Category Archives: Restaurant Review

Restaurant Review: Wagaya, Fortitude Valley

I’d heard people talking about the touch screen ordering system at new Fortitude Valley Japanese Izakaya style eatery Wagaya, which put me in mind of AA Gill’s review of London restaurant Bob Bob Ricard where much was made of the ‘bring champagne’ button installed at every table. Sadly the review is now very securely on the other side of Uncle Rupert’s paywall. A memorable review in which Bob Bob Ricard received zero points.
I’m not in the habit of awarding points, which is a good thing, because Wagaya would be a tough one to score.
A running total - in four languages
A somewhat cavernous venue, comprising all booth seating for somewhere between 150 – 200, along with private rooms, Wagaya is located upstairs from Chinatown Mall in the long vacant space in the redeveloped TC Beirne building. I give a broad estimate on seats, because how many you can fit in a booth will depend on the sort of arses being accommodated.
There’s some novelty in ordering via touchscreen, and like self checkout at the supermarket, it has some advantages. Food comes quickly and even luddites will soon be caught up in the excitement of pressing buttons to make food come. So its handy to be able to get a subtotal for your spend by just selecting a few menu options, lest you get carried away and blow your budget.
We visited at lunch time and ordered a pork katsu bento box, a teriyaki tofu bento box, tuna sashimi and scampi sushi rolls. Complimentary miso soup was bought to our table in a flash. It is very obviously food prepared to approximate Japanese food without quite so much care and focus on ingredients to be the real deal. As mentioned here, it’s a all a little bit Japanese-by-numbers. But still, its cheap, fun and generally pleasing.
Wagaya's Teriyaki Tofu Bento Box
The teriyaki tofu was flavourful and the accompanying potato salad croquette was excellent, creamy and with a properly crispy panko crumb exterior. One of the hallmarks of a good Japanese food is the rice, and unusually neither of us finished ours, which was overcooked and unseasoned. The tuna sashimi was OK, but lacked freshness and texture. Presentation of the scampi sushi plate was excellent with heads and claws displayed to dramatic effect. Stodgy tempura batter meant the scampi meat was barely recognisable.
I expect Wagaya will be popular with younger patrons and those looking for a fast and inexpensive meal in the Valley. Queues are common at its Sydney sister restaurant. The Brisbane menu offers plenty of choice, particularly at dinner where there are about 100 dishes on offer. Drinks are also ordered via the touch screen system, but alas there is no Champagne, nor a Champagne button. BYO is available at $2.50 per person – via the touchscreen ordering system.
The room screening and brooding décor puts me in mind of Garuva, though the bench seating does at least raise the age of diners who can eat here – or should I say, the age of diners who can stand and depart unassisted after dinner.
Wagaya Restaurant
Level 1, TCB Centre
315 Brunswick Street
Fortitude Valley
07 3252 8888

Adventures: Eating in the City of Brotherly Love

So I’ll admit it. I love the US East Coast.

In contrast with Australia, there’s a palpable sense of history, cultural evolution, fascinating architecture and galleries and museums that never fail to blow my mind. The density of population can sustain specialist retail ventures in a way that Australia just can’t do. Year round Christmas shops may not be the pinnacle of human achievement but they illustrate my point.

Boston and New York are great cities, but Philadelphia is pretty special too, and I’m lucky enough that it’s the annual destination for a business conference I participate in. Perhaps by design, it coincided with Philly Beer Week, where Philly’s many craft beer venues turn their massive beer love up to 11. After flying from Brisbane to LA, then from LA to New York, then driving up the New Jersey Turnpike and onto Philly, I still got excited to see our hotel’s bar was in on the craft beer action. After a Walt Wit, a Yuengling Amber Lager and a Flying Fish Belgian Abbey Dubbel, we were relaxed and settled in for the week ahead.

Staying on the Delaware River on the edge of Old City, we’d been curious about an imposing Greek Revival building with red velvet curtains in the windows set amongst restaurants and bars. National Mechanics turns out to be one of the best places to sample craft beers and features a style of cuisine we’d probably call Dude Food. To complement the architecture, the interiors take Victorian and Steampunk elements to create at atmosphere where its 1am 24/7. You can also visit their webpage and queue up tunes to play while you choose your next beer. It’s easy to get comfortable – we started our session at around 3pm and stayed until the end of open mic night. Everyone is more talented, more attractive and more amusing after a dozen craft beers.

Keen to avoid the hotel buffet, we headed out the next morning and discovered Fork Etc., a more casual version of Fork, its fine dining sister venue right next door. Selected more for its prominent espresso machine than much else, Fork features local produce, quality ingredients and artisan bread. While breakfast menus in the US continue to confound me, the food was good enough that we immediately planned a visit to its big sister Fork. The conversation of PR people, wine distributors and restaurateurs at the next able was an unexpected bonus.

Thanks to a tip off from Brisbane art gallery manager Chris Hassall, we ditched a visit to the Italian Markets in favour of a tour of Philadelphia Art Museum. This is an incredible gallery and a testament to the wealth and generosity of some of Philly’s founding families. There’s an impressive collection of classics, modern art and sculpture – but what really amazed me was the extensive collection of armory and gallery after gallery of complete, reconstructed rooms displaying the finest examples of European interior architecture over a span of the last 250 years. I’m keen to return next year and spend more time viewing these amazing collections. A little footsore, we slipped into the overstuffed upholstery of the Art Museum’s elegant Granite Hill restaurant. Beautiful food and some very East Coast flavours, with a chef’s table appetiser comprising seafood, smoked trout, roast meats, cheeses and salads. With such excellent food on offer, we also ordered a main each. My simple rag pasta with pesto and heirloom tomatoes was generous in size and flavours, and provided sufficient ballast to tour a few more galleries.

On our last free day before our conference started, we returned to Fork for lunch. For me, the highlight of East Coast dining is the abundance of crab, lobster and oysters available on even the most humble of menus. The crab cake sandwich was an easy choice, and Fork’s version was perfection. Wholegrain bread, sweet succulent crab meat, tangy whole egg mayo and hand cut french fries. The preceding charcuterie plate also deserves a mention, representing a cross section of cured meats of different cultures, in keeping with Philly’s heritage. And in a smart move approved by the young sommelier we chose a Mas Martinet 2007 Priorat Menut to have with our lunch. My tip for Aussie diners is to stick to European wine while in the US. More satisfying and the prices are good too.

It wouldn’t be a trip to Philly without a cheesesteak, and while I’m unsure the ones on offer at the conference were authentic, they were good enough that I went back for seconds.

And it wouldn’t be a blog post about Philly without some original gansta rap from Schoolly D.

Short Order – September in Brisbane

I took most of this weekend off and here’s where we ate and drank.

On our circuit of the city and Southbank we checked out progress at the River Bend development. It’s tucked up at the Goodwill Bridge end of Southbank and a tranquil curve has been carved out in the riverbank for 6 – 7 new restaurants and bars. The landscaped amphitheater that’s been created down by the river was a nice spot to catch some sun on a very windy morning. The design by local firm Arkefield makes the most of the riverside location and I’m keen to see what Stokehouse, The Jetty, Cove and others do with the space. Fitouts seem to be in full swing with only the interior of Stokehouse visible from up on Goodwill Bridge.

We decided to try Jeremy’s (Albert Street, City) on our way home. We’ve previously been put off by the rather odd breakfast menu that is divided into two – with one half stating that there may be a wait of up to 20 – 30 minutes for dishes to be served. Anyhow, it’s a lovely room and at least the slightly over earnest menu writing signals that there is effort being made. The coffee was excellent and our choices of turkish style scrambled eggs and savory mince on toast with a poached egg were both delicious and elegantly presented. The coffee is up there with the top 3 I’ve had in the CBD and the bacon is AMAZING. Its thick cut and delicious. The dining room is super stylish and over flowing with lots of interesting bottles. Top that off with very polished service – even at breakfast – and I reckon I’ll be checking out Jeremy’s again soon.

I’d been seeing a bit of a buzz on Twitter about Bitter Suite, a new craft been place in the New Farm. In a somewhat cursed spot in Welsby Street, we dropped in around 4pm but didn’t stay. The staff member who approached us was pretty unwelcoming and seemed in hurry to tell us there was no food available. Bitter Suite seems like a good concept but the space has all the atmosphere of a school cafeteria and is a little hard to navigate. Maybe there are a few teething issues since it is brand spanking new. Since we were after drinks and a snack we wandered up to Teneriffe towards Beccofino.

This place just works. The décor is minimalist, the menu is brief and the service is perfectly tuned to a lazy couple of hours of food and wine. Everything tastes delicious, from the charry thin pizzas with simple flavour combinations and quality ingredients to the specials, on this occasion an generous veal cotoletto and garlicy, briney scampi pasta. There’s plenty of interest on the brief wine list, Hoddles Creek Pinot Noir and prosecco by the glass, some decent Italian reds by the bottle all at democratic prices. The no bookings policy can be a pain, but the kitchen stays open throughout the afternoon which is perfect for the next meal after Sunday brunch.

On Sunday I made the trek out to SuperButcher to stock up for a couple of weeks. I’m not convinced its really as cheap as people would like to believe, but the range is good and if you want to but whole rib fillets, rumps, sides of lamb etc then its definitely the place to go. There’s enough interesting cuts and products to make it worth a trip every now and then. But rug up if you go since the large store is one big cool room. Beef cheeks and the made to order sausages (lamb, fetta, pumpkin; beef, cheese and vegemite; venison) are worth checking out too.

After a few productive hours at the office, we ambled down to the river to check out the $7 Sunday deal we’d seen advertised at Boardwalk Bar & Bistro. It seems as though the management here has changed or at least there’s been a few fresh ideas. This is a huge venue on the river below Kingsleys and out the front of Riparian Plaza. I’ve not been the hugest fan in the past and sometimes queuing up, paying with your order, collecting your drinks from the bar and eating at a communal table or on a stool is not what I’m after, but I’ll punt anything for $7. What does that get you? After 5pm on a Sunday it buys you a pizza about the size of a dinner plate and a schooner of domestic mainstream beer. The pizza is very serviceable and the beer is cold and there’s much worse places to be on a Sunday evening than overlooking the river and Story Bridge. Our total bill came to $33 for a thin, crispy peperoni pizza, good chips, schooner of beer and a further jug of beer. The view on a perfect September night in Brisbane was, as they say, priceless.

Review: Oshin Japanese Restaurant, Brisbane CBD

As we’ve discussed before here at The Supertaster, Brisbane has some kind of crazy fascination for sushi and Japanese foods in general. But mostly sushi.

Before Japanese food was cool, Brisbane’s business types did deals over the pine tables at Oshin, upstairs on the corner of Adelaide and Creek Streets. We used to direct people there by saying ‘there’s a koala statue on the awning’ but now we say ‘it’s next door to the Apple store’. Landmarks and the common consciousness may change, but everything inside Oshin has stayed the same. Laminated wine lists with prices relabelled and well worn menus and a decor not lead by design might make you think Oshin has been left behind by newcomers like Sono, Hanaichi, Nagomi and the like. Truth is, Oshin is a modest place with a winning formula and is content to serve good things to repeat customers and those lucky enough to venture in. There’s nothing tricked up or ‘fusion’ here.

The menu covers most of the fare you’d expect – sushi, sashimi, katsu, yakiniku, tempura, teriyaki, sukiyaki, shabu shabu, etc. It’s not been assembled to suprise and delight; it serves a more basic function- doing those Japanese staples we love, really well. Glistening platters of sashmi show Oshin know how to source great seafood. Service is friendly and staff will happily serve you in western style entree, main, dessert style. There’s also half a dozen stools at the sashimi bar. It’s a shame they’ve recently replaced their hot towels with plastic packaged disposable versions.

At Oshin, my ‘usual’ comfort foods include the agedashi dofu, tempura udon, deluxe sushichirashi and sometimes scallops skewers and prawn handrolls. The rice is always perfect too. All of these things go well with a Yebisu.

Oshin is a great place to retreat from the bustle of the city and enjoy the comfort of simple and reliably good Japanese staples.

Oshin Japanese Restaurant

1st Floor Koala House

256 Adelaide Street, Brisbane

07 3229 0410

Review: Pourboy Espresso, Brisbane CBD

Given the dearth of weekend CBD breakfast spots, let alone ones worth eating at, I was pretty damn excited to hear that recently opened coffee hotspot, Pourboy Espresso, would be opening from 7am til 2pm every Saturday and Sunday.

Having already sampled the fine Mecca Espresso coffee and an excellent croque monsieur, I’m pleased to the report that our breakfasts were of the same high standard. As it was in fact our second breakfast of the day and we were already sufficiently caffeinated, we started proceedings with a couple of Fever Tree ginger beers. These are punchy little numbers, cloudy and reminiscent of the brewed-in-the-bottle wonders your grandma/aunt/neighbour used to make.  After some serious indecision over the menu, I employed the ‘blindfold’  approach and made a random pick from the menu. As the waiter took our order, I changed my mind again, going with her suggestion. We ordered the American pancakes with strawberries and sorbet and the ricotta, mushroom duxelles and poached eggs on toast. Both were fantastic, although I can only trust the opinion of my dining companion who didn’t share his pancakes. 

It’s clear that Sebastian Butler-White and Mark Bell are a clever and experienced pair who have a clear vision of what they want to offer at Pourboy Espresso. You can tell by the way their staff are involved with delivering a great experience for each customer, be it for a takeaway coffee or a pondorous lunch or breakfast. The bread and pastries are exceptional and only the very best ingredients are used. There are absolutely no corners cut, yet the prices are fair and equitable. The coffee is undeniably excellent and whilst most of the weekday business clientele opt for an espresso, cold drip and pour over options are also available, giving you a few more ways to enjoy the excellent Mecca Espresso beans. Decor is comfortable and minimalist, fair enough too, as there’s enough interest and quality on the menu that any additional fripperies are unneeded. 

I’m lucky enough to live within downhill on the way home walking distance, but if you’re keen to try it for weekend breakfast, there’s plenty of on street parking available, and some parking undercover in the neighbouring shopping centre too. However you get there, Pourboy Espresso is quality all the way.

Pourboy Espresso

26 Wharf Street, Brisbane

07 3172 1141

Twitter: @pourboyespresso

Monday – Friday 6am – 4pm

Saturday & Sunday 7am – 2pm

Restaurant Review: Pho Hoang Gia, Fortitude Valley

I woke up in the wee small hours this morning, struggling to breath.  A case of strep throat was the cause.  So after several hot lemon drinks, some aspirin and lots of water I took myself down to the Valley for the modern Australian cold and flu cure – Phở

After consulting Twitter, it was decided that ‘the place next to Retravision’ would be our supplier.  Phở Hoang Gia is a cheery and sparklingly clean dining room, popular with Vietnamese families and your typically Valley mix of thirty somethings and intrepid tourists.  We arrived shortly before noon and a number of tables were turned over twice before we left.  It’s busy and bustling with Sponge Bob on the flat screen TV’s and family friendly service on the floor.  Some effort has gone into the decor with vaulted ceilings featuring metropolitan night time scenes.  As Asian restaurant fitouts go, its charmingly inoffensive.

We kept it basic and ordered two large bowls of Phở Tai.  Prices are very cheap here, $7 small, $8 medium and $9 large.  Large is the size of salad bowl, but its not a struggle to finish a bowl of the steaming fragrant phở.  It’s a little sweeter than some of the other phở places out at Inala and Darra, possibly the result of regional differences of their owners.  The thinly sliced rare beef was flavoursome and the Thai basil, bean sprouts, lime and bird’s eye chilli perfectly fresh.  Requests for extra herbs, beansprouts and for one diner, no rice noodles were accommodated without so much as a blink.  We also sampled the chilli garlic squid ($8), succulent and yielding inside, crunchy and crumbly on the outside and served with a tangy chilli garlic sauce and salad.  We also ordered a Vietnamese pork pankcake (banh xeo) which came with mountains of salad and herbs.  It was tasty and the lettuce, cucumber, carrot, vietnamese mint, basil and gai lan were again super fresh.   We couldn’t quite work out whether to put them in the pancake or eat them seperately – a reminder to find someone to give us a few more lessons on Vietnamese cuisine.

Each table bears a small tray of extra sauces and flavourings, chopsticks, cutlery and a box of tissues.  This might seem a little unusual but Phở reliably clears the sinuses, and even more so if you add all of the supplied bird’s eye chilli.  For my preferred sweet/sour/salty punch I added a good glug of fish sauce and a generous squeeze of lime. 

Phở Hoang Gia is BYO and there’s three pages of Vietnamese speciality drinks including that drink of the moment – Bubble tea.  It’s great value, an easy walk from the CBD or Brunswick Street Station and one of the better run restaurants in the Valley.  Just the ticket next time you need some aPhomatherapy! (thanks to @treepiepurr for that one).

Phở Hoang Gia Vietnamese Restaurant

‘So Phở So Good’

146-148 Wickham Street
Fortitude Valley

Phone: 07 3252 8808

Open 7 days from 10am, until approx 9pm each night, except Tuesday (closes 3pm)

Restaurant Review: Nagomi, Eagle Street Pier, Brisbane

Nagomi is one of the new casual week day dining options at Eagle Street Pier, which regular viewers will recall has recently had a makeover. The offspring of Sono Restaurants, Nagomi is billed as fresh Japanese-on-the-go. This is hardly a unique idea, with a sushi place already on every block in the CBD. So what’s different about Nagomi?
First of all, the location offers views of the river and a certain cachet, being located in Brisbane’s premier dining precinct. Secondly, there’s an extensive seating area with communal tables under a shade sail. Thirdly, all food is presented in containers made of biodegradable recycled materials.

All this should add up to something pretty neat. But that’s the thing.  It doesn’t.

I joined the queue, perusing the menu on the fly. There’s a choice of bento boxes, sushi and side dishes. I love a good Bento box, and remember the good old days where an enormous bento box lunch at Sono set you back $15. Back then, I ate one at least once a week and chewed the fat with others in my industry, who also had no defence for the lure of light as a feather tempura, tangy teriyaki beef, perfectly seasoned rice and anything else the chef deigned suitable for our bento boxes.

I got to the front of the queue to be told that I could only order sushi at that station, and that I needed to join the other queue. OK, sure. I joined the other, longer queue to be told by the manager that we could order bento boxes at the other queue. The manager then turned his back to us to engage in a long chat to a mate passing by. Not a stunning introduction to Nagomi. I settled on the Teriyaki Beef Patty bento box and went with the option to substitute the rice portion for sushi for an extra $2, fearful that if I wanted sushi, I’d be asked to join yet another queue. I was given a number and took a seat at the indoor bar area with other lone diners. My number was called not long after that and the bento box presented at the counter, the ‘box’ entirely comprised of moulded paper containers in a larger cardboard tray. The stool wasn’t matched to the height for the bar, which necessitated leaning forward to operate my chopsticks.  Not a major problem, more an oversight on the part of the fitout designer that made eating a little awkward.  Perhaps a clever trick to ensure tables are turned over quickly? 

The contents of the bento box were however a problem. Salad with mesclun, mandarin segments and a scoop of potato salad were fine. Gyoza, crocquettes and a few edamame beans were OK, but not amazing. I had trouble getting the sushi pieces out of the cardboard container, as the rice was overcooked and had become welded to the cardboard. The fillings of spicy tuna, pork and tempura prawn were decent, but not what I would have chosen (if you take the sushi option, you do not get to choose your sushi). The beef patty tasted reminiscent of my mother’s meatloaf with some green beans, zucchini, carrot and a pool of tasteless brown sauce. The beef was cheap and over minced, without any pleasurable flavour or texture. Perfectly blanched green beans were easily the highlight of the bento box.

Nagomi has been open for 4 – 6 weeks with an interruption in trade during the floods, which damaged the underground infrastructure and food storage areas at Eagle Street Pier.  The concept is good, the location is great and there is serious money and resources at the venues disposal with its backing from the established Sono group.  I hope they can refine their service and food offering to successfully differentiate themselves from the myriad other Japanese lunch options available in the CBD.

Teriyaki Beef Patty Bento Box @ Nagomi

A little birdy tells me a new interstate player is opening in the last remaining tenancy, known for its waterside location and ‘hot’ kitchen.  Any guesses?

Restaurant Review: Wagamama, Brisbane

This is a ‘pan asian’ chain ‘restaurant’ that specialises in noodles and excels at mediocrity. The atmosphere exudes food court but with an Emo rock/Billy Joel/jazz guitar/chill out soundtrack and similarly schizophrenic service.

Your server asks you if you have been to Wagamama before. Yes, people do make return visits. The place was heaving. This question is really to warn you that your meals will come out in whatever order the kitchen gets them ready in, so in some ways not unlike a more authentic Asian restaurant.

So in no particular order we tried ebi gyoza that tasted only of the dirty oil they were cooked in served with a rust coloured hot-ish sauce, a special of zucchini flowers glazed in a sugary syrup served with a daikon and mint salad dressed in a sugary syrup and served with pumpkin and beetroot fried rice, Thai noodle stir fry which had the decency not to call itself the pad thai it is clearly trying to imitate, tasting mostly of tomato paste and served with a thin, dry wedge of lime, calamari fried to resemble popcorn and the Wagamama ramen  - a huge bowl of vaguely flavoured stock with one each prawn, grilled chicken and tofu with a garnish of raw bok choy.

This chain started in the UK before Masterchef and the televisual onslaught of Gordon, Jamie and Hugh began. It’s now in 15 countries around the world.  Mains are between $16 and $21.

Perhaps in another location Wagamama could be viewed as exotic, however there is no excuse to eat at such a poor excuse for Asian cuisine in Brisbane. I wish I’d stayed in and had a ham sandwich.


Wintergarden Shopping Centre

171 – 209 Queen Street Mall


Restaurant Review: Bavarian Bier Cafe, Brisbane

Eagle Street Pier is Brisbane’s original and arguably most successful restaurant precinct.  It’s now been trading for almost 20 years, but in the last five it seemed to lose its way.   Pier Nine, the premier spot for seafood and high class fish and chips closed its doors as the Hill-Smith family focussed on winemaking and other interests.  City Rowers became Jade Buddha and Ted Stewart’s Vino’s restaurant and function centre closed after several years of inconsistent trading.  With new owners Stockland coming on board there was talk of a substantial redevelopment of the site which created uncertainty for traders.  Then the ‘global financial crisis’ came and everything got a little quiet and the rumours died down.  Throughout this Andy & Marcia George’s Il Centro and John Kilroy’s Cha Cha Char carried on offering calm and consistency at the centre of the storm.

The opening of Aria by celebrity chef Matt Moran in mid 2009 created renewed optimism for the precinct and now as 2010 draws to a close there is a rash of new venues opening their doors.  I’ll leave it for Stockland’s PR machine to list them all out, but some highlights are the contemporary Japanese Sake Restaurant and Hamptons styled Jude Café, both of which are in soft opening mode.  It’s got to be a difficult time to open a new restaurant with chronic staff shortages affecting many operators.

Let’s get this out of the way:  Bavarian Bier Café is part of a chain.  There’s already a bunch of them trading in Sydney along with Lowenbrau Kellen at the Rocks.  The formula is great German beer, a menu with something to please everyone and young female waitresses with plenty of cleavage on display, without straying into Hooters territory.  If you’re blond haired and blue-eyed, then so much the better. 

The Brisbane venue occupies the plum spot at Eagle Street Pier, upstairs with a 180 degree view of the Brisbane River and Story Bridge.  There’s a number of distinct dining areas with long bench seating for groups, high stools for boozy afternoons or Parisienne style tables for two lining the bottom tier of the indoor dining area with even more bench seating on the wrap around verandah.  A large bar curves around the central atrium with suspended glass racks reflecting light into the indoor dining area.  It’s not quite as spectacular as when 90′s night spot Grand Orbit occupied the premises but it’s a successful design that make the most of the dramatic curves and expansive multi-level space.

Obviously you’ll want to try the beer and schnitzel.  We polished off several Lowenbrau and Hofbrau steins (300ml, 500ml and 1 L all on offer) along with Franziskaner Hefe Weissbier Hell and bottled Paulaner Hefe Weissbier and Franziskaner Kristall Weissbier.  The ‘ladies beer’, a Weissbier with a choice of cherry, peach, banana or lychee flavouring didn’t appeal and the wine list was pretty pedestrian, but it hardly matters since the beer is so good.  Ordering wine here would be like ordering a Thai chicken pasta at the pub.

We chose a pretzel, beef schnitzel and Nurnberger sausages with mash, sauerkraut, onion rings and Lowenbrau jus for lunch along with french fries.  Everything was competently cooked and made with quality ingredients.  I revelled in the flavours of my youth, remembering stealing forkfuls of sauerkraut from the fridge as a kid and the deli next to the fruiterers where my sister and I were given cheese kransky and German sausages to snack on.  The schnitzel filled the plate and was adorned with nothing more than a lemon wedge.  The fries turned out to be chips but they were cooked just the way I like them.   The menu is pretty extensive with salads, starters, schnitzel, mains, house specialties and dessert as well as platters and pizzas.  Pizzas topped with German sausages will no doubt appeal to blokes drinking with other blokes after work who enjoy watching ladies sampling the cocktails and ‘ladies beers’.

Service was a little scattered but then the staff are still settling in.  There was a more than adequate staff to patron ratio when we visited on a wet Saturday afternoon, but getting the bill was close to mission impossible.  After our second failed attempt to get the bill, we got up to pay only to be led on a full circuit of the dining area back to a station metres from our table. 

I’ve already heard someone make comparisons to the venerable German Club opposite the Gabba, and whilst both offer German beers, schnitzel and pork knuckle, they’re two very different animals.  Yes the food is cheaper at the German Club and the beer selection isn’t restricted to stuff made by Anheuser-Busch.  However, the Bavarian Bier Café has great views and a concept that will appeal to tourists, locals and families alike.   As it’s two blocks from my house and has a kitchen that stays open until 10pm every night of the week, I reckon I’ll be back.

Bavarian Bier Cafe

Level 1, Eagle Street Pier

45 Eagle Street, Brisbane

07 3339 0900

Restaurant Review: Mizu, Teneriffe

I have Anna Bligh and Campbell Newman to thank for discovering this place.  Or more specifically Brisbane Transport’s 199 bus.  It took four years of living in the city centre and the introduction of the GoCard system for me to contemplate that taking a bus to dinner might have its advantages.  This route runs from the Teneriffe Ferry through New Farm, Fortitude Valley, CBD, West End, Highgate Hill and Fairfield, passing at least 50 restaurants and cafes along the way.  As I wouldn’t think of dining without drinking or drinking and driving, this has been a boon for my desire to try more Brisbane restaurants more often.

We visited Mizu by chance on a walk to Teneriffe.  We’d spotted it from the 199 bus, busy on a Tuesday night. The atmosphere here is relaxed and unpretentious with welcoming and competent older Japanese staff looking after the floor.  There’s none of the stuffy formality you’ll find at some Japanese restaurants, no tatami mats and no kimonos.  Mizu is all about enjoying Japanese food informed by local ingredients and climate in a neighbourhood restaurant setting. 

The dining area is simple with polished concrete floors, unclothed tables and seating spilling from inside to a covered outdoor area.  Look above the counter and you’ll see sake bottles labelled with the names of regular patrons, in the best Iza kaya tradition.  The selection here effortlessly trumps Brisbane Japanese fine dining venues and so does the food. (Perhaps overtaken in the last few days by the just-opened Sake at Eagle Street Pier).

We snacked on a bowl of edamame as big as your head and enjoyed a couple of Sapporo beers with our entrees. Distinct courses are a Western concept, but the staff at Mizu happily accommodate our habit for entrees and mains.  The sashimi is presented with artistry showcasing a selection of tuna, salmon, kingfish, scallop, prawn, shredded daikon and expertly prepared wasabi.  The fish is fresh and alive with flavour and colour.  The ‘mizupaccio’ is a Mizu’s own interpretation of carpaccio and is prepared using sashimi quality fish, in this case meaty hiramasa kingfish, sliced thinly to showcase its texture and finished with grapeseed oil, shiso flakes and lemon.  The simple but beautiful rough glazed Japanese pottery further enhances our entrees.  The food is complemented by the quiet and friendly service and beautiful Japanese woodcuts.  A light breeze from the river and another Sapporo – I could stay here all summer.

There’s enough interest in the mains offered at Mizu to have you returning regularly with sushi and sashimi, substantial salads, two course bento boxes, agemono and yakimono.   Agemono courses at Japanese restaurants are often greasy Gaijin pleasers, and whilst tonkatsu, tempura and kara-age all feature here, the quality of the ingredients and cooking elevate them to a higher plane.  The simply described ‘prawn and mango’ perfectly sums up Mizu -fresh local sweet prawns cooking in light, crisp tempura batter, expertly seasoned with saikyo miso sauce arranged in a salad of mizuna and ripe mango slices with a judicious slick of Mizu’s own dressing.  Steamed koshihikari rice, real miso and tsukemono pickles complement the menu.

Mizu also offers what may be Brisbane’s only traditional Japanese breakfast.  Okonomiyaki are Japanese style  pancakes which are a favourite for many Aussies who’ve visited Japan and Mizu version doesn’t disappoint.   Loco moco is the Mizu breakfast ‘man meal’ with rough minced wagyu steak, fried egg, sukiyaki sauce, sesame, steamed rice and misu.  The breakfast bento box is a great way to sample the traditional Japanese breakfast constituents with grilled miso marinated black cod, agemono octopus, perfect kare-age chicken with sea salt flakes, sunomono and Japanese pickles, miso and rice.  Quality sencha and genmai-cha green teas are served in traditional Japanese teapots and small cups.  Matcha, a sort of green tea latte, hort blacks, cappuccino and flat white are available too.

Mizu further commends itself to regular visits by welcoming BYO wine at a very reasonable $4 a head corkage.  I reckon you could have alot of fun matching wine with this menu.

After trading successfully for four years and building up great regular patronage, Mizu doesn’t need your support.  But you’d be mad to miss out on its authentic but unpretentious Japanese food.

Mizu Japanese Eats

2 Macquarie Street


07 3254 0488

Lunch and dinner 7 days a week

Breakfast Saturday and Sunday from 8am – 11am

Fully licensed and BYO Wine

Takeaway available

Mizu Sushi Cooking School