariosarti Ristorante Italiano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

*While this dining experience was complimentary, this review is true and authentic

Than Nuong – Woolloongabba’s New Vietnamese Restaurant

I LOVE Vietnamese. I’m a pho addict, so no surprises that when I found out Than Nuong Vietnamese restaurant opened up in Woolloongabba right by my work, I quickly locked in a lunch date with my colleagues to check it out.

You can smell the restaurant before you get there, the beautiful charcoal smell wafts around. Than Nuong translates to ‘Charcoal’. There’s a great outdoor area which will be perfect with a beer in Summer for lunch too.

We shared the prawn rice paper rolls and soft shall crab to begin. Both were fantastic. The soft shell crab was complimented by the fresh herbs and vegetables and the rice paper rolls were classic Viet-goodness.

I had food envy over my colleague’s dish, the prawn and papaya salad. It looked phenomenal and she said it tasted amazing. My other colleague loved her chilli, coriander pork pork salad, it looked really fresh.

No surprises for what I ordered, the pho! I love pho! I had the medium size and it was still very generous, particularly with the fresh ingredients to put on top and there was a generous serving of meat too. The broth was lovley, a few hints of spices that were subtly different. The noodles weren’t what I expected, still rice noodles but thick ones. I asked if it was a regional thing but the owner said it was just a preference of his. I quickly forgot about that and it was devoured it!

I’d like to go in for dinner and try something that really showcases the charcoal flavour on the meat, it smells supreme!

While this dining experience was complimentary, this review is true and authentic.

Than Nuong Charcoal Vietnamese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Banter Bar Kangaroo Point – Fresh Fish & Chips

A new-ish edition to Kangaroo Point, Banter Bar has been on my list to visit for some time.

The restaurant itself is a converted Queenslander, well fitted out with a beach-side, simplistic feel to the interior. The bar is a bit more funky with a giant neon sign and there’s plenty of tables around.

I ordered the special of the day, the Red Emperor and chose for it to be crumbed with a Greek side salad. I didn’t drink (I know you’re all shocked – ha) BUT they have a big selection at the bar and even nice champagne by the half and full bottle (hello Louis Roederer!) would go down well with some of their fresh oysters if you ask me.

Our meals came out quickly and looked as good as they tasted. Crunchy chips, fresh Greek salad and a herb crumbed, generous piece of fish. Delightful!

I’ll definitely go back soon, especially now I have oysters and champagne on my mind. They have a take away menu too, would be lovely to grab some and watch the sunset on the Kangaroo Point Cliffs.

You’ll find Banter Bar right off Main Street, next to The Pineapple Hotel and there’s parking out the back.

PS. I’ve been back since and the beer battered fish is just as delish!!

 

Banter Bar & Seafood Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Best Pre-Theatre Dining In Brisbane? Bacchus South Bank

Bacchus was the Roman god of agriculture, wine and fertility. It’s a fitting name for this Brisbane restaurant, let me tell you why…

I was lucky to snatch tickets to opening night of Aladdin and wanted to show my friend, Benny some of the beautiful food Brisbane has to offer.

Enter the Bacchus pre-theatre menu. Limited choice (seriously, if you need me at the theatre by 7.30pm, I CANNOT have the full range of options!), and still I had issues deciding which to go for. Bacchus is in South Bank too, right across from QPAC thankfully, otherwise we would probably have been late.

Of course I went right into questioning Andrew, the phenomenal Bacchus Sommelier about his wine list. Andrew said that while there were LOTS of suggestions for what to put on the extensive list, he listened to no one. He created the list himself five years ago and nobody else has touched it since. I could happily waste a month of Sundays coming to visit just to taste the wines!

It was a hot day so we thought we would start with a white wine. Andrew picked the Woodlands chardonnay. I am one of those weird people that enjoys very oaked and smoky wines and this one matched my tastes.

The warm bread arrived, made in house. Superb.

The amuse-bouche followed. A spinach and tapioca-chip ricotta with blue tea foam – the sweet baby blue is naturally coloured. Next to that was the deep-fried pecorino croquette with mortadella mousse – delicious and full of flavour. The oysters were quite a surprise, filled with an oyster sponge, carrot and ginger puree and puffed quinoa. They were light and filled with flavour. What a way to set the stage for a meal!

For our entrees, we shared the beef tartare and the squid ink and kingfish gnocchi. The beef tartare (O’Connor eye fillet), with hand cut mustard seeds, crostini and topped with a quail egg was just a taste of the quality of what we were in for next.

The winning dish for me was the squid ink and kingfish gnocchi. First of all, it looks gorgeous. Stark black poufs on the plate with vibrant orange dollops and green dressing. When I learnt how it was created, I was even more impressed. There is no flour and no potato in the gnocchi. And that gorgeous dollop of sauce is tomato purée, sitting on cannellini puree and sprinkled with tomato dust. Mussels and Stradbroke Island cuttlefish give the dish some more texture, a bit of crunch. The tomato puree is a perfect twist, a pop of acidic flavour. Nicely done Chef Speroni.

When I praised the entrees, the waitress probably summed it up best when she said, ‘the tasting menu is the best, they don’t want to offer any half way dishes.’

Cue the apple and rosemary granita for a palette cleanser.

While I have dined at Bacchus Brisbane a number of times (it’s a favourite), it was my friend’s first visit to the restaurant. He reminded me just how spectacular the design is. Stunning rich brown leathers and mahogany wood with warm lighting makes for quite an opulent feel. It oozes quality. You quickly realise the staff and the food are of that exceptional quality too, you know you are being well taken care of and in great hands.

We went with white wines to match our mains, the kingfish and the herb risotto. A Murdoch Hill chardonnay and a Dog Point Marlborough – perfectly matched by Andrew.

The herb risotto with fennel, chevre and blood orange dust was delicious. It’s one of those comforting meals you have to purposefully consider making each mouthful last longer.

The corn really bought the kingfish dish together, with the textures changing each bite of the succulent fish. Marinated corn, dehydrated corn, popcorn – all subtle taste changes and textures for each mouthful.

Had I have had the time I would have also chosen a dessert but Aladdin was calling. Or rather, Genie was getting ready to hypnotise the crowd with his captivating eyebrows.

With the pre-theatre menu you can choose an entrée or a dessert and a main with a wine. Phenomenal value at $69 and the quality and taste is up with the very best to try in Brisbane. They have packages for overnight stays too – I wish I had considered that earlier.

While we were dining I also took the opportunity to try the house red. I was so impressed that I asked the Sommelier to come back and explain why it was so impressive. He explained that he felt there was no need for house wine to be sh*t. After travelling around Europe and experiencing the house wines there for many years, he felt it was important to bring something like that to Bacchus. And the result? A wine so good the wine house even put their brand on it! A Bacchus Shiraz, from the Barossa Valley made by Kaesler. Give it a try next time you’re there and let me know if you agree on the taste and the quality.

PS. Bacchus is the Queensland home of Dom Perignon, the champagne is offered by the glass! For this champagne and wine fiend, Bacchus is a VERY happy place to visit.

I hope to try one of their degustation menus one day too.

**While this dining experience was complimentary, this review is completely authentic and true. I have dined at Bacchus many times over the years and will continue to do so.

Bacchus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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