Chicken salt or normal salt: the great food debate part 2

A while ago I wrote a blog commenting on what I described as the “great burger debate”. In that post I spoke to what I consider to be the best hamburger around and challenged my readers to tell me what they thought was there best burger because, really, when it all comes down to it, everyone has their own perfect burger.

Of course, it is not just about burgers that people have closely held opinions. One of the biggest dividers of people in my opinion when it comes to food rests in the question “would you like chicken salt with that?” I mean, who hasn’t gone to their local fish and chip shop and asked for an order for chips and had that question asked to them? Further, who has not had a difficult decision to make when asked that question because of the disputes that would arise at home if the question is answered incorrectly.

When I was growing up the answer to this question was a real problem: my mother and I were fans of chicken salt and my father and sister were fans of plain salt. So it was always a fight when, on the rare occasion there was takeaway on the menu, as to what we had sprinkled all over our chips.

To me there is only one answer to the question “would you like chicken salt with that?” … YES! A thousand times yes! I love nothing more than making a hot chip with chicken salt sandwich on fresh white bread. Without chicken salt a chiko roll just doesn’t taste right and without chicken salt a large dim sim just tastes like cardboard and cabbage. It would be fair to say that I am I fan of chicken salt.

The funny thing is: I do not season anything else I eat with normal salt. I do not put salt on steak. I do not put salt on my dinner. I do not even put salt in the boiling spaghetti. For me it is chicken salt and nothing more.

In fact I would go further than suggesting I am fan of chicken … simply I just love chicken salt. I will not countenance that there is any other appropriate option with takeaway from a fish and chip shop.

What do you think? Is there a fight in your family when it comes to collecting the fish and chips? Where do you stand on the on question “would you like chicken salt with that?”

Shumpty Eats: 1889 Enoteca

Saturday night, as a preamble to my birthday, I celebrated my becoming a year older with dinner at another of my favourite restaurants in Brisbane, 1889 Enoteca in the Woolloongabba. Now this is a tough review for me to write because, paradoxically, in over 10 visits to this restaurant I have come to love the food in particular, and this is going to be a pretty bad review.

As always, lets start with the service and the fit out of the restaurant before launching into a discussion of the nosh on offer. The service on Saturday night was, it would be fair to say, at best ordinary and at worst some of the worst service I have received in a high end restaurant. Our waiter could not be less interested, our entrees were brought out and dumped on the table whilst it was still full with plates from our pre dinner bread and it took an age for us to get our bill. An example of the lack of interest our waiter in us rests on the fact of that my water glass was only filled once. As someone who eschews alcohol that made for a long evening.

The restaurant itself comprises two cozy rooms upstairs, a large “function” room downstairs dominated by a large table and on footpath dining. Inside it there is a buzz of noise from customers sitting no more than a foot apart. I should declare here I have never had a cavil with how the restaurant is fitted out and indeed enjoy the coziness of the place. Tonight however it just looked like the place was too full: people were being served their dinner at the bar and the tables in the “main” dining room seemed closer than usual.

All of this leads me to why I could forgive the bad service received: the restaurant was very busy and our waiter had to serve a heap of people. It is not the waiter’s fault but the restaurant’s if too many bookings are taken. I understand though the principals of capitalism and know that a restaurant is in the business of making money so I understand the owner’s keenness to pack more and more customers in.

I am a lover of food and can forgive even the worst of service if the food served to me is good. I can not therefore forgive the service received on Saturday night because the food served was not of the quality I expect, based on past experience, from this restaurant.

For entree I ordered the Affettati misti (piccolo) which is defined in the menu as:

Selection of hand-made cured meats with caper berries, vine ripened truss tomato, house baked bread

I will concede that the selection of cured meats that came out was excellent but there my acclaim for this dish ceases. The way in which this dish was served was confused as it came out on three largish white plates which quickly filled the smallish table on which I was sitting. Raw tomato and capers were not satisfying accompaniments for this dish and there was too little bread.

For main I ordered the Bucatini all’amatriciana which is defined in the menu as:

Hollow spaghetti, guanciale, chili, fresh tomato sauce, Pecorino Romano

I love an amatriciana as a pasta option in the main because of the mix of flavours between the bacon and the chilli. Unfortunately to say the pasta served to me was bland would be an understatement. If there was chilli in the dish I could not taste it. To add insult to injury the serving I received was so oily that I struggled to finish it. I concede that any dish that includes guanciale in the recipe is going to have some oil in it as a result but in this case the oil was just too much.

The final negative of the night came with my coffee: I ordered a cappucino and received a flat white. By this point I had lost the energy to send it back and just drank it so we could leave.

If this was my first experience of 1889 Enoteca I can say without hesitation I would never come back. I will not be doing that in this case as every other time before this visit I have left sated and happy. I will be giving 1889 Enoteca another chance: just not on a Saturday night in the future me thinks.

Food: 5/10

Service: 4/10

Fit out: 7/10

1889 Enoteca on Urbanspoon

Shumpty Eats: Moo Moo Bar and Grill

For those of you who know me or have seen a photo of me it will be obvious to you that I love food and I love steak. My favourite steak restaurant in Brisbane and, indeed, just about my favourite type of restaurant anywhere is Moo Moo Bar and Grill which is part of the Stamford Hotel complex.

Last week, I again had cause to attend my favourite restaurant. It has been become a tradition for one of my colleagues from Melbourne and I to, in his words, “go for cow” when he is up in the sunshine state and this was one such occasion. Unusually we were not alone on this occasion with a group of six of us heading to Moo Moo on Thursday night for a feed after a long day in the office.

As regular readers of my food reviews will testify too, when I find a menu item that I like I generally stick to it. Moo Moo is no different an experience if you are dining with me: I know what I want to eat from the minute I cross the threshold into the restaurant.

More about the food in a minute: the restaurant itself is ultra impressive in both fit out and ambience. One enters by walking past the open kitchen which immediately gets the taste buds welling in anticipation. The staff are generally friendly and know the menu very well. On last Thursday night, our waiter was simply excellent: knew his stuff, gave great steak recommendations and ensured that we were served swiftly noting the late hour at which we arrived.

Now, did I mention food? Any meal at Moo Moo consists, for me, of three essential parts:

1. Entree

2. Steak

3. Side dishes.

Let’s start with the entree: as is my usual custom I ordered the Charcuterie platter for one for entree. The menu describes this “dish” in this way:

Moo Moo house prepared charcuterie accompanied w. Branston Pickle, field mushrooms, Spanish peppers, wood fired onions , sourdough + cornichons

A pick of 3 charcuterie from a rolling list of six always leads to some difficult decisions. On Thursday last I went for Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, Wagyu Bresaola and Sopressa. They were excellent and the accompaniments were all fresh and quite tasty. To be honest I could have just asked our waiter to replenish the charcuterie on my plate and I would have been a happy man however there was steak to be had.

For my steak, I went with my usual order: the Cape Grim all natural pasture fed 350g rib fillet. I had this cooked medium and it came out cooked to perfection. One of my favourite aspects of eating at Moo Moo is the option to order 3 sauces with your steak and, as per usual, I obliged with the combination of the Moo Moo Jus, chilli and garlic butter sauces coming up a treat.

I mentioned sides before in a separate category and that is in part because Moo Moo is like a number of steak restaurants around town inasmuch as it allows you to pick your own sides to go with your steak. The other reason I mention the side separately is simply because they are so good they could be a meal on their own. I was tasked, having been to Moo Moo Brisbane at least 10 times, with sourcing our sides on this occasion and went with what I consider to be the two best sides on the menu: Moo Moo Truffled parmesan shoestring Fries and Tempura Onion rings served with smokey bbq sauce. The onion rings are the best I have had: I tell people when I describe them to imagine the best onion ring they have ever had and then multiply the taste sensation of that onion ring by a factor of 100 and you have the Moo Moo onion rings. Yet again on Thursday night the side dishes were the perfect accompaniment to my steak.

All in all, yet again I had a great meal (with great company and great service) at Moo Moo Bar and Grill and would happily recommend to anyone that this is a restaurant you must to go if you are ever in Brisbane. Those of you from Brisbane who read this blog, if you have not yet made it to Moo Moo Bar and Grill you need to do yourself a favour and get there as soon as you can. You will not regret it.

One final postscript: if you are looking for a cheap steak then I am afraid Moo Moo Bar and Grill is not for you. Simply it is a quality restaurant that gives a five star experience coupled with a fantastic menu. Frankly if are not expecting to pay for such a place you are in the wrong place. I love the place and will happily pay for what I consider the best meal in town.


Food: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Fit out: 9/10



Moo Moo The Wine Bar + Grill At The Port Office on Urbanspoon

The Great Hamburger debate: where do you stand?

My timeline on twitter today has been more interesting than most days because I have been involved in a discussion with some jibberers (they know who they are and I use that term as a positive) about firstly what makes a BBQ and then secondly what are the essentials of a good hamburger.

The second issue, or the “Great Hamburger debate” as I have termed it, is a debate that has gone on, I have no doubt, since the beginning of time … or at least since someone (however that someone is) became the first person to place a meat patty between two pieces of bread with some condiments and ate it.

As a person whose mid section has undoubtedly benefited from a hamburger or 100 over time, I am surprised that I have not written about this topic already so with this post I will make up for the travesty of not having written about this issue sooner.

Before we get into the nitty gritty around the “Great Hamburger debate” there needs to be some very clear ground rules for the debate. They are:

1. Under no circumstances am I talking about a burger procured from McDonalds, Hungry Jacks, Burger King or any other self styled American “Hamburger Joint”. They are in a category all of their own which might become the topic of a following post.

2. A hamburger is not a steak burger or a chicken burger nor does it have on it ham as the name would suggest.

3. A hamburger is only delivered to you wrapped in a white paper wrapping or some such equivalent. A hamburger that is brought to you on a plate, is left open or that is served on a focaccia is an imposter for the purposes of the debate.

4. The hamburger patty needs to be of the style of a rissole made with minced beef and not something pre-processed and thawed from the supermarket.

Those parameters set it must be obvious to even the most casual reader that what I am talking about here is a hamburger that one would purchase from a local fish and chip shop or takeaway store or, in utopia, that one would take part in putting together at or around a hot BBQ plate in ones backyard.

Now if you have read this far I have no doubt you wondering: “how do I get the last 5 minutes of my life back after reading this dross?” but to that I challenge you to tell me that you are someone who has never had a discussion with a family member, friend, colleague, acquaintance or fellow customer about the contents of the perfect burger. If you have not had such a discussion then I, on the one hand, release you from reading further and, on the other hand, am sorry for you because you have missed out.

However if you have then you have already been part of the “Great Hamburger debate” … you just probably did not realise it!

Equally the question must be asked as to why is there even a debate: we are just talking about a piece of meat between two pieces of bread right? That is where most go wrong because the perfect hamburger is just as much about the condiments that are incorporated with the burger and this is where the bulk of the debate arises.

These are some of the usual issues that arise in any debate about the perfect hamburger:

1. Do you prefer tomato sauce or BBQ sauce?
2. Do you like beetroot on your burger or not?
3. For Australian readers, do you like pineapple on your burger?
4. Do you prefer your hamburger bun to be toasted?
5. Is the egg on your burger to be runny?
6. If you add bacon to your burger is it still a hamburger?

I can only answer those questions for myself and it is here that the principal point to this blog arises (thank goodness I hear you exclaim). The beauty of the perfect hamburger and, indeed, this whole debate is that whether a hamburger is perfect or not is solely the domain of individual taste. Much like some of the other (some would say very Australian) debates that rage around a BBQ hotplate, like Holden v Ford (Holden) and who was Australia’s best cricket captain (Waugh S), positions of the combatants to this debate are so entrenched that you will never change anyone’s view to your own but it sure is fun having the discussion.

So for the record here are the ingredients to my perfect hamburger:

Lightly toasted (no more than 30 seconds on the BBQ plate) plain white bread roll
Fried Onion
Egg (runny)
BBQ sauce

That to me is the perfect burger. Now I know that many will be pondering:

1. Where is the tomato?
2. Where is the pineapple?
3. Where is the beetroot?

The answer to those questions is simple: I don’t like them and I believe they overpower the taste of the burger so I do not have them on my burger. My views here have long been tested by family members, partners, friends and people in the hamburger shop who have heard me order a “Burger with the lot … no tomato, no beetroot and no pineapple” and I will never be moved from the fact that the foregoing is what I consider to be the perfect burger. And , that is where the fun of this debate has its nexus it is all about your personal choice!

So there it is: my 1000 odd words about the “Great Hamburger debate” … what do you think and what is your “perfect burger”? Indeed, as the title to this post posits: where do you stand?

Postscript: A big thank you to these fellow debaters from twitter for getting the creative juices flowing and making me hungry today: @RandomHammer @roysundborg and @franks_andbeans … get around them.

Shumpty Eats: Delicatezza

It is another lazy Saturday at Shumpty Towers and that means trying out another eating establishment. Delicatezza is located in Blackwood Street, Mitchelton and is a cafe and delicatessen all rolled into one. I had been to it before for breakfast and had purchased some cured meats from the deli part but had never eaten lunch there.

The lunch menu is eclectic with a mix of toasted sandwiches, a ploughman’s lunch, waygu salad and pate all featuring today. One item that caught my eye was the potato and onion tortilla with goats chess and a rocket salad. As a lover of cheese and onion sandwiches and not being particularly hungry that is what I went for.

First though I must comment on my beverage for today: Delicatezza is in the small minority of places these days at which it is not possible to get a mass produced soft drink (by this I mean a coke or pepsi). They simply do not sell them either from a post mix or in the can. That being the case I went for an iced coffee. It was top notch: plenty of ice cream coupled with a double shot of coffee and chocolate strands. It went down a treat.

The tortilla was as expected without being spectacular. Put another way, every time I have eaten at Delicatezza I have had a good meal: I did again today but I would have to say I would not be ordering the tortilla again. The tortilla itself was nice whilst being a little dry; to be honest, it could have done with some sauce. Equally I would have been happy to was it down with a coke zero which would have removed some of the dryness. The rocket was fresh and had a bite to it but there were only three pieces of goats cheese which left the salad feeling somewhat unbalanced.

All in all, Delicatezza is a great place for a coffee and there is a heap of items on the menu I would be delighted to check out. Ultimately thought I think it is more of a breakfast venue for me. Of course I could not leave without buying some of their pickled onions, chilli paste, feta and proscuitto. Can’t wait to test them out tomorrow.

If you are in Mitchelton and are looking for a coffee, Delicatezza is the place to go.

Shumpty Eats: Grub St Cafe

It has been a little while since I posted a food review: simply I have not been eating out much.

Today, however, I decided to head to a cafe that I have driven past multiple times but never ventured into: Grub St Cafe.  Located on Samford Road at Gaythorne, this cafe has always seemed busy when I have driven past and that is as good an indicator as any for me as to whether a cafe has the goods.

The set up of the cafe is excellent: there is a courtyard area were you can sit in the sun, a back deck and an enclosed restaurant area that fronts the street.  In the enclosed area (which is where I sat) the walls are filled with photos, I presume, from the travels of the staff.  It is, I confess, a small room that is filled with some small two seat tables and a some communal style dining tables.  Wooden floors mean that conversations tend to vibrate off the walls so if a noisy feed is not to your liking then I would suggest you choose to dine outside in the courtyard.

To say that menu is a little eclectic is an understatement.  I do not believe I have seen a pork curry, carrot and parsnip pancakes or nasi goring on the menu for breakfast before.  Emboldened by my surrounds I decided to go with the Sri Lankan breakfast pork curry and a vanilla milk shake for my breakfast.

Let’s start with the vanilla milkshake first: I tweeted whilst I was drinking it that it was the best vanilla milkshake and I do not resign from that.  Indeed the milkshake was so good that I ordered a second one when my food came out.  What made it the best milkshake I have ever had? Two things: you could really taste the vanilla (courtesy of ground vanilla pods being in the drink) and the milkshake had been perfectly shaken (there were no ice-cream lumps in the bottom).  I would go back to Grub St again just for the milkshake.

Now onto my food: I have never eaten curry for breakfast (granted it was 10:30am when I ate) and I will declare now that I am unlikely to do so again.  This decision has absolutely nothing to do with my meal and everything to do with having a dodgy stomach that probably didn’t need curry this morning  on top of a pizza laden with chilli the night before.  The curry was pretty good and certainly was breakfast sized.  The pork in the dish was perfectly cooked and the curry had just enough sting in it so as to have me crushing through the water like there was an impending water shortage.  For the curry buffs it was hotter than a madras but not as hot as a vindaloo.  Just the right of amount rice accompanied the dish (and I did not need to order it in addition to the dish).

Sri Lankan breakfast pork curry

All in all, I am unable to say a bad word about Grub Street.  I had an excellent meal, the best vanilla milkshake I have ever had, the service was great and the prices were very reasonable.

I would recommend breakfast or lunch (some of the burgers on the lunch menu look immense) for anyone in the Gaythorne area and indeed would suggest it is worth a drive to to try if you are not on that side of town.

10 out of 10

Grub Street on Urbanspoon