I was lucky enough to head to Brisbane last week for work. It was a bit of a whirlwind trip, as I was only there from Sunday night to Wednesday afternoon. Somehow I managed to see a little bit of the CBD after work hours. Primarily, my time outside the office was spent shopping, eating and drinking.
My first point of call was the Pig n’ Whistle Pub. I was travelling with a colleague, Pete, and our flight arrived late on Sunday evening. We were both hungry by the time we got to the hotel, so decided to take a chance and find somewhere other than the 24/7 convenience store to pick up a bite to eat.
Our hotel was straight around the corner from the Belgium Beer Café and we initially tried to head there for a meal. Unfortunately, they were just closing up, but a very friendly bartender was kind enough to point us in the direction of the Pig n’ Whistle pub on Queen Street for dinner. Her directions were spot on, and once we arrived there we decided to try it.
The waitress on arrival was very friendly. Pete decided to eat the house special of the day, which was Moreton Bay bugs, scallops, prawns, calamari with shallots, asparagus and steamed rice on the side ($45), whereas I was intrigued by their unique version of the Chicken “parmo”. Instead of a typical chicken parmigiana, the Pig n’ Whistle do a chicken schnitzel topped with béchamel sauce, melted cheddar with chips and salad ($23.50). I have to say that this dish tasted amazing. It was really rich with the béchamel sauce and cheese, but without the tomato sauce the dish was quite different in taste and it was also a bit indulgent. I was very happy at the end of the meal, especially due to the chips being cooked to golden, crunchy perfection and the salad being a healthy colour of green with tomatoes and a light dressing.
Our next day was a full day at work, but once I was let out into freedom, I found myself happily wondering Brisbane CBD. The shopping district of Queens Street Mall is huge and no matter what you are after, it seems to cater. I found some lovely shoes at Nine West which made me happy, and after a bit of shopping I made my way back to meet Pete and a few other colleagues from around Australia for dinner and drinks.
Our hotel was conveniently centered close to the Eagle Street Pier. Back in Perth, our colleagues distinctly told us to go to the Bavarian Bier Café. We obliged, and headed there without a booking. Once again, the waitstaff were very friendly and without ado, we were seated in a lovely booth that looked over the Story Bridge and the Brisbane River.
We all ordered dinner and I decided to order the Swiss Bratwurst Sausages with Sebago Mash, Buttered Peas, Crispy Onion Rings & Löwenbräu Bier Jus ($27).
Pete ordered the Bavarian Tasting Platter which featured Pork Belly, Sausages, Schnitzel & Traditional Bavarian Condiments ($28.50) as well as a stein of beer.
Others in the group ordered the Walnut & Date Pudding with Honey Ice Cream ($12) and the Löwenbräu Fish & Chips with Crispy Bier Battered Butterfish & Fries ($31).
I normally order Western Australian wines when I am in Perth as I love our local produce. On this occasion I didn’t feel like beer so decided to order a glass of the Twin Islands Sauvignon Blanc. I really liked this wine, and I am a particular fan of Marlborough (New Zealand) based white wines (including sparkling) so was intently happy with my choice. Our night here was absolutely fabulous and it was definitely the highlight of our dining experiences in Brisbane, with each of us complimenting the food, wine, beer and service.
Our next day was Tuesday and also our assessment day. After this assessment, there was a group of people heading out to dinner (including the facilitators and bosses). We ended up going back to the Eagle Street Pier and heading to the Broadwalk Bar & Bistro. We enjoyed this venue but mostly for its view. The food was a bit lacking but we had a great night sitting outside overlooking the bridge and river. After we ate, we headed to the Belgium Beer Café for drinks and nibbles.
One of the facilitators and I sat back and enjoyed a glass of Bortoli ‘Noble One’ Botrytis Semillon. I drank this glass of wine quite happily and if you were there, you would’ve heard me after every mouthful point out the smoothness in taste and the happy residual taste of honey, apricot & citrus. A perfect evening drink on a warm night.
Unfortunately, the next day didn’t have any dining experiences, wine or shopping and it really did go quite fast. I fell in love with Brisbane for many reasons after this short trip and I am sure to return again soon, without work restrictions.
I especially liked trying Merlo coffee beans. Merlo coffee is supposedly how Italian quality coffee came to Brisbane originally (This family business has been serving coffee to Brisbanites since 1958). It was my first try of these coffee beans and I really did become a fan from my first go. The bean is strong, similar to Fiori, but it is definitely smoother in taste. Normally, I only have one coffee a day, but either due to the training sessions or my newfound love of Merlo coffee, I found myself having two each day. I cannot wait for another try.
I also liked that even though Brisbane is small in comparison to its eastern counterparts such as Sydney and Melbourne, the hospitality industry is still up to scratch with its counterparts. I did not find myself rudely spoken to and the waitstaff went above and beyond their required service requirements in all the establishments I went to. They also had late night places open in the CBD, which was to my amusement as I thought it would be similar to Perth CBD, which seems to shut down after 7pm in the majority of places. The prices of food was so much more reasonable and it was great being in a city that didn’t have such a high markup of food (and yes, you can argue with me that Perth needs to pay extra transportation costs but what about local produce?)
I really do recommend the Bavarian Bier Café and a try of the Chicken “parmo” at the Pig n’ Whistle. I also recommend trying a coffee made with Merlo coffee beans. I had a wonderful time in Brisbane and although I went there for work and it was a very short trip, I have only good memories and I am looking forward to returning soon.