The city is cool. No joke, Brisbane’s cafe culture is on fire. I think I moved to Sydney just as the ‘big country town’ lifted off and was suddenly boasting brunch gems, eclectic international restaurants and the best in a la carte cuisine. My all time favourite that is yet to be rivalled by any in Sydney or Melbourne is Himalayan Cafe. No longer an unknown, you can barely get a table now without booking at least a week in advance. On stepping into the brilliantly themed restaurant it’s almost like you’re floating away into the mysterious glacial peaks of Nepal and Tibet. The chef is Kathmandu born, the music is home grown, incense wafts through Tibetan peace flags and every piece on the wall was crafted by a sherpa. And oh my, the food here is absolutely incredible. I’ve never tasted such authenticity as their Napaya Khayala (my pick on the menu), and the traditional Himalayan bread and dip – the most delicious starter bread I’ve ever had.
Flooding the city fringe burbs are an abundance of unique little cafes that have each found their distinctive niche in the market. My sister is on a project to find the best in Brisbane with a selection on the menu being:
- Cirque – I’m yet to experience this one but my foodie fanatic sister Sarah assures me the grub here is pretty much orgasmic. By foodie fanatic, I mean I would challenge you to find someone more extreme about their food – Her Sunday afternoon hobby is rereading her Donna Hay cookbooks for the 30th time. Sarah’s recommendation: smoked rainbow trout with poached eggs, truffle oil, potato rosti and toasted sourdough.
- Anouk – I discovered this little gem the day it opened a few years ago with a friend who lived literally meters from the door. With the same owners who launched the famous Gunshop Cafe in West End, this was destined to be a hit. The food here is phenomenal but the most distinct thing I remember is their refreshingly delicious breakfast mocktails – The strawberry and mint one is perfection on a hot summer morn.
- While on topic, there’s no other like the Gunshop Cafe. An institution for the Brisbane breakfast scene, this cafe set the standards for home grown, organic and fresh fare. You’ll struggle to get a table between 9 and 11 but it’s a must if you’re seeking a breakfast benchmark setter. My pick on the menu? Anything with the potato fetta hashcakes.
- Campos – I’ve been here a few times, it’s known to be the best coffee in Brisbane – I’m yet to personally confirm this as on my last visit, I was merely a coffee sniffer, and hadn’t yet graduated into the drinker that I am now. It’s a little hidden in the valley but just follow the brewing coffee aroma that drifts through the streets and you’ll soon find yourself on their doorstep.
- Little Larder – This was one of my local favs. The pesto scrambled eggs are a must and visiting on my first return after moving to Sydney, it really hit home the difference in culture. We were sitting on a group table of 8 (4 separate couples) and by the end of it we were all talking and swapping numbers – I’ve missed that sense of community while living in Sydney.
- Pearl Café – An eastern suburbs’ favourite, this is another cafe by the infamous Gunshop crew. It’s quite close to my heart as it was my last breakfast in Brisvegas before moving to the big smoke – and what a memorable last supper. It’s a rare gem with a location that ensures it’s not one to be stumbled across by the masses, only word of mouth will find you here.
- Dandelion & Driftwood – a place for the coffee and tea nerds, this cafe boasts an endless selection of worldly blends alongside dainty cakes and old fashioned lollies – be sure to try for a table out the back, I’ve been told the furniture transports you back to the 50s.
- Egg Bistro – Brisbane’s newest breakfast Mecca and the place my sister frequents most often. That’s all the recommendation I need to try the smoked (in-house) salmon with goats cheese rocket and parsley omelette.
- Swiss Delicatessen – possibly the best value breakfast you’ll find, anywhere. My last visit (admittedly over 2 years ago so prices could have changed) you could get a big breakfast and a coffee for $9… and the memory of those scrambled eggs would rival Bill Grangers! Definitely one to add to the list!
Well I’m just a bit hungry now, what’s your favourite local eatery?
On the bar and club front, there’s that Cloudland place everyone seems to be raving about… To be honest, it’s not for me. Shamefully, I can’t resist the Down Under Bar where seriously any behaviour goes! But it was on my last visit to Brisbane that I discovered the world of Woodland. The entrance is hidden down a dingy alleyway and trust me, this bar is well worth it if you can find the door. One minute the DJ is playing the latest unearthed indie Australian music, then the next, Dubstep from deep in German territory, before all of a sudden Whitney Houston powers through. The layout has kind of a western pub feel with wooden booths surrounding a dance floor, and as eclectic as the music is, the patrons are even more so.