Let's Cook with Meg and Ted

Brisbane restaurant reviews

Ted and I are no longer enjoying the fabulousness that is the Brisbane restaurant scene, being on the other side of the world and all. That means that these reviews are old - the most recent of them would be from 2001, I think. People still email me now and then to say that they've found the list useful, so I think at least some of the recommendations are still valid, but please keep in mind that lots of things can change in 3 years!


Nataraja - this is a great restaurant! It not only has excellent tasting food, it also has the largest range of different dishes I've seen in an Indian restaurant. These include things like karahi, wine masala, zelfrizie and dansac style curries. Many of the normally meaty curries are offered with a vegetable, paneer or mushroom base, in addition to the standard vegetarian menu. One of my favourites is vegetable nilgiri korma (there are two different korma styles offered). There's also usually really attentive service, even on nights when every table is full. After coming here at least 15 times, I finally had my first bad experience: kashmiri koftha. The sauce was great, but the koftha were hard and tasted strange. Never mind, it just emphasises how excellent it normally is. 152 Musgrave Rd Red Hill. (28 May 2001)

Kari Tandoori - this is the cheapest of the three Indian restaurants in this area, but is certainly pretty good. I was really taken by their vegetarian menu when I first saw it, because it had (*shock*) something novel on it I wrote this before I saw the new Nataraja menu. You can often find things in the meat part of an Indian menu that are unique to a particular restaurant, but the vegetarian range is almost always a subset of a very well known 8 or 10 dishes. Kari Tandoori has half a dozen of the usual dishes but also has a green vegetable and coconut milk curry (very nice) and a dry pumpkin and cumin seed curry (I have since seen this in another restaurant). Their kofta is excellent, as is the daal, and the mulligatawny soup when they have it. I like the kulcha hara bhara (bread stuffed with potatoes, peas and spices). Only one complaint - their paneer is a bit tough, so try something else. As for meat, last time we went Ted had Gosht Quorma Badsaahee (lamb in almond, cashew nut and cream sauce) which sounds quite pasty and mild but he asked for it hot and it was excellent, I stole about a third of his sauce. Everyone I've taken there has liked it. In winter they have a fire in the fireplace, but it occasionally belches smoke into the room (I find its niceness outweighs the smokiness). 235 Given Tce Paddington.

Sultan's Kitchen - This is the most expensive of the three but it *is* really good. Another place where Ted got the same dish every time for 12 months, lamb biriyani this time. I used to go with some vegetarian friends and we'd get a couple of dishes to share, and everything was always nice. The eggplant hydrabadi (I'm not sure if this is how you spell it, we used to remember it as eggplant hydrobath, so it's something like that) was our favourite. 163 Given Tce Paddington.

The Banyan Tree - excellent Indian in New Farm, a short walk from our place. It has two menus, one of 'classic' Indian cuisine, i.e. the stuff you find most places, and another menu of more innovative haute cuisine. Go the innovative menu! It's great. Can't remember what I had exactly (it was a month or so ago) but I was impressed. It's about the same price range as Sultan's Kitchen. They do takeaway and are planning to start home delivery in a month or so. Cnr James and Merthyr, New Farm. (5 May 2001)

Curry Connection - this is the best place I've found to get saag paneer; I never order it anywhere else now because it is never as good as it is here. The koftha is also good, and the aloo naan is the best bread. Other advantages are that it's 5 minutes walk from uni, right next door to a bottleshop with a good selection of beers, and does an inexpensive mixed lunch plate (good if you're broke or not particularly hungry). 224 Hawken Drive St Lucia.

Indian Taj Mahal - I do wonder why they're called this - is there another taj mahal somewhere else? - but that's the only way to find them in the phone book. So far I've only had takeaway from here, but it was excellent. Michelle and I had palak paneer and channamasala, a chick pea curry, and both were great. Ted liked the lamb and spinach curry. There's a $3 home delivery fee within the New Farm area. Open 7 nights 5-10, and lunch Wednesday to Friday 12 - 2. Phone 3254 2388, 722 Brunswick St New Farm, opposite the Village Twin.

Ashoka - the spinach dahl is excellent, and other vegetarian stuff I've had there has also been yummy. It's cunningly hidden on the ground floor beneath another shop, so look hard for the entrance. 30 Station Rd Indooroopilly

Punjabi Palace - not bad. I go because, since the closure of Gandhi's (a.k.a. the Mogul Room), all my favourite Indian restaurants are on the other side of the river. 195 Melbourne St West End.

Bengal Curry House - I imagine that the curries that are served here are more like real Indian fare - i.e. they're plain and not at all rich, unlike those served at most Indian restaurants. I have to admit that I really do prefer the no doubt westernised curries at the other restaurants listed above. I've had boonah and vindaloo vegetable curries here and they're not so different from what I could make myself, which makes me wonder why I'd go out for them. However, as Leonie first pointed out, the curries do have really good chickpeas in them - not enough to make it worthwhile, to my mind, but still good. 115 Ipswich Rd Wooloongabba.


Sakura - about 3 minutes walk from our place which makes it always tempting. Ted likes it a bit more than I do as they have excellent sashimi, but a pretty limited vegetarian selection (and NO, that is not just the way it is with Japanese food, when I was there I ate different and yummy stuff every day with no problems. Hrumph.) They have a seaweed salad which I highly recommend as weird but good. Their miso soup is great, especually after having that stewed stuff at Japanese smorgasboard restaurants; and they do vegetable rolls which are OK but unexciting. However, for those who eat fish: go. Semi-formal: don't wear shorts. 9 Gladstone Rd Highgate Hill.

Oz Sushi - much more casual than most Japanese restaurants, this is a sushi smorgasbord. According to Ted the sashimi etc is not quite as good as at Sakura, but much better than Sushi Train stuff (although Leonie prefers Sushi Station to Oz Sushi). I like it because there's a bigger range of vegetarian stuff. They've got various vegie rolls, with both traditional fillings and other ones like avocado and salad (bean sprouts and beetroot??). Also inari zushi, vegetable tempura, tofu and omlette sashimi style, sometimes tempura sushi (bizarre but surprisingly edible), those weird battleship rolls with creamy fillings which I just don't understand, fruit, soybeans etc. You pay either $17 and can have anything, or $13 and can have anything but the flash seafood stuff. It also includes green tea, miso soup, and green tea ice cream or dessert jellies. Yum. 45 Sherwood Rd Toowong

Sushi Deli - excellent for quick satisfaction of cravings for Japanese food when you're in the city. They do large size sushi rolls (~$1.50 each) with an enormous range of fillings - including about 6 vegetarian ones. My favourites are the Japanese vegetable and the tofu ones. Wintergarden foodcourt.


Pho Pasteur / Golden Hill - I always get the vegetable and egg noodle soup, and Ted likes a vermicelli dish with chilli and lemongrass beef and mint salad. They have two menus, a small Vietnamese one and a much bigger Chinese one in a pink folder. I'd check out the Vietnamese one first, we like it better. A friend of ours took some Vietnamese visitors there and they approved of its relative authenticity. Oh, and did I mention that the soup is $4.90 and is very filling? Even better, it's directly opposite our laundromat. Perfect for dinner the day before you get paid, when all your remaining money is engaged in washing your clothes. 41 Gladstone Rd Highgate Hill.

West End Garden - this restaurant has had a varied history: it used to be really good about 6 years ago, then it was taken over and became hideous sweet and sour pork house from hell for a while (I went once and ordered sichuan tofu, with someone who ordered mongolian (?) something, and we both got meals drowning in sweet and sour sauce, which they insisted was sichuan sauce and monogolian whatever it was - anyway it was hideous), then about 3 years ago it obviously changed hands again because it became much nicer, and sichuan tofu (my favourite dish there) was once again sichuan tofu. But now, alas, it's been buggered up again. Sichuan tofu is no longer spicy and dense with whole chillies, but instead is pretty damn bland. Sigh. Perhaps I'll try again in a year or so. 190 Melbourne St South Brisbane. (March 2001)

Green Papaya North Vietnamese - quite classy Vietnamese and much more expensive than the restaurants above. Very bloody good though, especially for fish eaters apparently. I went there with my semi-extended family once and the bill came to a few hundred dollars but it's not normally so shocking, more like what you'd expect to pay in a 'modern Australian cuisine' restaurant (if you know the kind of place I mean). 898 Stanley St East Brisbane

Qan Heng's - Chinese and Vietnamese. This is one of the very few places open on Boxing Day, which is why I tried it. There is lots of good stuff - vegetarian egg and rice noodle soups, laksa (haven't tried the laksa yet), and several vegie and tofu dishes. The Vietnamese tofu hotpot is excellent, although totally lacking in vegetables -try it with a dish of bok choi or spinach. The salt and pepper tofu is tasty but quite dry (this could be the way with all salt-and-pepper dishes, I've never had one before), but would be a good addition if you're having a banquet with several people. 151 Boundary St


Bangkok Milton - I've been going here for 6 years and they still have the same menu (with the same prices,which is weirder) and the same head waiter (owner?), which is fine because it is and always has been excellent. The hot and sour mushroom soup is great, although don't make the mistake of attempting to chew the lemongrass bits in it which I did once (this little bit of lemongrass turns to a huge wad of unchewable unswallowable fibre in your mouth; and the napkins are cloth so where are you going to spit it out?). Also highly recommended is the red vegetable curry. The massaman meat curry is apparently very nice. Last time I was there one person got tofu stirfry with basil and chilli and another got the beef version of the dish, and they both found it too hot for enjoyment, or indeed to taste anything but chilli. I get the curry almost every time I go but other more experimental people who've been there with me have always (with the one exception above) liked whatever they ordered. Slightly classy, i.e. jeans are probably fine but don't wear shorts or thongs. cnr Milton Rd and Croydon St Toowong.

Thai on High - just around the corner from us and our most frequent restaurant and takeaway choice. Super recommended: the warm tofu salad, with onion, lemongrass, peanuts and chilli jam. Yum yum yum. A craving for this cannot be satisfied by anything else. Also very much liked are both the red vegie curry with tofu (my favourite curry there) and the green version (Michelle's favourite). The penang curry is thick and very tasty. The vegetarian massaman curry is purely potatoes and tofu in sauce (with a few peanuts) but I'm sometimes in the mood for the taste, although my mother, a great devotee of massaman curries, and a meateater, says that she finds their massaman tastes a bit stewed. The jungle curry has a water based sauce rather than a coconut milk one. I like it for times when I want to feel nice and cleansed, but Ted doesn't like it at all. Because I'm so addicted to the tofu salad and curries I hardly ever get anything else there, but they also do stirfries and noodles, both of which Ted likes. The noodles are flat rice noodles and I find them a bit gluggy but I think this is due to my dislike of fried rice noodles in general rather than any particular fault of the way they're done here. Despite this I still steal a couple of noodles from Ted's plate when he gets them. His favourite stirfry is the beef one with cashews and capsicums in spicy sauce. They also do both tom yum and tom kha soups - these are both OK, but not brilliant, you can taste the particular chilli jam taste a bit too much in both of them. If you want a good tom yum, I'd go to Bangkok Milton, and to Lemongrass Thai for tom kha. 36 Gladstone Rd Highgate Hill.

Lemongrass Thai - this is somewhere we only started going recently. They sent out a takeway menu about a year ago, and the only vegetarian thing on it was vegetables with oyster sauce - not exactly appealing. Fortunately, I went out with Judy and Michelle one night and we just went in there without thinking, and discovered that actally it's got quite an extensive vegie menu. The best things include vegie red curry, which is thicker and a bit more tasty than the one at Thai on High (much though I love theirs!), vegetables stirfried with chilli and basil, which is really simple but delicious, and the tom kha soup. This is a coconut milk soup with lemongrass and various spices. On the menu it only offers it with chicken, but they do a vegie version if you ask, and it's just superb, it's one of those things that brings saliva to the mouth just remembering it. Definitely try it! Annerley Rd Wooloongabba (Princess Plaza).

Patcharin Thai - this place has opened within the last year or so, next to Tonic Bistro. Both I and Michelle, who went on a separate occasion, have had the same weird experience there: I tried to order a normal red vegie curry and she a green one, and the head waitress said "no, the thick red curry thickened with peanuts is better, I'll get you that one", and wouldn't take no for an answer (although neither of us protested with full force, I'm sure). And in the end that curry is really nice, but you should be warned if you want one of the others you may have to be determined about it. ** More recent update! I went with my parents and my father ordered a noodle dish that the dominatrix obviously disapproved of, and she tried to make him get something else, but he persevered and got the one he wanted, so it is possible to resist. My mother got a massaman curry that was very good. Portions are huge so don't get an entree unless you're sharing a main. 172 Hargrave Rd West End.

Renu Thai - this place has two counters, one with a smorgasboard of Thai curries and other dishes from which you can chose two or three plus rice (Ted gets this), and the other (which interests me) which does noodle soups and stirfries. You can choose the type of noodle and cooking style, I recommend the Thai (i.e. tom yum) soup with egg noodle, which I ate several times a month when I was living at Toowong. The Malaysian soup (i.e. laksa) is also OK, but not as good as the laksa at FFF. I find the Chinese style soup a bit bland. 74 High St Toowong. (May 2001)

Royal Thai Orchid - great, especially their $9 garden lunch specials. 45 Little Cribb St Milton. (Joce, November 2001)

Raun Thai - this is a lovely small restaurant in the back of the same block of buildings as Renu Thai. It's friendly but flash enough to have cloth napkins. The food is great, and the vegetarian menu is extensive - maybe 6 entrees and 8 mains. The tofu and green beans in red curry sauce is recommended. 6a Sherwood Rd Toowong.

Thai Nook - this is a takeaway place. It does have a couple of tables inside but just in case you were fooled, there's a sign on the wall saying 'phone orders have precedence over dine-in customers' to make it clear. Despite this I had huge hopes for this place, since Thai on High, especially before it expanded, didn't look so flash either and yet became one of my favourite restaurants. However, it was not to be. Despite having lovely looking fresh kafir lime leaves in them, the curries are watery and bland. Such a disappointment! 666 (suggestive!) Brunswick St New Farm.

Thai Kinnara - This place is BAD. The soups are not hot and sour but rather sweet. The curries are also sickly sweet and they're gluggy, it's like they've been thickened with gelatine - you could drop a vetetable on top of a mound of sauce and it wouldn't sink into it but just sit there on top, gently wobbling. We left here feeling distinctly ill. Cnr Merthyr Rd and Brunswick St New Farm.

Other Asian

Garuva - the cuisine is a really good Malay-hybrid for $8 a dish. The decor is great - you sit on the floor and every table is curtained off with white chiffon. Never go on the weekend, people seen to forget what they cannot see and it gets so loud you can't hear each other talking. Wickham St, the Valley. (Joce, November 2001)


FFF Noodle Bar - I used to go to Hot Wok (257 Given Tce) when I had a laksa craving, but then Helen put me on to FFF. Their laksas are great, really spicy, and the vegies are so sweet and fresh tasting. Really good. Ted likes the noodle dishes there too. 203 Given Tce Paddington. (May 2001)

Naughty Noodles- my local noodle place when noodle bars first took off in Brisbane, about 5 years ago. You choose your noodle type, meat or vegie additions and style of sauce - Thai and Malaysian were both yummy. Big servings, good noodles. Very busy (or used to be; I haven't been for a while), sometimes a short wait for a table. 5 Nash St Paddington. Also at Kenmore, Bulimba and Clayfield.


Cafe dell Ugo - this is definitely some of the best Italian food I've had in Brisbane. I went here the night of my graduation and had a lovely time. The antipasto platter is huge and has lots of delicious stuff, and they're happy to do a vegetarian one if you ask. I had gnocci and it was excellent (and enormous). Desserts looked great (stuff like ricotta and honey parcels) but I was far too full. It's reasonably expensive - pastas about $14 - $18 and mains in the $20s - but certainly worth it. Brunswick St New Farm.

New Farm Deli - this place does very good breakfasts, but at lunch time it switches to pasta and foccacia (and pizza, I think). I've had some great pasta there. The penne Catia is great (they seem to have recently taken it off the menu - hope it comes back). The pasta was cooked perfectly, and the sauce was a lovely combination of roasted peppers, olives, capers, etc, and there was just enough of it - not one of those dishes that could be a soup with pasta floating in it. Ted had fettuccine with pesto, roast vegetables and some meaty thing, and he thought it was excellent too. The foccacias are perfect. It's often very busy, especially on weekdays at lunchtime and all day on weekends, but the staff are great and super-efficient at getting you a table. 900 Brunswick St New Farm. (May 2001)

Continental Cafe - the pasta here is great! Really simple but classic sauces, not stodgy or overwhelming, just very tasty and perfectly balanced. The rigatoni with salsa cruda (olives, walnuts, chilli, basil, garlic) is brilliant, as is the grilled vegie tagiatelle. Oh I'm so so glad this place is just down the road. The rest of the menu also looks very tempting, and they're also open for breakfast. Lunch 11.30-5.30, dinner 5.30-10.30 seven days. Weekend breakfast 8-11.45. Phone 3254 0377. 21 Barker St New Farm.

Schonell Pizza Caffe - my favourite pizzas in Brisbane, bases so thin and toppings so tasty. Seriously good quality and just the thing before or after a movie. Perennial favourites include B (fresh basil and tomato), C (capsicum, ricotta, chilli), L (five types of cheeses, oregano, sundried capsicum), M (mushrooms, parsley, parmesan, garlic) and S (Spinach, garlic, olives, gorgonzola). University of Queensland, St Lucia.

Angie's Trattoria - my favourite dish here is the pumpkin ravioli in poppy seed sauce - sounds weird, tastes great. They also have excellent gnocchi. 10 Dornoch Tce West End.

Giardinetto - this is the first place I had risotto, about 5 or 6 years ago. It was a tomato and vegetable one, and I've loved risotto ever since. More recently, we've gone there for pasta - Ted had vegetarian ravioli and really liked it; I had tomato fettuccine with zucchini and fresh broad beans. The sauce was good, very simple and light, but the pasta itself was overcooked, unfortunately. 366 Brunswick St Fortitude Valley.

Avanti - when I lived at Paddington I used to go here quite regularly. It has a *huge* menu (50 different dishes?), about a third of which are vegetarian. There's a nice ravioli with vodka sauce, both the primavera sauces (red and white) are good, the pesto is ok (but not as good as mine!). For meat eaters there are some weird things like a pasta with curry and sweet potato chips (or something similarly odd, only one person I know has tried it but they liked it), plus lots of more traditional things. The breads are nothing special. Lots of room outside, with plastic chairs and tables so it's pretty casual. My dad likes it too because if you go at lunchtime you can sit over lunch for two or three hours and they don't mind. This might not be the case at dinner because it's sometimes packed and there can occasionally be a short wait to get a table. Best to book dinner if you've got a large group. There's a small bottleshop in the same set of shops and Avanti is BYO. 57 Macgregor Tce Bardon.

La Cena - I went here with Leonie, Michael and Caroline, to test out their homemade pasta. The pasta itself was good, if slightly thicker than I normally make it, but we agreed it wasn't _quite_ as good as the pasta we make ourselves. The sauces were a bit heavy and overwhelming. I'd go back, but not as a matter of urgency. Pasta comes in two sizes, small and large, for about $18 and $21 respectively - and now that I think about it, I don't really think it was worth quite that much. The garlic bread was very garlicky and good, better than the bruschetta and the rather fluffy and tasteless white loaf with dipping oil (which did come with a quite nice duka dip). 10 Days Rd, Grange.

Romeo's Italian Restaurant -Not particularly exciting - I was expecting a lot more. There were only a couple of vegetarian dishes. The pasta was certainly nothing to write home about. Perhaps it would be better for meat eaters? But I went with Ted and Leonie and they were both disappointed too. 216 Petrie Tce.

Pane e Vino - lots of metal furniture and a stylishly arranged bar top and so on. Good risotto and gnocci, and awesome ricotta tortellini with a creamy sun-dried capsicum and macadamia pesto. Albert St cnr Charlotte St the city.

Neo - Ted likes it here, but the only thing I like are the breads, which are, admittedly, the best I've ever had. Freshly cooked, they have just the perfect combination of fresh yeasty taste, salt, and light fillings. I'd prefer to stop here for breads and then move on to another restaurant for the main meal. I've had two pastas, the first was linguini napoletana and was pretty tasteless, the second was beetroot and ricotta agnolotti, which was a bit watery and didn't match the brown butter and sage sauce. However, Ted has had both pizza and pasta here and really enjoyed it, so try it and make up your own mind. They do have excellent home-made gelato and other deserts.

Augelo's - perhaps I took against this place because one of the many, young, bepierced waiters decided I needed to have the concept of calzone explained to me (no, thanks, I have eaten out in the last 10 years) and mispronounced it himself - or maybe it was just because, while competent, the food was pretty standard and boring. Why go here when you could pay very little extra and eat at dell Ugo two doors up? Brunswick St, New Farm (April 2001)

Castelli's - Boring boring boring. The pastas are always dodgy - both the vegetarian sauces are exceptionally bland. I did once have a good vegetable and pesto pizza here, but next time I tried it, it was crap. There's one at Toowong, Indooroopilly, probably other places too.

Portofino - Lots of people I know like it here but I think the food is only average, and no matter when you go you will *always* have to wait at least an hour for food. There is one exception to my lack of enthusiasm: the gelati is excellent (and you don't have to wait). St Lucia Ville.

Elio's Trattoria - I've never been here but my mother recommends it, as does Margie Brenan. Winstanley St Carindale.

The Purple Olive - for some reason I'd been expecting really exceptional food here. It's not the sort of thing that makes you decide to go back again the next day, but it was quite good. Pasta was very nice, although not amazement-inducing; risotto was not bad, although I've had much better. Those who had the fish said it was very good- it did look appealing, it was a huge piece, smelled great, came with lemon butter and was on a bed of interesting vegetables. We went on a Wednesday and were the only people there between 7.30 and 9.30, so had a super-attentive waitress. Another attraction: there are gekkos on the walls in the courtyardy section. 79 James St New Farm.

Rosati's on the Park - Not as nice as when it used to be Latin Lovers, and sometimes full of wankers with mobiles. The food is not bad. 938 Brunswick St New Farm.


Cafe Chantahn - excellent Greek food! The servings are large beyond belief, however. I had a yiros plate, with grilled and roasted mediterranean vegies, greek salad, and a pita. Get a picture in your mind of a reasonable sized plate of this stuff. Then multiply by 4, and you'll get an idea of serving size. The meals come out on charger plates, and the plates are filled to the edge and a couple of inches high. It looks like someone's taken a picture of a normal plate with food and then blown it up to double life size. I got to bring home leftovers to last me for another two meals. Ted had a lamb dish with rice, lemon, tomato and oregano which was very yummy. Main meals are about $13-15. There's also a huge selection of entrees and starters, like dips with bread, also dolmades, spinach balls, lots of little Greek things, haloumi, about 30 different possibilities. THEN, just in case this wasn't enough, there's a further menu which is available between 5 and 7pm, on which everything is $5 (so I presume the servings aren't so insane) - and there's a lentil and spinach stew on that menu that I'll be going back to try some time soon. Anyway, highly recommended. 150 Boundary St West End (where the Brown Pot Cafe used to be)

Ouzeri - I have to admit I can't give an unbiased view of this place as when I was there I had been drinking gin all afternoon and thought I was going to die of alcohol poisoning. However, my family liked it, although Ted agreed that it wasn't as good as Cafe Chantahn. They do have a nice white bean soup as an entree which if I went again I would get as a main. Desserts looked interesting but alas we didn't try them. 57 Russell St South Brisbane (used to be Don 1).

Mythos - a very short roll around the corner from my place, which is fortunate because after going there strenuous exercise is not the go. Probably it could be achieved if you had a bit more self control than me but when I was confronted with a menu full of lovely vegetarian mezzes (lots of seafood there too if you're interested), I decided to try the lot and throw in a dish of red wine pilaf as well. Ah well. I particularly liked the marinated mushrooms and the dolmades. The pilaf was good but large and quite plain, so it goes well as part of a shared table rather than having it as a main on its own. I'll be rolling around the corner quite frequently I think. 79 James St New Farm (next to Purple Olive) 3254 4868. (May 2001)

Yiros - a slightly longer stroll from our place, but all the better to walk off the excessive consumption we've indulged in. Yiros has recently expanded their menu to include a bunch more vegetarian food, which is most excellent. We just went wild and ordered all the vegetarian mezzes available - i.e. dips, spanokopita, tyropita, dolmathes and haloumi. The dolmathes and tyropita (chesse and mint in filo) were my favourites but everything was damn good. After that there was no room for anything else, but I'll be back to try the vegetarian yiros. 618 Brunswick St New Farm, 3254 0479. (April 2001)

Middle Eastern

Fez-Bah - This Turkish restaurant has recently moved down to Brisbane after four years on the Sunshine Coast. We went here with Barb and Andy and all of us had these intentions of only eating one course, but we got totally seduced by the menu. The meze platters are great to start with. The large plate we had had hommus, a really good eggplant dip, a fluorescent purple beetroot dip, some caponata-like stew, a vegetable fritter (very tasty - but split between four), and couscous. If you have three or more people, definitely order two serves of bread - get both the herb and garlic pide (lovely bread with a herby oil drizzled over) and the sesame pide too. Then for mains there is lots of good looking stuff. There is only one vegetarian main (a six-vegetable couscous) but it's good. Next time I go I'm going to try one of the pizzas - there are two vegie ones, one is pumpkin, eggplant, pomegranate jam and goat's cheese, the other is roast chilli, onion jam, haloumi and feta. But oh there's more, let me just wet my pants over the desserts for a minute here. The pistachio and honey ice-cream is a bit viscous but it's good viscous if you know what I mean. Mmmmm. And the honey cake is superb and spicy and served with this ice-cream-like substance that tastes like yoghurt and buttermilk and is just wonderful. The other desserts also look good: sticky lemon syrup cake, pistachio custard, walnut and honey baklava, you get the picture. After you've consumed all this, you should have no trouble finishing off with a mint Turkish tea, which is very refreshing. The service can be a bit slow (not always) because it's extremely busy, but it's helpful and pleasant. There is also a lunch menu, which is the pizzas plus sandwiches on pides or flatbreads. They're open for lunch 11-5.30 and dinner 5.30-10, 7 days a week. It's usually necessary to book. Almost all of the seating is outdoors, so dress for the weather. Large meze plate (serves 4) is $20, mains are $16.50 to $18.50, pizzas are $16.50, desserts are about $7.50. 110 Macquarie St Teneriffe 3257 0866. (30 June 2001)

No No's Lebanese - this place looks a bit like a cheap hotbox takeaway but it is filled with lots and lots of excellent food. Order huge plates of vegie (or meat) things to share - kibbis, fritters, spinach rolls, garlic chickpeas, lentils and rice, chickpea and spinach stew, hommus, tabouli, pitas - we got all of this, enough food for 3 or 4 people, for $15. If you actually had 3 or 4 people there (we were only 2) you could possibly then contemplate the very large cabinet of pastries for dessert. Phone 3369 5691. 158 Musgrave Rd Red Hill

Caravanserai - Turkish. For meat eaters, this is a good restaurant, with quite a big range of interesting and tasty stuff. For vegetarians, this place is BORING AS HELL. The menu hasn't changed in at least 4 years, and the 5 vegie dishes are things I can either make myself (and make better) or get somewhere else (also better). There's feta and spinach pie, mousaka, and felafel kebabs, gosh how interesting. Then there's an eggplant and zucchini pie which is classic overcooked cafe fare, served with a big pile of white rice (why?) and a 'salad' which is actually undressed shredded purple cabbage (????). The final option is at least interesting in that it is guaranteed to generate a discussion of nipple imagery in food, since it's felafel balls each topped with a dob of sour cream and an unpright olive. Last time I was there I came away feeling.....disgruntled is the only word. 1 Dornoch Tce West End

Josie's Kitchen - possibly the best kebabs in Brisbane, huge and fresh and always exceptionally yummy. They also have a chickpea salad that is really excellent. Gladstone Rd, cnr Wahcumba St, Highgate Hill.

Istanbul Cafe - another good kebab place, especially for felafel. Given Tce Paddington, opposite the Paddo.

La Kasbah - North African food. I think it's a bit too expensive for what it is, and there's not much interesting vegie-wise. My mother likes it, Leonie doesn't. Other opinions? 669 Stanley St Wooloongabba.


El Torito - El Salvadorean and Mexican food, worlds away from Montezumas et al. The beans are black beans, hooray! Proper burritos, i.e. everything (beans, rice and salad) is wrapped up inside the burrito. My favourite remains the bean enchilada, although I also like the chile rellenos. Leonie recommends the ceviche for eaters of seafood. 146 Boundary St West End

Bandido's Bar and Grill - "Californian style Tex-Mex", but I don't know that a great deal separates it from "Brisbane style Mexican". The major difference for vegetarians is that most vegie dishes are based not on beans but on roasted vegetables, which is no bad thing. For meat eaters, no difference as far as I could tell. The vegetarian fajitas are nice, but ask for a couple of extra tortillas, as it only comes with 3, which is insufficient, and if you're sitting outside it's hard to snare a waitress and ask for more. Most dishes are a couple of dollars more expensive than you'd pay at other Mexican restaurants, and I felt it was a bit overpriced for what it was. 2 Windsor Rd Red Hill


Miro's Spanish Restaurant - good for meat or fish eaters, but unfortunately there's only one vegetarian main meal, which is, however, very nice - a sort of Spanish risotto with mushrooms and capsicums. Tapas are pleasant but not amazing. Perhaps a tiny bit overpriced. But there is a paella on the menu that sounds good if you're into meat, and it says to allow 30 minutes at least for cooking, so it might be a good authentic one. 4/154 Merthyr Rd, New Farm.


Tibetan Kitchen - the tofu curry with green chilli, sour cream and preserved lemon is out of this world, I salivate thinking about it. I tried it the first time I went and it's a real effort to wrench myself away from it to try anything else. Service can be very slow. 59 Hardgrave Rd West End.

Himalayan Cafe - I haven't been here for a couple of years. When I went I was with a large group and the service was agonisingly slow, but I really liked the food. Interesting stuff. 640 Brunswick St New Farm.


E'cco - well there's really not much point going on about this as everyone knows it's superb. It's one of those places where you take a mouthful of something and get a huge stupid grin on your face because it's just SO blissfully good. Definitely try the roasted tomato soup, the grilled goats cheese, the thyme and parmesan tart and the citrus tart. On the other hand, every other thing I've tasted there has been so exceptional, you can't go wrong. The same is true for the wine list, which so far as I can tell contains only excellent wines. And it's not insanely expensive: entrees are $14.50 and mains are about $23. Booking ahead is a good idea but I have got a table on a Thursday night by booking the same day. 100 Boundary St (cnr Adelaide St) Brisbane.

Circa - several people have told me that this restaurant is of equal quality to e'cco. I've only been once, so I can't say with any authority, but although it's pretty close it doesn't _quite_ make it. This is mostly because, although I've had one of the best dishes I've ever had there, I also had something that was pretty ordinary, and Anne Weinert said the same thing - one brilliant brilliant dish but another that was only nice/ok/ordinary. For me: I had an entree of tomato al a grecque, and I do appreciate the artistry that went into the perfect skinning and stuffing and the lovely arrangement but it was really just a cold cooked tomato filled with cold cheese which may have had more taste if slightly warmed, and which came with a very very dry biscuit with dry spices. I was a bit nonplussed. However, and this is a big however, my main was just superb, so superb that I couldn't help smiling as I ate it and wanted it to go on forever. It was a rotolo with a parsley pesto (can't remember the proper name), served with grilled mushrooms and a rocket salad. Both the rotolo and the mushrooms were brilliant. I'd love to go back and order it again. Anne went between Christmas and New Year in 2000, and had an OK salad and then a good game sausage. Her partner had Balmain bug tails in saffron cream and pearl pasta, which was apparently a real standout, and some perfectly cooked salmon for main. There was also a lovely touch at the end - we didn't order desserts, but coffee came with two little pots of creme caramel and coconut biscuits, which were delicious and just the right size. 384 Adelaide St Brisbane. (April 2001)

Arc Bistro - I was hoping for a serious rival to e'cco here but it doesn't really make it. Only one vegie thing on the menu, but they offered to make me whatever I wanted from the ingredients on the menu. The gnocci were quite good, and the couscous salad they made for me was also nice, but it really lacked that _something_ that raises e'cco above normal food. Also, I think if you stayed too long you'd sustain permanent hearing loss. However, certainly give it a go, especially if you're into meat - I'm only disappointed because I was expecting so much, I think.

Tognini's On Main - I went here for Barb's hen night/ night of the chickens. I have to acknowledge the margarita and daquari I had consumed beforehand, and the large amount of wine I drank while there, but I don't believe that these totally clouded my judgement! It was great. The plate of tiny bruscetta is lovely, with lots of small delicious tastes. I liked the jerusalem artichoke tart I had for entree, but the parsley and porchini risotto wasn't brilliant - it was a bit dry. But really it's stupidity to order risotto in a restaurant, even generally excellent places do dodgy risotto. I think everyone else liked everything they had, there were certainly lots of appreciative comments. And the citrus tart looked gorgeous. Entrees about $14, mains about $25. 180 Main St Kangaroo Point.

Two Small Rooms - Lovely food, a bit flash. Fortunately they sussed us out as not overly classy and sent over the young waiter, who just laughed when I did rather amazing tipsy acrobatics with my souffle by accident. Worth returning to when I get some decent clothes. 517 Milton Rd Toowong.

Mondo Organics -this is where the Soup Kitchen used to be, and is run by the same people. As the waiter said when we were there, it doesn't have that beer-garden feel anymore. The decor is excellent, sort of Japanese-influence, and was all designed by one of the owners. When Ted and I went, the first weekend they were open, we thought the food was great. I had a pumpkin and bean curry, and Ted had a brilliant soba noodle and duck dish. However, last December, Anne and Matt Weinert went with the rest of the Weinert clan and didn't think it was much chop. Not much good to choose from, and even the good-sounding things not tasting too flash. I haven't been back yet to determine whether they went on a bad day, or whether they did really go downhill after starting well. Let me know if you've been and have an opinion. 66 Hardgrave Rd West End. (May 2001)

Olivetto's - I used to walk past here once a week or so and look at the menu. Looks very good French but not for non-piscean vegetarians. Helen recommends. 5 Enoggera Tce Red Hill.


Tongue and Groove - excellent modern food. If you want to talk over dinner, don't go on Thursday, Friday or Saturday nights. We went on a Thursday and had to scream at each other to be heard over the 'background' music and other conversations. That's the problem with modern decor, alas - no padding to absorb sound. Nevertheless, I'll definitely be going back. I loved the salad of rocket, sweet potato and haloumi in soy and lime dressing, but I think next time I'll get the vegetarian pasta with snow peas, capers and various other stuff, which Leonie had when we went. Mains range from satisfyingly sized (salad) to bloody enormous (calzone), and amazingly cheap - for four main meals the bill was $37. And there's about 8 things on the menu I want to try. Update - after about 12 return visits, I still love this place. I mainly go for lunch or breakfast, and haven't disliked anything I've had here so far. Hardgrave Rd West End.

Harvey's - I love the salads they have for lunch here. You can have a plate of 2 or 3 for about $7, and they always include some lovely things like couscous, or lentils, or roast vegetable salads with great fresh ingredients. I think they're open 7 days a week for lunch, and Tue-Sat for dinner. The dinner menu is light on vegie options but there is a very nice porchini and asparagus risotto. Once you've eaten you can browse the deli, including their fabulous range of cheeses. James St, next to Centro cinemas. (May 2001)

Atomica - their lunches are even better than their breakfasts. My favourite thing is the panini with roasted zucchini and capsicum, baby spinach and baba ganoush, but they also have a range of salads which are very tasty. Also the rest of the large and delecious menu of course. Boundary St West End (May 2001)

Gertie's - relatively pricy, but it's worth it. The food here is always made with great quality ingredients and a lot of thought and flair. It can get very busy at nights, especially Friday/Saturday, but if you choose a less frantic time you can sit at one of the tables with couches, eat good food, drink cocktails or wine, and watch people pass by. http://www.gerties.com.au . 699 Brunswick St New Farm. (April 2001)

Sassafras - used to be the best in Brisbane, in my opinion, then it really went downhill, now it's only open 10 - 3 but it's back up there. They make great breakfasts, sandwiches and deli treats, and their buckwheat pancakes are bliss covered in maple syrup. Plus there's a purple velvet couch. The exact style is livingroom, backyard and kitchen, it suits Brisbane so well. 88 Latrobe Tce Paddington. (Joce, November 2001)

Bean Scene - main attraction is that it's 5 minutes from uni, but the food can be good: I like the roasted semolina gnocchi. They also sell interesting bread (loaves). St Lucia Village.

Otto's- this is where Sticky Fingers used to be. The lab has been there for lunch twice and the food has been great. The antipasto platter is excellent, the ravioli is really yummy, focaccias and salads are good. The risotto is not super flash, and the porcini in it are huge and taste like overcooked leathery steak. The only other downside is that the woman who works there looks like she's in Hades, having to serve food but never being able to eat it herself. We look at her and wonder whether she'll be able to lift the plates, she's so twiglike and worn. Still, excellent for Friday lunches. St Lucia Village.

Gosh cafe - this is the work of the devil. Even when you ask for your coffee in a china cup they still use one of their evil disposable paper cups to write your order on, then throw it away. Also very boring food. Keep away. St Lucia Village.

Moray Cafe - Yummy mediterranean style food, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 170 Merthyr Rd New Farm

Serendipity Cafe - it really depends when you go: I've had some really surprisingly good meals here but also sometimes looked at the menu and not been able to see anything I wanted. Check it out if you're passing. Nash St Rosalie.

Parrots Gourmet Hamburgers - surprising for a vegetarian, I know, but they do all their hamburgers with a choice of beef, chicken or vegetable patties. That said, the hamburgers are ok (although the side salads are dodgy: seventies chopped tinned beetroot occasionally) but what I go for is the onion rings with sweet chilli dipping sauce. 93 Elizabeth St, the city.


Eastern Vegetarian - excellent food from lots of different cuisines. 100 Commercial Rd Teneriffe.

Hsing Hua Vegetarian Restaurant - haven't been there yet, going in the next month. 2796 Logan Rd Underwood.

Squirrels - I haven't been to Squirrels since it was in West End (gives you an idea of how many years it's been) but I liked it then and other people have recommended it to me more recently. 184 Enoggera Rd Newmarket.

Temple Vegetarian Canteen -again I haven't been yet but want to go soon. Apparently it's alcohol-free as it has religious connections. 41 Depot Rd Deagon.

Good For Breakfast

Atomica - the vegie supreme breakfast is large and yummy; if you're not that hungry chose from other fry up options like polenta wedges and mushrooms, or home baked borlotti beans (though sometimes they only have tinned baked beans - ask before you order). There's also a lot of other good stuff like banana bread with ricotta and honey, fruit with yoghurt, bircher museli, etc etc. Boundary St West End.

Tongue and Groove - got all the traditional stuff (although the mushrooms are steamed, not fried, and it's just not the same), plus good things like zucchini fritters with brie, pancake variations, etc. The scrambled eggs with pesto butter are great. Hargrave Rd West End.

Gertie's - this is just around the corner from my new house! And it has a brilliant breakfast menu, with things like Japanese omlette with hoisin and asian mushrooms (excellent!!), or parmesan grilled polenta with asparagus and poached eggs. 699 Brunswick St New Farm - http://www.gerties.com.au .

Two Faces of Eve - can't go past here for breakfast. They make really tasty 'eggs benediction' and scrambled tofu too. It's pretty affordable, and their betty blues are literally a bowl of coffee, I'm talking 15 cm diameter for $3.50. This is by far my favourite and most reliable place to eat in Brisbane. Plus they have fish tanks in the walls! Downstairs, 492 Ipswich Rd Annerley. (Joce, November 2001)

New Farm Deli - very yum! Try the poached eggs with pesto and fresh tomato, or eggs fried in napoli sauce on toasted foccacia. 900 Brunswick St New Farm.

California Cafe - trucker style breakfasts. You won't eat for the rest of the day. Brunswick St (cnr Robertson St I think) Fortitude Valley

Places I'm planning to go to soon

Aix - 83 Merthyr Rd New Farm

Aya Japanese - 149 Wickham St Fortitude Valley

Zen Bar - Post Office Square

Ceylon Inn Sri Lankan Restaurant - 298 Oxley Rd Graceville

Kafe Meze - 1 Browning St West End.

Ones to avoid (please don't sue me)

Only places that have really disappointed me make it on to this list. There are a couple of others that probably should be shifted to here - Bengal Curry House and Caravanserai, I'm looking at you. But for both of those places I've heard other people give them better reviews, so I'm not prepared to cast them into the lowest dungeon - yet.

Cafe Trinity - has anyone ever had a good meal here? Four independent bad reports as well as mine can't be wrong, surely. 231 Given Tce Paddington.

Thai Kinnara - This place is BAD. The soups are not hot and sour but rather sweet. The curries are also sickly sweet and they're gluggy, it's like they've been thickened with gelatine - you could drop a vegetable on top of a mound of sauce and it wouldn't sink into it but just sit there on top, gently wobbling. We left here feeling distinctly ill. Corner of Brunswick St and Merthyr Rd New Farm.

Thai Nook - this is a takeaway place. It does have a couple of tables inside but just in case you were fooled, there's a sign on the wall saying 'phone orders have precedence over dine-in customers' to make it clear. Despite this I had huge hopes for this place, since Thai on High, especially before it expanded, didn't look so flash either and yet became one of my favourite restaurants. However, it was not to be. Despite having lovely looking fresh kafir lime leaves in them, the curries are watery and bland. Such a disappointment! (On the other hand, I'd still rather go here than Thai Kinnara - the food is merely disappointing, not sickening!) 666 (suggestive!) Brunswick St New Farm.

When you're swanning around at Noosa

The last couple of times I've been to Noosa I've stayed near Hastings St, so that's where most of these places are, but I remember there were a bunch of good places at Noosaville too last time I was there. Of course, a sandwich on the beach at Alexandria Bay is also excellent :-). I'm more likely to be terrified than impressed by overly flash waiters and unreadable menus, so these places are *not* somewhere to go to wank about how much money you have (although a couple of them are quite expensive).

Berardo's - this is probably the flashest of the restaurants listed here. Fortunately the waiters are lovely and the food absolutely divine. This is the only place in Queensland where I think the food is close to e'cco standards of wow-ness. Fish-eating friends recommend the fish or shellfish curry (can't remember which) in a banana leaf. I had the most amazing experience with a roasted capsicum and goats cheese tart which forever changed my views on both these ingredients. Nothing has ever been less than great there. On the other hand, the first time I went, there were 4 of us and we spent over $500 (but that did include cocktails and wine and brandy and so on). Hastings St (the Massimos end).

Ma Mensa - Oh that fresh pasta with a swirl of delicate mushroom and mascarpone sauce (the BEST fresh pasta I've had out - except maybe at Scusa Mi in Melbourne - hmm, it's a close race), and oh baby that pumpkin and blue cheese risotto. Check out the glass counters for saliva-inducing antipasto too. Nice but not overly swanky. 6 Hastings St.

Season - Excellent excellent food. I had an astonishing grilled zucchini, fresh pea, baby spinach and goats feta salad, which was the height of the evening for me. The potato, rocket and pecorino ravioli was also great though. There's a very good wine list with quite a few wines available by the glass. They only take bookings on the day, so ring early (from 8am) to be sure of getting in. Phone 5447 3747. 25 Hastings St (on he beachfront) Noosa.

Bistro C Beach Bar - friendly and good food. For breakfast though, go to the Beach Cafe right next door, which is much less flash but has a brilliant fry-up (excellent mushrooms! definitely get the mushrooms!) and amazing pancakes. Hastings St (on the beach).

Massimos Gelateria - Even Gabi has Massimos twice a day when she goes to Noosa. What else could disrupt her healthy eating regime? No other ice cream comes close. 75 Hastings St.

The Spirit House - beyond words. Wonderful setting, wonderful food. Appropriate name. 4 Ninderry Rd Yandina.

The Magic of India - I've never been here, but this is Julian's opinion (by email): "5 star Indian food with a large and delectable veggo range". Sounds good to me. My hairdresser Darren also recommends it. (By the way, Darren's an excellent hairdresser, he owns Godiva Hair, on Gladstone Rd at West End, near the corner of Vulture St. It's the first time I've understood that thing about going to the hairdresser being enjoyable, he's great to talk to. And there are free hand massages!). Sorry, back to the restaurant: Islander Resort, Thomas St Noosaville, 5449 7788.


Il Cavallino - last year when Ted and I stayed at Stanthorpe we ate here three times in two days. This was the first place I had gnocchi and liked them (that was about 7 years ago), and I still think they're perhaps the best I've had. *Everything* is excellent. The owner is also lovely. As a side note, a good bed and breakfast in Stanthorpe (or 5 minutes drive outside it) is Amberley Edge - it has a vineyard outside the house, a big fireplace, brilliant breakfasts, and excellent hosts with a cute if psycho puppy (probably not a puppy any longer).

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