Decided to head to Chinatown on Saturday night for Diwali celebrations in Brisbane! At first it seemed a bit quiet but when we returned later after having dinner, it was buzzing with Indian music playing, dancers on-stage and people soaking up the atmosphere. After a while, the crowd began to move towards an open area where large fire crackers were ready to be lit. Everyone waited in suspense. I was standing amongst a group of young Indian guys who were laughing and joking together. I could almost imagine I was somewhere in India which brought back great memories of my travels there in 2006. When the firecrackers went off, the noise was deafening as they burnt down. That was very exciting for Leo of course and he was still talking about it this week.
We’ve had our first real test of our parenting style over the last couple of weeks with the transition of Leo to a toddler bed. Andrew removed the sides of the cot a couple of months ago and for the first few days, it took quite a while to get Leo to stay in his bed and go to sleep.
But for the next month he settled into a routine where he would happily go to sleep himself after several bedtime stories, fulfilling his requests for his water bottle and a soft toy, perhaps a bed-time song and a number of ‘good-nights’ paraphrased in various ways. However, we congratulated ourselves on the relatively smooth adjustment.
First mistake: Never underestimate the capacity of a toddler to change at the drop of a hat.
We decided to venture out for a special dinner with Leo in tow last night. We’ve been out with Leo occasionally for a casual meal in the evening but not to any “Good Food Guide” establishments.
Andrew’s sister and brother-in-law gave us the Brisbane Good Food Guide before we moved up so yesterday we picked one of the restaurants reviewed, Deer Duck Bistro in Auchenflower. I love the suburb name – Auchenflower – but had no idea where it was. I was pleased to discover that it is an inner city suburb and only 15 minutes from us.
The description of the place sounded interesting and I was expecting grungy and electic. Eclectic was right but definitely not grungy. The decor was mesmerising with modern fixtures and paintwork contrasting with antique gold-framed painings adorning the walls, one a full-length portrait of an old-world aristocrat garbed in royal robes; an eclectic mix of plush, velvet antique chairs; wooden tables; other antiques; subdued lighting; and jazzy music playing in the background, all providing a warmth and intimacy.
On one side of our large wooden table, we sat on an antique settee (which turned out to be a bonus because it gave Leo a bit of space to move around). Antique cutlery was set out around modern place mats.
It was a set menu last night (not sure if it is like that every weekend). For the starter, we all shared a plate of home-made dips, pate, olives, sausage, pulled duck and breads. We chose the duck for the main which was tender and delicately presented with baby vegetables. For dessert, we had poached pears with pistachio semi-freddo. It was nice of the staff to bring a bowl of ice-cream and strawberries for Leo.
The staff were very accommodating of our sophisticated little 2 year old who loves olives and thoroughly enjoyed each course (I must admit, it’s hard sharing food that good though). Leo was very taken by the painting hanging on the wall behind of us of 3 courtiers in long, black boots, red coats and black hats who he proclaimed were pirates. I managed to keep him busy with a story and crayons in between courses. Doesn’t do much for dinner conversation with one’s spouse but hey, getting out and experiencing a place like that is worth it!
It was a little disappointing that the two wines we first chose were not available but the Shiraz we were offered in the end was really good and I was very happy that we were provided with a decent amount in the glass. That was in contrast to our experience at Melbourne’s iconic Vue de Monde last year where we were poured a pitiful thimbleful. I thought it was hilarious that the wine Andrew chose at Vue de Monde was more expensive than mine and he was poured less than me!! At $30+ a glass, that was laughable.
If you are vegetarian, I’d steer clear of Deer Duck bistro because there isn’t much on offer for non-meat eaters and you may be offended by the large stag’s head on the wall. I guess the name of the place says it all. But if you are partial to a bit of animal protein now and then, I do recommend Deer Duck Bistro both for the ambience and the food.
(image: postcard courtesy of Deer Duck Bistro)