The Chameleon. Lurking in the urban jungle, undetected, unknown, blending into the ever changing landscape, sampling everything from fine dining to reviewing take away joints, this lizard loves food possibly a little bit too much.

Julie's at the Rectory

Julies at the Rectory on Urbanspoon

Score: 83/100 

The little villages which dot the backroads around Brisbane are really a bit of motorcycling heaven; from the iconic (and somewhat dangerous) Mount Glorious, through north to Samford and south to Advancetown, the twisty bitumen is very much like a religion, with many followers dutifully descending upon them for an alternate Sunday service. But sooner or later even these road warriors need a rest and Esk affords such an opportunity, especially for those wanting to venture around Somerset Dam, or to make their day longer with a trek up to Maleny. 
   Julie's at Rectory is one common stop in Esk and first impressions hinted at an intimate home-cooked meal ahead. The Queenslander-style guest-house has been converted to a lunch joint and to eat here you have to negotiate a small labyrinth to find the front counter; funnily enough this added to the charm of the place. 
   The menu, or should I say, menus, were a bit of a stumbling block. There was simply too much choice, too many places to look to make a decision. Prices were a touch on the expensive side, but not too silly. I was after a light lunch on this particular day so I opted for a salmon salad; look up 'light lunch' in the dictionary and you will probably see a large white plate with thick edges surrounding a Jackson Pollock inspired beautiful mess of cos lettuce, rocket, salmon and croutons. And at Julie's this is exactly what you get.
   Ordering was pain-free and the waitress, who seemed to be in a slight bit of a rush, was smiling and pleasant. I took my seat, but I wasn't there for long, as I wanted to have a wonder around this old house, see if I could extract a bit of that yesteryear character. One room notably was set up as a kids play room which was a nice touch. Timber EVERYWHERE, and a very relaxed vibe soothed from the walls. You could even eat out the back away from the weekend traffic of the Valley Highway if that was your will. I didn't however have a lot of time to play hide and seek, my coffee was promptly served within a few minutes and not long after the salad arrived; very efficient service and the obvious by-product of having enough staff on to cater for the warriors. 
   I'll go as far as saying the service was outstanding; friendly, prompt, checking in on me, everything you expect in a fine dining restaurant, right there in Esk.
   The salad was fresh and the green part balanced out the salmon perfectly. The rocket was delicious and I can't remember the last time I enjoyed rocket that much in a salad. It had that distinct rocket peppery edge, but was never overpowering, even when the mouthful was dominated by green. The coffee too was gorgeous; a lunch time cap with the right amount of pep.
   Overall, I was very pleased with this little place on the edge of town. Friendly, inviting, glimpses of history and apart from the puzzle that was the lunchtime multiple menus, I would gladly visit Julie's again and next time I'm in town, I think I might do just that. 83/100  

State of Food: New Zealand circa mid 2014

Travelling the land of the long white cloud has been fun over the last two weeks. I visited both islands during the start of winter, snow began to fall, electric blankets were bought out of the wardrobes and good old comfort food once again showed it's face at the dinner table. The burning question before embarking on this trip was to find out just what exactly 'New Zealand food' is. In America they have BBQ and take away giants and pretty much whatever else you can think off. In Australia, a lot centres around steak and seafood and in Europe, meat based dishes and dessert pretty much rule. New Zealand however appears to be stuck, much like Australia, in a weird twilight zone where the term 'national food identity' has difficulty emerging; we all know pavlova is from here, but what else? 
   The food that often presented itself at almost every stop along the way were various forms of pies. But let me ask you, is the universally adopted, seen everywhere pie, really something New Zealand should base it's culinary premise around? A pie? Mind you, there were plenty of decent pies consumed on my trip and in particular a butter chicken pie, something I had never heard of before this trip, was kind of tasty and unique. The quintessential Maori dish is of course the Hangi, but unfortunately you have to sell you soul and take out a mortgage just to get a whiff of this elusive treat, and even then, I doubt you would get your hands on an authentic 'cooked in the ground' treat. 
   I was thus treated to the usual offerings you can pretty much get in any multi-cultural western country, with no vibe of identity gracing the palate. New Zealand has it's fair share of what I am going to call signature restaurants, like Fergburger in Queenstown where I lined up with a weird and wonderful mixture of snow bunnies, hipsters and middle aged couples on their 'lifetime trip' for close to an hour from joining the cue to taking that delicious first bite. These places though are anomalies; they're dotted here and there, they are all different, hence they don't really represent what is essentially New Zealand. And as a side note; of course we all know lamb is common in NZ. But if you're going to simply replace beef with lamb and say it's New Zealandish, I would have to respectfully disagree.
   Did I have some memorable food? Yes, of course, but was it 'New Zealand'? I craved something different, something unique but as hard as I tried searching and probing, I left with an empty feeling that this beautiful country seems to adopt the cuisine of places somewhere else rather than focus on developing it's own unique identity.  

DannyBoys Sandwich Bar

Overall score: 77/100

DannyBoys Sandwich Bar on Urbanspoon

Dannyboys is a hip and funky alternative to Subway tucked away in one of Brisbane's most hip and funky suburbs, Kelvin Grove. The gentrification occurring here is going through like a wrecking ball and Dannyboys is well placed.
At first I was a bit puzzled visiting here. The shop is not in the main shopping area, which doesn't inspire confidence. It's also a bit utilitarian from the front; I kind of had to search for it and I doubt the small A-frame sign at the front would be enough to catch the attention of shoppers just down the road. Regardless, I was glad I found it, and after walking through the doors, the shortcomings of all that hidden facade is all but forgotten. Inside: cool, modern, well designed, completely in sync with its location. The menu looked great, but it was located high, very high in fact, which was an interesting choice. I was greeted by a smiley happy person who put me at easy and while I took a very long time to make my choice, I never felt pressured or like I was an inconvenient annoying wart. A quick notable point were the crates used as stools with a seat pillow as a topper. These are a great up-cycling idea but as I sat there devouring my meal, I noticed it was actually kind of uncomfortable; not uncomfortable like having a haemorrhoid, but more like a slight annoyance to your buttocks.
After what felt like a long time, I ended up with a pumpkin soup entree and a 'Big Bear' (I looooooove sauerkraut). The soup was fine. Tasted like pumpkin soup should, but I have to admit, it was a stock standard soup on this day; no interesting edge, special hit-you-in-the-face spice or herb. The unexpected highlight of my visit was the single piece of accompanying bread roll. This little piece of bread bought back memories of the 'proper bread' I used to devour as an ankle biter; it was light yet crunchy, slightly salty, cooked to perfection and all delicious. A reasonable start.
The sub that followed was a slight disappointment. The bread, for a sub, was overly crunchy for me. It was actually so crunchy (and admittedly probably so fresh out of the oven) it broke through the delicate unaccustomed roof of my mouth. Crunchy bread is fine, but in a thick sub it just didn't work. The ingredients inside were miss-matched. When you see sauerkraut in the ingredients of a sub, you imagine it will have SOME of it in there for a hint of flavour and acidic balance. This sub though was loaded up; now don't get me wrong, I love the stuff almost as much as I love a good game of Origin. In a sub though I am looking for balance, and balance had unfortunately gone for a walk. I couldn't taste the pastrami, the thousand island sauce all but disappeared, which is really saying something, as the main salad ingredient overpowered the dish. All other ingredients disappeared. Did it taste nice? It was kind of OK, but this really was a 'sauerkraut sub'.

You can kind of see what Dannyboys is trying to do; modern, hip, different, the ultimate anti-Subway. It was then such a shame that a good setup became a mediocre meal, with an uneventful pumpkin soup and a tsunami of sauerkraut. The place prides itself on the bread and as well it should, the piece presented with the soup was delightful. In my opinion a slight rethink to restore the balance in their Big Bear sub would fix my visit's low point and perhaps a slightly softer crust on the bread in the sub would have transformed the experience into a memorable fast food alternative. Urbanspoon reviews are very much in the positive so a revisit is definitely on the books. 77/100

State of Food: Restaurant Furniture

Why a restaurant must pay attention to a wobbly table, miss-placed setups or back-achingly uncomfortable chairs.

It's been about a year and a half since I started this blog. Inspired by my glutinous love of food, a human necessity to eat, and the fact that I am often able to eat and get refunds or claim it on my tax (he...he...he), I felt the need to share my culinary thoughts with the world.

During this time I have visited close to 40 restaurants, and while that works out to an average of about only one per fortnight, blogging about the visits has been a little pleasure I afford myself with the little free time I have outside of my busy day job. The views have been steadily growing and I am now entering the dreaded PHASE 2; gettin a bit more serious.

So, welcome to the "State of Food", a new section for the blog that allows me to recap my thoughts around some of the learnings that have occurred.

Restaurant furniture. Tables, chairs. Right? There is so much more to these seemingly mundane pieces of plastic, timber and upholstery, yet, I'm going to say, restaurant furniture is quite possibly the most important asset a food establishment may neglect.

Lets start with tables. Recently I had the pleasure of visiting Kendo's Irish Cafe on Ruthven Street (review coming soon). I was there for lunch and the place was kind of empty which I always like because it means my wait for the gastronomical onslaught is typically short. I was greeted and sat at a table of my choice by a cheery waitress, which of course is a lovely gesture, but it was here that I found that the table was wobbly. In fact, it was excessively wobbly to a point of distraction and actually made eating the stew I ordered problematic.
So? I hear you ask. Well, here is the thing. A part of the experience of dining out is of course the customer service and upon finding out that the table was indeed a bit wonky, the waitress did...nothing. She didn't offer a different table (even though there were numerous empty ones about), she didn't try to rectify the situation at all by fixing it on the spot and overall and it detracted from the experience. I sincerely hope that that table is now lying in some scrap heap, for Kendo's sake.
Table choice is critical; too large and it's difficult to talk to someone across the table (Carousel), too small and it's hard to fit the plates and glasses and handbags and wine (Sofra) and if it's too basic, you feel like the restaurateur just doesn't actually care. The table must also match the setting, just like at Hogs Breath Cafe, where the thick timber works well, but the same tables would look out of place at Bazzar.

Next are those wonderful bum-accommodating chairs. You may have possibly heard that some restaurants DELIBERATELY make you sit on chairs that were designed specifically to be uncomfortable so that you do not decide to camp for hours on end taking up precious floor space after devouring your meal. Places like McDonalds and KFC are the masters at this, but then again, should I really be referring to these as "restaurants"? Unfortunately, there appears to be some out there who pay very little attention to the comfort of their patrons and the decision to dump uncomfortable, although quite possibly stylish looking, chairs next to their tables comes at a hefty price. Subconsciously perhaps, diners may not want to stay for that second bottle of wine after their meal, or the place might miss out on a dessert order after the mains. Some of the best seating so far has been at Phat Burgers where there is a choice in seating, as well as the Federal Hotel, where the simple fabric chairs were quite comfortable.
Another area that is often neglected is waiting chairs/benches for take away customers, or while waiting to be seated. Wagaya definitely gets it right with a comfortable bench seat, while at Thai Tanee my little one and I had to sit at a table next to the busy entrance for a lengthy wait on mediocre no-thrills chairs.

Dining setup. All these tables and chairs need to be spread throughout the dining space and a bit of thought here goes a long way. A great example of good design is at Bistro Gitan where there appears to be some weird dark magic being used to organise formal seating, couple seating and bar-style tables highly effectively to cater for what seems like thousands. Phat Burgers too have a highly effective layout. In other places tables are crammed in, making for a "busy" experience especially at a buffet (read Bazzar) and at Sofra I continually felt squashed in while waitresses flashed by with plates of goodness. I think the key word here is 'balance' and it is this that I find quite a number of restaurants just do not think about. If they are a busy place, they cram more in, if it's doing mainly take-away trade, the tables and chairs are arranged in uninspiring army-dining-hall style lines.

So far it's been a mixed bag; there are some simply superb examples of well executed restaurants where the furniture augments the atmosphere, allows free movement throughout the place and makes you want to stay for another wine or two. But then again, there are dreadful examples of wonky furniture, uncomfortable seating and cramped setups that make you wish you were at one of those plastic booths at Hungry Jacks.

Up Front Club

Overall score: 90/100

Up Front Club on Urbanspoon

Getting lunch in Maleny in a hurry is often quite difficult. This hippie cum chick-cool village, is always bustling with tourists, even on weekdays, and I was fortunate to luck upon a seat at this quaint little joint in the middle of town.  

Whoever designed the interior of the Up Front Club must have known what they were doing, as the interior of this place was masterfully decorated to perfectly match the Maleny 'vibe'. The dark theme that dominated the design worked so well; looking out towards the door, at almost every angle, I got the feeling every view was framed like I was staring out at bizarre moving paintings, which was the hustle and bustle of a typical Maleny lunch time scene. 
The staff were great, especially the waitress who smiled a lot and made meaningless chit chat comfortable.    

I have never had the pleasure of trying arancini balls, so when I saw this unusual Sicilian named dish on the menu, I was up for something new. These had a delicious cheesy center that were melted to perfection and the accompanying salad and pumpkin were wonderfully executed; in fact, the pumpkin was "perfect". It is worthy to note that although I am describing what I had chosen off the lunch menu, the Up Front Club is known for changing it's menu quite frequently and the arancini balls might most likely be no more. If the restaurant gets it's other meals as right as it did on the occasion of my visit, you will not be disappointed.


My visit to the Club was a very pleasant one and I can truly say that as a meat-eater, I have never enjoyed a vegetarian lunch as much as this (mum's cooking excluded of course). The atmosphere of retro-cool with that well designed interior justifies my conclusion that you should visit there next time you're in hippie territory. 90/100  

Thai Tanee (Takeaway)

Overall score: 78/100 (take away adjusted)

Thai Tanee on Urbanspoon

Please NOTE: The Chameleon is switching to a first person writing style as of June, 2014

Travelling regional Queensland is a wonderful experience for many a tourist visiting our shores, but for us Aussies, it's often just a bland experience of one red-neck town after another. Sometimes though, there are places that surprise me, as was the culinary case when I visited Rockhampton not too long ago. You see, for me, Rockhampton has always been that regional hub that you pass through, notice a few people driving their cars with their Acubras on, beef, beef and more pub beef, a place where you wouldn't really see anything 'special' if you know what I mean. Anyway, I was in town and was looking for a place to get some takeaway; Urbanspoon led me to Thai Tanee   


I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to eat on this occasion, so I went to this restaurant at the recommendation of my Urbanspoon app and found a nice, neat, well setup Thai place not far from the CBD. The hostess who took our order was very friendly and there were smiles aplenty which made the experience of ordering very pleasant indeed. For a second, I was lost in this clash of cultures; Rockhampton. Thai food. No Acubras in sight. A nice Asian inspired restaurant.    


As this is a 'takeaway' review, a lot of the final score reflects the actual taste and texture of the food, the balance between dishes, but not the presentation. And as you can see, 78 was the final result. Thai Tanee threw up some amazing surprises, but then there were some unfortunate let downs in critical parts of the dishes. As a staring example, the skewers. The taste was absolutely awesome; nice peanuty flavours dominated each bite and the extra peanut sauce was a very nice touch. But, and unfortunately there was a big but, the chicken was very much dry. 
On the plus side, we found a small serving of cucumber salad with our order and this tasted absolutely divine. It was great that the dryness could be offset just a little with this little pearler of a salad. The main dish was pork and it too was dry; a significant mistake with this type of meat. Again, there was something which offset this setback, and this time it was int he form of the rice. Oh, that delicious rice! It was cooked to perfection and the addition of a very Thai inspired piece of lime worked outstandingly.    


Thai Tanee is a cultural oddity in Rockhampton; a Thai restaurant in the regional beef capital. The food was a mixed bag unfortunately, and the spots of brilliance that came out of the plastic bag, was ruined by dryness where dryness can not be. I would like to re-sample this restaurant next time I visit Rocky, but as a sit down instead.  78/100  

Waves Buffet Restaurant

Overall score: 77/100

Waves Buffet Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Please NOTE: The Chameleon is switching to a first person writing style from this review onwards (June, 2014)

Sometimes, just sometimes, the idea of visiting a buffet seems like a reasonable one. On this occasions, in the company of work colleagues who liked to indulge in a bit of glutinous feasting, I opted to join the group at Waves Buffet Restaurant. The $55 all-you-can-eat option for the night seemed feasible, especially since my day job provider would be picking up the bill. 

The place looks clinical. As I approached the vast open entrance, I remember thinking "...geez, this feels a bit like an airport lounge eatery..." but nonetheless we were greeted by a smiling host and seated quite promptly within a manner of about one minute. On this evening the restaurant was rather quiet, at about 20% capacity, which made it all the better as a full buffet can be a very uncomforting experience, as witnessed by another recent "buffet" trip. My group was seated a small hike from the action, which wasn't such a terrible thing, as it allowed us to have a bit of privacy to part take in our various small talk sessions.  

The staff were wonderful overall, but no one really went out of their way to go the extra mile either. The tables were routinely cleaned slightly later then they should have been and the chef behind the requests counter was cheery enough but again, service that is typical these days in most decent restaurants. 

As I mentioned, the place looked clinical, which was actually quite a positive for a buffet; cleanliness can never be overrated at such an establishment and it felt very much that at this place, there was no place for second rate food to hide.
Without going into extensive detail about all the food, which was of various consistency, I'll touch on a highlight and a lowlight. The highlight was obvious and jumped out at me with two hands; I happened to find tucked away in a corner, the most delicious pork belly! It was a large serving, thick and full of flavour, prepared just as pork belly should be. It was juicy, sticky, full-on flavour punches that kept on coming. The lowlight was definitely the prawns. Flavourless, textureless and very much a disappointing part of the evening for me. When a buffet which prides itself on it's seafood presents such disastrous prawns, the main staple, it is indeed a negative stain on what was an otherwise fine offering all round.   

Waves offered plenty to sing about in a clinical, no nonsense buffet. Overall the food was fantastic and well worth the $55 I paid. A slight blimp was the lack of atmosphere and the flavourless prawns. I think I would visit a few more of the Gold Coast's notable buffets before returning to Waves. 77/100

Amalfi Bistro and Wine Bar

Overall score: 75/100
Amalfi Bistro & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Restaurants attached to hotels/motels/any sort of accomodation really, often has The Chameleon scrambling for his urbanspoon app dreading the bland offerings from the limited menus and the overdone steaks (example here). But also recently, Bazaar was a very acceptable option; and not far from Bazaar was Amalfi Bistro and Wine Bar, attached to the Watermark Hotel and Spa.       

Amalfi is a rather nicely fitted out restaurant at the back of the hotel. The Chameleon had in fact walked past it a couple of times prior to his visit wondering if they were open or not; you see the doors were closed, only a faint glimmer of light emanating indicating life and no doubt a few diners would bypass this for the buffet next door which is open and airy and somewhat more inviting (review to come soon). 

All this hidden-ness does have it's benefits though, as when The Chameleon entered, the place instantly made him feel at ease, relaxed and smooth. The dim lighting and the ambience music worked well, the large window opened the diners to the intermittent traffic outside, the car lights of the metropolitan bustle that is now the Gold Coast seemingly adding to the cosiness of Amalfi.

The Chameleon's group's waitress was young and showed glimpses of professional practice, but alas her inexperience did show through on a number of occasions, for example as she bumbled through some of the menu items. 


The entrees of choice was carpaccio and The Chameleon opted for one of his favourite pasta dishes for the main, Linguine alla Carbonara, from a menu which somehow felt limited.

After a somewhat reasonable wait, the entrees arrived and were well received. The quail egg in particular was masterfully cooked and overall, it got the evening off to a reasonable start. The flavours were very subtle, perhaps a little bit too subtle and The Chameleon was expecting a little bit more for his money, but a great start nonetheless.

The group ordered wine and the evening continued swimmingly as they patiently began the wait for their mains. And wait. And wait. And wait. And then....wait. The mains took an unnervingly long time to come to the table, and although the group was cheerfully engaged in conversation, the topic did turn to the aforementioned waiting time; this should never happen. The Chameleon got to such a point that he began to wonder whether this was a deliberate ploy for diners to buy more wine and alcohol. It wasn't a particularly busy night, perhaps 4-5 tables with a few couples and his group. He wonders still.

The main was indeed very tasty. The carbonara ideal was there and that sauce, although somewhat oily, had beautiful undertones of rich creamy complex flavours. But, what was this meal's triumph was also it's diminishing demise. There was simply too much topping and, dare The Chameleon say it, too much meat! Typically The Chameleon is able to proportion out a meal to finish with one full mouthful, a bit like a special fulfilling ending to a movie, but on this occasion, all the pasta had disappeared with only topping left. The Chameleon was indeed glad when another diner made a similar comment which confirmed his thoughts. Balance.

The wine at this place was amazing. Great examples of somewhat expensive wine, but of course The Chameleon isn't a wine tasting critic, so apart from seemiongly fluking a nice dry match for the somewhat oily pasta, the deep cherry flavours which slipped out of every drop was well appreciated.

The Amalfi Bistro was a relaxing venue which The Chameleon appreciated after a hectic busy day. The food was of a high standard but alas the small entree, the long wait, the lack of balance in the main and the inexperienced waitress all impacted on the overall experience. Would The Chameleon recommend Amalfi? Only if you have time to kill and love a drop or two of fermented grape juice. 75/100

Firefly Cafe (Lunch)

Overall score: 83/100
Firefly Cafe on Urbanspoon

Urbanised, industrial, arty, hipster-y; everything a pretentious cafe should be and, in our capital cities at least, this is exactly what you get. But not in Toowoomba. No, in Toowoomba you get basic, utilitarian, uninspiring, dated; until you visit Firefly.
   Located smack bang in the middle of the CBD, Firefly hides under an unnasumming, simple facade, and really the front of the shop is small and one could quite easily miss it. As The Chameleon entered this ostensible, albeit almost miss-placed for Toowoomba, cafe, his memories took him back to a place not so long ago down in old Melbourne town, a cafe just like this; warm, with a kitch twist like a cafe should. 

   The decor here was well composed with French inspired chairs and wicked rustic tables. The walls adorned with what appeared like a nice batch of modern art and the colour scheme worked a treat. As The Chameleon approached the counter, a puzzling experience enveloped; there was no menu on the wall! Not even for the coffee! Intriguing start. Was this a part of the pretentiousness? Perhaps. 
   Anyway, he asked the lovely waitress whether they were doing lunch and she promptly handed him a very uninspiring menu. Now, keeping in mind that this was lunch, and that Toowoomba has many many offerings of sub $10 lunches (i.e. the outstanding Phat Burgers just up the road) the menu read very high brow, some interesting offerings. The Chameleon however wanted some meat; it's what he had been consuming for lunch for quite some time, however Firefly is not the place to go if you are after a large, filling, protein based meal. And rightly it shouldn't be, after all, it is a cafe, not Hogs Breath CafeSo summing up his options, of which there weren't many by the way, he ended up pointing to the "Roast sweet potato w pork belly & sugarloaf slaw" and hoped for the best. He also of course ordered a cap. 
   The staff were very friendly. Urbanspoon reviewers, some of them anyway, have complained of the lacklustre service, the lack of smiles, making it sound all a bit Twilight. But this was not The Chameleon's experience; chirpy, friendly, warm staff, even asking how my meal was, and to top it all off, going to the extra effort of saying goodbye as he left, even though they were busy. 
   First the coffee. It was nice, quite tasty and very acceptable for a lunchtime pick-me-up. There was an added little touch that really impressed The Chameleon. Next to his cappuccino was a beautiful little heirloom teaspoon, all the way from France. Oh how this delighted him, to see just a little glimpse of style and international thought in this regional city. 
   The main was outstanding. Well, it was rather sweet and the jus was very sweet indeed, but geez that pork belly was cooked to perfection. And the sweet potato was great too, the whole meal worked together like an orchestra performing at it's peak. Great work  Firefly. 
   Firefly Cafe is perhaps the only 'real' cafe in Toowoomba. The air of elegance, of art and style, Firefly delivers an ultra-urban high-brow ambience which would see it fit into any of Australia's major cities, if not internationally. As The Chameleon gazed into busy Ruthven Street, shoppers impatiently running past from shop to shop, he could have been sitting anywhere from Rome, to London, to Copenhagen. A few Hiluxes and Navaras quickly bought him back to reality, but alas, Firefly created the desired mood. 
   The food was great, but a lack of options hindered. Should there be more options is perhaps a more pertinent question to ask, as this was a cafe after all. The menu presentation too needed some more thought, but perhaps the pretentiousness that one desires from a cafe has to surface somewhere. 
   The Chameleon thinks they might be going for the "have your coffee and leave" angle, but "if you are going to eat, then we will get that right". Not a bad effort Firefly. 83/100    


Overall score: 83/100
Sofra on Urbanspoon

On a beautiful balmy night The Chameleon had the delightful task of attending a work social function at Sofra, one of Toowoomba's highly rated restaurants and the city's only Turkish offering. To say that The Chameleon was looking forward to this visit is a bit of an understatement; urbanspoon consistently rates this establishment in the Top 5 for the Darling Downs Region. 

Sofra is located on Toowoomba's well known Margaret Street and on this particular night, it was lucky that parking was not a problem, something that has detracted from the initial CBD experience in the past. Upon entering, perhaps with the preconceived notion that this place was going to be top class, The Chameleon instantly felt at ease. There was a certain warmth, an almost homely feel to the place, with colourful tablecloths, plenty to look at on the walls, and the exquisite use of timber throughout all added to a very well consummated experience. 

The Chameleon's group was seated upstairs on this particular occasion, which gave a a great view of the place, and allowed The Chameleon to perform his critique from a great perch. 

The waitresses were fine yet somehow uninspiring. It was a somewhat busy night and no doubt a few of the girls were just going through the motions. They weren't rude, they didn't make mistakes, but at the same time, there was no extra attention, asking how our meals were, etc. etc.; a stock standard experience. So, the wonderful decor of the place was offset somewhat by lackluster, albeit acceptable, hospitality. 

Also of note was the lack of ambience music. While the chatter of the customers did create some level of privacy, a little Turkish melody wouldn't have hurt. A slight mistake  none-the-less The Chamelon thinks. 

Sofra excelled here overall. The Chameleon ordered lamb cutlets and man, they were outstanding! Although the presentation was somewhat lacking, that 'flame grilled to perfection' flavour came through in buckets, and the textures were just right. They were accompanied by two pieces of rather large flat breads, which were far too much and the meal presented somewhat thrown together on the plate, but none of this really mattered; the cutlets were THAT good. There was also a very tasty side dish of yoghurt, but the olives that came out were a bit hit and miss.     
Of particular note was the use of clay pots for some of the Chameleon's colleagues' meals and it's this sort of unique dining that ads just that hint of interest. 

The desert, strangely, worked very well by accident perhaps. The krem karamel had been burnt and this created a bitter edge. Typically this is a big no no; a bitter desert? But on this occasion, in the way this dish presented overall, the bitterness actually nicely offset the overly sweet, a balance if you will. Was this a mistake or is this the way this desert was supposed to be? The Chameleon needs to research further.


The highly successful execution of the decor and the quality food combined effectively at Sofra. The lack of ambience music and the so so service were a slight distraction, but not enough to really offset the overall feel. A must visit in Toowoomba. 83/100