Depot at West End

I love sitting in a cafe with loads of things to look at. Things that make you wonder why or things that just make you smile. Apart from great food and friendly service, Depot at West End has plenty to keep you amused.

Al and I visited with Mrs A for breakfast. The omelette with goat’s curd, mushroom, potato, fresh herbs and sourdough was huge and would easily satisfy two. The Croque Monsieur with rye, ham, Gruyere, mustard served with a garden salad was generous with filling and the toasted granola with coconut, pistachio, almond, dried fruit, fresh fruit, oats served with coconut yoghurt was healthy and tasty.

DSC03572

I think Depot might be one of those places that has the ability to be many things to many people. Family friendly for breakfast, buzzing with the social lunch crowd and a magnet for all of the cool young creative types in the evening. It’s a great space.

Depot serves a seasonally inspired menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Monday – Tuesday, closed
Wednesday – Sunday, 7am – 12am

16 Horan St, West End

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Bacon ice cream at Cowch

It’s delicious, slightly salty with a creamy texture and a definite taste of bacon. It’s made by Brisbane company, Lick ice cream but unfortunately only available as part of the Canadienne Waffle bowl with maple syrup ($15.50, breakfast menu only).

We visited Cowch at 4pm but one of the staff members was kind enough to offer us a sample taste of the bacon ice cream, tempting us to come back for the Champagne Brunch ($25) which includes your choice of the Canadienne Waffle Bowl or Breakfast Churros served with a glass of Primo Secco and a regular coffee.

Considering it was late afternoon, we ordered two Tropicana Quenchers ($9 each) and an iced mocha ($9) along with a Pomegranate Naked Pop dipped in dark chocolate with coconut, pearl and peanut brittle sprinkles ($9.80). The Naked Pops are a cute idea. Your choice of a naked chocolate, vanilla, coffee, mint or pomegranate ice cream, dipped in your choice of white, milk or dark chocolate and three dips in a multitude of different sprinkle options. It’s fun and our version tasted pretty darn good.

Cowch also does gourmet dessert pizzas ($17), mini dessert sliders ($12.5), Fondue ($14), and for those with no sweet tooth, cheese platters from $24 to $38.

Calling itself a dessert and cocktail bar, you’d expect some pretty special dessert cocktails and the menu doesn’t disappoint. Ranging in price from $19 to $21, the Monkey Butter with peanut butter ice cream, vodka, frangelico and agave and the Coco Grande with chocolate yoghurt, rum, espresso and vanilla sound wicked. Plenty of classic cocktails and mocktails are also available including a reasonable range of beers, ciders and wines.

Cowch, it’s fun 🙂

Open from 7am until late seven days a week.

179 Grey Street, South Bank

BSKT Cafe, fuelling the food revolution

BSKT Cafe has been on our radar for a while now, so on a sunny Sunday, that just happened to be our 16th year anniversary, we decided to take a Sunday drive, with the top down, to Nobby’s Beach for lunch.

The first thing that caught my attention was the cow illustration on the wall and then after finding a lovely corner window table, reading the explanation for how the name Nobby’s Beach came to be.

According to their website, BSKT Café was founded on the beliefs of early Egyptians and Romans who used biscuits as their option for sustenance and good health on long journeys. After reading the menu you quickly realise that good health, innovation and quality of food is integral to this business.

The menu is exciting and as per usual I struggled with a decision so we ordered an apple, berry, mint juice and an apple, orange, ginger and mint juice (both $7) to start.

DSC03527The menu is broken up into breakfast, smaller and larger plates and each item has icons to help you choose wisely.

Al ordered the BSKT burger, ground Angus beef, wholemeal bun, beetroot relish, tomato, spinach, goats cheese and grilled leg ham with fries and aioli ($20). This dish looked amazing and apparently tasted as good as it looked.

DSC03535I went with the Cypriot sandwich, roasted mushroom, kale pesto, charred red pepper, haloumi, caramelised onion with tomato chilli jam on quinoa toast and served with veggie chips ($16). I loved this dish. So tasty and satisfying. The quinoa toast was particularly delicious.

DSC03540Other dishes that caught my eye were; healthy Quesadilla with goats cheese, chia seeds, pepitas, garlic confit, shallots and sesame seeds on toasted flat bread ($13), seared wild tuna with coconut, fresh basil, cashews, smoked mackerel and quinoa salad ($26), green Goji salad with kale, spinach, rocket, pear, asparagus, shaved parmesan and apple cider vinaigrette ($16), 18 hr sticky pork with fresh chilli, shredded raw veggies and sour herb salad ($26), slow braised rack of ribs with house slaw and chefs condiments ($24).

DSC03539We finished with an organic piccolo and a serve of coconut sorbet ($5). Definitely one of the most flavoursome sorbets I’ve had in a long while.

DSC03542BSKT service was friendly and despite being a busy Sunday, we were well looked after and served quickly. The website says they want to ‘create an army of healthy, productive, creative and inspired humans’ and that’s just how we felt after our anniversary lunch. We’ll definitely venture back to BSKT, most likely to try the ‘house nights’ 3 course, Fri or Sat night dinner which includes a glass of wine for $45 per person.

DSC03547Ph: 07 5526 6565
4 Lavarack Rd, Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast
Open: 7am – 4pm Mon to Thurs, 7am – 10pm Fri to Sat, Sun 7am – 5pm.

Croquembouche challenge

I’ll happily admit it, I’m a MasterChef fan and although, sometimes I roll my eyes at how contrived it all seems, I still enjoy watching the contestants grow from great cooks to fantastic cooks. I enjoy watching them take on challenges that I fear would make me fall to the floor in a blubbering mess. With this in mind, I set about giving myself the challenge of the croquembouche. Da da dahhhhh…

DSC02992We were catching up with friends to celebrate two July birthdays, a ‘welcome to the world’ baby and pre-wedding party. Four celebrations that were worthy of a croquembouche challenge! The key to getting it done is definitely confidence although I did have my assistant Al on hand to help with the caramel dipping and the tower building which I was most afraid of.

DSC02988When piping the choux pastry, make a big effort to get them consistent in size as this will really help when assembling them in the cone. Our final product was a little lopsided but, thankfully, it did still stand up on its own.

I halved the MasterChef recipe as I didn’t fancy making 100 choux pastry balls and I hired a 42 cm cone from our local Kitchenware Megastore for $10 with a $200 refundable deposit.

DSC02982Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make 50 choux balls and enough creme patissiere to fill them. This amount was enough to feed 12 dessert hungry people.

Choux pastry:

  • 200 g butter
  • 10 g sugar
  • 265 ml full cream milk
  • 10 g salt
  • 210 ml water
  • 265 g plain flour
  • 8 eggs

Crème patissiere:

  • 540 ml full cream milk
  • 1 vanilla beans, split, seeds scraped
  • 220 g egg yolks (about 12 egg yolks)
  • 220 g caster sugar
  • 90 g corn flour
  • 90 g butter, diced, softened

Caramel:

  • 500 g white sugar
  • 150 ml water
  • 200 ml liquid glucose

Follow the MasterChef method here to make each of the individual components. Finally, don’t be afraid to take the caramel to the edge of burning. As some of you may know, burnt caramel is one of my favourite flavours plus this will ensure the whole dessert isn’t too sweet. DSC02993As I had to transport my creation to the party I didn’t decorate with the spun sugar.

IMG_2055This is me grinning like a Cheshire cat with my leaning tower of croquembouche. Yes, it was cold, hence my furry hat!

So, the moral of this story is, take the baking challenge, you might just surprise yourself.

Best suburban BYO, Cinco

Cinco is one of those suburban restaurants that I’ve driven past countless times over the years. I’ve never given it more than a passing thought and in fact, if you go to the website, as I did recently, you’d be forgiven for dismissing it as a possible choice for a celebratory dinner with friends. The website certainly doesn’t reflect the unstated elegance of Cinco or the high standard of food we experienced.

After making a list of nine CBD contenders, Miss P and I decided on going local and giving Cinco at Camp Hill a try, based on the menu and the fact that it had just won ‘best suburban BYO restaurant’ at the Qld Good Food Awards.

Woo hoo! We felt like we’d won gold. Good company and good wine aside, the food and service was spectacular.

For starters we ordered the sizzling olives ($8) and a serve of empanadas (4 for $16) with Pebre sauce (a Chilean condiment made of coriander, chopped onion, olive oil, garlic and ground or pureed spicy peppers). The olives were moreish and the empanadas, deep-fried, were crunchy but not oily with a slightly spicy beef filling.

The much anticipated entrees were packed with flavour and all beautifully presented. After tasting each dish I had trouble deciding on my favourite but I think the fried goats cheese would be a dish I’d return for.

Salad of baby beetroot, fried goats cheese, candied walnuts, walnut cream and rye ($19).

DSC03009Jamon Serrano, grilled figs, torn boccconcini, mint, pomegranite and grissini ($22).

DSC03008Gratin of sand crab and bug, garlic, chilli, tomato and basil hollandaise ($23).

DSC03010Goat pie with pine nuts, dates, pickled radish and rose yoghurt ($22).

DSC03007Yes, we ate a lot of food, probably too much food, but it was so good. Seriously, Cinco does really tasty food.

For mains we ordered grilled Barramundi, artichokes, chorizo vinigrette and opal basil ($36), braised rabbit leg, Jerusalem artichoke, mushroom ragout and rabbit ravilolo ($36), Kurobuta pork belly, grilled onion, leek, rhubarb and pepper sauce ($38) and Cape Grim eye fillet, field mushroom, potato puree, spinach and oxtail sauce ($39). Because we couldn’t resist we also ordered sides of pumpkin with yoghurt sauce ($10) and the ancient grains salad ($12).

Usually I’m no slouch when it comes to ordering dessert but I very nearly did pass until I noticed pomegranate jelly with rose cream, fig, pistachio and meringue ($15). You had me at pomegranate! This dessert delivered on so many levels. Very cleverly constructed with each mouthful delivering a surprise in flavour and texture.

DSC03026We also had to try the hot pear fritters with walnut and cinnamon parfait ($15). Miss P claimed this was probably the best dessert she’d ever eaten. Now, that’s a big call. The hot fritter was perfectly cooked, light and crunchy on the outside, it went beautifully with the parfait which was smooth, with a good hit of walnut and cinnamon flavour

DSC03022A bonus for wine lovers, Cinco is BYO but if you forget your favourite drop, you can always select from a comprehensive list of wines.

The name Cinco (which means five), was chosen by owner Peter Stubbs, to represent the five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water, all of which are essential to cooking, as well as achieving balance and harmony in life according to the principles of Feng Shui. In my books, it also represents five stars. How lucky are the people of Camp Hill to have this gem on their doorstep? Very lucky indeed.

Cinco

Dinner Tuesday – Saturday 6pm
Lunch Thursday – Friday 12pm

589 Old Cleveland Road
Camp Hill
Phone (07) 3843 6666

July noodle nights

Apparently Brisbane loves night noodle markets. By 5.30pm on opening night, the Southbank forecourt, adjacent to the big wheel, was filling up with hungry diners looking for Asian flavours and fun.

Part of Brisbane Good Food month, the noodle markets are a great opportunity to sample some of Brisbane’s best Asian fare. We started with some mouth-watering yakitori from Birds Nest, followed by tasty little gyozas from Zagyoza, The home of Gyoza and finished up with buns from The Bun Mobile, cause it’s very hard to walk past and not want a bun!

There are plenty of cool places to sit and enjoy the beautiful Brisbane skyline and take in what is a very family friendly atmosphere.

Restaurants participating in the night noodle markets: Bang Bang Pop Up, Birds Nest Yakitori, Chitty Banh Banh, Fat Noodle, Harajuku Gyoza, ii-na Japanese Food, Japanese Pizza Okonomi House , Lets Do Yum Cha, Longrain, Mamak, Mini Pancakes, New Shanghai, Passion Tree, Peng You, Saigon Alley Cafe Vietnamese Street Food, Sake Restaurant, Sendok Garpu Authentic Indonesian Food , Serendipity Ice Cream & Sorbet, Spanthai, Taro’s Ramen & Cafe, The Bun Mobile, Zagyoza, The Home Of Gyoza.

A great place to meet up with friends, the Night Noodle Markets operate every evening until Sunday July 27, starting at 5pm weeknights and 4pm on weekends.

Cash only.

Ribs & Burgers

After a morning outing to see the beautifully filmed ‘Yves Saint Laurent’ (highly recommend, if you like art house films) Mrs A, Miss Moo and myself should have been in the mood for a sophisticated French lunch but no, what did we choose, burgers! Something about the smell that drew us in as we walked out of the Palace Cinemas in James Street.

It was my first visit to Ribs & Burgers and I liked it, a lot. It was fresh, fast and they serve wine in a tumbler. That took Mrs A and I straight back to the 1980s when we frequently drank (not very good wine) out of a glass.

I enjoyed the mini burgers, one beef, one chicken, served with well seasoned crunchy chips ($16). Both were moist with a particularly good tasting sauce and the buns were light and soft. Mrs A went with the Italian style feather steak, a tenderised grain-fed sirloin, seared, seasoned and dressed with olive oil, lemon and herbs ($17). The steak really was tender and succulent. Miss Moo had the cheese burger ($12) and surprised herself by finishing it all.

Together with a side of crunchy onion rings ($5) and a cabbage salad with chopped apple, roasted pinenuts, fresh mint, seasoned with olive oil and lemon ($6) we were full up to kitty’s bow, fueled and ready for some post lunch shopping.

Ribs & Burgers

Centro on James, 39 James St, Fortitude Valley