Sunday, 21 February 2016

Aquitaine Brasserie

On a balmy Brisbane Friday night, Miss C and I decide to rendezvous at the south end of South Bank for an evening of French faire at Aquataine Brasserie.

I love steak tartare. I constantly crave it. I should really live in France. Tonight I would get my fix.
I meet my dinner guest shortly after 7.30 at a beautiful outdoor table. The breezes cooling the warm, thick sub-tropical summer air, a lovely outlook across the river to the sparkling skyline of the Brisbane CBD.

photo courtesy of http://www.au.timeout.com/


We start with a bellini for my guest and a dirty vodka martini for myself, and catch up on all things noteworthy from the last few weeks.

We order a baked-in-house bread with smoked butter and confit garlic. It is warm, delicious and terribly moreish.



As the table next to us has their food brought over, we sit in awe, staring rudely at the beautiful plates. We usher over a waiter and discreetly ask what they have ordered. It all sounds and looks delightful.
I already know for starts I am having the steak tartare, it’s what I’m here for. Miss orders the tiger prawns and cured tuna with coconut milk and watermelon.

Both dishes look extraordinary.






My tartare, traditionally a patty of raw meat with a raw egg yolk on top is so beautifully presented, reminiscent of a forest floor. The prawn and tuna dish also looks incredible. With our entrees, I have a rose and Miss has champagne. My tartare packs quite a punch with strong flavours of mustard and capers, but thankfully this does not overpower the beautiful beef.

There is a reasonable wait before our mains arrive, but when they do come they look and smell wonderful. Mine of the market fish with clams and smoked clam sauce- everything on my plate is outstanding. If I remember correctly, it was coral trout. The flavours are right on and perfectly balanced, the wilted vegetables providing freshness to the creamy sauce. Both the fish and clams are perfectly cooked.
Miss orders the chicken ballotine. It is beautifully cooked and in no way dry. I tell her that I never order chicken at restuarants but her dish could certainly change my mind in the future.





We also have the Basque potatoes with cultured milk and fermented chilli and the brussel sprouts with lamb belly for sides. The baby potatoes are delicious and have quite a bit of spice. The brussel sprouts don’t come out til we are almost finished out mains. But were very tasty, especially the lardons of lamb. However, this dish maybe a bit too heavy for a side of our delicately flavoured mains.

Rather than desserts we opt for a digestif cocktail each to finish. My amaretto sour proves to be a perfect choice.




The outlook from this restaurant is so beautiful, the food delightful. The waiters could be a little more attentive but overall a really nice way to spend an evening.

photo courtesy of concreteplayground.com
All food photos care of Miss C. Many thanks.

    Aquitaine Brasserie 
    Split-level French restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows, contemporary interior and river views.
    Address: River Quay, R2 Sidon St, Queensland 4101

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Eating Bali- Nusa Dua

The second part of my adventure was a short taxi ride to the beautiful Nusa Dua. Home of very exclusive 5 star resorts, beautiful beaches, and a place to watch sunrises instead of sunsets over the water.

After substantial research I had chosen the Sol Beach House All Inclusive by Melia on the Gold All-Inclusive package.

Not cheap by any standards, but I loved the idea of not having to visit an atm or dig into my wallet for the last few days of my relaxoliday.

I had first discovered the value in all-inclusive holidays on my trip to the gorgeous Red Sea in Egypt to read about Dahab and Egypt, click here. In this case, the Sol Beach House offered all restaurants, drinks, as well as the lovely additions of mini bar, laundry service, room service, wine and bubbles (wine is BLOODY expensive in Bali) and extra additions on menus in comparison to the Blue and Silver options.


I was greeted at reception with a frangipani necklace and a refreshing coconut drink, before being lead to my suite (better room was another perk of the Gold package)

photo courtesy of melia.com


I had invited my companions to join me for the afternoon at my resort, as their flight didn't leave til that evening, and Nusa Dua is very handy to the airport.

We started out for an explore of the facility followed by a trip to the pool bar. YES, pool bar!

photo courtesy of ratestogo.com

I have fond feelings for pool bars

view from my suite's balcony

Having returned to my room breifly, I found a bottle of wine and fruit platter waiting for me (another Gold inclusion.)

We decided to eat at the pool restaurant buffet for lunch. They offered a decent selection of salads, breads, pizza, pasta, soup, meat dishes, local dishes as well as fruit, dessert and ice cream.


Pizza, coleslaw, fish and pasta carbonara. as well as a beautiful outlook.

photo courtesy of booked.net
That evening I booked into the 'fine dining' Amarta restaurant for my first solo dinner.

Service was great, and quite an expansive menu.



Wonderful and morish breads to start, and a glass of bubbles.



My first course was the tuna carpaccio. It was so paper thin, and went beautifully with the pesto.


I followed this up with the squid ink pasta with prawns. This was such a treat.


And followed up with the eye fillet. Cooked perfectly to medium-rare, even the veggies were cooked wonderfully, with a touch of crispness. With the main I ordered a glass of shiraz. My estimate was that there was about 500ml in the glass. It was delicious, so I didn't mind at all.



I had finished my meal, and was offered dessert. I declined. I was then thanked and said I could finish my wine outside if I so desired.

"Would you like me to sign anything, or would you like to know my room number?" I inquired.

"No, thank you so much for visiting."

So I just... got up and left... I could very easily get used to this.

I took the remainder of my wine up to my balcony and took in the evening. Day one had almost relaxed me almost into a coma so far. I liked it.


I was up quite early on day two, so I went for a stroll along the esplanade just as the run was rising. It was beautiful. There were no hawkers to be seen, and all that could be heard was a chorus of "good morning"s.






Blow Hole


quiet, isolated beaches, a sight rarely seen in Bali

For breakfast after my walk, I popped into El Patio for the buffet breakfast.

As usual though, I fell into my continental breakfast trap. I fell in love with the breakfast option of breads, meats and cheeses in Germany. Seeing as though more than half the guests were German, I (and them) were well looked after. It was a great buffet though: breads, pastries, cereals, yoghurts, salads, fruits, meats, cheeses, juices, a warm selection, an eggs area, then waffles and pancakes and omelettes.

I still went quite simple.



In addition to my artisan bread, meats and cheeses, I also had a lovely coffee, juice, watermelon and croissants.

I caught a taxi to the Bali Collection shopping centre, where I had a lovely time.

I did foresake myself and stop into Starbucks for a refreshing drink and wifi.

I had a shaken iced lemon tea ($4.80) and was actually surprised with I ended up with. Green tea, topped up with traditional lemonade and ice and shaken. It was VERY refreshing! I also watched some cheeky squirrels.




I returned home to Sol Beach House where I treated myself to a room service selection of garlic prawns, salt and pepper calimari and chicken quesadillas. The prawns and calimari were magnificent but the quesadillas were bland.


Before retiring to the pool bar for a sunset sparkling wine.


Later in the evening, a few drinks in, I retired to my balcony and ordered in another round of room service.

Apparently trying to break a world record in gluttony...


I ordered 2 pizzas, one ham and pineapple, one el quartro (mushroom, anchovie, olive and artichoke), a serve of spring rolls and the jumbo prawns.





The pizzas were pretty good, but quite filling with the think base and mega cheese. The spring rolls and jumbo prawns were excellent. (Sorry for the phone pics).

The next morning I skipped breakfast and went for a haircut and hair and scalp treatment before my afternoon shark swim.

This was also to be my last day.

For lunch I popped into El Patio for a bite before my trip up the coast.


I decided to take in the locals in the beautiful gardens while I waited.





I started with the gazpacho soup. What a wonderful thing gazpacho is. Its a cold tomato and vegetable soup. Its delicious, light and really refreshing!


I followed this with a chicken and salad sandwich with very yummy chips.


Then I went for my shark swim...







Bali Sharks  is a conservation nursery offering an alternative to young sharks being killed for food. The eco-tour is ocean friendly for all ages & experience levels. Even non-swimmers can enjoy feeding & up close encounters! 

Another wonderful thing about Sol Beach House Gold package, was their 6pm late checkout. Perfect as I didn't need to be at the airport till 10.30pm.

So after my amazing shark adventure, I headed back for one last stuffing-of-my-face. This time Caesar Salad and Fettuccine Carbonara, but without pictures, apparently.

An extra surprise for me, when I checked out at 6pm was they would let me eat and drink just as long as I wanted to, still on the all-inclusive. A very sweet parting gesture, so I headed to my favourite little rooftop spot and contemplated the end one of my favourite holidays ever.