Restaurant Review: Jellyfish, Brisbane CBD

For a city defined by a river, Brisbane’s always been short on waterfront dining.  Eagle Street Pier was it for many years with a sprinkling of other venues such as Oxleys, Watt and some very forgettable places at South Bank.  More recently the Portside development at Hamilton has added some good contenders too.

The latest venue on the river is Jellyfish.  Trading for around six months now, Jellyfish is helmed by John Kilroy who many will recognise from Cha Cha Char.  Essentially Kilroy has taken the idea of produce with provenance and applied his winning ways with beef to seafood, more specifically line caught fresh fish.  Making good use of space borrowed from the Riverside Centre car park, Jellyfish sees a long, narrow space originally earmarked for a tunnel turned into a relaxed yet elegant dining room, mixing avant garde felt ‘jellyfish’ light shades with limewashed bentwood chairs, dark finishes and a long mirrored wall.  The dining area spills out onto a terrace which gives dinners a great view of the Brisbane River, Kangaroo Point and the Story Bridge. 

The menu features a selection of 8 – 12 sorts of fish, each flown in that day to arrive on your plate in tip top condition.  Each one has a recommended cooking style and sauce as well as the location where it was caught.  Everything is done simply to let the freshness of the produce speak for itself.  Selections include Whole Silver Bream, Flathead, Swordfish and the more unusual Hiramasa King and Butterfish.  In keeping with the theme of simplicity a 200 g portion is $29 with two fillets available for a very reasonable $39.50.  A full a la carte menu and extensive selection of sides and salads are also available. 

We visited on successive Wednesday nights and on both occasions the heaving dining room showed no signs of the global financial crisis with most tables being turned over at least once throughout the evening.  The staff at Jellyfish are very passionate about the menu and take the time to answer questions and explain the options. 

We settled on entrees of plump Sydney rock oysters and melt in the mouth tuna sashimi along with a glass of G. Laurent Perrier Rose Champagne.  Good quality sourdough and herbed butter is also available.  The tough decisions when it came to choose mains and eventually we both settled on the line caught fish – the hiramasa king with olive, lemon & caper sauce, the butterfish grilled with chermoula emulsion and the gold band snapper tempura with Vietnamese dipping sauce.

The sides show off quality vine ripened heirloom tomatoes in a number of guises as well as that other great accompaniment to fish – potatoes.  Our tomato and mozzarella salad and potato bake were outstanding and large enough to be a meal on their own.  From the lengthy and well-priced wine list, a bottle of the Scotchmans Hill ‘Cornelius’ Pinot Gris was a nice match for the meal.

In the event your dining companions prove to be less than entertaining, a rather surreal video of marine life on the barrier reef plays on flat screen TVs dotted around the dining room and there’s certainly plenty of people watching and blind date speculation to be had.  The dining room is comfortably noisy and tables are well spaced without losing the buzzy atmosphere.  Jellyfish also includes a very stylish bar, worthy of a separate visit.

Jellyfish provides a fantastic, unpretentious dining experience and prices are very good given the overall quality of the dining experience.  After almost half a dozen visits, I haven’t stopped raving about the place!  It truly offers something you won’t find anywhere else in Brisbane.  The quality and consistency of the food – particularly the fish – is a standout.

Where to Buy: Scotch Whisky

If you’re an avowed scotch and coke drinker or think whisky is best served on the rocks then its probably safe for you to skip this article.  But for those of us who like a wee dram of something more interesting than Johnny Walker, I want to turn you on to the best places in Brisbane to stock your drinks cabinet with Scotland’s Finest.  And if you’re really adventurous, there are local retailers who can also provide you with International whiskies.  Here’s a few of my favourites:

Grand Central Cellars - Brisbane CBD
Grand Central Cellars at Grand Central Hotel is my local, and their selection of whiskies would keep the most dedicated scotch drinker going for a very long time with their wide range of interesting bottles.  Not only will you find a really great selection of scotch whisky including single malts, blended malts and rarities, but if you crane your neck up to the very top of the whisky shelves you’ll see some of the most interesting very old whiskies available locally.  They also have a great selection from smaller producers, including Australian whisky makers like Lark and Compass Box.  Recently they added a selection of Japanese whiskies, including Nikka to their range.  

The staff are more than happy to let you have a leisurely browse through the selection, despite the lack of room to manoeuvre around the tiny store.  They are also very accommodating about sourcing your favourite dram from their network of suppliers. 

Stewarts Wine Co -  Ascot, The Barracks Paddington & Portside Wharf Hamilton
With whisky savant Lance Currey on staff, Stewarts have put together a massive range of scotch whisky, with the best range of offer at the newly opened store at The Barracks, Paddington.  Hell, this store has a great range of pretty much everything!  Great prices on champagne, awesome specials on wine and spirits and cover all the bases of big name whiskies right through to some more unusual bottles.  You’ll find Glenmorangie, Highland Park, Bowmore as well as a nice range of rarities from Macallan and much, much more.  A challenger for the title of Best Whisky Range in Brisbane.
Stewarts Wine Co. website

Spiro’s - Toowong
Spirits importer Neil Dixon is responsible for the excellent selection of hard to find whiskies on offer at Spiro’s Toowong.  Looking much like any other suburban bottleshop, a closer look behind the counter reveals the most impressive range of Japanese whiskies in Brisbane.  Not only that, Neil can source other rare and exotic spirits including fine gins, a very international range of vodkas and many other unusual liqueurs and spirits.  Best time to visit is on Saturday mornings, when Neil will take the time to guide you through whats on offer.  Cloudland, The Bowery and The Lark all call on Neil for exotic bottles.
Spiro’s bottleshops   Neil’s website

Other notable mentions:
Cru Cellar – James Street Market, New Farm
This is a great place for browsing for more unusual wines and spirits with extremely knowledgable and passionate staff.  If they don’t have the whisky you’re after, they will probably be able to tell you who does.

Wine @ Era – Cnr Melbourne & Merivale Streets, South Brisbane
Before you even step inside you know this place is going to wreak havoc with your credit card!  Whilst there is a strong emphasis on wine and beer, there is an enormous range of pretty much everything alcoholic.  Their range of whiskies covers all the important bases.

Purple Palate – Queens Street, Brisbane CBD
A recent entrant with a mere 3 – 4 months of trading under its belt, the buyers at Purple Palate here really know their stuff.  Its handy being able to pop next door to Bar Barossa and taste some of the fine whiskies offered for retail prices in the bottleshop, although you might find it hard to leave.  As the name suggests, they are also the best place in Brisbane for sourcing Barossa gems.

Vintage Cellars – various locations
While there are some signficant gaps in the range they have available, Vintage Cellars deserve an honorable mention here simply as they are the main stockists of the fabulous Bruichaddich range in Australia.  Add yourself to their mailing list to keep updated on the great whisky education events they run throughout the year.  They’ll spam you a little, but it’ll be worth it.

Where to Avoid
Big box liquor retailers Dan Murphys and First Choice Liquor Superstores (brought to you by Woolies & Coles respectively) both claim to have the widest range of whisky outside Scotland when in reality you’ll only find an at best average range of garden variety whiskies distributed by giants like Diageo and Suntory.  Whilst they claim to have cheaper prices, often you’ll find the same or better prices elsewhere, and a better buying experience too.  Only recommended for conservative whisky drinkers and coupon shoppers.

Not Sure About Whisky?

If you’re keen to learn more about whisky, or you don’t know where to start, the Queensland Malt Whisky Society is a great way to explore all types of whisky in a relaxed, informal setting without doing your dosh on a bottle you may not like.    Monthly meetings are held at various locations around Brisbane.  Leave a note in the comments if you’d like more information.

Restaurant Review: Barolo Restaurant, Brisbane CBD

Mid Wednesday afternoon in an otherwise ordinary week and a message pops up on my monitor ‘find a restaurant for dinner tonight, it’s time we got out more’.  So much travel during this year that the last few months we’ve been doing alot of eating in lately.  I’d walked past Barolo a couple of times, and been curious about what chef/owner Russell Armstrong (previously of Seasalt @ Armstrongs (Inchcolm Hotel), Ciao Bella (Albion) and various others) had come up with on the former Felix on Felix site.

Already tarted up from its original incarnation as Vroom, Felix on Felix was a restaurant with an identity crisis.  Not quite cafe, not quite fine dining, it provided serviceable food and service but never really fired.   Barolo sees the busy corner location between Eagle Street Pier and the Belgian morph into a sophisticated and seductive fine diner, a fantastic addition to the inner city restaurant scene.  It strikes an excellent balance between a place to pull out all the stops and spend up big whilst allowing the diner to be equally comfortable dropping in for a quick bite and a glass of wine.

The menu offers Italian flavours with a modern twist, with entrees, mains and an excellent selection of house made pastas.  We were seated and served an excellent sourdough along with Joseph olive oil.  Although I’d read the menu on line when I made the reservation, it didn’t make it any easier to decide from the many delicious sounding options on the menu.  After some deliberation, we started with half a dozen pacific oysters doused with salt water vinaigrette, citrus and extra virgin olive oil and an excellent risotto of sautéed chanterelles, shaved Western Australian truffles and creme fraiche.  The oysters were plump and smelt of the sea, the best I’ve tasted in a long time.  The risotto was generously dressed with shaved truffles with a lovely balance of earthy flavours.  We treated ourselves to glass each of the R’ De Ruinart, a fitting accompaniment to the excellent entrees. 

Sitting on at a banquette table under the plush retro orchid wallpaper and mood lighting, we were surprised by the lone female diners to either side of us, one busily texting between mouthfuls of steak and the other ducking out between courses for a quick smoke.  Barolo doesn’t have the pretensions of some of its neighbours and seems equally welcoming to groups, couples or those just looking for some where reliable to eat when they’re visiting on business.

Pasta dishes are available as entrees and mains, and given that all pasta is freshly made on the premises each day I settled on the hand rolled ribbon pasta with chilli, garlic, lemon, crabmeat and Qld scallops.  This dish did not disappoint and along with the roast rump of Victorian lamb served with polenta, ratatouille and roast garlic jus further demonstrated the assured work of Armstrong and his team.  Given the restaurant’s name, we thought it would be remiss not to try the Nebbiolo blends on offer.  With 6 to choose from this is possibly the largest selection of Nebbiolo on any wine list in Brisbane.  We settled on the 2003 Elio Altare Barolo la Marra from Piedmont, a nice example of the style with cherry and cinnamon flavours and a finish as smooth as silk.

Service at Barolo is earnest but not quite as refined as you might expect given the otherwise high standard.  Staff were friendly, but lacking confidence and a little awkward.   Credit to the Sommelier who seemed genuinely excited to have patrons who turned straight to the Nebbiolo section of the wine list.  Overall, the wine list shows a nice balance of Australian and European wines and mark ups are quite reasonable. 

Desserts merit a return visit, but on this occasion we rounded out the meal with ripe brie presented with slices of nashi pear, crackers and dried white figs.  A wider selection of whisky would be nice to see but probably saved further damage to the nights bill.

Barolo is a confident, calm and welcoming space serving beautiful food without fuss and we will definitely be back.

Barolo Restaurant
Modern Mediterranean
Cnr Felix & Mary Street, Brisbane CBD
Phone 3211 7101
Open for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Espresso
Monday to Saturday

Barolo website


Where to Buy: Spices, Nuts & All Things Indian

For a long time now, I’ve been a fan of spicy foods of all descriptions, and in particular the endless variety offered by Indian regional cuisine.  Indian food is so much more than the ubiquitous Korma or Butter Chicken you get from your local takeway, there is a fantastic variety of dishes to discover.   With access to the right recipes and ingredients you can create delicious Indian dishes at home.  One tip before you start -if you restrict your spice buying to the big supermarkets, it can be very expensive. 

Here is Brisbane, the best place I’ve found is All India Foods at Woolloongabba.  Visit the warehouse style store on a Saturday morning and you’ll find the place busy with the chatter of many cultures, all keen to get their hands on top notch ingredients at knock down prices.  The core of the products on offer at All India Foods are dry goods – spices, nuts, rice, pappadums, dried beans, etc but there’s also a great range of indian pickles & chutneys, cooking oils, coconut milk as well as some rather curious Indian cosmetic products and toiletries and a nice range of Bollywood DVDs and CDs.

Here’s an example of how their prices compare to major supermarket prices:

Fennel Seeds 200g $2 – Supermarket Price: approx $3.15 for 26g
Green Cardamom Pods 50g $3 – Supermarket Price: approx $2.50 for 10g
Cumin Ground 200g $2.50 – Supermarket Price: approx $1.45 for 25g
Ord River Chick Peas 1kg $4.50 – Supermarket Price: approx $1.90 for 375g
Cinnamon Sticks 100g $3.50 – Supermarket Price: approx $2.20 for 12g
Mango Chutney 350 g jar  $2.50 – Supermarket Price: approx $4.35 370g jar
Tamarind Paste 335g jar $3.50 - Supermarket Price: approx $4.75 per 200g

The quality of the spices at All India Foods is so much better than what’s available at the supermarket as well as being a fraction of the price.  The Ord River Chick Peas are the very best quality and are grown in northern Western Australia – they are difficult to obtain anywhere else locally as most of them are exported.  If you love your middle eastern food and hommus, these are the ones you’ll want to get, and 1 kg of dried chick peas will go a very long way!

Whats the best source of spices where you live?  Or is mail order where its at for you?  Let me know your local spice source and your favourite Indian recipe.

All India Foods

31 Balaclava Street


P: 07 3391 1420

Restaurant Review: Fifth Element, South Brisbane

I was keen to try Fifth Element after watching the fitout progress for a few weeks.  The anticipation was heightened when I heard that they would be first place in Queensland to install Enomatic machines.  I’d read about Enomatic’s wine dispensing technology years ago in Wired magazine and marvelled at the concept of allowing customers to use a prepaid card to taste dozens of wines.  A neat idea but possibly the kind of technology that might detract away from your tasting experience.  These machines use inert gas to allow wine to be dispensed in a taste, half glass or full glass, without the wine becoming oxidised through prolonged exposure to oxygen. 

Fifth Element has been put together by the ambitious people who brought us Byblos at Portside Wharf, Hamilton.  An altogether more streamlined venue it combines bistro, bar and bottleshop in a atmospheric inside/outside setting at one end of South Bank’s Little Stanley Street lifestyle precinct.  Blinged out with a highly polished pot still and cascading water feature behind the bar, an open kitchen and four Enomatic machines its already making an impression, with around 40 diners at various stages of drinks, tapas and dinner when we visited on a Sunday night. 

We headed straight for the bottle shop which is lined with floor to ceiling matt black wine storage dotted with the Enomatic machines we were so anxious to check out.  Two chilled machines for whites and two circular freestanding units for reds although one of the reds machines was experiencing technical difficulties of leaking gas variety on our visit and so was out of commission.  There’s also an impressive range of unusual imported beers and ciders from the US, Canada, Belgium and beyond as well as some interesting and rare spirits.

We charged our card with $50, found the cabinets of quality stemware and set about trying the merlots, shiraz and other tannic varietals.  Staff are on hand to talk you through the selection but are good enough to leave you to it once you’ve grasped the finer details of how to redeem your wine.  We restrained ourselves and tasted various merlots, cab savs and the Elephant Hill Syrah from Marlborough NZ before trying the Grange Hermitage 88 and 2007 respectively.  Even at $35 a taste this is still a more manageable way to try arguably Australian’s most revered wine.  A vintage from Hill of Grace is also available.  There’s even some tasty Lebanese reds, reflecting the heritage of Fifth Element’s backers.  Let’s just say it wasn’t long before we were recharging our Enomatic card!

It might have been the wine or maybe just the attractive dining area attached to the bar but we decided to grab a table and settle in for a light dinner.  The menu offers an interesting selection of tapas, entrees, mains, deserts and cheeses along with a wine list reflecting most of what’s available in the Enomatic machines along with a good cocktail list.  We sampled a tangy Thai style flash fried salt and pepper calamari, sand crab tomato and avocado bruschetta and fresh figs stuffed with soft cheese and wrapped in prosciutto.  All were good without being amazing but nicely complemented the Elephant Hill Syrah we were drinking by that stage.  We found it a bit hard to get the attention of wait staff to actually order the food, possibly due to the fact that having come from the wine tasting area with glasses in hand and no wait staff to greet us we had seated ourselves.  It would appear some fine tuning of service is still needed.

The inside outside vibe of Fifth Element is really great and makes grazing, drinking and lounging very comfortable.  I could see myself visiting for a drink mid-afternoon with friends and staying on for dinner and dessert. With plenty of transport options available at South Bank it makes the decision to have one more a little easier.

Fifth Element Bar & Cellar

Shop 1b, 188 Grey Street
South Brisbane
Phone: 07 3846 5584

Fifth Element website


Baked Goods: Lemon Syrup Cake

I love baking but both time and the waistline mean I don’t do it as often as I used to.  I do like to whip up a simple cake every now and then, definately beats snacking on packet biscuits when the need for something sweet hits you.

One of the easiest and most satisfying cakes to make is the good ol’ Lemon Syrup Cake.  My mum used to make a great version with a really fine dense crumb from a tattered old Women’s Weekly cookbook, and lately I’ve been using a receipe from Nigella Lawson’s ‘How To Be a Domestic Goddess’.  Her recipe produces a cake with a coarser crumb, pretty good, but for sentimental reasons I still prefer the Women’s Weekly version.

Essentially a basic butter cake recipe, this takes just minutes to mix together and whack in the oven.  What really makes it delicious is the hot lemon sugar syrup your pour over the cake just after you take it out of the oven.  (Hint:  the ends of the cake are the best bit as they have the highest concentration of yummy, sticky, tart lemon syrup).  The Women’s Weekly version includes the somewhat bizarre addition of chopped nuts, but mum always left them out.

Try them out and see which version you prefer.  Both are delicious and are sturdy enough to make a nice lunch box treat to snack on at work or school.

Lemon Syrup Loaf Cake from ‘How To Be A Domestic Godess’ by Nigella Lawson

125 g unsalted butter
175 caster sugar
2 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
175 g self raising flour
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons of milk

juice of 1 and 1/2 lemons (about 4 tbsp)
100g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 C and butter and line a loaf tin.  Cream together butter and sugar, then add eggs and lemons zest, beating them in well.  Add flour and salt, folding in gently and then add the milk.  Spoon mixture in to tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. 

Meanwhile, while the cake is cooking make the syrup. Put the lemon juice and sugar in small saucepan and heat gently until sugar dissolves.  Cook for a further 2 – 3 minutes on low heat. 

As soon as the cake is out of the oven, puncture the top of the cake all oever with a skewer and pour the syrup over the top, make sure the middle absorbs syrup as well as the sides, then leave to soak up the rest.  Remove from tin once cake is completely cold.

Fresh Lemon Loaf from Australian Womens Weekly Cookbook circa 1974

4 oz butter (approx 115 grams)
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp milk
1/4 cup chopped nuts (always omitted by me, but you might like to try it with nuts)

granted rind and juice of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup caster sugar, extra

Preheat the oven to 180 C and butter and line a loaf tin. Cream butter well, add sugar and beat again.  Add eggs one at a time, beat well after each addition.   Sift flour and salt, add alternately with milk.  Add nuts (if using) and lemon rind.   Pour into tin and bake for 40 – 45 minutes.

Put the lemon juice and sugar in small saucepan and heat gently until sugar dissolves. When cake is cooked and hot from the oven, pour the lemon mixture over.  Leave to cool in tin.

So which one do you prefer?  Preparation is only around 15 minutes, with another 45 minutes for baking – in less than one hour you can be enjoying one these store cupboard classics!

Bar Hopping: Era Bar, South Brisbane

I’m lucky enough to live in the Brisbane CBD with many bars and restaurants within easy walking distance.  It’s just over 20 years since Expo 88, and since then South Bank has changed and evolved along with South Brisbane itself.  Its starting to reach critical mass as a great dining and drinking destination with a range of casual dining options through to smart bistros stretching the length of Grey Street, through to Melbourne Street at the western end and Tribune Street to the east.

At the edge of South Bank, but nudging towards West End is Era, a venue with incorporates a fine dining room, bar, bottleshop and cafe and manages to do all four well.  Owned by Bob and Brad Hamilton (formerly of Circa), breakfast at the cafe is good, the restaurant outstanding and a fantastic range available in the bottleshop too.  I’d never really thought of going there just for a drink but recently discovered its a great location for a bit of a sunday session.

With a mix of bar tables and cafe tables and the choice of sitting inside close to the bar or outside on a leafy shaded patio area, its a nice place to kick back and work your way through the list of cocktails, wine and beers.  A well constructed tapas menu is also available for grazing.  We were actually in the area on the pretext of taking a walk for exercise so we limited outselves to a small sample of what Era has to offer. 

The Era Summer Punch really hit the spot with a nicely balanced fruity mix of gin, aperol, mandarin and blood orange juice served in a tall glass over ice.  Amongst the usual mix of domestic and imported regulars, we sampled the Meantime Pale Ale from Greenwich UK which went down rather well on a still warm March afternoon.  Beautifully packaged, this hoppy, bottle conditioned beer is starting to sneak its way into better bottle shops and bars with raspberry, chocolate and coffee beers also part of the Meantime range.  To accompany our drinks we snacked on Era’s version of fish and chips, the ‘seafood cone’.  This is a large paper cone filled with moreton bay bug meat, scallops, sweet prawns, salmon chunks and chips accompanied by a dill sauce and green salad.  At around $19, it makes a substantial snack for two or a greedy feast of delicious seafood for one.

Despite the staff seeming a little to keen to prepare for closing time (we visited around 4:30 pm) they were friendly and efficient as well as knowledgable about the drinks on offer.  Era Bar is certainly in keeping with the high standard elsewhere at Era and I’m looking forward to heading back to the bar again soon.

Era Bar102 Melbourne St (Cnr Merivale St), South Brisbane (directly opposite the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre)
100 undercover parking spaces available, entry via the laneway immediately behind Era

 Open 7 days from 11am

Tapas available all day from midday and evenings until 10.30pm Monday to Saturday and 6pm on Sunday. 

Era Bar


Uncommon Consumption: Bubble Tea

Despite bubble tea having landed on our shores from Taiwan around 10 years ago, its something I’d never got around to trying.  I guess I didn’t really get the concept.   However I can report that after sampling it several times recently, I’m beginning to understand its popularity.

Easy Way Tea is probably the most recognisable ‘bubble tea’ place, they are a franchise with 38 stores in Sydney and 8 in Brisbane with many, many more on the way. As if to prove to me that Bubble Tea is here to stay, a new Easy Way store has even opened in my building!  Each store offers a massive ‘menu’ of teas and are very popular with Asian students.

Now for the uninitiated, Bubble Tea is served chilled and may or may not contain any actual tea.  It’s fairly sweet and there are a dizzying number of options to choose from.  At Easy Way they divide their offerings into Milk Tea, Relish Tea, Blended Ice and Soy Punch.  The term ‘bubble tea’ describes milk tea with pearl tapioca balls added which add an interesting textural highlight to the tea.  The tapioca balls are soft and chewy and sort of soak up the flavour of the tea.  You can also add flavour, sweetness to suit your own taste and even add ice if you wish.  Beside pearls, you can add other toppings such as aloe vera, coconut jelly and fruit jellies.  Tea flavours include lemon, apple, mango and blueberry right through to more exotic flavours like lychee, taro red bean and yaleto (a blend of tea and coffee) Iced coffee, iced chocolate and smoothies are also available.

Your freshly made tea concoction arrives in nifty packaging, with a spill proof seal applied to the cup which you can pierce with the extra large straw – extra large so you can suck up those pearls, aloe vera or jelly cubes.

Worth a visit just for the experience!!


Baked Goods: Hazelnut & Chocolate Swiss Roll with Espresso Cream

A couple of nights ago we were feeling like a bit of a treat, but seeing as it was already around 9pm, I didn’t want to be slaving away over a hot stove for ages concocting something.  I had some dark chocolate and hazelnuts on hand, so after a quick bit of googling, I settled on a random recipe for Hazelnut & Chocolate Swiss Roll with Espresso Cream.  The baking time for this baby is only 12 – 14 minutes, and as I have limited kitchen space I used a lined baking tray instead of a swiss roll tin.  It worked just fine.  After some minor tweaking to suit my taste, I’m happy to say the results were delicious!  Will definitely be making this again soon. 


1/2 cup self raising flour

3 eggs

1/3 cup caster sugar

100 g dark chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 cup ground hazelnuts

Cream Filling

1 1/4 cups cream

2 tbls strong black coffee, cooled

2 tbls caster sugar, extra

1/3 cup icing sugar

2 tablespoons dutch cocoa


Preheat oven to 210 C.  Prepare a swiss roll tin or baking tray by greasing with butter and lining with baking paper.  Beat eggs for 4 – 5 minutes until thick and pale, add sugar gradually, beating constantly until mixture is pale yellow and glossy.  Using a metal spoon, fold in the chopped chocolate, ground hazelnuts and flour, taking care not to overmix – you want to keep the airiness of the beaten eggs intact. Spread the mixture evenly into the tin and smooth the surface.  Bake for 12 – 14 minutes or until golden and springy. 

Beat the cream, extra caster sugar and coffee until stiff peaks form and refrigerate. 

While still warm, turn the cake out onto a tea towel lined with baking paper which has been dusted evenly with cocoa and icing sugar, remove baking paper from the bottom of the baked cake and leave for 1 minute.    Place a new piece of baking paper on top and carefully roll up the cake with the paper, leave for five minutes or until cool.  Unroll and spread with cream, then re-roll.  Cut into slices and serve. 

Get yourself a flat white and enjoy!

Bar Hopping: Something Brewing In The Neighbourhood

I’m lucky enough to live within stumbling distance of the excellent Grand Central Hotel, which I fondly regard as my local.  The public bar is passable for a cheap feed, a pint, a punt and a chance to rub shoulders with the old guard of Queensland’s public servants.  Located directly below Queensland Rail HQ and Brisbane’s Central Station, opposite the Anzac Square Shrine of Remembrance, the site has an interesting history.  In the golden age of railway, ‘refreshment rooms’ where built on the site, a place for passengers to quench the thirst of their long journey and by 1965 had morphed into Fihelly’s Arms Hotel, a pub serving cold beer in the great Australian tradition.  Today’s patrons are a slightly more complex lot, and the Drinx hotel group has responded to the influx of city residents and the tastes of corporate types by creating a small contemporary bar and dining area ‘Platform’, which cleverly wraps itself around Central Station’s Ann Street facade, a pedestrian tunnel and railway platforms.  Rather than feeling confined, Platform succeeds at being both inviting and intimate. 
Grand Central Hotel today, and pre 1965 when it housed ‘Refreshment Rooms’ for weary rail travellers
For a few years now Platform has done great trade for corporate functions and the like but hasn’t solidly packed them in the way you’d expect given its transport oriented location.  Enter Matt Coorey, a man on a mission to bring craft beers to the increasingly discerning drinkers of Brisbane.  Matt has cleverly transformed Platform from just another bar to the place to try something new whilst you drink away the stresses of the day and catch up with your mates.  With over 50 craft beers on offer, each endorsed with the Rubber Stamp Hand Crafted Beer Excellence mark, you could spend many a merry session working your way through the list.  A decent wine list and fully stocked bar are there if you ever get tired of the endless variety that is craft beer.

Matt comes from a family of publicans with his family operating the much awarded Spotted Cow Hotel at Toowoomba, and has pulled a pint or two at a number of top pubs around the country.  The staff at Platform share Matt’s passion for all things hopped, malted and brewed with ‘beer lists’ proffered to drinkers, expert knowledge of their product and many beers served in suitably matched glassware. 
After a few rounds, you’ll probably be in no hurry to leave.  And with two menus are available at Platform and the adjoining Dining Car there’s no reason not to hang around.  A simple menu of bar food offers perfectly cooked chips, salt and pepper calamari, oysters, bollywood pizza and bruschetta and a more substantial menu offers honest dishes like lamb shanks, juicy steaks, fresh fish and salad and is available at lunch and dinner Monday to Saturday.  The adjoining bottle-o offers many of the beers available at Platform, along with a selection of wines that encourages lengthy browsing.  This unassuming hole-in-the-wall also stocks a wide range of whiskys and an extensive range of Barossa Valley wines and uncommon varietals.

Platform sure makes a great local. 

Grand Central Hotel
270 Ann St
Brisbane QLD 4000
(07) 3220 2061

Open Monday - Saturday

Winemaker and wine educator. Food writer in hiatus. Changemaker. Toast lover.