We found it!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Project Romance would like to apologise for the misleading title of this blog entry. Although honestly, after a spate of mediocre Spanish food consumed in Brisbane over the past few months - I'm hoping it speaks for itself.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have died and gone to tapas heaven. Now granted, I have never been to Spain. And granted, maybe your standards are a little different from mine. But in my humble opinion this place ticks EVERY BOX. 

'Peasant' is located in the Barracks at Paddington (which has become my new favourite hideout in Brisbane for multiple reasons - homemade chocolates, Swiss icecream and quaint bookstores are but three of said reasons!). You can sit outside (with the err...wonderful view of Caxton Street), or soak up the ambient soft lighting inside at the long wooden tables or at the bar - which is where we ended up as soon as we had an inkling that this place carried Argentinian wine, which had come highly recommended to us in recent times.

The staff were attentive and friendly - always on hand with recommendations but not pushy. They let you take your time and enjoy your time there and to their credit, didn't laugh at me when I caved and ordered food after maintaining (twice!) that we were only there for a drink.

The food...the food is out of this world. We ordered a few dishes - spiced almonds, clams and chorizo with fresh warm bread served with roasted garlic, sweet potato empanadas - oh my. We didn't stay for mains as we had a movie to catch, however we could have honestly sat there all night, soaking it all up. They do a variety of main meals - and believe me, we'll be back to try them. They also do paella for two on Monday nights for only $30- SCORE! 

Despite their occasional specials, Peasant isn't cheap by any stretch of the imagination. Four glasses of wine, plus the almonds, bread and two tapas set us back around $100. But honestly - if you can't spend your money on good food and good wine - then why the hell are you even alive? I believe their mains are around $30 (which is fairly average nowadays), so it's not for the budget conscious - but if you're looking for an intimate dinner for two, in a gorgeous location, with food and wine that's a little different from the typical Brisbane fare - Peasant is definitely worth a try.
  • Summary: Warm, ambient, cosy, yummy, amazing tapas bar and restaurant in the heart of Brisbane's upmarket dining and cinema scene.
  • Tip: Clams and chorizo with warm bread and roasted garlic.
  • Transport: Bus to Caxton Street, 15 min walk from Roma Street Train Station
  • Where: Barracks, Paddington (61 Petrie Terrace)
  • When: Open daily for lunch and dinner.
  • Cost: Standard up-market Brisbane prices. Worth EVERY CENT.
  • Website: None as of yet!
  • Perfect For: Something different, grazing, interesting wine list, intimate dinners.
  • Downsides: Pricey (depending on your definition really). Get there before 7pm - or the place packs out. If you're going for dinner - phone ahead of time. :)

Livin' la Vida so-so.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

There are few things in my life that I like more than 1) Seafood 2) Sangria and 3) Chocolate - so when I heard about Vida Spanish Restaurant in Paddington, Brisbane - my eyes lit up and I bumped this place up to the top of my list. Where I'm not completely sure it belonged in the end, but nevertheless we went.

Vida was converted from an older style house - so therefore the eating areas were considerably spread out. The decor was bland: white walls, white ceilings, white fans, crooked frames on the wall. The one thing that gave it warmth and character were the hanging tealight holders by the window I wanted to take home with me. 

Bread and olive oil was complimentary (and very nice I might add). We came for one reason and one reason only and that was the Paella ($50 for two) so we ordered this, and some marinated olives to munch on before it arrived. The olives weren't too bad - some were as big as your head and extremely flavoursome (niiiice), but the others really hadn't been marinating for long and were bland in the centre. The Sangria ($25 for two) came in a terracotta jug which was a lovely touch and I'll admit, was outstanding.

The paella arrived and was served by a rather nervous waitress who attempted to dish it out and ended up dishing it onto the tablecloth instead. I realise the pan was hot but I'd preferred if she'd just let us do it ourselves. The mussels were lovely and flavoursome, as were the prawns - however the rest of the dish was a bit so-so. There wasn't that lovely crust that develops when you cook paella - this one had been stirred. It's a hard dish to do at a restaurant I imagine as it takes awhile to make - but I was disappointed at the lack of authenticity. 

We ordered churros for dessert and these were kind of disappointing too. They crumbled beneath our forks and we constantly lost chunks of them in the dipping sauce (which was heavenly, I'll give them that).

Vida prides itself on being a "Spanish Fusion" restaurant but I think I like my Spanish "unfused" and a little more authentic. It's a nice place for a date - and certainly if you're not fussy about authenticity - then by all means, it's a great spot. 

I'd like to hear from anyone that has found really amazing authentic Spanish food in Brisbane. If you have - drop me a line at the end of this post!

  • Summary: Cosy Spanish-fusion restaurant in New Farm
  • Tip: Definitely order the Sangria. It's lovely and fruity and made with some good quality wine (unlike most other "Mexican" restaurants who will remain unnamed!)
  • Transport: Buses run to Paddington 7 days a week.
  • Where: 14 Collingwood St, Paddington QLD 4064
  • When: Open Monday - Saturday 6pm-10:30pm.
  • Cost:  Tapas $10-$13, Entrees $18, Mains $30, Desserts $15. Paella for 2: $50.
  • Website: www.vidarestaurant.com.au 
  • Perfect For: First-time, non-fussy Spanish eaters. Cosy dates. Something different.
  • Downsides: The service is patchy, the waitresses fairly standoffish and disinterested. I'd be interested in their other meals (if I didn't have other restaurants to visit) but if you're picky about your paella - you may be disappointed.

Warning. This post may induce fits of drooling and extreme pizza-lust.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Who has found Brisbane's best pizza? Oooh! Pick me! Pick me! I know!!!

Granted - that's a big call. Not because Brisbane is known for it's pizza - it's largely because MOST Australians don't know what real pizza is (oh hush if you're someone that does - I said MOST!) . Hell I don't know what real pizza is. But if I DID know, I bet it'd be something like Vespa Pizza at New Farm (and I believe Wooloongabba too but I haven't been there so I can't comment).

Now I'm going to start with something negative - but I'll go from there. Admittedly I DID attempt to make a booking online - and no-one got back to me. Their bad. So when I rocked up to a restaurant chock-full of "Reserved" signs, I had a sinking feeling that my name wasn't on the list. So I told them about my plight and the lovely Canadian girl behind the counter (who I suspect was a manager of some kind) sprung into action and gave us a table - as long as we could be out by 8:00pm. I looked at my watch - 6:30! Brilliant!

We were seated at a cosy little table in the front of the store. I had a brief look at the outside area though which was lit by lanterns and fairylights and I lamented a little - but I'll definitely be back, so the lanterns will have to wait. The service was prompt and corkage was not charged. You heard me. In the day and age where $4 per person corkage is not uncommon - especially in New Farm - I was astounded. Granted we had to pour the wine ourselves - but who cares!

We ordered a panzanella salad to start - which is a type of bread-salad. Dear god. I was in HEAVEN. The olive oil used on it was divine and the bread, despite being soaked in it was not soggy in the slightest. Stephen and I fought over the very last morsel of it! 

Can I just say now that I LOVE a guy that eats salad? It downright turns me on.

After some batting of eyelids and pouting (and not realising that we could do 1/2 and 1/2 pizzas - d'oh!) we settled on a "Pizza Bianca" - with pancetta, olives, cherry tomatos, artichokes, capers, sea salt and fior di latte. Stephen's not usually fussed on salty things like artichokes and capers - but he relented because pancetta and artichokes to me are like...like....well let's just say they're two of my favourite foods. Ever.

We waited about 25 minutes - bearing in mind that Vespa Pizza do takeaway as well as home delivered orders and it was a Saturday night. And it was made from scratch and woodfired.  The base was light but not soggy - and served as an incredibly tasty canvas for the toppings - which were chopped quite finely and not overbearingly salty at all. The taste was a mashing of simple flavours and can I just say fior di latte? Fior the WIN!

We devoured it and could have EASILY gone another one - however there was dessert. Now I took the liberty of ordering this when the pizza arrived because it was 7:15 by this stage and I was worried that I'd be kicked out without the very thing I came to eat.

Nutella and marshmallow calzone with vanilla gelato.

Be. Still. My. Beating. Heart.

This thing has to be seen to believed - and when we first laid eyes on it, we immediately thought "Pfft! We could have ordered two!". Oh no we could not have. 5 minutes later, and several grunts of pleasure and lickings of spoons (haha, that sounded kind of wrong didn't it?) - we agreed it was definitely a dessert best shared.

The total bill? $38. Not only did I find the best pizza in Brisbane (in my opinion) - but we found a place where we could eat delectable amazingly yummy Italian food for under $40.

Go there. Go there now.

  • Summary: Incredible Italian food in a cosy spot in trendy New Farm.
  • Tip: Nutella Calzone. Do not die without trying this. Oh - and it's BYO.
  • Transport: Buses run to New Farm all the time - although it's a bit of a walk to Merthyr Road (you'll need it!)
  • Where: 148 Merthyr Road, New Farm
  • When: Open 7 days from 5pm.
  • Cost: Preludes from $7. Pizza from $17 (shareable). Dessert from $7.50.
  • Website: www.vespapizza.com.au
  • Perfect For: A meal before a show at the Powerhouse. Cosy Italian food. Carb-fest?!
  • Downsides: Book or you just won't get a table. The end. You can also takeaway or if you live locally - have it delivered - however you're looking at 45 minute waits on weekends. Best just to book and go and have a great time.