South Side Diner

The trouble with working in the CBD is you hear all about new restaurants….but you often don't have the time to actually go and eat at them.

Such is the case of the South Side Diner at Southbank, who's menu I've been drolling over for some time.

Luckily, thanks to the opportunity of an 'end of reporting year' celebration at work, my colleagues and I headed across the river to try it out.

All three of us ordered a shake (vanilla, snickers and peanut butter), and then our mains couldn't be more different. I ordered a Reuben Sandwich (and a side of sweet potato fries!), and they ordered a mexican style chicken (which isn't on the menu any longer) and our vegetarian the South Beach Burger (we found it mildly amusing when the waitress checked that he knew it was vegetarian).

The peanut butter thickshake was very filling, and good, but next time I think I'd try the snickers….and the Reuben was delicious. Lets face it everyone loves salty sweet potato fries.

If you're over at South Bank, and you fancy a burger, this place will certainly fit the bill.

 

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Melbourne and the burger dreams are made of

I recently spent a week in Melbourne for a project at work. It was pretty lonely, and I made a bit of a mistake on my hotel booking and ended up much further away from the office then I should have been. The only upside of this was twice a day, everyday, I walked past this little burger bar.

I hadn't given it a second thought, but my manager had suggested it, and knowing he'd ask if I tried it, on the Wednesday I got brave and went in on my own.

And so began my first experience of The Merrywell. It's part of the enormous Crown Casino complex, and upstairs I believe (I didn't look) is a bit of a fancy restaurant, but downstairs is burger bar, and normal bar.

I squeezed into a little two seater by the door, ordered a K.I.S.S Burger, a pint of beer, and the loaded fries.

When it all came out I sent novelty text messages to my sister about my ability to over-order….the basket of fries was covered in liquid melty cheese and chopped bacon…..with a side of sour cream (why? I don't know!). The burger…..well….its a beef patty, ketchup, mustard, onions, pickles, mayo and cheddar. It was the most epic cheeseburger of my life. OF MY LIFE. Also very messy. I actually bailed up a guy trying to sit down at the next table to get him to fetch me napkins (he didn't). Then insisted that he and his fellow diner shared the loaded fries because 'look how ridiculous this is'. I was kinda glad I did when their Cherry Cola Floats turned up. I sadly only managed a quarter of the fries. But I'm glad I expended my energy on the burger. And equally glad of that long walk home.

The next night being Thursday, and knowing it was my last night in Melbourne with no plans to come back I went back. I know. I'm a greedy mare. This time I ordered the MerryWell, a beef patty, bacon, cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomato, onion, special sauce, ketchup, and mustard. It also comes with a much more sensible serve of normal fries. The waiter talked me out of ordering a thick shake as well….and he was probably right.

Look, the MerryWell burger was good, but it tasted much more like one I could replicate…..very similiar to what I already do. The K.I.S.S burger in my opinion was on another level. I also love that it didn't bother with token lettuce and tomato…..but that's probably just me.

If you're in Melbourne, staying around Crown…..I really do recommend it….I loved the food. A little lonely on your own, so take someone you're happy to share a loaded fries with…..

 

Ladies Trip!

Ha! You thought I’d forgotten my blog again….BUT I HAVEN’T! I have instead spent this past weekend in Sydney on a girls trip with my Mum and twin sister. Which made THE BEST CHANGE from being there for work.

We flew down on Friday afternoon, and after checking into a hotel that was much fancier than we are, took my Mum straight down to The Rocks, so she could see the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House (this being her first ever visit to Sydney). We had the most amazing burgers (truly, dirty smashing experience), shared a bottle of wine before wending our way back to our room.

Saturday morning, after a sneaky coffee in bed (one of the best things about travelling with my Mum, she’s up first and gets the kettle on!) we headed into Darling Harbour for breakfast and a walk around the National Maritime Museum (they had a Shackleton exhibit on!) and my sister getting seasick on the Endeavour replica (it was at dock…..).

Then we headed across to the QVB, because its a beautiful building and I wanted Mum to see it. For the first time ever I found the Zumbo stall….and as you can see it was just amazing.

We bought a cronut, decorated fondant, and some macarons to share. The macarons we ate on the go, but the rest we saved for breakfast Sunday morning.

After a bout of Pitt St shopping we then had our absolute favourite food experience. A late lunch at jones the grocer. We ordered a charcuterie platter, a bowl of hot chips (because we’re human) and a bottle of fizz, which went immediately to our heads.

The pork and pistachio terrine, the mixed meats, the most delicious olives….it was tempting to sit there all evening, with a second platter and another bottle….but we headed out and later bought woodfire pizzas and cheap fizz to have in the hotel room in our pjs.

Sunday (after the cronut of awesome and half the decorated fondant, too rich to eat it all) we headed on the ferry out to Manly, which was just beautiful.

We had fish and chips by the water then headed back across the harbour, and took a bus to an outlet mall. Once we’d had our fill of shopping we headed back into town with thoughts of going back to jones the grocer, but as it was closed we had to settle for Jamie’s Italian. The Plank we had was great, but just not on the same level. (If you have to go and buy more cheap fizz and a packet of crisps after a meal there’s something wrong).

All in all it was a brilliant weekend away, and I’m now researching where to find the amazing olives and antipasti we had at jones the grocer….as well as looking for a pork and pistachio terrine recipe….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ramen?

While in Sydney for work recently, a friend and I tried a restaurant we'd never been to before. I was lucky and had the seat facing the restaurant, and got to watch the way the staff all called out to each other, shouting and repeating and who knows what else. It was hugely entertaining, and I wish I knew what the routine was.

I also got to watch all the other meals come out for various dinners, and a look at the menu left me none the wiser.

Welcome to my first ever Ramen experience. I ordered the chicken ramen, and bravely, when offerred included the egg.

It took us a while to work out the chopsticks and soup spoon combo but we got there, and I'll be honest, I can't wait to have Ramen (or at least good Ramen!) again!

For a loud, vibrant experience, I can't recommend Ippudo enough!

 

Communal

Once the weather started cooling down again, a friend and I decided to head up to the Brisbane markets (in the CDB on a Wednesday) for dumplings. There's a van, we love dumplings, it was a plastic container full of happiness.

Only when we got there, the dumpling van wasn't there….so we looked around for an alternative, and settled on a 'new to us' restuarant called Communal (you can check their website here!).

We both ordered the Fish Burger, me because it had a pickled onion, and him because as a vegetarian the beef burgers were off limits.

It was good food, good atmosphere, and I can't wait till we have an excuse to go back.

 

 

Brownies, to make up for a long absence.

I know. Its been a very long time. I've had a half written Valentines Day post for two months. But its too embarrassing to post it now.

What I find amazing is how quickly time can fly by. One minute your happily chowing down on chocolate brownies with your sister at Jamie's Italian, the next two months have past and you're finally able to share your own version of it.

We inhaled that brownie (we did share it). It was amazing. Dense, dark, chewy, with a crispy edge, and ice cream and chocolate sauce to make the perfect dessert.

And you can make it at home. Like I did. Twice so far. Jamie put it in one of his cookbooks (which is where I found it), and he also posted it online because he's a champion.

Heads up, it makes a LOT of chocolate brownie. We served it with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and chopped peanuts. How do you like yours?

Recipe is over here (we omitted the cherries and nuts, but next time…ahh third times the charm) but tell me, why aren't you already making this?

 

Its just a little crush

I have a girl crush. It’s true, I even told my husband about it (and my sister, my friends at work, pretty much anyone who’ll listen really). While my adorable niece was napping during my babysitting stint, I discovered Rachel Khoo and her little Paris kitchen.

I watched the first three episodes of the first season and I was in love. Her bright red lipstick, polka dot dresses, and her attitude in that tiny tiny kitchen were like a life affirming slap in the face. I wear red lipstick (not everyday granted), and have a growing collection of polka dot dresses and my kitchen IS MUCH BIGGER. Sadly I think we’re about on par for bench space though.

But it has encouraged me not to use my kitchen as an excuse not to try something. And while we’re enjoying a break in the relentless humidity I’m taking my inspiration from her and making a quiche. Not a quiche lorraine though, because I have some things to use up.

I had a quick look around the interweb for some shortcrust pastry recipes, and in the end went with the recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking…..but not the method (blasphemous I know!). I really did just put everything except the water into the food processor and blitz it, then slowly added the water. When I tipped it out onto the cling wrap I realised the butter wasn’t as combined as I’d hoped.

I was valiantly hopeful that it wouldn’t matter. It probably didn’t….until after frying off some red onion and bacon and popping the oven on to preheat I realised that my kitchen was now too hot for pastry. I tried to roll it out….but it stuck to my baking paper, and was really more like a pastry spread. Much like what happened last time I just made the most of it, and spread it into my tin, the popped it into the oven for 10minutes.

My filling was red onion, bacon, a mixture of eggs and buttermilk, nutmeg, salt, pepper and then asparagus and a sprinkling of feta.

It made a very nice dinner for us, once I’d calmed down and gotten over my second pastry fail in a row (hey at least it was still edible). But my big takeaway right now is, if like me you live somewhere that is crazy hot and humid for a portion of the year, BUY pastry for that season, don’t try to make it. You’ll just end up frustrated and disappointed.

We had leftovers for a late lunch with a scoop of tomato relish. Now that was VERY nice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sydney Food Adventure

Ok, so the five days I spent in Sydney were not all about food. I actually travelled down for work, which is distinctly NON food related, but took the chance to enjoy eating things I wouldn’t perhaps have at home.

I love the chance to do two things, revisit places I know, and find places that are new, either based on accidentally finding awesome, or other peoples recommendations.

Our first day, we had woodfired pizza, blueberry friands, and because we worked from 5.30pm our office catered and Indian buffet style feast, which I always enjoy.

Sunday was a free day, and I visited a tiny bakery called ‘The Flakey Tart’, but they seemed to be a bit unsure what they are doing. We’d been there six months ago, and it seems to have changed hands, so maybe they are still learning the ropes. I hope so, and will visit again next time to see if they are a bit more confident. My breakfast muffin was ok, but I left wishing I’d ordered something else.

Coffee and chocolates at Guylian kept us going after the endless kilometers we walked from Milsons Point through the Rocks, Circular Quay, and just touching the edges of the gardens before hiding in the Opera House while it rained. It was nice to sit down with a mocha and people watch for a little while.

A walk through Pitt St Mall, and a burger at Charlies & Co before the long walk back to Milsons Point. I know we should have caught a train at this point, but it never occurred to us.

Charlie & Co burgers

I was exhausted, and collapsed in my hotel room, before being tempted out a few hours later for a beef salad at an Italian place I’ve endlessly been curious about, but never brave enough to go in.

Thai style beef salad

The next morning, with aching feet and legs was breakfast of porridge and coffee (not the instant stuff!), and lunch was one of my favourites from a busy noodle shop.

Malaysian noodles

That night for dinner as we walked with no clear destination we could smell a dish from across the road. It was amazing, and all that was needed to tempt us inside for another Indian feast.

Blu ginger – amazing Indian

Ice cream sundae

Pistachio ice cream

Toast and coffee followed the next morning, and lunch was a very tasty baguette with pork belly and salad. Dessert? A giant peanut butter cup (which the bakery called a chocolate and salted peanut tart).

One to share, chocolate and salted peanut tart

We headed into Harts Pub for dinner and beers, which was a lot of fun, and a tasty beef and leek pie and a couple of different beers later made for a giggly walk back across the Harbour Bridge.

Wednesday was the strangest breakfast ever. Foolishly I ordered a bagel with cream cheese, but didn’t realise how weird it would taste when I agreed to a blueberry bagel. Lunch was a Red Lentil and cauliflower burger with jalapeno and chipotle sauce. Just wow. So good. But sadly I don’t have a photo. If you’re at The Commodore and it’s still on the menu, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Then in the airport, a very disappointing, mostly uneaten pecan tart. I think it surprised my travel companions that I got so cross and vocal about the quality. Covering it in a white chocolate drizzle made it too sweet, and whatever they used to thicken the caramel (not sure if it was gelatine, or some kind of sultana based mush) was just strange. It was flavorless and excessively sweet, and now I’m determined to make my own. Keep an eye out for an Angry Pecan Tart post.

Disappointing airport pecan tart….

While I very much enjoyed my time in Sydney, and yes, I did do an awful lot of my real job too, it’s very nice to come home to Brisbane. Especially when my still reasonably new husband was waiting for me at the airport.