Mediterranean dreams turned into reality

International travel may still be off the cards but that doesn’t mean you can’t fly straight into the heart of Southern Italy whenever you feel like it – at least for the next five weeks.

From March 25 – May 3 escape Oz by jetting straight to W Brisbane’s WET Deck where you can live out your best life and Italian dreams with an exclusive menu curated by MasterChef Australia alum Laura Sharrad and a special cocktail menu created by Aperol’s expert mixologists.

My darling Josh and I dressed up to fit the European summer vibes and after a long week of intense rainfall and flooding on the East Coast, we couldn’t be happier to see blue skies and feel the sun shine down on us. I opted for a thin black maxi dress from Assembly Label paired with heels, large freshwater pearl earrings and ‘natural’ but glowy makeup to give that subtle sunkissed look (see here).

We started the night with an Aperol icon.

DRINKS

We attended the activation of the five-star hotel’s Endless Summer last night where we arrived at golden hour and started off with a bright and refreshing Aperol Spritz ($19) – the iconic combo of Aperol, Prosecco and soda water garnished with an orange of course and served in a custom glass. You can’t go wrong with a classic spritz.

The Spritz was followed by the vegan-friendly Ruby Sherbet ($18) – a mixture of Aperol, ruby grapefruit, Angostura Bitters, thyme syrup, and finished with an aquafaba foam. Thyme’s mild flavour profile makes it complementary to fruity flavours and an excellent pairing with Aperol, not to mention is on-theme as a Mediterranean native. Neither of us loved this flavour combination that much, but can appreciate the concept.

Our favourite cocktail of the night was served next – Bella! ($19) made with Aperol, Pinot Grigio, strawberry puree, soda water and watermelon foam. With its beautiful pink summertime aesthetic served with a in a wine tumbler. We definitely helped ourselves to seconds. This is one for anybody with a sweet tooth.

After Bella! came Nonna Would Drink This ($20) and I can tell you that this indeed would be the cocktail for your grandparents. This combination of Aperol, Appleton Estate Rum, Amaro Montenegro and agave (aged in an ex-Negroni barrel) would sit well in the hands of a person who’s spent their life well-travelled. Smokiness lingers on the tongue and amplifies the strength of the alcohol’s taste on this one.

The night ended with an East ‘8’ Hold-Up ($18), a summer tipple consisting of Aperol, vodka, pineapple, passionfruit and lime is the cocktail of choice for those who enjoy sours but still like a touch of sweet in their lives. Excellent over ice.

See pics of the other cheeky cocktails here.

W Brisbane’s Endless Summer menu features a classic Aperol Spritz and gorgeous potato hash. Picture: Supplied

FOOD

As for eats, we had some whipped ricotta, local honey, black pepper with Gnocco Fritto ($24), which is essentially an Italian deep fried bread that I could eat forever.

The ocean’s influence in the menu is clear with a range of seafood options making it perfect for pescatarians. Their solid selection of Mediterranean inspired bites is mostly gluten-free and has a reasonable range of yummy vegetarian options too.

We also tried the hand picked mud crab and pickled cucumber fingers ($44) and the potato cake with creme fraiche, smoked salmon roe and chives ($33). We absolutely loved the mud crab fingers, which were so delicate, balanced and delicious. The potato cake was also great and tasted like a super crunchy hash brown. Creme fraiche added a lovely contrasting texture and freshness to the deep fried potato, with the smoked salmon roe adding pops of salt in every bite.

Our final savoury dish of the night was Mooloolaba whole BBQ king prawns cooked with chilli, parsley and cured egg yolk ($45). This was aesthetic as hell. Cooked perfectly, the chilli and parsley are timeless seafood seasonings that enhanced the cooked prawns’ flavour. The richness of the egg yolk was a fab addition. I’ll upload a photo on Instagram tomorrow.

To finish or if you’re just feeling like a sweet treat, I recommend the Sorbetto Cones ($20) which come with both strawberry and lemon flavours. The tang and zing leaves your mouth feeling clean and is such a nice way to round off the night. It brings us full circle having started with the fruity bitterness of the Aperol and ending with an ice-cool fruity treat that’s light on the tummy.

(Left to right) Whipped ricotta, Gnocco Fritto, Burrata, Salumi Plate. Picture: Supplied

MasterChef’s Laura Sharrad hopes to transport guests to another time and place with her specially curated menu that features classic Mediterranean dishes using QLD’s freshest ingredients for the W Brisbane x Aperol collaboration.

“We’re so fortunate to have such beautiful summer ingredients still in season,” Pasta queen Laura Sharrad says.

“Fresh local seafood and berries are quintessentially summer and I have naturally featured them in the menu for an Endless Summer,” she says.

Masterchef Australia’s Laura Sharrad curated the exquisite menu on offer during the W Brisbane x Aperol’s Italian dream. Picture: Supplied

On another note, the service at the WET Deck is always so awesome. The staff are always so helpful, knowledgeable and are always open to having a quick chat and receiving feedback on current menu items.

There’s also no plastic waste produced by guests, which always gets bonus points for me. Keeping to their five-star standard, all their flatware and cutlery are real, which obviously means they can just be washed and reused time and time again. Depending on the drink, they’ll use paper straws or no straw at all.

W Brisbane is bringing these European holiday vibes every Thursday to Sunday for the next five weeks, so if you don’t have any plans this weekend, bring a mate or a date along and sip on a Spritz and feel the Italian Summer glitz and soak in the stellar river views from Level 4’s WET Deck.

For more info, contact W Brisbane at +61 7 3556 8888 and stay up to date by following their Facebook and Instagram.

*I attended W Brisbane’s Endless Summer as an invited guest

Jimmy Wah’s

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Jimmy Wah’s

Address: 1724 Gold Coast Hwy,
Burleigh Heads, QLD, 4220

Trading hours: Wednesday-Monday 12:00pm-2:30pm and 5:30pm-9:30pm 

Phone: 07 5659 1180

VIETNAMESE | FINE DINING

Positioned in the heart of the beachside suburb of Burleigh, Jimmy Wah’s is a modern Vietnamese restaurant serving up good food and great service. It is highly recommended to book a table although walk-ins are most welcome. One of my favourite people took me here for a Wednesday dinner. A cool atmosphere with polished concrete floors, oak benches and tabletops, chairs padded in olive green and a large hand-painted Jimmy Wah from Good Morning, Vietnam planted with his signature grin.

Kingfish Sashimi

We began the night with the Kingfish Sashimi served with crispy fried onions, Thai basil, and a finger lime and coconut dressing ($16). This was THE dish of our night. It was amazing – flavours layered together carefully to create a delicate starter. Though we went for something modern to kick off our dinner, they serve the classic bành mi ($5/$12) and rice paper rolls ($10). 

For mains, we shared a main size Pho Bo ($10/14) a much beloved Vietnamese noodle soup dish, Jimmy’s version consisting of beef sirloin, brisket, oxtail stock, green onion, rice noodles, bean sprouts, coriander. It was very dark in colour though and not visibly appealing to the eye. It did however have a pleasant aroma and I did really enjoy this pho! Again with the layers – the flavours not muddled. 

We also shared a King Prawn Curry featuring shrimp paste, straw mushrooms, and snow peas ($34) with steamed rice ($4). This was unfortunately mediocre and even more so due to the spectacular sashimi.  We agreed it was tasty but had no wow factor.  My mother is a talented cook and anyone else who understands Viet/Thai curries would be able to make something similar if not the same curry.

Despite our criticism, I’d say it ticks the boxes for key components of Vietnamese cuisine: light, fragrant, not overly spicy and the balance between sweet, sour and salty – combinations co-owner and head chef, Jake Cooley learned during his Southeast Asian travels. 

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Pho Bo

Jimmy Wah’s would be suitable to most – much of their menu caters for those dairy and gluten free, but they do only have limited vegetarian options – more which can be done at your request however. The full menu can be found here. There are still a heap of great options so if you find yourself stuck, simply request the staff to “Feed me”, where a selection of Jimmy’s best menu items are put together for you for $59.

If the food isn’t enough to get you going, the cocktail list featuring traditional Vietnamese flavours just might.  It includes fun drinks like the Bubble Mai-Chai Tea ($15) – spiced rum, mango, coconut milk, tapioca pearls and the Pink Dragon ($16) – gin, grenadine, lychee liqueur, raspberry.

I wouldn’t consider the layout of the restaurant the most family friendly… However, it does its job as a modern fine dining restaurant and would consider it a quality destination for date night or a night with the ladies.  I’m a fan of the 60s and 70s jams that fill the space providing the soundtrack of the military during that time, and the staff dressed classily to the Vietnamese motif inspired by traditional rice field workers clad in white linen shirts and grey culottes.  You may not be able to greet Jimmy Wah’s ‘Good Morning’ 😉 but Good Evening, Vietnam.

Overall experience: 7/10

Photos: Jimmy Wah’s and Monique Pueblos

Jamie’s Italian Brisbane 

Jamie's Italian Brisbane
Jamie’s Italian Brisbane

Address: 237 Edward Street, Brisbane, QLD, 4000

Trading hours: Monday-Sunday 11:30am-10pm

Phone: 07 3144 3000

ITALIAN

Situated in a classic heritage building, Jamie’s Italian Brisbane is a marvellous split-level restaurant and bar. Although recommended to make reservations, walk-ins are more than welcome if tables are available.  On this occasion we went for lunch on a Monday and yes there was a queue.  As Terry Durack from Table Talk said a few years ago, Jamie’s Italian, regardless of the city it is located and the great or poor reviews it receives; it will continue to do well, because of the Jamie effect.  The food was absolutely wonderful and the service was paralleled.  We had a very lovely waitress, quite calm and cheerful, and it appears that all the staff knows the menu to a tee, they also explained the specials and could recommend suitable dishes.  But before you wrap your fork around your Al Forno or dive into your Fish in a Bag, try one of Jamie’s creative cocktails or a non-boozy refresher ($6.45): lemon, elderflower cordial, cranberry juice & lemonade. I hear the Espresso Martini, Pappa “G” and Jamie’s Grown-Up Iced Tea are just a few of the alcoholic hits.

Italian Nachos
Italian Nachos

We started with the Italian Nachos ($11.25) this time, deep fried, four-cheese filled ravioli served with arrabiata sauce, which were nice, innovative and fun but not amazing.  The Famous Polenta Chips ($9) however, are sensational.

Porcini Fettucini
Porcini Fettucini

Both in main sizes, I ordered the Porcini Fettuccine ($14.5/24.5): a superb combination of fresh mushrooms, garlic, lemon gremolata, Parmesan and herby breadcrumbs and my friend had the Rigatoni Carbonara ($15/25): Crispy pancetta, buttery leeks and a traditional carbonara sauce.  To end our lunch, we savoured every bite of the Creamy Panna Cotta ($8.5), topped with seasonal fruit compote, the crunch of the fruit complimenting the delicate melt-in-your-mouth vanilla goodness.  You don’t feel rushed to finish your meal which makes the experience that much better.  

Creamy Panna Cotta
Creamy Panna Cotta

Jamie’s Italian is suitable for just about everyone, with a wide range of vegetarian options and for every occasion: date nights, a drink and a snack with the mates, a family lunch; there’s an adorable and healthy kids menu. You can find the entire menu hereOverall, although Jamie’s menu consists of Italian food that is both genuine and not so much, the splendid taste of the food accompanied by great service and a cool ambience with that Jamie charm is more than enough to keep me returning.  Have you been to Jamie’s Italian?  What are the best Italian restaurants you’ve been to?

Food: 7.5/10

Overall experience: 8.5/10