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Sunday, 7 July 2013

Diving into Italian Tapas at Popolo Kitchen and Bar, South Bank

photo of Toasted Pane with goats curd and field mushroom

Popolo Italian Kitchen and Bar
Back in April, my research for interesting restaurants to try for my birthday dinner resulted in a first choice for Beccofino and a second choice for the Popolo Italian Kitchen and Bar. It had a unique menu featuring tapas with whitebait, mustard cress, sardines, risotto balls and lilliput capers! Some of the mains included suckling pig, white rabbit ragu and clams! There were simple pizzas on offer with just a few basic ingredients like tomato, basil and mozarella, and a range of simple but good quality sides like cherry tomatoes, baby chat potatoes and beetroot salad. So when a friend suggested we meet at South Bank, I suggested we do so at Popolo!

On arrival, I noticed it had a lively atmosphere and was quite popular. Surprisingly we managed to get a table even though we just booked an hour before. The lights were dim and everyone glowed somewhat in the bright orange neon light that spelt out Popolo.

Excited to try all the different items, my friend and I ordered enough for three! We found the pork and beef meatballs dry and it didn't come with enough sauce to balance it, but I liked the parmesan-crusted, anchovy-stuffed olives. My friend enjoyed the crispy whitebait with artichoke and caper cream but I found it was nothing to write home about. I did like that it wasn't oily though. My favourite would be the Toasted Pane, where you spread on the goats curd, placed field mushrooms on top and drizzled with Olive Oil and sprinkle with the interesting unidentifiable greens! I didn't even think I liked goats curd! This type wasn't bitter like the ones I've tried before. Finally, our white rabbit ragu with egg pasta arrived. The rabbit tasted and smelt like tuna, and was mixed with carrots and peas. The texture was mushy but then the egg pasta was a step away from al dente, and had parts that were almost crunchy...we had a few more goes but having had too much food, we left a lot behind.

I'm glad I finally got around to try Popolo as I've read a lot of mixed reviews and now I know how I feel, after experiencing it first-hand. There are some good dishes and some they could improve. Next time, I would like to taste the mains and perhaps, some desserts. I love the variety of dishes they offer and the simple, yet interesting ingredients.

More Restaurant Reviews can be found at:
Vietnamese Pork Belly and Prawn Pancake at Sing Sing, West End, Brisbane;
Food and Memories at George's Paragon, Brisbane; and
Licking our lips for Fresh Food at Taste Gallery, Sunnybank.


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Feeling a Burger Urge coming on!

photo of delicious-looking Magic Mushroom burger

9:30pm at night, what would be open in Brisbane? We headed towards the Kelvin Grove campus of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), thinking that the Urban Village where a handful of eateries existed, would be open. On arrival, I noticed that blocks of new residential apartments were just across the road but none even had a light on - it was a ghost town! Where were the students? Luckily for us, a couple of places were open - one of them being Burger Urge. Walking in, it became apparent to me that this was a franchise gourmet burger store. The signs spoke of using local produce and free range eggs and meat, the menu featuring similar prices as the Grill'd burger chain.

Having just come in from the Winter Solstice Festival amongst all the hippies, I must have been subconsciously influenced to order a Magic Mushroom Burger! And there were no regrets there! The bread was toasted, slightly crispy and in between was an amazing combination of grilled field mushroom, fire roasted capsicum, haloumi cheese, onion, pesto and salad. My friends enjoyed their combo of spicy buffalo wings and tempura onion rings, saying they beat Hungry Jacks by far.

Hopping onto the net, I discovered it was a Queensland chain of stores, established by "two local lads" who purchase their produce from the Rocklea Markets three times a week. They have five different locations at Fortitude Valley, St Lucia, West End, Kelvin Grove and Gardens Point.

Want to appreciate the taste of more fresh produce? Go to:
Eating my way through the Jan Powers Farmers Markets!