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

Authentic Ramen Right In The Gold Coast!

Guys! I found true, authentic Japanese ramen on the Gold Coast! Yasssssss!

‘Irasshaimase!’ Although food is usually my first note, when you enter Ramen Danbo, there is a distinct atmosphere and energy. The staff are all ready and excited and happy to see you.

Your first mission, and I call it a mission for a reason, is to choose your ramen. Now, if you’re like me, this is a massive mission because I want to try every flavour!! I am always torn between a traditional tonkontsu and trying something a little different. Kim and I eventually decided on sharing our ramen (because we are greedy and wanted to try both) and a side of bite-sized gyoza each (see greedy, above) and a Kirin beer. Can’t beat a Kirin on a hot day and the Gold Coast was certainly turning it on!

What’s a little different here was that you were able to customise your ramen right down to the your noodle firmness, the richness of the soup and the spiciness. And of course there’s the extra sides but you can choose extra house braised pork belly (chashuu-men) or rekka ramen option which loosely translates as inferno – yummm. We were given a heads up by the team that the best way (how the Japanese do it) is firm noodles, a lot of richness and as much spice as you like, however a little, is more advised than none. We stuck by this advice and it definitely paid off.

We chose a booth to sit in but I would go for the bar next time, I enjoy watching the Chef’s do their thing. Kim’s choice was the nitamago ramen which is the classic ramen but with the rekka option and extra “nitamago” or soft boiled eggs. I chose the negi-goma ramen  with freshly sliced spring onions and toasted sesame (apparently a Japanese favourite) with the rekka option and nitamago soft boiled eggs as an addition. I love those eggs – ramen just isn’t the same without it.

The ramen came out first – they were quick! We tried each other’s and decided we preferred our own (that worked out well) but agreed they were both delicious. Mine was slightly more spicy and rich than Kim’s, absolutely delicious. The difference is the ramen is truely authentic. Imported Japanese ingredients and all. Some of the staff have even come from the Ramen Danbo group in Japan! No wonder it’s so good.

Gyoza followed quickly afterwards, they’re special ‘Hakata’ gyoza, big enough to devour in just one bite! Hand made, delightful little parcels of happiness! If you read my blog, you know my obsession with anything from the dumpling family. These little babies are flavoursome and even more so when you add the green paste to them that comes on the side! It’s made up of Japanese lime, green chilli and pepper. You eat it the same way you would wasabi, either mixed in with the gyoza sauce or dabbed on before you dip. It’s quite a unique flavour and I bet you will wish all places served it up after you’ve tried it.

The restaurant in Southport was pumping. There were lots of customers coming through and many were Japanese (always a good sign). Although, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Ramen Danbo is such a success if you know the history. The original Ramen Danbo opened its doors in 2000 with a simple mission – to deliver a tonkotsu ramen with top quality and flavour, with strict consistency. After placing number one in a TV poll of the top ramen shops in Fukuoka, the brand expanded quickly all through Japan. We are pretty lucky to have it right here on the Gold Coast!!

If you’re from Brisbane and a fan of Taro’s ramen, this is a must try. I will be there again soon to try the classic tonkontsu option! And the gyoza… rude not to.

Ramen Danbo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

**Although this meal was complimentary, this review is authentic and true. I can’t wait to go back and eat more – I will try the classic next time. Plus it’s a great excuse to hit the beach too!

Charley Noble Wellington – Delicious Dining in the Capital

If you’re looking to enjoy world-class dining with quality New Zealand produce while you’re in the Land of the Long White Cloud, then you’re in luck. Charley Noble in Wellington has long held a reputation for being one of the best restaurants around and if my dining experience was anything to go by, it certainly holds up to its name.

We chose to sit at the bar for lunch for a bit more of an entertaining experience, watching the chefs expertly prepare the meals. I would absolutely chose to sit there again, I may have even picked up a few new chopping techniques!

We explored the menu and soon called over Justyna to help us choose – everything looked good. She pointed out a few items (some I would never have chosen without her suggestions) and we put together a few complimentary plates.

To start, we ordered the market ceviche, venison carpaccio and the pig’s tail salad. Yes, you read that correctly, the pig’s tail salad! Right there is one of the menu items I would have never chosen without Justyna’s influence. It is not what you would expect, well it wasn’t what I expected! Mandarin provided a perfect burst of sweetness contrasting the texture and taste of the crunchy pig’s tail (almost like crackling) and slightly acidic dressing. I highly recommend giving it a try.

The market fish ceviche was beautiful and light, with a lovely orange flavouring and delicious sweet and spicy candied chillies! The candies chillies were a first for me and I was both surprised and delighted with their flavour and texture – slightly crunchy, still with a nice chilli bite but also sweet from the sugar.

The venison carpaccio was a classic dish, well delivered. Quality, fresh local produce. The meat literally melts in your mouth. Must try.

The Charley Noble somelier, Jordan, was very knowledgeable and personable – my favourite! He perfectly matched my wine (Colere Pinot Gris – Pinot Blanc from Marlborough) with my entrees so that it didn’t clash with the candied chilli in the ceviche. The wine was lovely and oak-y, aged four years. Beautiful pairing to bring out the flavours.

For my main wine pairing I sampled two reds, ultimately going with a Waipara Pinot Noir from Greystone. Jordan said that particular wine is very popular, he can pair it with almost anything.

Again, Justyna was called in to help us chose our mains. We went with the super juicy and flavoursome house made pork sausages with had some wonderfully charred radiccio and pears to accompany them. The meat is sourced from the Wellington region and always free range. We couldn’t go past the risotto with zucchini, pecorino, house pesto and smoked baby tomato. Full of flavours and still quite light. Finally, we chose a side of eggplant, zucchini, parmesan and mozzarella bake, which as you can imagine was cheesy greatness.

On my next trip to Charley Noble I’d like to try their fish of the day. When I visited, snapper was sitting pretty on ice, sustainably caught, in the restaurant within a few hours. Actually, my list to try next time is quite large. There is the fire grilled cauliflower steak (looked amazing), anything from the woodfired rotisserie (dinner only) and their steaks are legendary. Can you see why I had so much trouble choosing what to eat?!

You’d think I would have no room left, but I couldn’t miss out on dessert! To sample some of everything I went with the petit fours. I loved the fluffy marshmallow with raspberry. The yoghurt panna cotta with crunchy ginger snap and caramelised pineapple was absolutely suburb, but the winner for me was the peanut butter and chocolate bar. I washed these down with a Passage Rock late harvest Cabernet from Waiheke. It was silkier than a port but still sweet in flavour, without being overbearing.

Amazing food, knowledgeable staff, lunch with a show, fantastic local wines, I was in a happy place.

Side note – I also wish I had tried the house made pasta. I was daydreaming watching the Chef making the pasta, when a waiter came over and asked me if I was done. I was so mesmerised that I nearly jumped out of my chair! The poor guy got such a surprise. Ha!

Charley Noble Eatery & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

*While this dining experience was complimentary, this review is true and authentic. I will be back at Charley Noble on every trip to Wellington that I have an opportunity. And I’m starting with the pasta!

What Food & Drink You Must Try In New Zealand

That’s right, what food and drink, not where! If I was sharing restaurants, we would be here a VERY long time. If you’re visiting New Zealand and want to try some typical Kiwi foods that are unique to Aotearoa, give these a try!

  • Charlie’s Feijoa Fizz
    I just found this bad boy today, it’s delicious and fresh without being overpoweringly Feijoa-y or too sweet. Try Feijoa anything really, it’s a native New Zealand fruit, both sweet and sour.
  • L&P
    The classic fizzy drink from New Zealand, Lemon and Paeroa is a taste sensation. Created in none other than its namesake, Paeroa and now manufactured by Coca-Cola.
  • Fish & Chips
    Best enjoyed on the beach, New Zealand are well known for their fish and chips, beautifully fresh and usually wrapped in newspaper!
  • Double cheese Sizzlers
    Don’t judge me. I know what you’re thinking. They’re not even totally meat! But damn are they delicious! These super processed sausages have cheese oozing out of them and are especially delicious. They’re enjoyed at BBQ’s all over New Zealand and are great for breakfast too! I blame these for majority of my weight gain on every visit to NZ.
  • Venison and Kiwi Lamb
    Kiwi venison and lamb are succulent and more flavoursome than other countries. Don’t believe me? Try them and then let me know. That’s why Kiwi lamb drives such extreme prices overseas.
    – My dad piped in at this point to let us all know that people are switching back to hogget as it has more flavour… thanks Dad!
  • New Zealand Wine
    I feel like this is so obvious it should even make this list. I love a good Haha red wine, Ata Rangi Pinot Noir and apparently the Kiwi Sav Blanc’s are amazing. I cannot attest to this, I’m not a fan of white wine. If you’re heading to Martinborough to taste test, check out my blog on where you should visit!
  • Confectionery from the Dairy
    What’s a Dairy you ask? It’s the local cornerstone. They have ice creams and essentials and usually magazines and crap you might want when you can’t be bothered going to the supermarket or feel like a treat. Anyway, the food: Squiggles biscuits, Twisties (yes they are different and more delicious than the Australian ones), Rashuns, Buzz Bars & Chocolate Fish.
  • Tui Beer
    Now well known for their wicked advertising campaigns, check THIS out, Tui beer is still one of the most consumed beers in New Zealand. It’s a refreshing lager, perfect for a sunny day!
  • The Original Kiwi Dip
    This is a funny one but very well known and at almost every New Zealand get-together. You buy a Maggi onion dip mix and mix it with reduced cream (comes in a can), you can add a squeeze of lemon or some vinegar to stop it browning and give it a little snap. It’s delicious with chips, celery or carrots…. mmm I might make some now, actually.
  • Bacon & Egg Pie
    Any great Kiwi bakery willhave their take on the bacon and egg pie. These can either have whole egg or scrambled egg with bacon (and sometime, cheese, onion, tomato) in a flaky puff pastry case. Not to be confused with a quiche, these are great for breakfast when you’re short on time. I was shocked recently when buying a bacon and egg pie in Australia and I took a big bite only to find that was filled with mince meat too!! Why??? So unnecessary.

Of course there’s Hangi’s (harder to come across, a local might be able to help you out or maybe at a market or tourist attraction), fantastic steaks, epic seafood, pinky’s (little pink lollies), Kapiti cheese, pavlova with Kiwifruit and a wheelbarrow full of other items but that’s a great start.

Did I miss anything? Comment and let me know what!

Best NZ Day Trips: Martinborough Vineyards

Why is it one of the best NZ day trips? Well first of all, there’s wine. Do I really need to keep going?

Okay fine, so there’s also great views, excellent food and a whole heap of fun to be had exploring! If you’re looking for a fun day trip around the lower north island of New Zealand than this should be a high contender.

We hired bikes from Green Jersey Cycle Tours (random name, don’t you think?) and the ten of us jumped on approx 11am. The vineyards are just a few minutes bike ride away and you pass one approx every four minutes or so as you cycle the outskirts of the Martinborough township.

We started at Schubert (an excellent place to start) before heading to Ata Rangi, Tirohana Estate (couldn’t fit us in), Poppies Martinborough, Margrain Vineyard for platters and then back to Poppies for platters. Tastings are approx $5 for five wines and generally if you buy a bottle you don’t pay.

My favourite wines were Schubert and Poppies. Schubert was very professional, lovely wines and great explanation of the varietals. Poppies was bursting with energy, Shayne (winemaker’s husband) provided unique and fun insights into each wine and most importantly the wine was delicious. I enjoyed the Pinot Noir and the Rose as well as most of the others. They had already sold out of a few of the varietals, it’s a popular place! Their platters are infamous so we made our way back there after lunch for a platter and I couldn’t resist the truffle cheese too! I’m a sucker for truffle anything. And a sucker for cheese. And wine… you get the point!

Margrain Vineyard venue was lovely with beautiful grounds. They were busy during the tastings and rushed through. I would suggest going when they’re quiet and doing the five wines tasting.

The bikes Green Jersey Cycle  were so much fun! They’re cute with little baskets at the front to store your goods, and they even had a free wine pick up service! Anddd you could choose which colour bike you’d like. I loved riding around with my friends, it was such a beautiful day too. Plus you don’t have to worry about driving or getting to each vineyard. The locals are obviously used to the bikes and keep a wide berth on the road.

If there’s a large group of you and you have your heart set on a certain winery or somewhere for lunch, I do recommend making a booking. We struggled to find somewhere that could fit the ten of us for lunch and were sure to make some tasting bookings. Otherwise just show up!

Get a group of friends together, hire some bikes (full day is $40), and get to some tastings!

 

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