Monday, December 29, 2008


I'm having one of those grumpy "I hate summer why do I live in Brisbane" days today. But I need to blog so I'm going to talk about the rather lovely lunch I had yesterday.

My friend took me to Cafe Mi, which is at Sunnybank Plaza shopping centre. My friend knows all the great Asian restaurants around Sunnybank, she eats out in that area at least twice per week.

Cafe Mi is on the left hand side of the entrance of the cinema. It's tucked away at the back and is frequented mostly by Chinese people, which tells you the food is good. It's pretty much a cafeteria style setting, but it's reasonably priced and the food is plentiful and really good. We had honey BBQ pork, braised beef with Chinese mushrooms and flat rice noodles and a special fried rice. I think it's possibly the best fried rice I've ever eaten, light and fluffy and with plenty of the bits that make it "special" - prawns, ham, egg, chicken, bbq pork. The BBQ pork was divine too, my friend often buys it by the kilo to take home. The braised beef could have been a little lighter in the sauce but it was tasty and there was plenty of it.

If you are looking for a good reasonably priced eat that will fill you up, Cafe Mi at Sunnybank Plaza is worth giving a try.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mmmm... Lovely

Christmas is almost here, which means a lot of socialising for many of us. Restaurants and cafe's are really busy, pubs are thronging, parks and pools have lots of folks in attendance.

One thing to remember during this season while you're out at all of these places is to have a little patience. Hospitality staff are working their tails off at the moment, cut them a little slack. This is their busiest time of year.

Anyhoo, the real reason for this post is to talk about a bit of a Brisbane Institution... The Pancake Manor in Charlotte Street. You know it, that's the one in the old church. It has been there for donkeys years. The menu hasn't changed, nor has the decor. I can remember back in the 80's, when it was the only place in town you could get a feed after a hard night's nightclubbing!

It's not a flash place, not fancy at all. Nor is it one of those hip places to be seen. But the tucker is REALLY good. Here's a photo I found on Flickr...

Pancake Manor
Originally uploaded by lightsight

Not sure why it's posting on the right, but hey, you can see those tasty pancakes. I'm REALLY fond of their breakfast deals where you can get pancakes with bacon and eggs, maple syrup and a cup of coffee. And the pancakes with strawberries... good GOD they're divine.

If you want a really good feed, that's well priced, hearty and always delicious, and available 24 x 7, the Pancake Manor is one of those "old reliables" you can always go to in the CBD.

Friday, December 12, 2008

What Brisbane Needs, Part One

Brisbane needs a few things. But one thing it REALLY needs is better telecommunications infrastructure. To be honest, the whole of Australia does, but I live in Brisbane so I'll focus on this city.

It is the year 2008, very soon to be 2009. Across the globe, more and more people are getting technology savvy, and are being creative online with things like YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, blogging et al. But in Brisbane, we still have expensive, limited internet services. Wireless is considered a luxury rather than being offered commonplace.

I spent three months last year in the US, and wireless internet was offered everywhere. Shopping centres, businesses, restaurants and cafes, hotels and more offer wireless for free or with a purchase. You can sit in a Panera bakery, or Starbucks and actually work on your laptop with high speed wireless connection provided by the cafe/restaurant while you enjoy a cup of coffee or a meal. Lots of people actually work from cafes and restaurants rather than their desks. Public libraries all offer wireless for free too.

While we do have some wireless hotspots around, for example some public libraries, the occasional hotel or restaurant, it's actually few and far between in Brisbane.

Internet access is still a lot slower here than in Europe and the US, and it's also a whole lot more expensive. Telecommunications will have you believe it's not possible for them to drop the prices, but the truth is that if they can do it in the consumer madness of the US, why can't they do it here?

Partly because in many areas they still have antiquated technology. Old telecommunications cabling instead of fibre optic. The whole country needs to have some serious money spent on it by the Government to have a solid, reliable and efficient telecommunications infrastructure in this country.

I do believe we are at the tipping point though, because so much technology is being purchased by the average Australian now. Mobile phones have internet access as a matter of course now, and of course we all have mobile phones. People are buying laptops at a much higher rate than ever before. The eePC or "netbook" is starting to take off and become cheap enough for people to buy. And more and more people are wanting to carry their technology with them to access it through the day.

Do you have dreams for being able to use your technology in places other than your home? Do you feel that your internet service is either too slow or too expensive? What do you think should be done to provide a better telecommunications network in Brisbane/Australia?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas in Brisbane

It's here already! Yes, it's December again and Christmas has hit Brisbane in a big way. The decorations are up, the sales are on, the Queen Street Mall is chock-a-block and it's storming all the time.

I spent last Christmas in the US, so I kind of have to re-acquaint myself with a Brisbane Christmas. Last year I had a white Christmas, and did all that warm fuzzy American stuff you see on the TV specials. It was lovely.

On my way to work the other morning, the sky was beautiful and as I came up to Reddacliff Place, I snapped a couple of shots of the Christmas tree and Treasury Casino. Here you go:



Purty isn't it? I am told that last year they had advertising all around it. Yuck, I'm glad that isn't the case this year. Instead, just Santa's mailbox at the bottom, which I posted my Christmas cards into on Wednesday and the Aussie ones were delivered the following day. Not bad Australia Post! Er... I mean... SANTA.

If only we could have Christmas in winter. I am truly not fond of summer and find it hard to be cheerful and merry when I'm sweating.

One little thing though fellow Brisbane-ites. In the words of Abraham Lincoln (or Bill and Ted), please, be excellent to each other. The Queen Street Mall and Myer Centre are INSANE at the moment, and popping out at lunch time to pick something up requires a firm girding of ones loins to brave the insanity. Be gentle, no bargain is really worth pushing someone over or getting aggressive. It's too hot to be cranky at one another, really.

In case I don't mention it again, Merry Christmas Brisbane, and Merry Christmas friends of Brisbane.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Brunch - It's Not Quite Breakfast, Not Quite Lunch and Comes with a Slice of Melon at the End

I've been to brunch twice in two days.

Yesterday was planned, I met my lovely friend Jim at Ned's Cafe in Yeronga. It was so sticky and hot (that's one thing I do not "heart" about Brisbane!) that I grabbed a little table in the back near the refrigerators, which was a wise choice. Much cooler and more comfortable there than anywhere else.

I had the French toast and a skim latte (two in fact) and both were delicious. Jim had the gourmet eggs which I am determined to have next time I go there - scrambled eggs with various add ins like mushrooms and onion and stuff. We sat in our little corner of Neds and talked for a good few hours.

Today my friend Rosie called me up on the spur of the moment to ask me if I wanted to go to brunch with her at the Melbourne Hotel at West End. I hadn't been there since they have refurbed, and had heard they'd done a great job, and I love brunch, so of course I said yes.

I'm well impressed! It's funky without being too cheesy modern, very comfortable and the food and service are excellent, as are the prices. Being hot still, we sat inside in one of their amazing booth tables. It's kind of like sitting in a muffin tin. You're cupped into the booth and you can't really feel or hear any of the tables or anything around.

We both had the Melbourne Big Breakfast, of steak, chipolata sausage, bacon, eggs your style, toast, mushrooms, tomato and a tiny lamb cutlet for a bargain price of $9.90 and a huge coffee for about $4.50. It was delicious and plentiful and arrived promptly. I wouldn't mind trying a dinner there sometime.

If you have a favourite place for breakfast/brunch, leave me a comment and I'll add it to my list of places to try.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

David's Chinese Restaurant

Last week was my monthly book club meet up, and we go to dinner at a restaurant in the CBD on the third Wednesday of each month.

This month, we chose David's Chinese Restaurant in Elizabeth Street.

I've been there before and was impressed, so I was more than happy to go back. Last time we went we had one of their banquet meals, which was delicious, reasonably priced and plentiful.

This time, I had hot and sour soup as a starter, and it was really delicious, and had real prawns in it, which you don't often find in hot sour soup in Australia. For main course I had steamed whole flounder with shredded pork and Chinese mushrooms, and steamed rice. The flounder dish was HUGE. There was no way I could make my way through all of that. Really delicious too, and steamed to perfection.

Followed by the old traditional fried ice-cream for dessert (which isn't even Chinese really, but boy it's good!) and a coffee.

David's is a really good quality Chinese restaurant, with beautiful fresh food, excellent service and a lovely setting. It's not my favourite Chinese restaurant in Brisbane (I'll blog about that one another time), but it's up in the top 5.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shop 'til You Literally Drop

Shopping rocks. I can shop for hours and hours and hours and not get bored. Even when I don't spend money, I can shop for a really long time.

If you're a die-hard shopper like me, I can highly recommend Direct Factory Outlets (DFO) out near Brisbane Airport. I defy anyone to go out there and not find at least one mega bargain. There's something for everyone. Men, women, kids, young and old, label-whores and discount divas. Clothes, shoes, houseware, bedlinen, furnishings, books, toys, accessories, you name it.

I went with a friend yesterday. She was on the hunt for a new wardrobe. We came away with 8 or 9 pieces, and I think the most expensive item was about $60. And we gave up after about 3/4 of the whole place because we were tired and hungry. If we'd have stopped for lunch in the middle, we'd have been able to keep going.

With Christmas on the horizon, and money tight for most people thanks to the economy, it's worth checking out. Just wear comfy walking shoes, take a water bottle and stop for breaks!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Doggie Dating?

I don't have a dog. I wish I did. If I had a fenced yard, I would have one. But because I work full time I need a smaller, quieter dog that can amuse itself during business hours (sleeping rather than chewing the furniture) and then I can spoil it rotten when I'm at home. But without a fenced yard, it would be cruel for me to have even a dog like that.

However, in my area, I have several dog parks. They're brilliant. I can go and sit in the park and watch other people's dogs. Sometimes, they even come up to me to say hello, roll over for a pat, maybe beg me to throw a stick or a ball. I like that.

If you have a dog, do you utilise the dog parks in Brisbane? There's a really good list of them here. It's a really good way for you to take your dog out, let him socialise with other people and dogs and even meet other people yourself. You may even make regular play dates with other dogs. Or maybe even make a date yourself, wink wink! I'm a single woman, and hey, if I meet a nice bloke who loves dogs when I'm enjoying some outdoor time at the local dog park, sweet!

Be aware though, you need to be responsible for your dog and anything your dog does. Please pick up it's poo! And don't expect that other people in the park are going to "parent" your dog for you.

When I do get myself a dog, down the track when I'm in a suitable situation, I'll definitely be using the dog parks in my area. They're free!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Art that Lasts Forever

A little over three months ago, I got two new tattoos (I only had one before). I did a bit of research into who I wanted to do the art work, and my decision was All Star Tattoo at Taringa. I'd seen some of their work around, done a few Google searches for images done by the team there, and been really happy with what I found.

I had Tenielle, who was really amazing. She created unique artwork that captured exactly what I wanted to do, and then when she did the actual work, they're gorgeous. She's a talented young artist. Plus I was really impressed by the professionalism of the place.

What I like most about All Star Tattoo is that they don't do any "off the wall" or catalogue work, so your tattoo is individual to you, you're not going to see anyone else wandering around with the same work.

If you're looking for a fantastic tattoo artist for that lifetime piece of skin art, definitely check them out.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Something Is Lacking

I know that this is a blog about things I LOVE about Brisbane, but there is one little niggly thing that I have to bring to folks attention, in the hope someone out there can remedy it.

Fairly frequently, I have to go to State Library for functions and events. Recently when I went there for an all day event, I got there a little early, planning to have a cup of coffee there in that lovely open space in the entrance way before the event started. Unfortunately, I discovered that there at the Cultural Centre, around State Library, the Queensland Museum, the Queensland Art Gallery and GOMA, there is not a coffee to be had before 9am!!

None of the cafes open until 9am, not even just to sell coffees. That's an absolute crime. All those people who work in that area, all the folks sitting around using the free wireless access, people walking, cycling, jogging, pet-walking through the area, and of course anyone visiting those wonderful cultural resources first up in the morning, has to go down to South Bank or beyond to South Brisbane somewhere for a coffee.

That's just fundamentally wrong!

An apparently, they all shut bang on 5pm. So no coffee as you leave work or a venue either.

So I urge you, if you are reading this and you have influence over the cafes in the Cultural Centre, please, get them to open before 9am and after 5pm. Everywhere else opens at 8am at the very latest (most places 7am!) Alternatively, if you're someone who has one of those coffee cart businesses, or wants to go into business with one, there's your location. Even if you just have your cart there before the other places open and after they close for an hour each time, I reckon you'll make a motza.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Goodbye Dendy

I was so sad to find out a couple of weeks ago that the Dendy Cinema in George Street is closing down. It's been an institution in Brisbane for over a hundred years, first as a theatre I believe, and then for the past 80 years as a cinema.

I've seen a lot of wonderful films at the Dendy over the years. It was there that I saw "Look Both Ways" starring William McInnes and written by his wife Sarah Watt and then went to the after party that both William and Sarah attended. I've seen dozens of foreign films there that I may not have seen at all had it not been for the Dendy.

I wonder what is going to happen to independant films in the CBD now. Is there going to be any venue in the city that shows independant and foreign films? I know you can see them at the Palace Centro at Fortitude Valley or Dendy Portside at Hamilton, but what about in the CBD? I used to love wandering down to the Dendy after work and seeing an independant film. Somehow I doubt that the Regent (which is what, Greater Union these days?) is going to offer the range that the Dendy George Street has offered.

I wonder what will happen to the building? I see that there is a "For Lease" sign on it. I would think that it would be heritage listed (it's beautiful inside still) so they wouldn't be able to just destroy it or gut it.

It's sad that these older, independant venues are going under. They've been the last place that we could see some real variety in films actually in the cinema. So often now we're going to be reliant on DVD, and it's just not the same as seeing a movie in the cinema.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Barefoot on A Sunday Afternoon

One of the best kept secrets in Brisbane, is the monthly barefoot bowls and barbecue at Yeronga Bowls Club.

On the first Sunday of every month, from 3pm onwards, Yeronga Bowls Club holds casual bowls for anyone who would like a roll up, with a barbecue dinner at about 6pm for... wait for it... $7. Yes, that's SEVEN DOLLARS. I don't know anywhere else you can get a meal for $7, let alone an afternoon of fun, relaxing entertainment too.

Now I believe the price is going up on that deal soon, to a ridiculous... $9. Good God, don't rob a bank now will you?

Not only do you get such a cheap deal with the bowls and barbecue, but the drinks are really cheap too. A glass of white wine is under $3. A basic spirit with a can of softdrink is under $5. And a can of soft drink on it's own is $2.

What I love most is how relaxed it is. No rules, no scoring (unless you and your friends want to) and they play music across the greens all afternoon. I call it "roll and giggle". Dinner is simple and hearty, usually sausages/steakettes (cooked really deliciously), simple salads and bread and butter. Delicious.

If you want a leisurely, cheap afternoon with a hearty meal at the end, Yeronga Bowls Club (map) is a great Sunday afternoon's entertainment.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Riot of Purple

As you may have guessed by the header of this blog, I absolutely love jacaranda season in Brisbane. Jacarandas just scream "home" to me, even though I believe they are native to South Africa.

I love that gorgeous purple colour, and how they leave a carpet of purple underneath them when they are in flower. Even though they shed blossoms everywhere, and then those said blossoms do rot all over the place, I think they're one of the most beautiful features of Brisbane.

On Saturday night just passed, it was my birthday. I went to Kapsali's restaurant at South Bank with a group of girlfriends (the Brissie Cysters). We were seated at a table outside, right under a jacaranda tree, shedding it's gorgeous blossoms all over the table, the chairs and of course us. Sure, there were a couple of flowers fished out of wine glasses and cleavage as the night passed on, but I didn't mind, they're so beautiful it's worth fishing them out of various places they land.

I've always said, when I get married, it will be under jacaranda trees in full bloom.

There's something special about this time of year, driving through Brisbane (or in my case, travelling on the bus) and seeing that riot of purple all over the landscape. It's stunning.

Incidentally, the photograph I have used for my header comes from Brisbane Images, a digital image collection through Brisbane City Council Library Service. If you go to their catalogue website eLibCat, you can click on the "Search Brisbane Images" button and then use the search engine to find pretty much anything Brisbane related right back to the mid-1800's.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Think I'm Turning Japanese

Last night I went out for a belated birthday dinner at Wagamama in the Wintergarden with a friend.

I really enjoy Wagamama. I know some people shrink from the idea because it is in fact part of a franchise, but I really believe it's the least franchise-y of all of the franchises.

Wagamama's food is simple, tasty, nourishing and reasonably priced. They do the best ramen I have ever eaten (super-duper fresh ingredients are the key) and it always arrives at your table quick sticks. Last night I tried one of their spring cocktails, a concoction of mango, apple and mint with Absolut vanilla vodka. It was absolutely divine. Fruity and fresh and deceptively potent. I reckon two or three of those and I'd be under the table.

So last night I had the sweet potato kusabi, which are a thinly sliced sweet potato chip with wasabi mayonnaise, chicken ramen, which has REAL chicken breast and fresh vegetables and banana katsu and coconut ice-cream for dessert. Delicious, every morsel.

The only thing I'm not fussed on at Wagamama are the bench style seats. I don't mind the big communal tables, and I wouldn't mind bench seating if they weren't so PAINFUL to sit on longer than half an hour. They're just at the wrong height and depth. I'm not short and actually have longer legs than my body, but still I find myself with my feet in the tippy-toe position on the floor on those bench seats, and it's never comfortable. I'd enjoy my dining so much more if I didn't get fierce cramps from the seating!

But that said, it is worth the uncomfortable seating just for the food. It really is high quality and well priced to go with it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Great Cuppa in Brisbane

How about we start with a great cuppa? Because no matter what, if you can get a decent coffee/tea/hot chocolate, it always makes the day that little bit better. Let's break it down a wee bit:

Best Everyday Cuppa

That morning cup of coffee before work is essential for me. I just don't function so well without it. And my morning cuppa of choice is always a grande skim latte from Cool Beans and Baguettes, which you will find in the food court of Brisbane Square, 266 George Street. (Map) Regular baristas Gus and Kat never fail to brew up a perfect coffee (and they do a great tea, hot chocolate or chai too) mega quickly, and with fantastic service. They never forget a regular face and name (or the cuppa that goes with it) and have got making everyone's perfect morning cuppa down to a fine art.

Best Hot Chocolate

This would have to go to Batavia at South Bank, Cnr Ernst and Grey Streets (Map). Hot chocolate is served here in little hot jugs of chocolate and milk, which you pour yourself into a lovely big round cup that just feels fantastic in the hands. Smooth, rich and creamy, with a lovely sense of ceremony, the hot chocolate here is just divine, and you can get some lovely variations on the basic. Batavia also has a lovely feel to the cafe, and they sell furniture and decor with a distinct style as well as the cafe.

Best Tea

I personally like T-Licious, also at South Bank, on Little Stanley Street (Map). Not only can you get all kinds of cuppas as far as tea is concerned (black, green, white, herbal, infusions - every kind of flavour and combination) but they also sell their tea in take home packs and have a lovely range of tea accoutrements. My particular favourite is their Apple Strudel (which is actually a fruit melange, rather than a tea) which is spicy and fruity without being sickly sweet. Of the true teas, I really like the China Jasmine.

Best Coffee

This is a tough one, but I think I will go with Ned's Cafe on Fairfield Road at Yeronga, at The Village on the corner of Fairfield Road and Kadumba Street (Map). Merlo coffee, always prepared well, and a lovely selection of cakey things to go with it. It's often a bit hard to get a table there, particularly on a weekend, but if you can, it's worth it.

What's Your Favourite?

So here's where you tell me what your favourite cuppa is in Brisbane. I will do my best to try it and if I do, review it here on this blog. Leave me a comment to tell me the cuppa you love here in Brisbane.

Kicking Off - About this Blog

Just recently, I realised that I spend a lot of time telling people all about cities I've visited, but I never really talk about the city that I choose to call home. It's a bit strange really, because of all the fantastic places I've been, and the places I could choose to live in, I don't sell this one half as much as those that I've not chosen to live in.

Does that make sense?

I love Brisbane. It's a great city, ideal for me to live and work in and also relax and socialise in. I work for the local government here too, and while it's not perfect or flawless in any way, I do really enjoy my job and I'm here because I'm passionate about the industry I'm in and the city.

So why don't I "sell" this city to people? Why don't I share the cool things I can do here, great restaurants and cafes, places to see? Probably because when you live somewhere, it becomes every day, so you forget to appreciate it. Which is kind of crazy when you realise it's the place you have chosen to be all the time!

This is where this blog comes in. I'm going to talk about all my favourite things about Brisbane, the places, the people, the food, the culture, the events, everything. And I hope, that as this blog grows, it will not only get people visiting Brisbane, but help those who have chosen to live here appreciate it more. I also hope it will open up some new places and experiences to you, my readers, and that you will in turn share with me YOUR favourite things about Brisbane, so that I can experience them too.