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Los Angeles, California
October 25, 2009
You’re in a new city. You are only there for two nights. That means two dinners – which means, you’d better choose carefully. You don’t know that city’s restaurant scene but you want to have a memorable dining experience. What’s a traveler to do?
Well, in my case, my husband and I got lucky, as travelers sometimes do. Yes, it does happen, and when it does, it is best to take the advice from a local that you trust. In this situation, a friend of a friend instructed us not to miss a particular dish at a particular restaurant. Well, if that isn’t getting it straight from the horse’s mouth, I don’t know what is. But if a trusted local friend is not at hand, naturally, utilizing trusted resources such as this dependable website with its traveler insight and recommendations, is a given, due to the vast array of experiences that posting members at igougo.com have amassed.
Our city was Brisbane, Australia. We were staying downtown on Queen Street, quite near the Old Customs House. This very central location is a short walk from a delightful pier promenade along the Brisbane River. Many enticing and well-situated restaurants make their home along this scenic riverfront area, very near the Eagle Street water taxi stop. It was there that we were directed to the well-known restaurant, Il Centro. If anyone is acquainted with the popular series of travel books, DK Eyewitness Travel (Dorling-Kindersley), Il Centro appears in their dining section in the back of their Australia guide. They describe the cuisine as "modern Italian, but the flavours are unique to Queensland…." But more importantly, they specifically encourage ordering the same dish that my husband and I were tipped off to: SANDCRAB LASAGNA! Mmm, just saying it makes my mouth water and brings back delicious memories of a meal the likes of which I’ve never tasted. You’re probably thinking I am exaggerating. Well, I guess you’ll just have to travel to Brisbane to see for yourself, or take my word for it. It is utterly devine.
I’d never heard of such a dish until we ate at Il Centro. It is actually a real lasagna, only layered with sandcrab instead of meat. But the sauce is where the magic lies. This delicate pink sauce is tomato-based but because its foundation is a béchamel sauce, the traditional red color is tempered. I can only tell you that even though I enjoyed my dinner thoroughly, after tasting my husband’s sandcrab lasagna, I cannot remember what I ordered that evening. I only wished I had ordered the sandcrab lasagna for myself. Being the wonderful man he is, he was kind enough to share. I only hope I didn’t make a spectacle of myself as I moaned with delight. Well, it wasn’t quite the scene out of "When Harry Met Sally", but it was close.
The restaurant has an outdoor patio which is situated along the pier boardwalk. The restaurant’s design is a clean and modern, sleek minimalist styling. The service was exceptional and you can depend on their knowledgeable staff to guide you in pairing your order to the proper wines from their list, many of which are Australian. As my husband and I had recently been to Margaret River, we were eager to taste more of the country’s fine wines. The atmosphere is upscale and it appeared to be a popular weeknight dinner locale for many Brisbane businessmen. Needless to say, we couldn’t have been happier with this restaurant recommendation - it was just what we had hoped to stumble on in that lovely metropolitan city down under. Bon appétit!
From journal Second Visit to Australia
June 20, 2006
From journal Chomping My Way Through Brisbane