January 2019

A quick guide of where to eat (and drink) in Fortitude Valley

We’ve been lucky enough to call Brisbane home for eight years now - and in the last three or four years I’ve become obsessed with finding the best places to eat and drink. It’s become a really fun hobby, and I always love recommending places to people.

With that in mind I wanted to share some of my favourite places to eat, drink and be merry in Brisbane. It’s a reasonably big city (hush now all you Sydneysiders - I know it’s smaller than Sydney) so I’ve decided to divide it into suburbs. I’ll also do my best to keep it updated as I discover new places (and say farewell to old ones).

Pre P.S. Most of the photos are going to be from Instagram as I rarely take my big camera out when it’s not an event - so apologies in advance for the photo quality.


First up is Fortitude Valley. It’s got a reputation as the place to party in the city - and that’s definitely correct, but it also has a great bar scene (including my favourite bar in Brisbane). So if you’re looking for a more chilled night out - this guide to the Valley is for you.

Greaser

I almost don’t want to tell you about Greaser because it’s my favourite bar in Brisbane and I like that I can always get a table. The theme in Greaser is The Outsiders (yes that book you read in high school) so the menu is heavy on burgers and fried chicken, the live bands are normally swing or jazz, and it’s got that speakeasy vibe (helped by the fact it’s underground and you have to walk through a creepy alley to get there).

Heya

Heya is inspired by the street food of South East Asia and the tiny bars found in the Golden Gai district in Tokyo. There’s lots of hidden corners to be found in the venue, and the odd secret bar as well. The food is really good - I recommend the cheeseburger spring rolls personally and there is a great range of alcohol behind the bar. It’s a fun place to go for drinks with friends on a Saturday night.

Les Bubbles

When I first moved to Brisbane I was surprised to learn that in the eighties and nineties the police were universally considered corrupt scum bags. All that ended with the Fitzgerald Inquiry, and that’s where Les Bubbles comes in. At its height the “bathhouse” where Les Bubbles now stands was a brothel and illegal casino where the high ups would come to - ahem - have “meetings”.

Les Bubbles (regretfully) would like to inform you that they are no longer a brothel - but their speciality is still meat - steak frites to be more specific. When I say specialty I mean it - they do one thing, but they do it perfectly. It’s probably the best steak you will eat in your life, and they serve it with bottomless fries, an amazing salad and a range of sauces. Don’t panic though if you’re vegetarian or pescatarian, you’re still welcome and they’ll happily tell you what the dish of the day is if you don’t consume meat. The ambience is perfect, the food is delicious, the wine range is excellent. Definitely don’t eat lunch before going so you can enjoy the experience fully. Bonus points if you head downstairs to the bathhouse for pre (or post) drinks. They still have the hot tub up and running and serve cocktails and snack food.

Bloodhound Corner Bar & Kitchen

I love Bloodhound for pre-drinks before heading out to dinner. It’s got a great cocktail menu and a rotating range of interesting beers on tap. It can get pretty packed on the weekend, so head in early if you want a table, otherwise you might have to accept standing around. The food is tasty, but expensive for what you get, which is why I don’t really recommend it as a dinner place.


One month European itinerary

One of my favourite things to do when we start planning our trip is plotting out our itinerary. I love sitting down with a map (lol - okay fine Google Maps) and working out where we want to go, how far it is between destinations, and how to make it flow in a logical way.

Our very first trip to Europe was kind of like a Contiki; we did a big loop of Western Europe, staying only a few days in each location. It was a lot of fun, but by the end we were pretty tired, and I was sad we hadn’t spent more time in a lot of the locations.

On our honeymoon I wanted to take a slower pace, visit less places and spend a little longer in them where we could. After a lot of thought I dropped Spain and Portugal from our itinerary. It added too much travel time, and I realised it would be fun to do them as a separate trip later on. I also dropped a visit further south in Italy to go to Pompeii - again because I could see us doing a Southern Italy trip one day in the future (probably in summer).

I thought it would be fun to share our full itinerary so you can get an idea about how we spent a month in Europe in winter. I hope it gives you some inspiration!

Pre P.S. We travel by train as much as possible because it’s in general the most economical way to travel (and a lot more fun than planes) so all times to the next destination given are based on train travel. It’s been a few years since we did this trip so I’m trying to do my best to determine what trains we caught.


Paris - 4 days

One month European itinerary | Miss Sweet Nothings
 

Where to go, what to eat & Where to stay

Time to next destination: 4 hours 30 minutes


Lucerne - 2 days

One month European itinerary | Miss Sweet Nothings
 

Where to go, what to eat & Where to stay

Time to next destination: 1 hour 49 minutes


Interlaken - 2 days

One month European itinerary | Miss Sweet Nothings
 

Where to go, what to eat & Where to stay

Time to next destination: 6 hours 30 minutes


Venice - 4 days

One month European itinerary | Miss Sweet Nothings
 

Where to go, what to eat & Where to stay

Time to next destination: 2 hours 5 minutes


Florence - 3 days

One month European itinerary | Miss Sweet Nothings
 

Where to go, what to eat & Where to stay

Time to next destination: 1 hour 30 minutes


Rome - 4 days

Weekend Getaway: Rome | Miss Sweet Nothings
 

Where to go, what to eat & Where to stay

Time to next destination: 1 hour 55 minutes (flight from Rome to Athens)


Athens - 2 days

One month European itinerary | Miss Sweet Nothings
 

Where to go, what to eat & Where to stay

Time to next destination: 50 minutes (flight from Athens to Crete)


Crete - 2 days

One month European itinerary | Miss Sweet Nothings
 

Where to go, what to eat & Where to stay

Time to next destination: 50 minutes (flight from Crete to Athens)


Athens - 2 days

One month European itinerary | Miss Sweet Nothings
 

Time to next destination: 3 hours 30 minutes (flight from Athens to Paris)


Paris - 2 days

One month European itinerary | Miss Sweet Nothings

The Perfect Weekend Getaway: Florence

I feel like in our stay in Florence we only got to scrape the surface of what it could offer, we were there in that weird gap between Christmas and New Years so a lot of things were closed or being repaired. I will say the food was the best on our trip, so I’m very excited to share the places we’ve found.

Perfect Weekend: Florence | Miss Sweet Nothings

Friday night

After checking in to your accommodation it’s time for happy hour! Head down to the cellar door for Spumantino Verrazzano. It’s been producing wine since Roman times and is the perfect place to sit and have a few beverages before dinner. Then head on over to Trattoria Nella for dinner. I personally recommend the pasta e ceci (pasta with chickpeas) - it’s so hearty and delicious and (bonus points) is a local Tuscan dish.

Perfect Weekend: Florence | Miss Sweet Nothings

Saturday

Time for an adventure! After breakfast it’s time to head to the Galileo Museum. It tracks the history of science from the 15th century to the present day, and shows the instruments people (like Galileo) used to solve the mysteries of the universe (long before computers). It also has an incredible astrolab that has to be seen to be believed.

After stopping for lunch at one of the cafes along the river it’s time to cross the famous Ponte Vecchio which was the centre of trade in Florence for many years, and then go for a walk in the Boboli Gardens.

After relaxing in your accommodation for awhile it’s time to head for happy hour at Mangiafoco Cafe. Feel free to have cheese with your Aperol spritz, but make sure to save room for dinner because you are in for a treat. Dinner tonight is at Vini e Vecchi Sapori (make sure to book ahead!). It’s one of the most popular restaurants in Florence, and for good reason! The food is fantastic, the wine selection is really good and the owners are very friendly and determined to avoid becoming a tourist trap. Be warned you might need to share your table with someone (they only have 18 tables) but we found it just added to the experience.

Perfect Weekend: Florence | Miss Sweet Nothings

Sunday

After an evening out at Vini e Vecchi you might not be up for this - but if you can manage to get up and head down to the river to watch the sun rise it will be worth your time. It’s an amazing experience - you really understand what people mean when they talk about the Tuscan sun. Depending on how much time you have you could then either head to the Uffizi Museum or go for a walk to the Cathedral of Santa Maria di Fiore (or both if you have the time!).


The Perfect Weekend Getaway: Rome

I have wanted to go to Italy ever since I read “Jamie’s Italy” by Jamie Oliver in 2007. There is something about the food and culture of Italy that instantly captivated me. I’m so excited to share some of that magic in this guide to the perfect weekend in Rome!

Friday afternoon

After you check into your hotel or Air B & B it’s time to head out for the evening. The afternoon is the perfect time to check out the Vatican (from the outside at least). What I find the strangest about the Vatican is that you expect it to have a wall or a gate or something to separate it (I mean it is a different country after all). Instead it’s just a low chain fence that separates it from Rome. From there you can wander down to the Castel Sant’ Angelo and across the St Angelo Bridge and down to my favourite piazza to have dinner - the Piazza Navona. One thing about Rome is that if you’re open to the idea of having lots of pizza and pasta you can wander into almost any restaurant and be treated to a delicious meal.

Weekend Getaway: Rome | Miss Sweet Nothings

Saturday

If you have read a few of my perfect weekend guides you know that I love to explore a city on foot - and Rome really is perfect for wandering. We’re getting started with a pastry and cappuccino (preferably standing at the bar) of a cafe. Then it’s time to head to the trio of the Roman Forum, Colosseum and Palatine Hill. Start at the Forum - you can buy a ticket for all three sites at the Forum which will avoid one of the queues at the Colosseum.

Spend an hour or so try to wrap your head around how impressive the Forum would have looked at the height of the Roman Empire. Next up is Palatine Hill, a beautiful manicured garden above the Roman Forum. I had never heard of it, and it has a fascinating history (as well as being gorgeous). Last up is the Colosseum; and no matter when you go, be prepared for crowds and hawkers. Dodge the “Roman Centurians” roaming around outside and head off for a lunch break at one of the nearby bistros.

Weekend Getaway: Rome | Miss Sweet Nothings

After lunch it’s time to head to the Pantheon, but stop on your way to check out the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary. It’s run out of the Largo di Torre Argentina ruins (it's where Julius Caesar was murdered - and legend has it that he was the one who introduced cats to Rome in the first place) and it’s a wonderful place to give some kitties a bit of love and feel generally good about humankind.

At this stage I imagine you’ll want to head back to your accommodation and have a rest before heading out again for dinner. If you want some dinner inspiration; Deb of Smitten Kitchen has a very helpful list.

Weekend Getaway: Rome | Miss Sweet Nothings

Sunday

On the last day, it’s time to choose your own adventure! Either head to Villa Borghese for a morning of wandering through incredible gardens, finishing by exiting near the Spanish Steps for a knockout view of Rome or head to the Capitoline Museums (the oldest museum in the world) to dive deeper into the history of Rome. Of course if you’re ambitious (or have the time) you can try and go to both!


A quick guide of where to eat (and drink) in Broadbeach, Gold Coast

Broadbeach | Miss Sweet Nothings

In November my husband and I went on a quick trip to the Gold Coast for our tenth anniversary (since we got together, we’re only up to our fourth wedding anniversary). I was really excited to explore a new part of Queensland. We’ve lived here for eight years, and we really haven’t explored much of this place we’ve made home, and I’m hoping this is the first step to changing that!

For a lot of people, when they think of the Gold Coast they think glitz, glam, bikies and Schoolies. I was determined to seek out a different side of the Gold Coast, and I’m happy to say I think I succeeded!

We stayed in Broadbeach, which is a bit further down from Surfer’s Paradise (what most people think of when they think of the Gold Coast) and cusps on the more suburban parts of the Gold Coast.

I will say - if/when we go back to the Gold Coast I would probably stay even further down the coast in Miami (no, not that Miami) or Burleigh Heads. All of the breweries we visited were down that way, and it had a lot more of that classic “Aussie beach town” vibe.

Pre P.S. We stayed at Ocean Pacific Resort. It’s a little more pricey than what I might normally have gone with (I mean it was our anniversary after all) but it was worth every penny. I can’t say for sure but I’m pretty sure it’s family run (it definitely had that vibe). It didn’t have a lot of the fancy bells and whistles that you’d find in bigger resorts (restaurants etc) but it was well cared for with a nice pool and spa and the rooms were really lovely.

Pre P.P.S. Despite me bringing my DLSR I mostly took pictures with my phone, so apologies for the photo quality.

Broadbeach | Miss Sweet Nothings

Little Mermaid

Little Mermaid has the chilled out vibe of a beachside cafe that has been running since surfboards were invented. It’s somewhere the locals go for brunch, or for a Sunday session. The brunch menu has a great mix of options to suit everyone and part of the reason we went more than once was because there were multiple things I wanted to try! I definitely recommend the breakfast burger or the haloumi mushroom stack.

Bam Bam Bakehouse

It’s a good thing you could walk straight past Bam Bam if you weren’t looking for it because if it was more obvious it would be constantly packed. As it is it has a bit of a cult status; Margot Robbie even started her hen’s day at Bam Bam! The croissants take three days to make, and they are worth it. They also make a variety of dangerous looking pastries that taste as good as they look (there’s nothing worse than food only looking good “for the ‘gram”).

Skull & Bones Espresso

We didn’t eat anything here - but word on the street is they do cracker bagels. We did stop here a few times for coffee, and it was really good - so if you’re a coffee addict like us, it’s worth it just for that.

Loose Moose

The Loose Moose has the kind of food that you need to skip lunch to make room for. The menu is full of hearty burgers, ribs and loaded fries; essentially comfort food at its finest. The ambience is really fun and friendly, it was a great place to start our Gold Coast adventure!

Roosevelt Lounge

Roosevelt Lounge is the exact opposite of its brash, loud sister; Loose Moose. The max capacity is probably barely 50, and if it gets too full they close the door (though if you ring the doorbell they might let you in - as we discovered on Saturday night). It’s the kind of place you go with a few friends or a lover for some fancy drinks and maybe some snacks. The bartenders are incredibly knowledgeable, and you feel so classy sitting on a plush red velvet stool sipping your drink and people watching. Also they have a live saxophonist every night which really adds to the ambience.

Soho Place

Soho Place really is hidden in plain sight. It’s behind an unassuming red door that looks like a London telephone box, in amongst Thai massage places and pharmacies. It’s the last place you expect a cute speakeasy style bar to be - which is probably the point. Decorated in an homage to everything London, it’s a fun place to go for pre-drinks or an evening with friends. It’s officially the first “small” bar opened in the Gold Coast (aka a bar with no requirement to serve food) - but I hope not the last!

Double Zero

Honestly, Double Zero doesn’t need me to sing its praises. I think every other foodie magazine and website out there has already said everything that can be said about this top notch pizzeria. It’s even officially approved by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana as selling true Neapolitan pizza! We went here for our anniversary dinner and it was a fantastic experience from start to finish. The wine list is incredible, the service is polite but not overbearing and of course there is the pizza. As my husband said, I could eat just the pizza dough without any topping, it’s that good! Even better is we had a great view of the kitchen, so I could watch the chefs preparing and cooking the pizza.

A mini brewery tour…

I’m really hoping we will be able to go back to the Gold Coast soon and do a proper brewery tour, so this is just a little taster. We spent an afternoon further south in Burleigh Heads doing a mini brewery tour. We started at Black Hops which is a tiny taproom in an industrial complex. They do a great range of beers and occasional ciders, the staff are really friendly (and know everything about their beers). Plus as a nerdy business person I love that they’re doing their best to share how they’re creating a craft brewery as just three lads in Queensland.

We also checked out Granddad Jacks, a distillery down the road. I love gin, and it is a beautiful space where you can go to chill out, have a drink and listen to some music. Pets and kids are welcome, and they even have a barber cutting hair in one corner of the distillery!

I’m sure you’re wondering what we ate to help line our stomachs for all this tasting. In probably the most genius business idea I have seen, Wholly Smoke is a small BBQ smokehouse that runs out of a small kitchen in the local area. If you’re at one of the participating breweries or distilleries you can text a food order over to them, and they’ll bike it over!

Most licensed venues have some requirement to provide food (as part of liquor licensing laws) but having a kitchen is a lot of work. Having Wholly Smoke supply food makes it easy for them to build their business and means the breweries and distilleries don’t have to worry about bringing in food trucks or having a kitchen onsite.

I found this little adventure incredibly inspiring to see how these businesses are working together to create a community in Burleigh Heads, and it’s the reason I really want to go back and explore properly.