Hippopotamus, Wellington, NZ

Words that come to mind: Devine. Mouth-watering. Incredible service. Wonderful atmosphere. 
From our French speaking, music humming, trivia engaging waiter to the gorgeous view, luxurious interior and magnificent art the scene was set and my expectations were high. 

We began with cocktails. My Mother would say that I aptly chose mine. It was simply named, the Rogue. It was sweet and (just like me, let’s be honest) delicious. 

Once we were seated our fantastic waiter joined us, and he was just bursting with personality. He was professional to the tee but still managed to engage and entertain us. He gave us the daily specials, checked our drinks, ran through the menu and challenged us to some musical trivia.

The amuse Bouche arrived – an arancini mushroom risotto with a duck confit shot to wash it down. Very different and very nice. I loved the presentation.  

The waiter even managed to guess my entree and my mains. Touché Monsieur. Sashimi salmon and oysters to start. Followed by the venison with sides to share. Am I seriously that predictable or is he seriously that good? I still can’t decide.

The oysters were succulent and the sashimi some of the best I have tasted. Maybe because I am from NZ, perhaps I am just biased. Or maybe it was the cocktails. 

The venison was to start with, just gorgeous on the plate and then, marvellous on the palette. It was beautifully rare, the pickled beetroot, drunken prawns, salted caramel ganache, red wine jus and chilli and chocolate crumble (yeah, you read that right) just topped it all off. I cannot compliment it highly enough. 

We shared sides. Simple but with twists. Beans with bacon and Kikorangi cheese. Potato gratin with Gruyere. There was none left at the end. 

The kicker? All our mains were delightfully delicious. Not one bad egg among all of them. No complaints from my family of (picky) fine taste. All happy, all content and all full. 

My expectations were not only I’m met, they were surpassed. Hippopotamus is a must visit if you are in Wellington. Take the time to explore at the Art Museum hotel which hosts the restaurant while you are there – you’ll find treasures hidden in every corner and it is unlike any other hotel I’ve ever stayed in. 

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
 

Otello Trattoria Pizzeria, West End, Brisbane 

Before heading to a marketing event, Clare and I sauntered around in search of dinner. I can never say no to Italian so when Clare suggested it I was already halfway inside the door. 

We started with some lovely calamari and a shared plate of tagliatelle, olives and prawns in a napoli sauce. The pasta was wonderfully fresh and perfectly al dente, the prawns succulent and the sauce the perfect compliment. 

I sipped a lovely Chianti, Clare enjoyed a beer and the service was very helpful. 

It’s a small, quaint and quiet place, I’d love to try a pizza next! 

   
 

Statler and Waldorf Gastro Pub, Paddington, Brisbane

I had once tried the most delicious burger by S&W at a local event and have been wanting to visit their local digs ever since. Ka Lei messaged me that there was $10 fresh duck ragu that she had seen on their Facebook and was I in? Hell yeah I was!

We waited for a table ($10 fresh pasta will make anywhere busy) and was seated in time for our plates to arrive. It was cooked to perfection, with not too much sauce and a smattering of duck. For $10, they killed it.

We were all still slightly hungry afterwards, perhaps they should make it $12 and throw on another spoonful of pasta. It goes far too fast!


  
  
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Sunrise Vietnamese, Mt Gravatt, Brisbane

I wasn’t sure if i was in an RnB club or at a restaurant, the tunes were blasting out of the empty space.
I dined in alone, I was ravenous after the usual wait to see the tax agent. It really did remind me of being in Vietnam – they were always playing loud music while wandering around so relaxed.

My pho was nice, the broth could have been a bit stronger but that’s me being picky – I love my pho.

I can’t say it’s a new favourite but it was good.


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South Bank Good Food Night Noodle Markets

I’ve been hanging to check out these markets, so when my friend Beth put out the cry on Facebook I was the first to respond! 

Well worth checking out. Heaps of great stalls, awesome atmosphere and it’s worth just checking out the installations – the effort and design that has gone into some of the pop ups is amazing. 

Won’t surprise you, I started with dumplings. From my fave Shanghai Dunplings, BUT! It was something not usually on the menu. Truffle and pork steamed dumplings. 4 for 10$. They were delicious as always but a little light on the truffle if you ask me. 

Next up we tried the Hoy Pinoy smoked BBQ marinated chicken stick – amazing. I can still taste the smoke three hours later. 2 kebabs will set you back $12.

It was hard to choose what next and I probably think I made the wrong decision. I went for Mr Luu’s Vietnamese steamed pork and prawn dumplings. 5 for $8. They were okay. They had a weird spice to them and I didn’t love the consist fancy. Should have gone for the bao or pho I think.

Just when you thought I was done, and I thought I was, I remember the waffle sticks. And with a soon to expire car park, the race was on. The line was large, it gave us time to debate our decision on which flavour. Nutella and strawberries won out and damn was it delicious. 

I’d love to go back and try Taro’s truffle ramen – it is on my mind. 

Definitely worth heading over to South Bank to check out! 

   
    
    
    
    
 

Flute, Coorparoo, Brisbane 

Truffled scrambled eggs for breakfast?! Hell yeah!

My friend Benny was staying from Bundy and we were looking for somewhere for breakfast. I saw the truffle and it was love at first sight.

There’s an interesting atmosphere, it’s quite quiet and one side is very clean and minimal while the other is busy and luxurious, all in a small space.

My soy chai latte was delish and the truffled scrambled eggs with a dash of pesto, lots of Parmesan and wonderful toasted Turkish pide was amazing.

Ben loved his Thai fish cakes and they looked beautiful.

Neither of us could finish our meals and they were very reasonably priced. The chef and staff were lovely and attentive.

Great spot for breakfast around Coorparoo.


  
  
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A Melbourne morning

I flew into Melbourne yesterday afternoon and was straight into a work dinner until late and up early this morning for a breakfast meeting pre workshop. I took 10 mins out and went for a quick walk around the Yarra and I’m so glad I did. I felt so much more refreshed and ready for the day – it’s the little things. 

   
     

Brisbane River Grill, Brisbane Airport 

It’s high time someone opened up a decent restaurant at the Brisbane International Airport and Brisbane River Grill has come to the party!  On my way to NZ I stopped in for dinner and enjoyed a beautiful red wine chosen by the staff, the most delicious soft shell crab burger with chilli kimchi and asian slaw and some perfectly fried chips. Sold and sold. The prices are very reasonable, it was only about $23 for my burger and chips and the wine was about 12$ a glass and well worth it.  The fit out is great, I managed to nab a booth with a charger so I could get my phone topped up pre-flight.  I will be eating here everytime I fly!        
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Arriba Grill, Morningside, Brisbane 

It’s a shame, as the customer service was wonderful but to get straight to the point, I could have made better at home.

When I walked in I was greeted like an old friend and told how to order – by filling in the piece of paper with all the options.

I chose a wholemeal burrito with beef and blackbeans, with lime rice, mild tomato salsa, cheese and lettuce. $13.50.

It was huge, and I was excited! But the reality was, the rice was flavourless and in clumps, the beef was average, the salsa was barely there and the lettuce was limp. Gag.

Has Guzman Y Gomez ruined Mexican for me? I adore their burritos but this was seriously average.

I’ll be driving further for my Mexican in future.


  

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Chameleon Restaurant, Wellington

I have long been a fan of Chameleon Restaurant in Wellington, in fact, my Uncle took me here for lunch to celebrate my 16th birthday, oh so many years ago. Rather fitting then that I was joining the very same Uncle for breakfast all these years later.

Chameleon (along with the Intercontinental Hotel it sits inside) has recently undergone a massive facelift. The interior looks much more modern and has some awesome touches added, like the hand wall.

The menu was great, I had trouble deciding but ordered smoked salmon with truffle-scented scrambled eggs on toasted brioche. Yeah, truffle-scented, you read right! They were absolutely scrumptious. My soy chai latte was on point, so much so that I had two.

The service was great and they were happy to accomodate my Uncle with his request for a plain omelette with hashbrowns.

I’ll be back again on my next trip to Wellington.


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