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Brisbane

brisbane cafe rosalieThanks to Brisbane's location on the Queensland Coast, seafood is abundant and fresh. Favorite choices are wild barramundi, clams, mussels, mud crabs and Moreton Bay bugs (crustaceans with a strong flavor). Favorite dishes, direct from the Outback, include farm-raised kangaroo and, of course, steak. Queensland is farm country, so expect plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit. With the recent influx of immigrants from around the world, many ethnic cuisines -- especially Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Indonesian -- are now available in Brisbane.

Australian wines are varied and excellent; they range from inexpensive to some of the best in the world. On Australian menus, entrees or small plates are first courses or appetizers, and main courses or big plates are just that. The price of food includes the tax, and at informal restaurants and cafes, gratuities are not expected. In the better restaurants, 10 percent is generous.

In Brisbane, a good destination for lunch is Riverside, a CityCat stop adjacent to the city center. It has numerous restaurants on tiered levels, most of which face the Brisbane River. Some have outdoor cafe seating.

The Coffee Club, which has several locations in the city center, is an inexpensive choice for light meals. You order your battered fish and seasoned chips, lemon pepper calamari, or filet burger with a salad garnish at a counter, and it will be delivered to your table. For river views, stop by the Eagle Street Pier location.

Watt Restaurant & Bar is located at the Brisbane Powerhouse. This popular location, directly on the Brisbane River, used to house the power plant that ran Brisbane's trams. It's now a multi-use arts center and restaurant complex. Watt is on the ground floor facing the river with both indoor and outdoor seating. Small plates feature braised duck spring rolls and pulled pork taquitos, while large plates include pork belly, Moreton Bay bug linguine, and risotto with asparagus and mint. Take the CityCat to New Farm Park and walk five minutes downstream along the riverside to the restaurant.

The Summit, located at the Mt. Coot-tha Lookout in Toowong, is a contemporary Australian restaurant, housed in a rambling bungalow with modern additions and outstanding views of Brisbane and Moreton Bay. Try seared deep-sea scallops, grilled saltwater barramundi, fillet of Hereford beef or spinach and goat cheese frittata.

Zafron on Brunswick, located in the New Farm neighborhood, earns rave reviews for its unique Persian/Mediterranean dishes. The signature menu offering, Caspian chicken, features a chicken fillet topped with pomegranate nectar, roasted pinenuts and creamy saffron sauce. Other options include slow-cooked lamb stew, cherry rice with Persian meatballs and vegetarian tagine.
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