The Beet Bar

It’s hot for more than half the year in Townsville. And when you wake up sweating in the morning, the last thing you want is to pay for a hot meal. Or after going for a jog/workout in the morning, you want something refreshing and light rather than boggy.

Those are the mornings (which as you can guess is many a morning) that The Beet Bar hits the spot just right.


Walking through those clear sliding glass doors of The Beet Bar makes you feel like you’re in a metropolitan city-style-trendy-cafe. Bar-height long wooden tables set against dark walls with striking wall paintings with food-motivational quotes. A glass display cabinet  is before you with a huge assortment of glutenfree/dairyfree/raw/vegan slices/cakes and take-away freshly prepped meals with healthy servings of vegetables, lean proteins and low GI carb. To the right is a glass fridge of multiple brands of Kombucha and Mr Bean Cold Brew Coffee, most of which from around the North Queensland area. And lets not forget the unmistakeable buzzing of multiple blenders churning out Acai bowls and fruit-based smoothies – the backbone of The Beet Bar menu.


Wow – I’m walking on a cloud just imagining the setting.

As you can guess,  I’ve been to The Beet Bar multiple times and tried various raw slices, bowls, drinks – and hubby always gets their curries. Today’s review will mainly encompass the main meals I’ve tried with random side-comments on their other amazing offerings

But first, a little (bit more) about the Bar:

The Beet Bar is all about fresh, organic whole foods and local produce. This is highlighted in their menu which is packed with Smoothie bowls (Acai or Dragon-fruit based), smoothies and fresh juices – and signs advertising the use of Mungulli Creek, Misty Mountain and house made (!!!!) almond milk, Mr Bean Cold Brew Coffee and Katey’s Kombucha.

The vibe of healthy and fresh is reflected by the majority of patrons dressed in active wear, whilst hip and trendy is emphasised by dark-grained bar-height tables, dark walls and large, clear windows.

Located on the popular Flinder’s Street Mall also means a regular traffic of young city workers eager for their Genovese Coffee and takeaway fresh meals.

Staff are young, energetic, friendly and evidently excited about the Bar’s ethos. They are ever happy to help with recommendations as most newbies stand there gawking at the extensive menu of smoothies/bowls.

The menu is every vegan/gluten-free/lactose-free person’s dream with every type of milk coupled with every type of fad drink (think green tea and turmeric lattes) available.

A great atmosphere for a quick bite with book/newspaper, or catchup with friends.


My first experience of Tumeric Latte was at The Beet Bar. For awhile I’d been curious about what this golden turmeric, ginger, what-ever-other-spice thing would taste. I ordered mine on Almond Milk and WOW – I had not expected something so perfectly balanced in its spice, sweetness and creaminess. Drinking this golden brew brings such a warm, comforting feeling and strangely, also made me feel like I was being super healthy! It also comes out in quite a timely fashion – the hot drinks do seem to come out faster than the smoothies and juices.


Tumeric Latte on Almond Milk – $4.50

Next is always the question of “what smoothie bowl do I want today?”. Acai or dragon-fruit base? Fruity? Chocolatey? Peanut-buttery? Maybe coffee? Oh my, the choices are endless. And then what fruits do I want to put on-top from the ever-changing seasonal options? Strawberry? Pear? Pawpaw? Pineapple? Kiwi?

Trust me, it’s evident I’m not in isolation when it comes to taking a few minutes staring at the menu.

My favourite is the Blueberry Dragonfruit Bowl – mainly because I love both blueberries and dragon fruit (I realise I just stated the obvious)!


Blueberry Dragonfruit Bowl with Pineapple and Raspberries – $13.50

The bowl that comes out is like a beautifully decorated tower of gluten-free granola, coconut and fruit atop a thick pink-purple mush of smoothie. The beauty of this tower depends very much on who makes it and what fruits you choose atop it to allow creativity.  The serving size itself is very generous and hearty for a mostly-fruit meal.

The crunchy granola of pepitas, linseed, buckwheat, raisins amongst other things is a perfect accompaniment for the thick mush of the smoothie. Crunchy with soft is made perfect with the toasty, aromatic coconut. Fresh chunks of fruit (usually different to the fruits in the smoothie) also add another texturally exciting element.

The smoothie itself is quite banana-based. If you aren’t into bananas, you won’t like any of these bowls as all of them have banana to allow for the thickness. That said, if you love bananas, these bowls are heaven. The addition of other fruits or other elements then add depth or freshness to the banana taste.

The texture is slightly thicker than a regular smoothie, allowing it to be easily spooned into the mouth. Depending on who makes it, you may occasionally get partially unblended chunks of frozen fruit in the smoothie too.


Blueberry Dragonfruit Smoothie Bowl with Pear and Blueberries (too excited I put a spoon into it first) – $13.50

Overall, a fresh, light, healthy dish that includes thoughtful elements to add depth and texture to an otherwise simple meal.

At ~$13 a bowl, though…it is along the pricey side (when one could easily cut up, freeze and blend their own fruit and have it at home for a lot cheaper). That said, fresh fruit and quality ingredients are reasonably pricey. Unfortunately healthy food tends to be a bit more expensive.

A shout out to their hot takeaway meals which we haven’t tried in awhile, so shan’t review on today.

In a Nutshell:

Ambience: 4/5

Service: 4/5

Value for money: 3/5

The Beet Bar
358 Flinder’s St, Townsville
Ph. No. 07 4724 0918
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Hidden gems leave us in a conundrum. The fact that it’s something not well-known means shorter queues, quieter atmosphere and less stressed-out staff (except at lunch hour). But when the coffee is THIS good and the service THIS lovely in a town that forces us to generally buy beans from Cairns (shoutout to Blackbird Espresso!) or Port Douglas (Four Mile Roasters ftw!), you just want to (selflessly) share it with everyone!

This story is true of Kaffee. You know they mean great things when they ask you to like them on beanhunter rather than tripadvisor. And being forewarned that they’re coffee is strong – then asked if we wanted it full or half-strength? Full-strength come at me!!


Before I go on mindlessly about their attitude for good, strong coffee, a bit about the cafe itself:

Located in the recently established, $20mill Queensland Country Centre, Kaffee is the  only cafe in the open-plan health fund/bank/credit union building, its homely light-wooden tables and cool black chairs as equally spread throughout the centre. The first thing that hits you as you enter the centre is a feast of the coffee senses – the buzz of the grinder, aroma of dark-roast coffee and freshly toasted bread, and gentle clink of spoons to china amidst joyous conversation. The next thing that hits you is the demographic of 60-something year olds sitting around tables catching up over coffee and cake.

With its open plan and black and white themes, the vibe is relaxed and modern. The cafe (as you can tell from the name), is firstly about its coffee (with their own special blend and coffee-inspired sayings plastered tastefully everywhere), and secondly about good cafe food.

Lining up for coffee means staring at a full glass display of sandwiches, rolls, frittatas, gourmet salads, homemade cakes, slices, biscuits…and the list goes on. The menu itself – on cute wooden clipboards – has a small selection of breakfast and brunch options including the usual smashed avo and Eggs Benedict, as well as a few fancy burgers and sandwiches.

The staff are friendly and quick to remember your face and order.

Given the spacious and low-key location, the cafe immediately lends itself for good, long catchups, deep-and-meaningful conversations or a good read over great coffee and homestyle, simple meals.

Hubs and I have been to Kaffee a few times and have tried their food along with the coffee. As we haven’t eaten there for while (mainly because of the price vs simplicity of the meals – we think we could get more value-for-money meals-I-couldn’t-just-whip-up-at-home elsewhere), I’ll just be reviewing their coffee today.

As usual, we were greeted by friendly staff who remembered our faces and that we like our coffees FULL-STRENGTH! Today we had a free coffee on our loyalty card (10th coffee free), and we were given our more expensive coffee FREE! Which was great, as going at $4.80/reg, their coffee is quite expensive compared to competition.

Our coffees came out in a timely fashion. The cup serving is our favourite mainly because of the cup and saucer its served in (and they actually sell the set too!). How can you get more tasteful than an artistically curved mug on a bamboo saucer?


Cup Flat White on Full Cream (left) – $4.80, Mug Cappuccino on Soy (right) – $5.80

The coffee’s temperatures were both just-right (hot but immediately drinkable). Hubs had his usual Flat White on Full Cream which was dark, mid-strength but not bitter. There’s a slight chocolatey taste to the Kaffee blend which makes it uniquely tasty. The milk is nicely micro foamed and creamy. The only thing the coffee really lacked was latte-art.

My own Soy Cappuccino had a generous dolloping of chocolate dusting over it to the point that it made a donut shape in my foam. For a soy, they stretched it well – creamy and smooth. The amount of foam on my cap was just right. The taste itself was more coffee than soy (just the way I like it). Not as strong or dark as coffees I’ve had (such as coffee dominion or Blackbird), but still smooth, full-bodied and very pleasant. Not all coffees couple well with soy, but this is one that does. Oh – and the mug-size is so huggable! Such a comforting drink over a nice chat or good read/short study session.

We only have two complaints. Firstly, their occasional inconsistency (I think Barista-dependent, and also seems more so when I get takeaway). I’ve had times where the coffee was too weak/dilute or the milk wasn’t foamed as well. For the number of times we’ve been there, this has been rare – but something to note.

Secondly, they DON’T OPEN ON WEEKENDS 😦 ! (This is more a testament to how much we like this place, rather than an actual complaint).

So if you’re looking for a place to chat over good coffee in an airy atmosphere, Kaffee’s the place for you!

In a Nutshell:

Ambience: 3.5/5

Coffee: 3.5/5

Service: 4/5

Value for money: 2/5

Thanks again for reading! Until next time! 🙂

Queensland Country Centre, Suite 6/ 333 Ross River Road Aitkenvale QLD 4814
Ph No: 4728 3300
SMS order: 0457 083 126
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Pope Jams + Smashed Avo Recipe

Good afternoon!

As you might have guessed by now, my posts tend to be expressions of our passions of certain food places and their dishes in Townsville. Today’s post is going to be the same but different.

One of our foodie passions is finding local businesses that make absolutely delicious, fresh produce (see my Favourites Tab for examples of these :D). One of our discoveries last year at the Cotter’s Markets is Pope Jams, a stall selling homemade-style jams, marmalade, chutney, relish, pickles and local natural honey. The stall was run by the owners themselves who told us about founding the now commercial Anathoth Farm when they were in New Zealand. It got so big that it became “all about the money, instead of the products”, so Mr. Pope left his own company to start afresh a company that was truly celebrating AMAZING homemade Jams and Chutneys – hence was born Pope Jams in Townsville!

There was a time where we would always have at least 2 tubs of relish/pickle in the fridge and 2 waiting in the pantry, but then alas – I couldn’t find their stall at Cotter’s Markets anymore!!

That said, we were still able to purchase Pope’s products from The Spirited Goat, who uses Pope’s Tomato RelishFarmstyle Pickle and Beetroot Chutney in their awesome meals (we had been going on about how Spirited Goat had the best Tomato Relish in Town before discovering that they were using Pope’s!). But selling at $6/tub when we could get 3 for $12 from the man himself, we would rather search from his stall ourselves.

Long story short, we found him today quite randomly at King’s Road Markets, Castletown Shopping World where he and his amazing products will be there every Wednesday and Saturday!! My pantry (and belly…and tongue) thanks you!


Pope’s Tomato Relish and Farmstyle Pickle – $6/tub ($5 on special today. Bought 4 for $16).

Our favourites of their collection (which they always have out to try at their stalls on handy gluten-free crackers) – are the Tomato Relish and Farmstyle Pickle. The Tomato Relish is a perfect blend of sweet and spicy, chunky and actually tastes better as it ages. The Farmstyle Pickle is something quite unique to Pope’s – a chunky mix of pickled vegetables with a perfect blend of pickled sourness, sweet and spicy. Both go with most fresh salads, sandwiches and deli meats.

To celebrate my now-filled pantry, today will be my first Recipe Post as well. A very basic, quick yet amazingly delicious breakfast/brunch/lunch dish of Smashed avocado, semidried tomatoes, Farmstyle Pickle, Jarlsburg cheese and ham on sourdough. It’s a dish inspired by Spirited Goat’sFarmstyle Smashed Avocado“, and I think almost, if not equally, as delicious and healthy.

Farmstyle Pickle + Avo Recipe

Feeds: One

Time: 10-15mins

Meal Type: Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch

You’ll Need:

  1. 1/2 a Medium-sized Hass Avocado
  2. 1/4 Fresh Medium-sized Lemon
  3. 5-6 semi-dried tomatoes (mine were from Christo’s Deli, so good!)
  4. 1 Tsp (or more if you like it!) of Pope’s Farmstyle Pickle
  5. 2 Thick-cut slices Sourdough bread (I used wholemeal + spelt sourdough from Three Loaves Bakery – YUM)
  6. 6 slices Deli-style Shaved Ham (I used Honey Leg Shaved Ham from Don)
  7. 4 pieces of Jarlsberg Cheese (optional)
  8. Cracked Pepper and Salt to taste



1. In a medium bowel, break apart 1/2 avo into chunks, then squeeze lemon juice over top (I like to roll the whole lemon on the table to better release the lemon’s oils so the juice is more delish).

2. Crack pepper and salt over the top (I like a lot of pepper and salt, so about 1/4 Tsp each – but you can also put a bit first then season to taste after you smash the avo)


3. Use a fork to mash the avo against the sides and base of the bowl, along with mixing the lemon juice, salt and pepper through it. I like to leave mine a bit chunky (which is more classic of a good smashed avo), but you can make it as smooth as you want.


4. Cut semi-dried tomatoes into 1cm pieces, then add to smashed avo. Fold into smashed avo gently, so spread through evenly but not until tomato juices are staining the avo.


5. Place 1 Tsp (or more if desired) of Farmstyle Pickle into smashed avo and fold through.


6. Freshly slice your bread (if not already pre-sliced) and lightly toast (I like mine lightly toasted to add warmth and texture to the dish, but this isn’t a must)


Wholemeal and Spelt Sourdough from Three Loaves Bakery – pure art!

7. Now time to assemble! Halve the smashed avo onto each slice of bread evenly. Place Jarlsberg cheese on top, 2 pieces each.

8. Top with 3 slices of shaved ham on each slice of bread

9. Et voila!


Kudos to The Spirited Goat for inspiration on this simple yet delicious dish 🙂

Thanks again for reading and have a good one! 🙂

Pope’s Jams
King’s Road Markets, Castletown Shopping World, Wednesday and Saturday
Posts around Australia for $72 (including postage) for 12 tubs – go to his site to contact him for further details 
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Donna Bionda

As promised, here I am after an AMAZING lunch, keen to write a post in high praises of our meal!

Today was only my second experience of Donna Bionda, one of the newest Italian Restaurants in town, situated in the totally hip and cool City Lane on Flinders St. Hubs and I had known that City Lane is a hotspot at night for the young (and young at heart) working adults of Townsville at night, with an assortment of tapas-style bars/restaurants showcasing a pretty awesome range of alcoholic beverages. Little did we know that all of these places are also open for lunch with quite inviting lunch specials!


City Lane

As you can see above, the outdoor/indoor dining available in this Lane makes for an awesome place for a lunch-date with friends and family. The many options (all of which are in the Entertainment Book!) left us walking from restaurant to restaurant, scanning through the menus which were conveniently placed on the outdoor tables.

We finally settled on Donna Bionda, thanks to their $15 lunch special menu along with mouth-watering entrees like Garlic Pizza.

Firstly, a bit about the Restaurant.

The location of this Modern Italian Restaurant in Townsville’s City Lane immediately adds a sense of coolness to it. This surprising couples perfectly with the fresh Italian-inspired atmosphere inside the restaurant, thanks to the rows of Red Wine Bottles, White-clothed square tables and stemless wine glasses.

The vibe inside is a wonderful mix of classy and chill with nicely spaced tables and large glass windows. The staff are dressed in pressed white shirts and greet customers cheerily. A perfect place for a casual date or catchup with friends.

The menu has something for everyone craving true Italian at its best – from wood fired pizzas, freshly made pastas, an array of proteins and (of course!) Italian-style desserts. There is also an extensive wine menu featuring wines from Italy.

Compared to the dinner menu which is quite extensive, we were given the lunch specials and pizza menu along with the wine list. We both actually quite liked having these few but fantastic options. There was basically a lunch menu special for everyone – one pizza, a few pastas, a salad, paninis…our problem was refraining to just picking one!


Whilst we were salivating at the menu, our lovely waiter poured us water – then I HAD to take a picture of the glasses. There’s just something about Italian Restaurants and partly-filled Stemless Wine glasses that make us go weak in the knees.

img_3733Swooning now settled, we decided we’d have the Garlic Pizza to share – and requested they make it Dairy-free, which they obliged (!!! – bonus points!) and then I went for the Grilled Chicken, Pear, Pine nuts and Fennel Salad (again, they obliged me dairy-free!), and hubs went for the Pappardelle with peas, Gorgonzola and Prosciutto accompanied by a glass of Prunotto Barbera D’Alba Doc (from Piemonte, Italy).

The wine came out first. The initial taste was young and acidic, but otherwise described on the wine list quite accurately with floral tones and a spicy note. At $9, hubs thought it was pretty worth it. Over the course of our meal and some aeration, the wine improved to be less acidic and more robust – pairing it perfectly with the cream of hub’s pasta.


Prunotto Barbera D’Alba Doc (from Piemonte, Italy) – $9/glass

Next came our cheese-less garlic pizza. Let me tell you – even hubs who loves his pizza with cheese – thought the pizza was SENSATIONAL.

Served on a wooden board, the oval pizza had bubbles of charred deliciousness giving textures to this yellowish, thin bread scattered with fine herbs. The smell of garlic was unmistakeable. We were given small warmed plates with it – which again is a bonus.


Garlic Pizza (with no cheese) – $8

The texture of the bread is what we both love in pizza dough – initially crisp and light, then chewy with further bites. The taste of garlic was all through the pizza, and the distinct taste of EVOO and good seasoning made this a remarkable starter. We hadn’t even finished our first one and hubby was pondering over a second pizza. We were later told that an addition of cheese will lose you our delightful air pockets of crispiness – so it sounds like you’d get a good but different pizza with or without cheese. Honestly – highly recommended stuff!

The pizza just made us excited for our mains, which came out in quite a timely fashion, about 15mins after our entree was finished.

My salad was a work of art. There’s just something about salads that, when done right, hits the spot for me more than a hot-cooked meal. When you’re eating a salad out, you definitely want something that you can’t just chop up and toss together at home within 10mins. You want something smart, sassy and beautiful. That’s what I got in my Grilled Chicken, Pear, Pine nuts and Fennel Salad.


Grilled Chicken, Pear, Pine nuts and Fennel Salad (Dairy-Free version) – $15

And as you can see in the picture – it looked beautiful as it hit the table before me. Our waitress asked me if I wanted cracked pepper which I happily accepted before diving in.

The dish was all about BALANCE. Everything in it just fit together. The thinly sliced, slightly sweet pear, with the fresh fennel, spicy rocket, charred and slightly salty chicken, pine nuts and drizzle of balsamic. I also appreciated how well TOSSED this salad was! I wasn’t spending time trying to get a bite of every element of the dish in one mouth – it was already all so well combined. The serving size was also what I considered just right. So as you can guess – I have no complaints about this dish. A 10/10 for me.


Pappardelle w/ peas, Gorgonzola and Prosciutto – $15

Hubs was also equally excited as his Pappardelle with peas, Gorgonzola and Prosciutto was set before him. It was obvious that the eggy-yellow, shiny pasta was freshly made in-house. It was “perfectly andante, perfect texture” and fragrant. The Gorgonzola sauce coating the pasta was well-seasoned, herby and refrained so that the dish celebrated the fresh ingredients rather than swim in soup. The thick-cut, diced proscuitto gave a nice salty balance to the dish, and the peas were fresh and well-cooked. Hubby happily described the dish as “perfect”, his only complaint being there wasn’t enough. A 9/10 from him (only loses one point because he was still hungry after). He was also smug about the value-for-money.

As you can probably tell, we absolutely enjoyed our lunch and are planning to go again soon.

Another one we recommend highly!

So in a Nutshell:

Ambience: 4/5

Food: 5/5

Service: 4/5

Value for money: 5/5

Donna Bionda
City Lane Arcade, Flinder’s St, Townsville City
Ph No: (07) 4771 2245
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Celsius Restaurant

Hello everyone,

Multiple apologies for being so awful in writing any recent reviews. We still have been eating and commenting (to ourselves) a lot about foods in Townsville, Cairns and have even recently travelled to Japan for more food adventures (who we have Mark Weins at to thank for the food advice, and Nami Chan at justonecookbook for her travel tips – if you’re travelling to Japan, definitely check them out!).

But hopefully this hiatus has finished as there is still much need to Nth QLD for purely Nth QLD food blog reviews! So I hope to be snapping pictures whenever we go out and eat again!

Today’s post is about a little-known restaurant that NEEDS to be talked about in Townsville. It’s name – Celsius Restaurant. In all honesty, we initially went because of the Entertainment Book buy 1 get 1 free (Celsius has been in the entertainment book for years!). So we’ve gone about 5-6 times now and every time the food menu has changed and still been GREAT.

Before I start, a little bit on the restaurant itself:

Situated in Mercure Townsville Hotel, the spacious restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating. Indoors there’s plenty of space between diners with views of the poolside through full-length windows. There’s a nice-looking bar, yellow lighting and calm music. Outdoors, you’re right next to the poolside and tropical palm trees, reminding you that you truly are in Tropical QLD. Candlelights just tick off the calming surroundings.

The vibe of the restaurant is elegant yet relaxing, with a mix of well-dressed business folk to casual family tourists. Rarely have we seen it full, therefore it’s also a great place for conversation.

The food – classic Modern-Australian celebrating great fish, poultry, beef and lamb. 

The staff are generally attentive, friendly and do food service like fine-dining should be done.

The location is possibly what causes it to be not as popular as it would be if it were on Palmer or Flinder’s St. That said, Woolcock St. pretty much in between to the City and the Uni, so not much a distance to travel if you were living at either end.

We decided to sit outside this time. The winds were cool, and even though it was dusk, neither of us were bitten by mosquitoes.

The menu look has changed since we last saw it (which we likey very much!). There’s definitely something for everyone in this Modern-Australian menu. They even have a (maybe) monthly special set of an international-style main and dessert set to celebrate different cultures. This month was China with a Chicken Chow Mien and Chinese-style steamed custard dessert (our opinion of noodles and chicken for $35 was a bit pricey though….).

They also have a wine and cocktail menu which hubs didn’t think too much of as there were no years next to the wines.

They include Gluten, Dairy-Free and Vegetarian options, and have a handy schematic for us food allergy/intolerant people to feel included.

Our first choice was the Entree of Grilled Scallops with XO sauce, bacon and Mizuna which we shared.


Grilled Scallops – XO sauce, bacon, mizuna (DF) – $21

For about $5/scallop, it’s definitely on the pricey side. That said, as you can see, scallops in it’s shell presented in a bed of sea salt was elegant and inviting. The scallops themselves were incredibly fresh and well-cooked, still nice and warm when we devoured them. The sauce together with fried bacon was salty with a hint of spice which complemented the scallops perfectly. Overall a beautiful entree as it left us wanting more!

When it came to the mains we couldn’t look over the “Summer Signature” dishes – and when i nosily looked around, most people were ordering the same thing! What a brilliant idea to celebrate the tropical season with tropical-inspired mains!!

Hubs couldn’t go pass the Land Meets Sea which promised an array of proteins of beef cheek, bug, prawns and speck. He was very hungry and given the description of so much food (and the price of $49), we were expecting a mountain – hence momentary panic when we saw a fellow diner get served a small hill instead.

I chose the other “Summer Special” – Grilled FNQ Barramundi – who can go past a mango and lychee salso?

After a close to 45min wait between our entree and mains (note that the wait has been consistently about this long), we were happy to see hubs got a bigger hill of protein than expected. Something also to add – the presentation of both dishes were beautiful and mouth-watering – a fantastic start.


Lands Meets Sea – braised beef cheek, bugs, prawns, speck and chèvre croquettes, baby carrots, chimichurri butter – $49

Firstly, the Land Meets Sea – hubs described it as a “full protein dish” with about 3 baby carrots as your only vegetable relief. His favourite part was the speck and chevre (goats cheese) croquettes which were crispy on the outside and a soft and moist interior. The overriding taste was potato which was well-seasoned. “I have nothing to complain about the croquettes” stated a happy man.

The beef cheeks were well-cooked, nice and tender but could have been better seasoned. The prawns were “okay” – fresh, well-cooked, but a bit on the small side. His biggest disappointment were the bugs which were abit mushy, thanks to either being not fresh or over-cooked. Baby carrots were well-cooked with nice burnt tips. All was complemented with a chimichurri butter sauce which tied the whole dish together, complementing both beef and seafood. An overall “6/10” for the dish.


Grilled FNQ Barramundi – coconut rice pilaf, asparagus, mango and lychee salso, chilli wonton served on banana leaf (DF) – $35

My FNQ Grilled Barramundi was a nicely balanced dish, although also slightly lacking in vegetables. The fish itself was very fresh and the flesh well-cooked. The skin looked like there was an attempt at crispy-skin, but instead was partially crispy, partially chewy skin that was well-seasoned. The lack of crispiness led me to actually turn my fish meat-side up so I could cut it better (so crispy-skin snobs be warned!).

The fish was on a bed of beautifully-cooked coconut rice pilaf, with lovely herbs through it. The rice was well-cooked – not too soft, not too hard – with the fragrant smell and taste of coconut that complemented both the fish and mango and lychee salsa that surrounded the rice. The mango and lychee salsa was my hero. It tied everything together and is honestly pure genius – tropical, sweet salsa with coconut and fish – yummz!! My vegetables were 3 stalks of well-cooked asparagus which again, paired well with the meal. Lastly, crispy wontons – the crispy in the meal that the skin did not deliver. Yes – CRISPY! With a ?seafood filling which was a bit spicy, well seasoned and delicious.

An 8/10 dish for me, with mango and lychee salsa saving the uncrispy skin.

We didn’t have dessert there although the sounds of “Leatherwood Honey Cake” and “White Chocolate Lamington” did sound tempting.

Both mains left us feeling full and satisfied (but not bloated) – which is what we’re after at a nice restaurant.

So overall, it was a lovely date. Great and relaxed conversation in a beautiful ambience and delicious food if you have the money for it (I recommend getting the Entertainment Book!). Just be aware of the longish wait for your food – so don’t come too hungry!

So in a Nutshell:

Ambience: 4/5

Food: 4/5

Service: 3/5

Value for money: 3/5

Thanks for reading! Do check this place out 🙂 Until next time!

Celsius Restaurant
166-196 Woolcock St, Currajong
Ph No: (07) 4725 2222
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Ming’s House – Char Kway Teow

This shows how much we like Ming’s House – the fact that we’ve come back a week later! A confession must be had – we actually had takeaway lunch from them recently as well! I got the Malaysian Mee Goreng because hubby’s looked so amazing last time we had it, and hubby got Char Kway Teow which was actually…SO DELICIOUS!

For those who don’t know, “Char Kway Teow” is a dish famous in Penang, Malaysia and literally translates to “fried flat rice cake strips” in Hokkien (a common Chinese dialect in Penang), the noodles being very similar to the more popularly known “Hor Fun” (which is cantonese for flat rice noodles). Many of us consider it the same noodles, just different dialects, although it seems if you want to be pedantic about it, Hor Fun becomes softer on cooking wheras Kway Teow retains it’s stiff texture.

If you go to Penang, you HAVE to try this famous dish. It’s typically fried in pork lard with bean sprouts, chives, egg, onions, chinese sausage (lap cheong) and prawn in a dark mixture of soy sauces and other seasonings. It is known as quite an unhealthy dish because of the high saturated fat content so definitely eating the authentic version should be at its minimum, but it must be tried at least once! Variations of ingredients I’ve seen have included fish tofu/fish cake and chicken pieces. In Penang, you may also occasionally see it served on a banana leaf.

So when we went to Ming’s House for lunch again (as I was once again really wanting Yum Cha), hubby had to have this Char Kway Teow again! (And I had to steal some again!).


Char Kway Teow ($12)

As previously said, it’s great that Ming’s does really decent lunch meals for only $12. This one is no exception and deserves it’s own post because it’s REALLY GOOD. I can’t say that it tastes the same as what I’ve tried in Penang before, but it does have a lot of the authentic tastes there and it’s a delight to eat.

Firstly, the hero of the dish is the noodles. They are so springy and tasty, and what I mentioned to one of the (seems to be) owners about this, he said that the noodles are HOUSEMADE (major respects their way).

Secondly,the dish seems to be less oily than the normal Char Kway Teow, although there still is a fair bit of oil to it. This dish includes bean sprouts, chives, egg, cut red chilli and prawns (which are quite small). The sauce is slightly, perfectly salty and has a lovely soy taste. The spice from the chilli was perfect to me, although hubby thought it was a bit too hot, especially when he accidentally munched through a few chilli slices.

Hubby immediately rated this dish a 5/5. We love this dish and for those who love their noodles, it’s a MUST TRY at Ming’s!

And just a SHOUTOUT FOR THEIR YUMCHA – we had it again and we think it’s getting BETTER!


Rolled stuffed beancurd ($4.50) top left, Braised Chicken Feet ($4.50), top right

Their rolled stuffed beancurd was far soupier this time (which was my criticism last time), and their Chicken feet was SPECTACULAR!!!! It wasn’t as salty this time and had a slightly herbal taste to it that made it far more complex than just black beans and chilli. When I mentioned it to one of the owner’s family also working there, she said that they sell out of the chicken feet quite frequently. So I’ve had a lot of chicken feet and I think this one is one of the best…which SAYS A LOT!!!

Their chicken feet was definitely a 5/5 for me this time! Maybe a different chef? Maybe they are getting better and better by the week? Let’s hope it’s the latter!

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Stellarossa – Stocklands (Aitkenvale)

Firstly, thanks for all the likes for our previous posts! We really appreciate the feedback for our new blog and look forward to blogging more and hearing from you 🙂

We happened to be in Stocklands doing some shopping when I pointed out to hubby that Stellarossa – Stockland has the Pizza+Drink deal for $10 (which seems to be exclusive to the Stockland branch). I needed a coffee AND I would’ve loved some pizza! We had tried to pizza at Stellarossa – Fairfield multiple times (and absolutely LOVED their pizza and coffee!! – shall post about them later when we’ve been there again with pics :D) but had never tried the Stockland store food or coffee.

The first thing we should’ve done is read the fine print. Drink was not any drink or even coffee, it was ONLY BOTTLED WATER. So our meals combined were more than $20, but that’s still a pretty good deal for gourmet pizza, right (would’ve been nice if it was advertised in big letters “Pizza + bottled water deal” though…)?

So before I go on, here’s a brief summary of the cafe 🙂 :

It’s a cafe in the middle of one of Townsville’s largest shopping centres, so there’s not really much they can do when it comes to ambience. That said, it has proper partitions separating the cafe from the shopping centre, which does make you feel like you’re in a proper cafe rather than a cheap-o kiosk.

The tables are well-enough spaced out and the cafe front very shiny and new with a range of desserts and fresh food that you can choose out of the cabinet.

As with Stellarossa – Fairfield, the vibe is family-friendly and casual. The staff, as with Stellarossa – Fairfield are also super-friendly.

The cafe has quite a good flow of customers, but isn’t overly noisy – so it makes for a great place to have a coffee and book or to meet up with friends for lunch and/or coffee.

The location itself is GREAT. It’s right outside of Woolworths and close enough to the car park entrance. So if you had just done your day’s or week’s groceries and were after a nice meal, this place is great. Also because it’s so direct to get to, it means it’s an easy landmark to find!

After my initial sadness that coffee was not included in the deal, I ordered a coffee anyway, knowing that the Stellarossa beans tend to be pretty great.


Regular Soy Cappuccino (cap = $3.50 + $0.50 for soy – total $4)

The good things about their coffee was that the temperature was perfect and soymilk foamed so that it was silky-smooth. There was also a generous amount of cocoa dusting which is always what I love if i decide to go for a cappuccino instead of a latte.

The negatives was that I had tried the coffee at their Fairfield branch just recently and this one was just…a bit too dilute. There wasn’t the robust depth of flavour that I know Stellarossa beans can have. Instead, it was a relatively pleasant cup with no bitterness, but also no slight darkness that I know it could have that would otherwise add complexity to the taste. An okay cup of coffee, but not that best I have tasted. In summary, mild was well-done, the espresso shot could’ve been done better.


Pollo Genovese(chicken breast, fresh tomato, red onion on basil pesto) – usually $10.90, $10 with bottled water on the lunch deal

The pizza came out warm and smelling amazing. They are definitely very generous with their fresh ingredients – the combination of ingredients and flavours going perfectly together. Instead of the normal tomato base, this base has basil pesto which is made wonderfully well.

And the chicken breast is as chicken breast SHOULD be – lean, tender and juicy.

As a good pizza should be, the ingredients also weren’t so overwhelming, but also wasn’t miserly.

Our main criticism (and this is purely personal preference) is that the base was quite bread-y and thick. We like ours thinner and slightly chewy and crisp. Because of the thickness of the base, it meant we felt quite bloated after our meal (so maybe sharing a pizza might be better next time).


Pollo Funoso with no cheese (chicken breast, bacon and mushrooms on a smokey BBQ sauce) – $10 with drink special, normally $10.90

As you can see, I was so hungry that I ate a piece forgetting to take a picture first. Reason is because I was starving as hubby had accidentally ordered my pizza with cheese (and I’m lactose-intolerant). What I give HIGH PRAISES FOR THIS STORE is that on my immediate reaction about the cheese on my pizza (and it WAS hubby’s fault for forgetting), the staff told me they’ll get me one without cheese JUST LIKE THAT. So yep, they immediately won my further patronage from this good deed 😀

I quite liked the combination of flavours here. Who can go wrong with chicken, mushroom, bacon and BBQ sauce? My favourite of this was BBQ sauce as it was truly smokey and tasty. As the other pizza, the chicken was cooked well. The mushrooms were fresh and well-cooked (as in not cooked so much it was a thin flat nothing, but not hardly any that there wasn’t any roast flavour to it). The bacon was a lot of pieces of…just fat. The meat that WAS there was nice, but for someone who hates eating plain fat, i spent a lot of time peeling the fat off my pizza.

The base was the same as the above pizza – bread-y and slightly thick. The outer crust was crispy, though. Overall quite a filling meal.

So overall, a good meal that is very satisfying. If you’re hungry, a whole pizza would do, but if not maybe share a pizza with a friend. And the coffee is okay but not the best – but actually better than a lot of the coffee places in Stocklands. And quite a good place for a catchup for food and/or coffee in a convenient location.

For our nutshells, I’ve decided to add service as one of them (I’ll edit my previous posts to add this as well).

So in a Nutshell:

Ambience: 3/5

Coffee: 3/5

Food: 3/5

Service: 4/5

Value for money: 4/5

Thanks again for read, and until next time! 🙂

Stellarossa – Aitkenvale
Shop K20, Stockland Centre, 310-330 Ross River Rd, Aitkenvale QLD 4814
Ph No: (07) 4779 2375
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Ming’s House Malaysian and Chinese

Good afternoon and happy Australia Day! What is very common amongst the Chinese hospitality population is that they all seem to ignore every Australian Public Holiday, but will close during Chinese New Year.

With no exception, this amazing new Malaysian/Chinese Restaurant was open in full force today for their amazing Yum Cha!

Now let me tell you, speaking for most of the Chinese Townsvillian Population, we have been yearning for proper Yum Cha. Over time there have been different restaurants who have either closed, or stopped serving Yum Cha just because of how difficult prep is. If there’s not enough business, it’s not worth doing home-made Yum Cha. For the past many years, it’s only been Benny’s Hot Wok Cafe and Bar that has been doing Yum Cha occasionally, but even then prices are far more than most Chinese would even dream of (seeing as how we can get good Yum Cha for ~$4-$5 a plate in bigger cities).

So you can imagine Hubby and my exhilaration when we chanced upon Ming’s when going to Domain Central. We had already eaten, but we had a look at the menu…and….


Ming’s House Yum Cha Menu – serving from 10am-3pm on weekdays, and 9am-3pm weekends

Basically ALL of my favourites on the menu!!! And they proudly advertise that EVERYTHING is homemade! Begone those dumpy “Yum Cha” restaurants that serve you frozen dumplings. Ming’s is the REAL deal!

Before I go into detail of the food we tried, here’s a short summary of the Restaurant:

It’s a very clean, modern-looking Chinese restaurant, fitted with a bar, asian-style (but not tacky) floral wall-paper and those big and round tables with lazy susans. Yep, walking into Ming’s is like walking straight into your typical modern Chinese restaurant. There’s also square tables suitable for couples or families of 4-6.

There’s an open kitchen where you can see piles of little bamboo steamers and your chefs at work – which just serves to make one more hungry and excited. The wait-staff are friendly and bring you to a table (generally of your choosing). There’s a lunch special menu ($12 for all main meals!) along with the yum cha and drinks menu. Drinks range from typical chinese teas, to cold juices to alcoholic beverages.

The vibe is clean, family-friendly, authentic and intricate. Gentle elevator-type music plays in the background and waiters are busy either bringing you your steamed morsels of delish, or taking empty steamers away. Unlike traditional yum cha, no trolleys are involved. Instead they bring the fresh dishes to you and cross off on your receipt the items you have received.

It’s in a good location – made obvious by how full it is despite little advertising and an impossible-to-find Facebook page. It’s in Domain Central, right next to Zambrero’s and across the road from the large Harvey Norman. Perfect location for a morning brunch/lunch after a busy household shopping day.

I confess that this is actually the second time now that hubby and I have been. We came a week ago with the in-laws who were also very excited and impressed. We ordered some of our favourites this time, and some new ones to try. What was lacking in today’s selection is the prawn and char siu cheong fun, which we found to be half the size of what we were used to, and had very little ingredients. The texture and taste of their cheong fun was pretty spot on, though. So if you’re a cheong fun fan, it’ll still quench those occasional cravings.


Jasmine Tea ($2pp)

What is Yum Cha without the “Cha”? Unlike a lot of the traditional Yum Cha places I’ve tried, this tea pot THANKFULLY has a strainer, so no bitter tea leaves in my gulps of tea! No complaints about the Jasmine tea – a perfect accompaniment for Yum Cha. They also have Pu Er tea as another Chinese Tea option 🙂

Ming's House 2.jpg

(from left) Har gao (prawn dumplings $6), Gou choi gao (prawn and chives dumpling $6), Coriander and pork dumplings ($6), Law Bock Gao (Grilled Turnip Cake $5.50), Fu Pei Guen (pork-stuffed bean curd rolls $4.50), Siu Mai (pork+prawn dumplings $4.50), Fung Chao (Braised Chicken Feet $4.50)

We were a little disappointed when the Har Gao came out and there was only 3 (instead of 4 in the menu pic) on the plate. The Har gao skin was great but the prawn filling was just…prawn. Usually these dumplings have prawn paste as well as chunks of prawn. So definitely different and not the greatest of their dumplings.

Gou choi gao is one of my FAVOURITES, and although Ming’s variation has much more prawn meat than chives, it was still very, VERY delicious. And as hubby says – who can complain about more PRAWN vs chives? Worth the money, right? Although I personally prefer garlic chive overload in my dumplings, this was still pretty good.

I’ve never seen Coriander and Pork dumplings anywhere else and these are actually really good! It’s well minced pork and a good helping of coriander to give that fragrant taste. The pork, is cooked perfectly, minced so that it’s tender and juicy to bite into, and just the right seasoning. As with the previous two dumplings, the pastry is perfect.

Ming’s Grilled Turnip Cake has to be one of my favourites. Turnip Cake is actually quite a Singaporean/Malaysian dish and one of their other menu options is Fried Turnip Cake (Chai Tow Kuay), which is made just like how mum makes it at home – so of course loved it! The grilled variety is without the frying, eggs, chives, preserved vege and bean sprouts. In it’s nakedness with a little bit of chilli, it is really tasty. The grilling gives the great contrast of tender inside and crisp outside. There’s just the right amount of Lupcheong (chinese sausage) in the cake to give the savoury taste.

Fu pei guen is another of my favourites in Yum Cha. Traditionally it has a lot of mushroom and sauces, which Ming’s lacks. Ming’s variety is very porky (which Hubby really enjoyed), and to my disappointment is not as mushroomy or soup as I’d like. The beancurd wrapping however, is good, and the sauce is tasty and think as it should be.

Ming’s Siu Mai has to be one of our favourites. I have never seen Tobiko on Siu Mai before, but Hubby (and google) tell me that it’s actually a thing (have i been eating cheapo Siu Mai all this time?)! The shrimp and prawn mix is really tasty and juicy, without the bits of fat and cartilage that one quite often gets in these dumplings. The tobiko didn’t add much to the taste or texture for me – it was just cool to have it there! The pastry skin was also very silky and well-made.

Finally, the Fung Chao – chicken feet braised i chilli and black bean sauce. Just the AMOUNT of sauciness that came with it made me salivate! I love a good, slurpy chicken foot and the skin and cartilage of this one just pealed right off! So yes, chicken foot steamed very well. The sauce itself had the right amount of chilli for me (too much for Hubby), but was a slight bit too generous on the black bean side (that is, a bit too salty). That said, it was far tastier than a lot of other chicken feet I’ve tried, so well done to them!

Ming's house 3

Wu Gok (Taro Dumplings $5.50)


Finally on to one of Hubby’s Favourites – the Taro dumpling stuffed with pork. The outside wasn’t as flaky as I’m used to, but still gave you the crunch as you bit into it to get to the gooey taro. The taro mash layer was great and the pork layer surprising. Usually the middle has some sauce and mushroom but this one was mainly minced meat with a bit of sauce. I really enjoyed it still (although did miss the mushrooms), but Hubby was disappointed.


Malaysian-Style Mee Goreng ($12)

My mum’s a Malaysian and makes some amazing Mee Goreng. Mee Goreng is a mamak (Malaysian Indian) dish that has the delicious balance of spicy, sweet, salty and sour. This one lacked the sour as there was no lime/lemon in site. That said, the sweet, spicy and salty part of it was good and quite authentic. They were very generous with their ingredients of fish, squid, prawn and vegetables (they even had the sweet potato which super impressed me!). Hubby the carbohydrate king’s only complaint was that the noodles were “too floury and not springy enough”.

So there we have it! That was all Hubby and I could handle for lunch. We came out quite full and bellies very happy for the Yum Cha treat we had been craving in Townsville for so long 🙂 The fact that we could have so many Yum Cha dishes shows you that the portions weren’t amazing, so don’t expect a massive feed unless you’re willing to pay ~$50. This definitely isn’t the cheapest of lunches so it’ll be a once-in-awhile thing for us. The fact that most dumpling servings were odd-numbered also means dining with 1 or 3 other people (which most do on dates or with their families) makes sharing a little challenging.

So will we be back? Of COURSE! There’s still so many other dishes to try AND their dinner menu too! So expect more about Ming’s House (also, we need to support them because we want a Yum Cha place in Townsville PERMANENTLY).

Some of my comments about the dumplings were a little more on the harsh side but hey, they opened just this month! And overall the place has GREAT food. We’re EXTREMELY grateful for the owners opening this up in Townsville and they shall be getting a lot of business from us! Well done, Ming’s House!

In a Nutshell: 

Ambience: 4/5

Food: 3/5

Service: 4/5

Value for money: 3/5

Ming’s House
143-151 Duckworth St, Thuringowa Central QLD 4814
Ph No: (07) 4728 8009
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The Spirited Goat

When I found out that a cafe was using CAMPOS coffee 2 years ago, it was a MUST TRY. Since my very first taste of Campos Coffee made properly, as well as amazingly fresh and wholesome breakfasts, The Spirited Goat has been one of my go-to places.

A little summary of the cafe first, of course:

It’s a cute little cafe that runs close to the Hipster Cafes that are currently trending in Sydney. They have quite a few tables indoors and outdoors which can comfortably seat couples to tables of 10. There’s quirky pictures of goats everywhere as well as the story of the “spirited goat” (the history of the discovery of coffee!). It’s a great place to meet up with people for coffee, although if you wanted to chillout with a book and coffee, the lighting isn’t the best for the eyes.

There’s a great, fresh menu for breakfast/brunch/lunch and the display counter has an amazing selection of sweet treats including the dairy-free/gluten-free/soy-free/refined-sugar-free range from Nourishing Bites. The vibe of the cafe is fresh, healthy and wholesome foods, cooked so that the quality of the ingredients shines through. So think lightly fried/toasted/completely fresh produce and a great mix of colours.

It’s also in a great location at the Precinct near the Precinct Fresh Market as well as the amazing Three Loaves Bakery. I usually take my times of breakfast/brunch at Spirited Goat as time for fresh weekly groceries and bread. And even more amazing is that all the produce that The Spirited Goat uses is FROM these two places!!

Spirited Goat have come up with a new menu late 2015, and when they opened for the New Year, obviously it was a must-try!


Cappuccino + Flat White ($3.80 for a regular, $4.50 for large)

Of course we needed to start off with coffee, which as you can see is beautifully made with pretty latte-art and chocolate dusting. The taste that day was not as dark and robust as I am used to having my coffee at Spirited Goat. Different barista, perhaps? I know at least when owner Mel is at the machine, my heart jumps with joy, as she makes exceptionally AMAZING coffee. Since the Spirited Goat has increased in popularity, they have needed to hire new staff, so Mel is at the machine less these days. Still, I can’t complain because the coffee was still good – that is, it was smooth with no bitter fore/afternote, and was the perfect temperature. Just lacked a bit of depth that Campos coffee normally has.


“The Kid – eggs, avocado, mushroom, cherry tomatoes, beetroot chutney and sourdough bread” ($13) and “Breakfast Burrito – eggs, ham, avocado, cheese, tomato relish, rocket in toasted tortilla” ($11.50)

It’s obvious which one I had. “The Kid” is one of their new items on the menu and honestly, it’s really good and good value! The sourdough is light toasted, eggs fried so perfectly that the eggs run, cherry tomatoes perfectly sweet and lightly charred, avocado fresh, mushroom fresh and tasty and beetroot chutney perfect with ALL OF IT. The serving size is just nice if you’re hungry for a good feed. Everything came out hot and smelling wonderful. Definitely something I’d recommend and would try again.

The “Breakfast Burrito” is hubby’s go-to (although our neighbour got the “Green pea, feta and mint fritters” and he got kind of jealous), and so he had to have it again. It’s one of the few items left from the old menu and it’s obvious why. All the ingredients are fresh and go so perfectly together. It’s definitely a lighter option to the others on the menu, but still should leave most satisfied. If you’re going for something fresh that sits light on the belly, definitely go for it. Everyone I’ve seen eat it loves it (and it’s such a good price as well!!!).

So there we have it. First post and definitely a biased rant, although coffee was a little disappointing this time round.

Do expect more posts about other items on the Spirited Goat menu though! Definitely going to try more on the new menu!

In a Nutshell:

Ambience: 4/5

Coffee: 3/5

Food: 4/5

Service: 3/5

Value for money: 4/5

So ends our first proper post! Hopefully there’ll be more time come 🙂

The Spirited Goat
22/12-18 Village Dr, Idalia QLD 4811
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I still remember when I first heard the word “Amuse-bouche”. It must’ve been the year 2013 when one of the Masterchef challenges included serving these bite-sized hors d’oeuvres to awaiting customers.

I still remember the first time I had the delight of being SERVED an amuse-bouche. It was at Southbank Bar and Grill where we were given little pieces of duck with amazing sauce – absolutely free.

As I hope to continue this blog with the help of my new hubby, there’s a few things that you will see we obsess about – one of which is FREE stuff. And having a free morsel of delish is obviously super-exciting.

But I digress.

The reason I thought to start this new blog with the title “amuse-bouche” is firstly because it’s an interesting word that the general population can’t spell, and secondly because it’s the first food item one consumes when you enter a fancy restaurant.

There’s a two things I hope to accomplish with this blog.

  1. Document our foodie adventures in Townsville – when I personally try to search for nice places to eat, I find it quite hard to decide what to eat when restaurants keep changing and reviews on Zomato/Trip Adviser vary so much. Having a review blog would hopefully help others. It’ll also be a cool journal for myself and food accomplists to remember out eating
  2. Hopefully document my own food adventures in my own kitchen – this one is a bit more hopefully but it could happen!

So shall we start with the first review? It’s one of my favourites! I’ll write it in a different post so it’ll be easier to search for later.

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