A couple of Saturday afternoons ago I was cold, sitting at home and feeling very sorry for myself. C had taken off to the coast, and I had to stay in Bris for some family reasons. Boring. Boring Boring.
I knew one of my friends 'the puddle duck' was staying in town for the weekend, and that her sister was visiting. The puddle duck is lots of fun and I don't spend enough time with her so I thought it could be cool to hang out - she always cheers me up! Turns out the puddle duck had plans, dinner at Park Road and then a movie close by. Thankfully, she didn't mind me tagging along!
When she mentioned the name of the place , I didn't instantly recognise it, which is very strange because I drive up Park Rd twice a day, and know all the restaurants along the strip. When she described the place, I realised that it was the newish (6months maybe more?!) joint that I had been meaning to try but hadn't got around to. Score. Even though this is totally food blogger bitchy of me, I really like going to new places so I can blog them! Eating out is expensive and I have a mounting credit card debt to pay off, so I'm becoming a bit more spend savvy (more on this dilemma another time) which means it is always a bonus if you can blog the place you are eating at.
The place turned out to be Alegria, located at the old Bella Notte site. You may have seen the hilarious sign up for about 12 months before it opened proclaiming it was a 'Totally New and Exciting Meditteranean Bistro.'
So, now I knew where I was headed I put my coat and heels on . The puddle duck and I had decided to risk it and not make a booking, there were only 3 of us and it was relatively early on a Saturday night. First mistake. Always book on Saturday nights. Brisbanites are early diners and if the food is anywhere half decent, it pays to book, just in case.
Peering in the window at the packed full bistro, I stood outside by the small heat of an outdoor heater, waiting for the puddle duck and her sister to arrive whilst pondering what to do. Suddenly a booming voice from behind says 'It's too cold out here, why don't you come inside to wait?' In my distressed and chilled state I replied that I didn't have a booking. The lovely smiling man (which I later found out is the owner/manager) asked me how many people I needed a table for, and when I replied three, he told me he would 'sort it out' and ushered me in from the cold.
The owner quickly organised for another place to be added to the last table in the whole house, a two person table close to the corner. Whilst it was a little cramped, I was warm and grateful to have any table at all. The puddle duck and her sister arrived and after a super quick catch up, we perused the menu whilst noticing there was quite a nice bar located at the back of the restaurant.
The puddle duck had dined before so I was happy to take her suggestions. The tapas proved too tempting to pass up and the puddle duck also insisted on ordering 1 litre of Sangria for $28. I spotted the cocktail list (you know how I love a good cocktail) and despite the cold, HAD to order an Alegria for $12- Limoncello, mint, lemon sorbet, lemonade with a cherry on top. Limoncello is possibly my FAVOURITE Liquer and I find it very hard to look past, particularly when teamed with lots of other lemony goodness and mint.
The puddle duck let S (her sister) and I choose the tapas and with the help of another friendly waitress we decided upon a nice little mix of goodies. The staff here were WONDERFUL. The atmosphere was casual and the staff were laid back, yet our water glasses were always full, the staff were constantly scanning to see if anything could be done, and they were totally polite.
A nice surprise, an amuse bouche, arrived at the table. Olives seemed like the perfect start to the tapas we had ordered, although they were a little too bitter for the S.
S and the puddle duck then tucked into some crusty bread with eggplant salsa $8.9.
They both really enjoyed the salsa which had a chunky but silky texture.
I decided not to eat any because bread often makes me feel a little bloated and I wanted to save space for the garlic prawns with white wine and chilli, which was also served with crusty bread ($16.9). The prawns were fresh and meaty and the sauce was sweet with a very slight hint of chilli, but for me, the garlic just wasn't punchy enough. As you can see, there are large slices of garlic but the taste was far too subtle.
The arrival of the scallops shocked me. I guess eating out a lot makes you have preconceptions about what things are going to look like- and these just didn't look anything like what I had thought. They were described as seared scallops on caramelised apple and onion mayonnaise and arrived as creamy soup like plate with scallopes bouncing in. The presentation wasn't bad- just not what I had expected. Tucking in revealed that the scallops were delightful- fat and juicy and seared for the perfect amount of time. The 'mayonnaise' had a pleasant oniony bite, but was a little too soupy for me. I would have preferred to have the scallops just lightly dressed in the mayonnaise rather than swimming in it, but the flavours worked remarkably well together and the dish was pleasant.
We had a tough decision choosing between the two types of peppers on the menu, but eventually went with the Roasted sweet peppers filled with feta ($12.9). The other option was piquillo peppers stuffed with salt cod($13.9), and although I would have liked to have tried them, I wasn't disappointed with our choice. The sweetness from the peppers had leeched into the feta making it a nice combination. The rocket and onion complimented the dish quite well.
For me, the star of the night award goes to the chorizo on a shaved fennel salad with a fino sherry dressing $13.9. The chorizo was peppery but very sweet and the sherry dressing was a lovely touch. The fennel salad didn't overpower, but added that wonderfully aniseedy element.
The puddle duck and S loved the Sangria and the puddle duck believes that it is possibly some of the best Sangria she has had in Bris.
To top off our meal, the staff brought out a little pressie for our table (they do for everyone), what I think was a shot of grand marnier, and a little bottle of prosecco to top it with. Alongside came a liquer soaked strawberry that tasted like it contained enough alcohol to get a large bear dancing! This was a lovely little touch, to wonderful service all through the evening.
This little bistro has some interesting menu choices and offers great service. The food didn't blow my mind, but it was consistently good and the atmosphere was lively and warm. I will head back there in the future, but will remember to make a booking next time, so I don't nearly miss out!
When to go: When it's cold outside and you are in need of some warm hospitality. The breakfast menu also offers some different options if you want a change from bacon and eggs.
Tell me, have you ever lucked out and had to change plans because you failed to make a booking?
Shop 11, 20 Park Road
Milton Brisbane QLD 4064
(07) 3369 7775