You’ve probably seen the ads on TV and heard all the goss from the reality show enthusiast in the office (we’ve all got one), so you probably know that a new cooking show is coming to Channel Seven called Restaurant Revolution.
Restaurant Revolution sees five teams from around Australia competing for $200,000 in a restaurant challenge.
But this isn’t like My Kitchen Rules — each team is in charge of designing and running their own pop-up kitchen and each week they’ll be judged by a group of experts, customers and their profit margin.
And of course, the best and most profitable restaurant of the series will win the grand prize.
I was fortunate enough to attend a private launch of the Brisbane restaurant Puerto on Sunday 12 July, and I must say it was a great experience.
Located on the Playhouse lawn at QPAC in South Bank, Puerto is owned by contestants John, Justine and Maggie, boasting a rather unusual concept of ‘East meets Mex’ with a combination of South American and Asian cuisines.
Partners John and Justine came up with the idea after being inspired by their time spent travelling throughout Mexico and South America, as well as drawing on Justine’s and her mum Maggie’s Asian heritage.
After returning from their travels, John and Justine set up their own food truck, Puerto Taco, which has become quite popular at food markets around Brisbane. This is where their passion for food took off, and they decided to apply for Restaurant Revolution with the help of Justine’s mum Maggie.
Their restaurant is basically a shipping container that has been transformed into a fun Mexican and Asian themed dining space.
When you first walk into the restaurant, your eyes are drawn to the decor (apart from the TV cameras everywhere), consisting of a mixture of Mexican and Asian colours, with traditional Asian fans on the wall, as well as surf boards, family photos and travel pics.
On the night, I spoke to the lovely Justine about the decor.
“We’re not from a designing background so we had no idea how to style it, I’m actually an engineer so I was definitely out of my comfort zone,” she laughed.
Personally, I think the mix of colours work and the photos make the space so much more personal and homely.
Sitting there enjoying the live entertainment — Mexican singers wearing big Sombreros interrupted by drums and dancing Asian dragons — I kept thinking about what the food was going to be like. Nowhere have I ever had a Mexican and Asian inspired dish; it was new to me.
Then, Botanas (Appetizers) was served.
We had the choice of two tostadas, a pulled beef cheek one and a vegetarian one. I got the vegetarian one complete with grilled corn, black beans and roasted bullhorn pepper, even though I wanted to try both.
Main course consisted of a few shared plates; whole snapper topped with chilli and ginger shredded cabbage and wombok, arbol chilli and lime mayo as well as warm tortillas to make your own fish tacos and slowly cooked Indonesian goat rendang and rice. It all tasted amazing. I’m drooling just thinking about it.
Then my favourite time of the night of any night, really — dessert!
We had the choice of Sangria poached and toffee glazed Corella pear with whipped cardamom coconut cream and coconut and orange blossom crumble, or a chocolate and cinnamon fondant, whipped cream, chilli caramel and a Mexican wedding cookie.
I had the chocolate dessert, but one of the guys sitting at our table had to leave early and not knowing, the staff put an extra dessert down for him, so I had his too.
Like the other contestants’ restaurants, Puerto has its own feedback booth where you can go in after your meal and give feedback about the restaurant. I did it, and can I just say I don’t think I’ll be appearing on TV anytime soon.
Oh and one last thing, I have to mention the staff. Everyone working in the restaurant is friendly and helpful, literally the best customer service I’ve experienced in a long time.
Why don’t you judge Puerto for yourself?
It’s open to the public this week, for lunches Wednesday to Sunday and dinners Wednesday to Saturday, it’s BYO and doesn’t take bookings. Check it out!
Puerto is located at the QPAC Playhouse Lawn on the corner of Russell and Grey Street in South Bank.
Have you tried Puerto? What did you think?