a cheap and cheerful Greek cafe with a no-decor feel. Located
in a busy restaurant strip on Hardgrave Road in Hill End,
this place is filled to bursting nearly every night of the
week and no wonder. Dishes like chicken yiros come to the
table mounded over a heap of fresh salads, herbs and a round
of grilled flatbread and topped off with a splash of yoghurty
dressing. Vegetarians are well catered to with stuffed tomatoes,
zucchinis and mushrooms, marinated white beans with a lemony
dressing and grilled haloumi cheeses. Most things are AUS$10.00
or under and the servings are generous and very very good.
The most authentic Thai cooking in Queensland can be found
at Thai Wi Rat
in Duncan Street (no. 20) Fortitude Valley, only strolling
distance from Brisbane's best club venues. Duncan Street
is known as Chinatown Mall, which runs parallel to the Valley
Mall on Brunswick Street. The food is great - Australians
have a sweet tooth in general and the majority of Thai restaurants
have adjusted their cooking to suit. Not Thai
Wi Rat, however! The usual suspects are
on offer, prepared and cooked far better than anywhere else
you will find in Brisbane. There are also a number of more
unusual dishes on offer on the eccentrically spelt menu,
like various offal in Thai spices. Thai
Wi Rat is truly awesome - a must if you
are sick of "Australian-ized" Thai cooking. This is no expense-account
restaurant - most dishes are under AUS$15 and you queue
to order your meals.
My favourite neighbourhood eatery is Happy's
Chinese Restaurant in Civic, Canberra, Australia.
Located in a basement in Garema Place, it is cheap, cheerful
and very yummy. The service is quick if you want it to be
(especially as the cinemas are just around the corner) or
you can linger with a book if you're solo or arguing life,
the universe and everything with friends. I discovered this
place when I was a student almost 20 years ago. You can
get a satisfying meal for the family for under $50 and for
a single the combination soups and rice noodle dishes make
a good meal for under $10. Jason and his family have run
the restaurant for as long as anyone can remember and if
you go there more than a few times they will remember your
name. Booking is not essential, especially if you eat early
or late (kitchen closes at 10pm), but it's advisable on
Fridays and Saturdays. Happy's
is Canberra's best kept secret.
from Melbourne, Australia...
I found the small, bustling Il
Solito Posto restaurant quite by accident.
This Italian treat is located off Collins Street (#113),
in a basement, down St. George Parade, one of Melbourne's
many little lanes. It's actually two little restaurants
in one -- a moderately priced cafe with the day's specials
on a chalk board, and in the back, a trattoria with more
formal service and wider menu. I chose the cafe and enjoyed
it tremendously. There were lots of younger people and a
smattering of older couples here and there -- everyone,
including the servers, laughing and joking from table to
table. The decor definitely adds to the easy atmosphere
-- brown lacquered tables, metal and wicker chairs, tiles
in earth tones and exposed painted pipes running along the
ceiling. IL Solito Posto serves swell crusty bread, the
by-the-glass wine selection is good, and pricing is fair.
I chose a chicken salad on greens with a delicious balsamic
dressing, my lemon tart dessert was yummy and coffee just
right. The folks to my right were enjoying Spaghetti Carbonara
with great gusto. Highly recommended as a solo dining experience.
||Lisa from Melbourne,
First and best local restaurant in my books is Cicciolina
(130 Acland Street, St Kilda), the place where I first met
my sweetheart nine years ago. Named after the stripper voted
into the Italian Government it has been our special place
(and many other Melburnians, too) since then. We love the
superb attention you receive from the wait staff, the divine
food and the fact that you CAN'T book. Now that might put
some off but we always get in and not because we're 'regulars'
but we usually go earlyish (before 7pm) or for lunch (early
again 12pm). They have a bar at the back (and there's no smoking
at all in restaurants or bars here now). Owned by three women,
two of whom are the chefs, we eat the most gorgeous meals
(faves are the thai fish cakes with lime mayonnaise, ceviche
of tuna with dill, olive oil and crusty toasted bread, with
a lovely glass of bubbly and ended with a luscious dark chocky
pudding with hot chocolate inside, cream and persian fairyfloss
on the side! Phone: (03) 9525 3333. This restaurant doesn't
have its own website, check this review that I found: http://www.miettas.com.au/Australia/Victoria/St_Kilda/Cicciolina.html)
from Sydney, Australia...
Lavender Blue Cafe is located in McMahon's
Point near an exquisite bay called ... you guessed it, Lavender
Bay. It's a fabulous summer meeting point for lunch or dinner
or coffee with friends. Sitting outdoors you are surrounded
by lots of huge trees in one of the oldest parts of Sydney.
The excellent menu is peppered with fabulous Aussie seafood
and delicious crisp white wines.
The Thai Connection Restaurant
(Fitzroy Street., Kirribilli) is within
walking distance of the park at the northern end of the
Sydney Harbour Bridge. Sitting on the upstairs balcony in
the balmy summer air, you can treat yourself to Laksa -
a spicy coconut sauce with noodles, bean sprouts, lemon
grass, chicken and candle nuts. A true taste sensation!
As for eating and drinking in the Rocks, try the Thai restaurant
called Sailors Thai
located at 106 George Street. There is an expensive version
(downstairs) and a cheaper version where guests eat at one
long table community style at street level. This spot is
fun, innovative and delicious. If you're a solo traveller
just introduce yourself to the diners on either side of
you. Aussies are extremely friendly.
Another convenient and delicious place for lunch if you
are sightseeing near Macquarie Street is the Courtyard
located right in the courtyard of Sydney Hospital. A lot
of tourists don't know it's there -- so let's make this
our secret. Courtyard Cafe serves great pasta, other Italian
goodies, huge servings, all reasonably priced.
* For more information on
Australia see: http://www.journeywoman.com/girltalk/girl_talk_oz.html
Megan from Auckland, New
A great place to eat in Auckland, New Zealand is the Canton
Café, 477 New North Rd, tel: 0-9-846
7888. It is about a 15 minute bus ride from the central
city in a funky inner-city neighborhood called Kingsland.
It serves Chinese food from the Canton region using only
the freshest, tastiest produce and meat at extremely good
prices. The Canton Café is always packed with large
Asian families enjoying feasts and you'll have fun joining
the crowd. Or you can order their takeaway to enjoy either
in the local park or back in your hotel room. I guarantee
a taste sensation.
||Kirstin in Christchurch, New
with Gas is my favourite restaurant in Christchurch
serving New Zealand cuisine. The cost of a main meal ranges
from $NZ32 to $NZ38 but it is well worth the money. At the
moment they have Pork Belly, Prime fillet of Beef, Hallmark
of Lamb and Escalope of Turkey on the menu. The restaurant
is set in a beautiful old Christchurch villa just across the
road from the Arts Centre (which used to be the University
of Canterbury in a previous life). Address: 23 Worcester Boulevard.
Bookings are essential. Website: www.cooknwithgas.co.nz
Susan from Whangarei, New
There is a restaurant here (in the Kensington area ) called
Deco. The food is wonderful, the service
exquisite, the art deco atmosphere a nice change from the
usual decor favoured by today's restauranteurs. An appetizer
will run you $4 to $8 USD. Main courses $10 to $16 USD.
Desserts $5 to $6 USD. This is fine dining with the freshest
ingredients and best of all you don't have to "dress to
the nines" for dinner. This is after all, New Zealand!
Australia and New Zealand