Saturday, May 14, 2011

Two Small Rooms Review

Okay, okay, I know I said I'd write a post everyday starting from TOMORROW but hey, it's a Saturday night and I'm spending it IN so I'm trying to be efficient and productive here okay?? This'll give me a head start and all that jazz alright?! 

Now that THAT'S out of the way.. I mentioned that last year was super hectic and busy for both T and I.. So we ate out A LOT. In fact, today T mentioned that we had eaten out enough to last us three years! Haha.. 

Because we were always so busy and pressed for time, Two Small Rooms was a great option for us because it is literally 3 minutes drive from our place AND it is a fine dining restaurant (which we luuuurve). And they were also almost always able to fit us in no matter how late we booked a table for. Sometimes I'd finish my waitressing shift and Tim would've just finished a late meeting and we'd go and have a huge dinner at 9.30pm!! 

We almost always got the Caviar and the Oysters. They were YUMMY!! Those crisps that came with the caviar are to die for and the mignonette for the oysters was pretty good (nothing beats the one at Three Restaurant though).

For entrĂ©es, we shared the Crab & Avocado Terrine (SUPER GORGEOUS presentation!!! I actually used this as my inspiration for a dessert dish I had to plate up in class - just substitute the savoury sauce with coulis and ta-daaa!! Hehe) and the Mushroom Tart. Both were delicious.

For mains, I can't exactly remember what we got (bear in mind this was a year ago) but I think it's a Duck Leg Confit and... Salmon? 

We frequented Two Small Rooms many a time in 2010 and every time, we have been served GLORIOUS food and have been met with OUTSTANDING service without fail. They know their wine and they know their food. The only downside, I would say, is that I have never been impressed with their dessert menu. And you all KNOW how much dessert means to me. I always end up putting the dessert menu down and not ordering anything (which always elicits looks and sounds of surprise from T because, let's face it, it's practically unheard of with me) OR I'll get something with much reluctance and end up not having my socks knocked off. Maybe it's me. Maybe it's just the kind of restaurant that serves desserts that doesn't appeal to me. I don't know. But it's definitely worth going for everything else that this restaurant has going for it. Who knows, you might LOVE the desserts they have to offer.

Rating: 8/10

Two Small Rooms
517 Milton Road

Telephone: 07 3371 5251

Closed on Sundays

I'm back

Okay.. I'm sorry. I'm sorry I've neglected this blog for over a year and a half. I feel terrible, not because I've disappointed people who read the blog (I can probably count them on one hand) but because of ALL the restaurants that I've been to since then and now that I haven't shared with you and because of AAALLLLLL the things that I've made that I haven't been able to post about. Where do I start? 

First of all, I am no longer the dumbest person in med school - haha.. I quit!!! It was at the end of 2009 and for once, I was brutally honest with myself and asked myself if I really wanted to do this for the rest of my life. The answer was no. Half the people I knew supported my crazy decision to leave med and the other half thought I was stupid and crazy. Anyway, I did it.. and in order to stay in Australia, I had to be a student but what would I study?? I decided to do a Certificate III in Patisserie and I.. LOVED IT!!! It was so different to when I was doing med when I would wake up in the morning and dread the looong day and the constant wondering if I would be able to get away with skipping a clinical skills session/lecture/PBL.. I actually jumped out of bed in the morning, excited to learn how to make this and that! 

The year passed by all to quickly in a blur of full-time studying and three jobs (waitressing, data entry and making cupcakes at Cafe Baroque).. I was busy and flat out ALL the time and got cranky a lot with T (poor guy).. I was loving the course and I was also baking heaps in the little spare time that I had but I also had to work really hard to save up and pay for the course.. Needless to say, I was a very angry girl in 2010. We ate out quite a lot because both of us were so busy with work and whatnot. Unfortunately I had absolutely no time whatsoever to sit down and blog about the places we ate it. I tried to.. about five times and after two sentences, I just thought "What am I DOING?! I need to go to bed, like NOW!!". Sooo.. a post never eventuated.

It was really sad to say goodbye to the friends that I made while studying Patisserie and also the three chefs who taught us throughout the year. They were so wonderful and really made it fun. I went home to Brunei as I usually do at the end of every year and the plan was for me to continue working casually at my day job and also do some work experience at a Patisserie to learn the ropes and the ins and outs of running one so that I could eventually use that experience to open my own :)

After three months away, I came home and T surprised me by saying that he really liked it when I was home, that he would provide for me and that he would get me a car so that I wouldn't have to work. So right now, I am quite the housewife (something I said that I would NEVER be). I do all the grocery shopping, make most of the meals, bake whenever I want and I am very happy. I have tried looking into starting a home business with my baking but found out that because we live in a townhouse and not a stand alone house, I will need to put in an application for it to be considered - which will cost AUD$2000. Plus, I will need to notify the public about my intentions ie. write to all my neighbours and announce it in the paper. Soo.. that idea is on hold at the moment. I will look into selling my cakes at the markets and will see if that is a more viable option for now.

As an attempt to make up for my previous absence, I will post something EVERYDAY from tomorrow onwards.. I will go back to the photos that I have saved of food from the restaurants that we went to last year and this and try to give a brief review.. Obviously I won't remember exactly what we had but I will remember the experience and rate accordingly. Also, I have baked many, many, many things in the last year and a half and if I can, I might share those with you too. So, that's it now.. it's official.. I'm back.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Black Forest German Cafe Restaurant Review

After watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain featuring German food, T went online to search for German restaurants in Brisbane and came up with Black Forest German Cafe Restaurant. He told me about this last week but we never ended up going. However, after dinner with friends last Saturday who coincidentally mentioned that they ate at Black Forest and loved their Pork Hock, we decided to make a booking and go on Monday night. On the website, it mentioned that if we wanted to have the Pork Hock for dinner, we would have to give them 4 hours notice. So I dutifully rang up at midday to make a booking for that night and also to tell them that we would be having one Pork Hock. I was a little unnerved that the woman who answered the phone had a very thick Chinese accent.

Any-hoo, we got there and the decor freaked me out a little because there was a female mannequin at the front door and there were little dolls and antiques everywhere. As we sat down I also noted a musky smell which I didn't appreciate. The waitress was a Chinese woman who we had difficulty understanding and who also had difficulty understanding US apparently because she suggested the Mixed Grill for me as my main course and I said "Ok, let me have another look" and a few moments later when I tried to order what I wanted, she said "Oh! You want to change? Ok, I'll tell ... (she trailed off at this bit)" and I was surprised and explained that I didn't want to CHANGE anything, this is what I wanted. So she went in to tell the chef who immediately shouted "Are you STUPID?! I've already put it in the pan!". T and I looked at each other with eyes the size of dinner plates and then heard him start pulverizing the pork that was about to become my schnitzel. 

We were feeling quite tense there, waiting for our entree. A couple of times during dinner we heard the chef swear and yell pretty loudly. On the upside, T was loving his beer and I was happy with my super tall glass of coke :) Finally, our entree of Bratwurst with rye bread and butter arrived but hang on, where was the rye bread and butter? I whispered that we were missing the bread to T and as the waitress walked past, he said "Excuse me, does this come with bread?". The waitress sailed past us to collect the plates of the only other table of two in the restaurant. We weren't sure if she didn't hear him/thought he was talking to me/hated us because we got her yelled at by the chef so we decided to let it go. The cheese-filled sausages were yummy though and the potato salad that came with it was good.

T ordered another beer to come with the mains and finally, his Muenchener Schweinshaze (Pork Hock) served with Sauerkraut and Bavarian Dumplings ($31.90) and my Jaegerschnitzel with champignons, onions, mushrooms, creamy sauce and homemade noodles ($28.90) arrived. The pork hock looked like a force to be reckoned with, it was HUGE! My meal was pretty big as well but they were both delicious. The pork hock had ultra crispy skin and was succulent on the inside. Not too big on the sauerkraut and dumplings but the pork really was magnificent, cooked perfectly. My pork schnitzel was tender, moist and battered with buttered crumbs. The creamy sauce was tasty and sprinkled with a generous serving of mushrooms. The noodles were alright, I've never liked German noodles but these were better than a lot that I've had before.

Managed to finish the schnitzel between us but we couldn't finish the pork! We asked the waitress if we could take it away and when she came back, she had squished everything into one container - the pork (magically boneless), sauerkraut and dumplings. I don't think we even got any noodles! We really wanted the bones for Cocoa but I told T not to ask because of the language barrier. When we were paying at the counter, he did anyway, of course, and she said "Oh! You want the bone?! It's already in the bin!" and then she just walked away and started clearing our table. Sooo.. decor and service was pretty horrible but Black Forest was saved by the food. Don't think we'll be going back there again though.. Unless for some crazy reason we feel like being misunderstood and listening to the chef swear and yell throughout a tense dinner.

Rating: 5/10

Black Forest Cafe Restaurant
196 Gladstone Road
Highgate Hill

Telephone: 07 3217 2180

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bellaggio Woodfired Pizzeria & Ristorante Review

Interesting night.. T really wanted to get some cheesy pizza so while I was out, he looked up Italian restaurants online and when I got back, announced that we would be going to Bellaggio in New Farm. I checked out the menu online and was a little doubtful but agreed to go anyway because they had pastas as well AND because the website looked really nice (sucker). We were absolutely starving and immediately ordered the Frittura di pesce ($25) which is fried calamari, prawns and whiting fillets with their special dressing as a starter. I then proceeded to order the Tagliolini Carbonara ($21.50) - boring, I know but I wanted to compare it to the one at Tomatos where I work. And T could not even begin to pick a pizza from their extremely, extremely extensive pizza menu. Even I gave up after the first 10. Everything just started to sound the same. So we asked our waiter to recommend one and he told us about the special pizza ($22) which consisted of mushrooms, spicy salamai cacciatore, provolone and freshly diced tomatoes and so we got that (there may have been a few other things on the pizza but that was all I could catch through his accent).

The entree arrived and although I didn't have any because of the calamari, T said that they were really good and perfect as a starter so we started to feel a little better about the food that was to come. The pizzas that were being sent out to the other tables seemed to look good too. Soon, our pasta and pizza came and sadly, were VERY disappointing. The carbonara tasted like it had come out of a packet and was greasy. I could hardly have more than a few bites. T had some and he too, thought it was horrible. Size-wise, it was considerably smaller than the one offered at Tomatos which only cost $16.90 for double the size and definitely tastes heaps better. The pizza was below average, quite bland - T's made far better pizzas at home than the one we had.

When our waiter came over to ask us how everything was going, I responded with a bright "Good!" at exactly the same time T said "This carbonara is not very good, just being honest" and the waiter, English not being his first language said "Oh, it is good? Thank you!" and T said "No, it is NOT good, it's fine, just telling you" and the waiter said "Oh! I will tell them!".. all this while I was staring bug-eyed at T. After a few minutes, a lady came over and asked if there was a problem, upon which I immediately replied "No!" and T said "This carbonara wasn't very good that's all, it tasted like it came out of a packet". The woman then said "Oh no, this is made fresh on the premises, it must not be what you expected because we do a traditional carbonara" and I smiled and said "Yes, that must be it.. Can we take the rest of it home please?". She smiled and said "Oh! You're just saving your tummy!" and Tim said "The dog will like it". I swivelled my eyeballs towards him in shock and the lady replied "That's nice" in a sarcastic tone that really meant "You're an asshole" and T said "Well, we paid money for it, SOMEONE'S gotta eat it".. O-MY-GOD. I tried to shrink into my chair and appear as invisible as possible.

Needless to say, the lady was icy-cold to T when he paid at the counter. Afterwards in the car, he admitted that he probably shouldn't have blurted out the painful truth like that. TOO late! Putting that all behind us, I decided that I wanted to go to Freestyle Tout at the Emporium for dessert. When we parked the car, T jokingly suggested thae we go into Three Bistro for some oysters and garlic and gruyere bread that we love so much. I jumped at the suggestion and we walked into Three Bistro, shaking our heads in disbelief that we were actually going to do this.

A waiter that we were familiar with seated us and when we informed him that we were only there for oysters and bread he was totally cool with it but said that he had only a dozen natural oysters left and it all depended on whether a couple who just sat down would order them or not. If they did, they wouldn't have any natural oysters left for us! So we waited in nervous anticipation while our waiter went to take their order and as he walked past he said "I've got the dozen oysters!" Phew! We breathed a sigh of relief and T ordered 6 kilpatrick oysters for himself while I got 8 natural oysters with the champagne vinagrette that is absolutely to-die-for. T makes himself a little oyster sandwich with the gruyere bread which the waitstaff at Three started doing after seeing him do it a few times. We were fully stuffed after having that 2nd dinner and I thought I could still fit dessert in the end, declared myself filled to bursting point so we went home after a very unusual night of dining out. A proper review of Three Bistro to come soon (but you can tell already that it's going to be a positive one).

As for Bellaggio, one of the worst restaurants I have ever been to. The decor was cheap and tacky, it was uncomfortably cold and the food is really horrible. Adding insult to injury was the fact that their food was SO overpriced. Last time I let T pick the restaurant, ha-ha! Just kidding (maybe).

Rating: 3/10

Bellaggio Woodfired Pizzeria & Ristorante
695 Brunswick Street
New Farm QLD 4005

Phone: 07 3254 0275

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kim Khanh Review

Ok, I'll admit upfront that this is not going to be a very good review as we've been going to this restaurant for years and order the same thing EVERY single time. However, I'm still going to do it because if you don't already know about it, you should! Every now and then I get cravings for this place and we just have to go. Now, it is a vietnamese restaurant and as you can imagine, the decor is terrible and when you sit down you kind of question the level of hygiene of the whole place. But it's one of those places where you just don't care.

As always, we start with a plate of Sugarcane Prawn and Roast Pork each which comes with fish sauce, a stack of rice paper rolls, a plate of vegetables (carrots, cucumber, mint, lettuce) and a bowl of boiling hot water to soften the rice paper rolls. As you can see, T and I requested only cucumber because what with me not eating any greens, the big plate of vegetables usually go to waste. The fun part is making your own vietnamese spring roll, putting whatever you want it in and rolling it up! It gets a little messy if you're inexperienced but we LOVE it and have gotten pretty good at it over the years :)

The combination of the juicy prawn and pork with a fresh hint of whatever vegetable you use and the sweet and sourness of the fish sauce is just indescribable. My mouth is watering just thinking about it now. Come to think of it, I should've taken a photo of a finished roll that one of us had. Oh well!

Next, we had the Deep Fried Flounder which is always cooked perfectly. The meat is juicy and tender and the skin is crunchy and crispy. It is my absolute favourite dish! With the flounder we also had Moreton Bay Bugs on noodles cooked with ginger and shallots. I'm not a huge fan of this dish but T absolutely loves it. I just think that bugs in general taste a bit bland and ditto for the noodles.

Kim Khanh is one of those restaurants that will go on forever just because their food tastes so good. It's always packed with big tables of people celebrating some occasion or other and although I rarely see people order what WE order, they seem to love whatever they're having just as much. It's BYO and we have never ever made a booking but have always managed to get a table. Just-try-it.

Rating: 7.5/10

Kim Khanh
67 Cardiff Road
Darra QLD4076

Phone: 07 3375 3014

Closed on Mondays

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Quiche, Pumpkin Salad, Chocolate Tart & Chocolate Pots!

Remember how I said I had tons of egg yolks over and T requested that I make a chocolate tart? W-ell, he ALSO requested that I make a quiche lorraine since I was "making pastry anyway" and so I borrowed a large food processor from Y and went shopping with T to buy all the ingredients I needed (not much). To cut a long story short, I spent HOURS multi-tasking to make the quiche, a roasted pumpkin salad to go with it and a chocolate tart for dessert when I should REALLY have been studying!!! T came home to find me standing in the kitchen with a crazed look in my eyes as he tentatively stepped closer to give me a hug.

It got pretty hectic - I forgot to put the walnut meal in the pastry for the chocolate tart and I officially hate cutting up butternut pumpkin (first time, so I had no idea how hard it was). However, when we sat down to the delicious quiche and salad (both recipes provided by Exclusively Food, by the way), all the tension just dissipated and it was an awesomely yummy dinner.

The chocolate tart literally took HOURS to bake in the oven (I have no idea why, ask Donna Hay) and when it came out, still didn't look too good which was probably due to the fact that I was doing 10 things at the same time while melting the chocolate. I hated it on sight because it looked so ugly but T raved about how good it was and how it was "the best dessert you've ever made". I thought he was just saying it to make me feel better but he has had a huge amount of it ever since (only a small slice left in the fridge now) so I guess it wasn't bad. I had a tiny spoonful but as I'm not a fan of dark chocolate, didn't like it much. No photos of the chocolate tart because it looked hideous.

So this all happened about a week ago and while I was looking up recipes that used lots of egg yolks, I came across one from Exclusively Food - Chocolate Pots! Since I had heaps of the frosting left over from my Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes, I decided to make another batch of those (this time I could actually pipe the frosting because it had hardened from sitting in the fridge) and use the egg yolks to make the chocolate pots. Managed to do that yesterday and because I was only doing one thing at a time, stirred the chocolate and cream over heat CONTINUOUSLY and got a lovely, smooth mixture which I then ran through a sieve. Refrigerated overnight and voila! Beautiful chocolate pots.. woohoo!! Yummy too, recipe is highly recommended!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Liquorish Bistro + Bar Review

T and I felt like another nice dinner so we perused some menus online and eventually decided on Liquorish, mainly because their dinner menu sounded pretty good and also because we haven't been there in months and months! So I made a booking for that night and there we were, seated in the plush, cosy setting of Liquorish. It's all dark, rich colours except the huge, classy white leather bench seating on one side of the room. I love the decor, it just relaxes me somehow. T got himself a glass of red wine and I ordered a hot chocolate for myself. What arrived at the table was the smallest hot chocolate I had ever seen. It was so cute, like a shot of hot chocolate (almost). The taste? Pleasant, but could do with MORE chocolate! Hehe..

Liquorish provides a list of tapas for entrees and we started with FOUR to share because they all sounded so good! I didn't have the oysters this time *shock* but we did get the Seared Scallops with cucumber, seaweed salad & wasabi mayonnaise ($17), the Bangalow Pork Pie with apple pork pie and riddichio salad ($15), the Tiger Prawn & Crab Spring Rolls with coriander, ginger & palm sugar dressing ($16) and the 250 Day Grain Fed Beef Carpaccio with foie gras toast, balsamic onions & chive oil ($18). The scallops were by far my favourite because they were so cute and perfectly cooked (not too mushy or rubbery) and because I looooove seaweed. Combined with the wasabi mayonnaise (couldn't really taste any wasabi), it was great! A nice mix of textures with the chewy scallops and the crunchy seaweed.

The pork pie was also presented adorably with the pork in miniature puff pastry case and tiny jug of sauce. The overall flavours worked really well and was yummy (as you would expect from a meat pie) but the pastry was a little hard and chewy - not good! If the pastry had been light and fluffy, it would've been a cracking dish. The spring rolls were like any other spring rolls I guess, but for me, the vegetables in them overpowered the taste of the prawns and crabs. I could hardly taste them, it felt like I was eating a vegetarian spring roll and as you know, that does not bode well with me. Note to self, NEVER order spring rolls from ANYWHERE ever again!! T had most of the beef carpaccio and he absolutely loved it. He piled on the carpaccio on top of the foie gras toast and added balsamic onions on top - and he was in heaven.

While waiting for our mains, T just couldn't help himself so he ordered another tapas dish to come together with our mains. He had been eyeing the Crispy Fried Squid with shoe string fries & tomato chilli chutney ($15) longingly but didn't order it because I'm allergic to squid. After he kept talking about it, I urged him to get it so it came together with our mains of the Spanner Crab Lasagne with spiced avocado, tomato, basil dressing, creme fraiche & salmon pearls ($34) for me and the Barramundi Fillet with sweet potato gratin, shaved fennel, hazelnut, watercress salad & citrus sauce ($36) for T. I was secretly hoping that T would get the Roast Duck Leg so that I could have one but alas, it didn't happen :(

Obviously I didn't have any squid but T was making orgasmic expressions and going on and on about how tender the squid was and that it totally made the whole dinner blah blah blah.. Oh, how I wish I could have had some! Good to hear that he enjoyed them so much though! Hehe.. The crab lasagne for me was average. It probably could have been a little cheesier and would have done well with more crab in it (again, could hardly taste any). The phrase that popped into my head when I had my first bite was "Mexican Lasagne" because of the avocado, tomato and creme fraiche. T wasn't all that impressed with his barramundi fish and when I tried some, it was a little overcooked in my opinion. The flavours that went with it were good though, I DID like the creamy sauce (what else is new?) and T had no problem finishing it at all.

For dessert, T had the Espresso Creme Brulee with tonka bean poached prunes & orange biscotti ($14) while I had the Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownie with vanilla ice cream & candied pecans ($14). The creme brulee had a VERY strong coffee taste and T really liked it. He didn't care much for the prunes though but he did say that the espresso creme brulee was better than the one he had at Cha Cha Char. The brownie surprised me because I'm not really a fan of brownies, I tend to find them a bit dense and hard. But THIS one was chocolatey, soft, moist and crumbly - infused with crunchy pecans. YUM! The last time I was at Liquorish, I ordered the chocolate tart with the same feeling of apprehension and it was the best chocolate tart I have ever had in my whole life. The pastry was soft, crumbly and buttery and the chocolate just melted in your mouth. I am still waiting with bated breath for it to come back on the menu!

To sum up, Liquorish would make a great dining venue any day of the week. It's ambience is wonderfully relaxed and posh and the service there is impeccable. The food is good and the desserts are smashingly awesome.

Rating: 7/10

Liquorish Bistro + Bar
Shop 2/140 Oxford Street

Phone: 07 3399 1520

Open Tuesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner.