Brisbanites, pop Friday 31 July in your diaries and head into the city from 5.30pm to see the Riverside Centre transformed into a winter wonderland to celebrate Christmas in July.
Visitors to the precinct are invited to eat, drink and be merry by indulging in festive dishes and warming winter tipples ranging from a spiced Egg Nog Martini through to an eight-course Christmas feast including a free take-home bottle of Verve Clicquot!
On Thursday night, I was treated to a sneak peek of the festive offering with tantalising tidbits thrown in about the event’s entertainment (think aerial artists and ballerinas in snow globes!).
After meeting my fellow diners over an Egg Nog Martini at Friday’s Riverside, we headed to Brazilian restaurant, Navala Churrascaria where I swapped Egg Nog for a Mixed Berry Caipirinha.
Navala will be serving up a tapas platter for two featuring Crumbed Lamb cutlet with pumpkin puree, crushed pea & fetta, BBQ prawns with Dende-aioli & tomato salsa, Honey Glazed Ham with South American-style BBQ corn & paprika, Mini pulled Roast Turkey bun with Cranberry jam, and BBQ Linguica sausage with black beans, farofa & chilli ($27 per platter).
Having forgotten that I was on a progressive dinner, I went all out trying everything on the platter before eventually putting down half the Turkey bun while cursing the tightness of my jeans!
Next it was on to Jellyfish Restaurant to try their amazing Whole Red Emperor prepared two ways (crispy fried and oven roasted with chilli and coconut) and slow roasted whole Leg of Veal with burnt butter, lemon, garlic, with roasted truss tomatoes, lemon zest breadcrumb and Japanese spices.
The Jellyfish feast has been designed for groups of 6-8 people so it’s the perfect place to get a group of friends or family together to celebrate, plus (and I know this will be a major selling point for my friends) each guest who orders the 8-course shared feast ($180 per person) gets a present … a complimentary bottle of gift boxed Veuve Clicquot Champagne.
Our 4kg Red Emperor truly was a work of art and caught the attention of most diners in the restaurant and for anyone who missed it, the flashes that went off once he landed on our table certainly turned us into a spectacle.
We finished the night with Steamed Christmas fruit pudding with vanilla custard and Nougat praline parfait with warm strawberry filled donuts at Black Bird Bar and Grill.
I can’t decide which dessert was my favourite but the sorbet served with the Nougat praline was phenomenal; it tasted like a cool adult version of a strawberry roll-up (which were all but forbidden in our house due to the high level of stickiness and sugar, so I had to beg friends at school to share theirs with me, making them quite a delicacy!)
There will be a range of food offerings and price points to match all budgets available on the night, check out the website for more information, but my top picks are:
Jellyfish Restaurant: The 8-course shared feast from featuring the Whole Red Emperor cooked two ways and the Slow roasted leg of veal ($180 per person).
The Groove Train: Wood Fired Banana and Kahlua Calzone served with vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce ($15.90).
For families and those who want to drive into the city for the event, Riverside Centre is offering discounted parking for just $5 from 5pm on the night, courtesy of Wilson Parking.
Now that I know where I’m heading to celebrate Christmas in July, all that’s left to do is find something suitably festive (and warm) to wear.
If you’re in need of a little inspiration, here are some of my favourite looks:
Hope to see you Riverside. Feliz Navidad!