Thursday 30 June 2016

Bird's Nest Restaurant - Review

Bird's Nest Restaurant (Yakitori and Bar) is in trendy, busy, whacky West End.  It was my birthday last week so Mr P. suggested we head out to lunch.  I remembered seeing this place on tv last year and being impressed with the passion of the owners.  Right said I, let's head there.  We are both fans of Japanese food - sushi being our default go-to, so he was happy to come try it out.

cute sign  

We had rung to book even though we thought it surely wasn't necessary mid-week, but surprisingly it filled up very quickly. Quite possibly something to do with the lunchtime specials of $12, which include unlimited miso soup and rice.

lunchtime specials

Guess what Mr P. drank?  Yep you guessed it - ginger beer ($5).  I chose something more apposite - Sudachi citrus with lime and mandarin. It is based on shochu, which is a Japanese hard liquor made from grains and vegetables.  It was very refreshing and citrus-y; I didn't realise till later that it was so alcoholic.  (Sudachi is a Japanese citrus fruit used in cooking.)

sudachi lime and mandarin  $12  

Mr P. went for the Japanese hot dog special.  The meat is tsukune - chicken meatballs which are grilled over charcoal.  It is served on a Japanese bun with cabbage and mayo, along with spicy fries.  Mr P. really liked this; he said it was one of the best hot dogs he had ever eaten.  But come to think of it, I don't think he has eaten many in his life:=)  Not sure what makes the bun Japanese but it was fresh and soft.  Perhaps it was a Japanese milk bun which is made with a roux starter, and is very light and airy (thus says Google).

tsukune dog $12 

I had karaage don with wasabi mayo, served on tare rice with pickles, and a cup of miso soup accompanying it.  FYI tare is a sweetened, thickened soy sauce flavoured with dashi, vinegar etc. This was a wonderful dish.  Simple, quick and so tasty.  The fried chicken was tender and had a crunchy golden batter.  The rice was flavourful, and there was a crispy seaweed garnish that added a great little extra texture to the dish.

I loved this karaage don $12    

unlimited miso soup comes with the lunch specials  

Mr P. and I agreed this was the best miso soup we had ever had. Rather than coming out of a packet, it actually tasted fresh and real with delicious silken tofu.  And the colour is a beautiful pale yellow unlike that weird brown stuff you get from the sachets.

delicious as you can see!  all gone   

The crockery is really lovely; thick earthenware that suits the style of food.  And I really loved the cute little wooden spoon that came with my meal to scoop up the rice.

actioning the yakitori grill  

Japanese beer on tap    

love this mural 

fantastic ceiling

It is a rare occasion when Mr P. and I say let's try this place again soon, but we both said it last week.  We enjoyed sitting right at the counter, watching the chef giving the meats a good grilling.  This chef was so on the ball, it was a pleasure to listen to him revving up the staff - in the nicest possible way - making sure that everybody knew what was what.     

Bird's Nest does dinner every night, and also caters for functions and group dining.  If you are after some fresh and flavoursome Japanese dishes, this is the place for you. You can try some Japanese beers and cocktails too.

Shop 5/220 Melbourne St.,
South Brisbane
Ph: 07 3844 4306

Bird's Nest Yakitori Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Herman AKA Helga The German Friendship Cake Part 2

Last night on the coldest night of the year so far, we had a movie night in our carport. As we usually do for the Winter Solstice and my birthday.  Our friends who originally gave me the Herman starter were there and asked when I was going to post the cake recipe?  So here she is.  Helga as I re-named her, in all her sourdough glory.

Helga the Glorious sourdough cake  


one portion of the Helga starter (c. 340g.)

1 cup sugar

2 cups plain flour

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cup flavourless oil (I used peanut oil)

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cooking apples cut into chunks (I used Granny Smith's)

1 cup sultanas (or raisins if you must)

2 heaped tsp of cinnamon

2 heaped tsp of baking powder


1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup melted butter


Place one portion of Helga into a large mixing bowl and stir well

Add all the above ingredients and mix together well

Pour the batter into a large, greased baking tin

Sprinkle the sugar and butter over the top of the batter

Bake for 45-60 minutes at 170C, depending on your oven - mine is slow so it took the hour to bake

I put alfoil over the top for the last 10 minutes of baking as Helga was starting to turn very brown

Let her cool in the tin for 5 minutes

Then turn her out onto a rack to cool down, or eat warm with cream and/or icecream


Make sure Helga is done by checking her middle with a skewer, and baking for a few minutes longer if not completely cooked

I used a 22cm springform tin, but you can use a regular cake tin 


Helga erupting out of her container   

give her a big stir  

all the ingredients go into the bowl with Helga    

stir everything well together    

pour the batter into the greased tin 

sprinkle the brown sugar over the top  

pour the melted butter over, and into the oven for 45-60 minutes at 170C   

golden and warm and ready to eat    

warm, spicy and apple-y 

my Granny Smith apple doodle 

Thursday 23 June 2016

The Defiant Duck - Review

All right, you know I love rabbity stuff so it won't surprise you to know I like ducky stuff too.  Yep, stuffed (as in toy) or pink and juicy on my plate.  So it was a no-brainer that I wanted to head to this place when I saw the name.

I don't know what I thought it would be like - kind of trendy and a bit quirky maybe. Sadly I was wrong.  Turns out it is just one big, blokey sports bar.  My fault I guess that I didn't check out their website properly.  Not that there's anything wrong with being a blokey sports bar of course!

the front of the food and drink pavilion    

Yes folks, that's what they call themselves - a food and drink pavilion.  What was I thinking?  Could I not see the writing on the wall metaphorically speaking?  And to add insult to injury, the website tells you they are located in the Gasworks precinct.  So Mr P. and I spent 10 minutes hunting for it where it was not.  Finally we saw it away in the distance across the wee park with the imposing and beautiful Gasometer still standing.

thru the looking glass i.e. Gasometer on a glorious blue sky day in Brisbane

Mr P. and I sat down and grabbed a menu.  (We know by now that table service is a thing of the past.)  The food is as you would expect for a sports bar - hearty, snacky and fried.  I chose Maryland crab cakes with fennel, cilantro (sic) and chipotle mayo.

Maryland crab cakes $12

These deep fried morsels had a lovely crunchy exterior and you could actually taste crab on the inside.  The mayo went well with it, and the pickled fennel gave it a nice tangy hit.  

a side of shoestring fries $6  

The fries came with chicken salt and aioli. (chicken salt? Not very noticeable).  As an add-on to a burger, they are just $3.00.  We were charged $3 each although we had only asked for one serve.  And sadly they were luke-warm verging on cold.  We had ordered sweet potato fries, but these came instead. The waitress was happy to change them, but we stuck with the fries in the hand etc. You know that old saying.

'The Duck' hotdog $12    

As you can see the hotdog was quite large with lots of American mustard.  Frankly waaay too much mustard.  I finally found the grilled onion shoved up one end; I wish it had been spread over the whole dog.  The actual Chicago dog itself was chewy and hard to bite into.  Not my fave dish so I left a fair whack on the plate.  

beef and bacon burger $15  

inside the burger  

This burger gets a bit of a mixed review.  Mr P. said it was juicy due to the BBQ sauce, but the meat pattie itself was so oversalted and so tough that I was very glad I wasn't eating it.  It had the weirdest texture and flavour; I can't imagine what they did to it to get it like that.  Mr P. really loved the bacon.  I tried it and yes it was smoky and delicious.  

coffee $5

It is a very large and noisy space, and when we went on a Wednesday lunchtime it was full of blokes.  I may have been the only female there.  I am perhaps sounding over-critical but the food was adequate and filling.  It is just not the place for a quiet meal for couples.  If you're interested in sports, it's a goer.  Or if you are after a quick feed and a beer, you're set.

They do lunch and dinner 7 days a week.  It is of course licensed. And BTW, they have a Josper oven which is a great thing apparently.  Oh, and an express coffee window.

looking up at the Gasworks 

3/84 Longland Street,
Newstead  QLD
Ph: 07 3252 1581

The Defiant Duck Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday 21 June 2016

The 3P Loaf - Pumpkin, Poppyseed And Polenta

I first made this loaf a couple of weeks ago, and it was a bit of a disaster I have to report.  I think I've said it before but I really wonder sometimes if cookbook authors and writers for food magazines actually try out their own recipes.  This loaf was a bit of a sad and sorry mess, so I have made it again and this time it turned out so much better. I even went to the trouble of buying a new square cake pan (I needed one anyway) just so I could conquer this loaf.  

Now, the original recipe is ripped out of an old Woolies' mag - so naturally it mentions their products.  Sadly for me their pre-prepared tray of spiced pumpkin and sweet potato with maple butter didn't exist in our local Woolies, or the known Universe I imagine. But guess what I did find this weekend?  Yay, already peeled and diced pumpkin chunks in the fresh veggie section AND frozen ones too.

yep that's them in the tray    

Phew what a relief.  So now I just had to guess the quantity of maple syrup, butter and spices.  First time around, Mr P. said "where's the maple syrup?" so I upped it plus added more of the butter and spices.  I also decided to add a bit of baking powder as it is such a heavy mix, and I fried the bacon separately rather than bake it with the pumpkin and onion.    

ready for the oven - 190C for 35-40 minutes  

Makes 1 loaf:


400g. of pumpkin (after peeling), diced

3 tbs maple syrup

2 tbs butter

1/4 tsp mixed spice

1/4 tsp cinnamon (or spice of your choice)

1 small brown onion (c. 75g. after peeling), finely diced 

2 tsp thyme leaves

5 rashers (c. 110g.) of shortcut bacon, chopped

1 dessertspoon olive oil for frying the bacon

2 cups self-raising flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup polenta

2 tbs poppy seeds (20g.)

80g. butter, chopped

2/3 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup tasty cheese, grated


Place the pumpkin, maple syrup, butter and spices on a baking tray

Add the onion and thyme to the tray

Toss everything together

Bake at 190C for 35-40 minutes till golden and tender

Cool slightly and give it a rough mash

Fry the bacon in the oil (while the veg. is baking) for 5-10 minutes

In a large mixing bowl, tip in the flour, baking powder, polenta and poppy seeds and whisk well

Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips till crumb-like

Stir in the buttermilk and half a cup of the grated cheese - this will take a few minutes as the mix is very heavy and stiff

Add the mashed veg. and the bacon, season well with salt and pepper and give it a good stir

Grease and line either a loaf tin or a square 20cm. baking tin with baking paper

Dollop the mixture into the tin, spread it evenly and top with the other 1/4 cup cheese

Bake for 25-30 minutes at 220C till the top is golden and a skewer comes out clean. You may need to bake for a few more minutes if using a loaf tin as it is a dense mix and will take time to cook thru

Let it rest for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack

Serve slices thickly spread with butter


Make sure you check thoroughly with the skewer; my original loaf seemed done but was actually a doughy mess inside

If you want the pumpkin to cook faster, turn it up to 220C for a few minutes less 

Mr P. suggested I use 1/2 tsp baking powder rather than 1/4; give it a try if you want a slightly more risen loaf

Try it with half orange sweet potato instead of all pumpkin for a change

You may think I'm a bit crazy but I actually weighed the onion and bacon.  I find it a bit annoying when a recipe blithely states to use a small onion, so I checked it out online and found that the USDA says a small onion is 75g. peeled - you're welcome!

whisk the dry ingredients together   

ready to rub in the butter chunks  

add the grated cheese to the mix after rubbing in the butter   

pour in the buttermilk  

you can see how dense the mix is here 

add the veg. and bacon, stir in and season well      

flatten it out evenly in the tin  

scatter on the cheese and bake at 220C for 25-30 minutes    

golden and crispy on top   

eat it warm with lots of butter    

my butternut pumpkin doodle

BTW this is my 400th post since I started blogging 3 years ago. Who knew how many friends I would make virtually and in real life, and how much knowledge and fun would arise from it? 

Thanks everyone!

Saturday 18 June 2016

A - Z Guidebook - Melbourne Victoria

Miss Marples Tea Room, Melbourne Victoria   

I used to love the old Miss Marple movies with Margaret Rutherford when I was a child. She was just so funny and quirky. The image they use here at the Tea Room is clearly hers, so I couldn't help but love this equally quirky building with her face plastered all over it.  

This charming Tea Room is up the road from where I lived as a child, so has many happy memories for me.  Every time we go back to Melbourne to visit friends and family, we take a drive up to the hills.  Not a fan of the food here however!  Love the building but don't eat there.  It is very popular and packed to the gunnels at all times but sadly the food is pretty average.  Never mind that, it is lovely just to walk past and take in this delightful building.

Join in with Fiona from Tiffin Bite Sized with your own travel photo and story.  We are on to the letter M this month, as  you may have guessed.

TIFFIN - bite sized food adventures -

Thursday 16 June 2016

The Rabbit Hole Café - Review

Mother's Day, nearly 2pm on a Sunday and nearly every café closing by 2:30.  It didn't look good for Mr P. and me to find lunch after visiting his mum in the nursing home.  We were zipping around the back blocks when I spotted a café hidden away in a side street.  I love anything to do with rabbits - Alice in Wonderland, The Velveteen Rabbit, Peter Rabbit, pet rabbits, and a good rabbit stew.  So this café was calling my name.  

reflection on the front window of the café  

We sat down in the outside courtyard to peruse the menu.  I decided on potato hash cakes from the all-day breakfast menu while hubby went for the halloumi burger from the all-day lunch menu.  

potato hash cakes $17   


These hash cakes were mashed potatoes which was a bit disappointing to me.  I had expected something a bit chunkier, or grated potato even.  They were sad to say rather bland and heavy.   On the plus side there was heaps of crispy bacon, and a herbed sour cream.

and this is just the first page of breakfast dishes  

halloumi burger on brioche bun w/- avocado, pesto, homemade relish etc. $18  

Mr P. really enjoyed his burger (he always chooses vego.)  The chips were well-seasoned and crispy, and the burger had plenty of relish - a Mr P. essential.

iced mocha $4.50 

My iced mocha was strong and very cold; perfect for a warm Brissie day.  Hubby had his usual strawberry milkshake.  We had to ask for water several times from different waitstaff.  I guess they all forgot, even though it wasn't incredibly busy.

strawb. milkshake $6.50 - slightly expensive for its size?     

The Rabbit Hole calls itself a tapas bar and restaurant doing breakfast and brunch.  You can indulge in a coffee or a glass of wine or beer and while away some time, or go all out and have a tasty meal.  

from across the road - sorry about the sun  

The café is in a charming revamped corner shop, with plenty of outdoor space.  They have a kids' menu too if this is a family outing.  You can even build your own breakfast, or indulge in an espresso martini. 

The Verdict: a pleasant place to spend some time relaxing with some tasty food and a coffee or wine.

5 The Corso, Seven Hills 4170
Ph: 0410 119 341

The Rabbit Hole Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato