Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Top & Flop Brunch Spots In Brisbane

brooke lark brunch in brisbane

In January I flew out to Australia to go travelling for a year. I started my trip with a two-week stay in Brisbane and as time went on, I found myself coming back to the city on many more occasions. 

Over the course of 7 months, Brisbane became my "home away from home". I fell in love with the city, which is best described as a mini version of London, minus the stressful lifestyle. Instead, I made friends here, created epic memories, spent a great deal of my lockdown time and got a good sense of what it would feel like to live here.

With its all-year-round perfect weather and relaxed lifestyle, the city also has a rich and versatile brunch culture. Australians celebrate breakfast like no other nation and thanks to affordable Brisbane, I quickly ate my way around its many cafés. 

Here are some of the brunch and breakfast spots which I visited and I tell you if they are any good. 

1. Anouk Café: Top Spot in Paddington

A 20-minute walk north of the centre in the borough of Paddington is Given Terrace, which is THE breakfast mile and top address for brunch in Brisbane. The street is seamed with countless little cafés where I found my personal favourite spot: Anouk Café.

It ticks all the boxes for me: an industrial style look - think dark flooring in contrast to the cream-white shabby chic interior and lots of green plants - outdoor seating and phenomenal food. It is no surprise that the place is popular and busy around the clock. To secure a seat outside in the glorious Queensland sun, I would recommend getting here as early as 8am. 

Once seated, it is time to check out the menu which changes every few weeks with its interesting and healthy choices. There are homemade granolas, avo on toast with a Queensland twist, a variety of sourdough bread with Eggs Benedict, sweet waffles or my absolute-never-to-forget French brioche toast with a croissant, roasted pistachios, caramelised slices of peach, ricotta cream and maple syrup. 


the best breakfast in brisbane served at anouk cafe
anouk cafe brisbane pancakes with banana and chai spiced maple syrup

The French brioche/croissant hybrid was an absolute DREAM and reignited my love for peach. I knew straight away that I had to come back to Anouk's for a second breakfast round. 

The opportunity for a second visit came after lockdown. The French brioche croissant was no longer on the menu so I ordered their current pancakes with banana, whipped ricotta and chai spiced maple syrup. 

The pancakes were fluffy and filling and I found the ricotta and chai spiced maple syrup took away the usually very overpowering taste of banana. Overall another tasty composition which kept me full for the rest of the day. 

Alongside a huge iced coffee and orange juice, I paid a modest £15 each time. 

Oh, the days of brunching in Brisbane....I'd give anything to go back here. One day, it'll happen. 

2. Corner Store Cafe: Hipster in Toowong

I found the next café through Instagram and was sold when I saw "waffles" on their menu. I have a very sweet tooth and weak spot for waffles, which was motivation enough for me to justify a 40-minute stroll westbound along the river to the suburb of Toowong. 

On the corner of Sylvan Road/Quinn Street is the Corner Store Cafe, a local magnet for young families, hipster residents and Instagrammers alike. The place is listed on every decent online publication for brunch and breakfast recommendations so it was no surprise that it was busy on the day I went to try their waffles.

corner store cafe in brisbane waffles with fresh fruit

The menu is not entirely vegan but has healthy options such as the Acai Bowl with paleo granola, sourdough gluten-free toast, porridge and the avo on toast classic with dukkah and pomegranate molasses. Interesting combos, so far so good. 

And of course, the cinnamon waffles, topped with whipped ricotta, maple syrup, baked apple and dates.  Together with a cappuccino, I paid $24 which translates to roughly £13 - for a Londoner, this is a very affordable breakfast. 

The apple and dates went nicely with the syrup and the waffle was freshly made. My coffee was creamy and delicious. Overall I was a bit underwhelmed though, especially with the presentation which reflected minimal efforts and I kinda expected more. 

Even though the café was well visited that day, there was a constant come and go and staff were more interested in a quick turn over rather than persuading guests to another coffee or sweet treat. The slightly impatient atmosphere didn't sit too well with me and I got peckish a few hours later. 

I was happy I gave this one a try but didn't feel motivated enough to go back. Instead, Paddington lured me back and check out some Roche filled croissants. 

3. Paddington Social: UBEr Cool in Paddington

Back in Paddington, it was time to try out Paddington Social - a mix of an all-day café and Thai pop-up kitchen. The place is well-known for their variety of chocolate and Roche coated croissants which will make you drool when you see the pictures online.  

But it's not just the sickly sweet sugar shock croissants, pastries and cakes that had me intrigued. The menu has some very healthy and highly interesting options available. My personal choices from their seasonal menu at the time were pear & blackberry hotcake with a cardamon champagne poached pear, blackberry compote and chocolate Anglaise or a mega healthy chia pudding. 

AND then I spotted the Ube pancakes.

Never heard of Ube? Me either! It's a purple yam originally from the Philippines. Realsimple describes Ube as a "bright purple sweet potato with an even sweeter, more mellow taste than its orange relative with a slightly nutty, vanilla taste. It's popularly used in desserts, often boiled and then mashed with condensed milk." 

Sounds YUMMO to me. 

My enthusiasm to try something completely new was, however, quickly thwarted as they've sold out on Ube that day. NOOOOO. 

So instead, the vegan and gluten-free Chia Pudding with dragon fruit, blueberry compote, passionfruit, house-made granola and coconut yoghurt at $17 (£8.50) had to save the day. 

paddington social in brisbane chia pudding best breakfast

And it did deliver. 

The pudding was smooth, infused with a lovely taste of exotic fruits, all topped with the crunch of home-made granola. The coconut yoghurt was creamy and light and a wonderful addition to the overall composition. The pudding was filling so it took me quite some time to finish it but I did and needless to say, I was completely stuffed for the rest of the day. 

4. New Farm Dicki's: Vegan Heaven

OK, the next place is not really a pure breakfast café per se but offers a versatile range of vegan dishes for a light lunch. Originally I had planned to go to Little Loco in New Farm, but on the day they didn't do brunch past 1pm and so I made my way back to the CityCat boat terminal in Sydney Street. 

On my way, I came across Dicki's and spontaneously decided to get my brunch there instead. Turned out to be a great decision! 

dickis cafe in brisbane vegan tagliatelle with green basil pesto and macadamian cheese

The café is small and popular (which is always a good sign) and on the day I got seated in a cosy corner, overlooking the main action going on in Dicki's.

Their regular menu lists some save options such as Mac 'N' Cheese, classic vegan burger, arancini balls or the all-time evergreen avo on toast all in the region of $16 (£8). I felt more adventurous that day and was up to trying something unusual so I had a quick look at their lunch specials and there we go, I found my match:

Basil pesto infused tagliatelle with roasted pine nuts, Macadamian cheese topped with fresh basil leaves. 

Sounds nice? It was!

The portion had the right size for me, not too much but enough to cover me for a few hours. The basil pesto felt refreshing and not overpowering. Sometimes pesto infused pasta tends to be a bit greasy but this one was nicely balanced. The crunch from the roasted pine nuts is always a huge winner for me but I was mostly looking forward to trying vegan cheese. 

The cheese cubes made from Macadamian nuts were creamy with a nice nutty flavour and a hint of saltiness to round up the taste profile. Loved it and researched on the spot how to make Macadamian cheese as this is something I would definitely try to recreate at home. 

5. Adonis Cafe: Death By Chocolate in Yeerongpilly

I get a lot of my travel inspiration through Instagram and having visited all these amazing brunch spots in sunny Brisbane, I got bombarded with all sorts of recommendations on where to go next. 

With a very clever and slightly aggressive PPC campaign, Adonis Cafe kept popping up left, right and centre-front. The clear and aesthetically pleasing images plus the very instagrammable presentations of their food even made avo on toast look highly attractive to me. The USP and main factor why I sat on a train for 20 minutes southbound to Yeerongpilly were the Kinder Bueno Waffles. Literally a slow, sickly sweet death by chocolate.

Sign me up for that.

adonis cafe in brisbane breakfast waffles with kinder bueno

This is a breakfast spot that requires a bit of effort (train ride), adventurous spirit (industrial estate) and patience (I'll explain). 

The walk from the station to the café through an industrial estate is not the sexiest if I'm honest but once you're at the place it does get better. Adonis is very inviting with a big roofed terrace, wooden panelling and stoned flooring. The lively staff are busy to serve the rather young main clientele (20-year-old "Instagrammers") and can take their time in seating you. 

At first, the staff were a bit reserved towards me as I'm a solo diner and they've tried to seat me in the furthest corner inside the café away from the main action, which didn't make sense to me (terrace had enough empty tables available) or made a great impression. No matter if someone is a solo diner, a local, the Queen of England or turns up with a group of friends, a customer is a customer. 

Seating solo diners away from the main action feels very dismissive and excluding which I didn't appreciate and it didn't make me feel like I wanted to stay, to be honest. Luckily, they've allowed me to swap tables so I got a super nice seat outside on the terrace and had time to check out the menu. 

Don't expect many healthy options for this one, as the main selling point are the chocolate loaded waffles, pancakes and churros. And I mean, look at this one, presentation is everything. 

For $20 (£10) you'll die a slow sugary death from two Belgian waffles, topped with vanilla ice cream, three pieces of strawberry, Oreos, Kinder Bueno and a chocolate-filled syringe. After all, I'm still on holidays, right?

It was quite a lot but I knew what I had signed up for so technically it is my own fault. The waffles were ok and I'm aware you pay mostly for the novelty of it which I happily accepted. 

Overall Adonis has been quite an experience and without the slightly passive-aggressive encounter at the beginning of my visit, I would have probably considered the place for another time. 

Anyway, once finished and on my way back to the train station, I did end up next door and spent a good amount of time at Mandy's Plant Empire - a creative pottery centre with tonnes of plants, succulents and local artwork which made the world trip to Yeerongpilly definitely worth it. 

... and Where To Get Decent Coffe In Brisbane CBD? 

jesse-collins-coffee club in brisbane

Right, so sunny Brisbane has an abundance of brunch spots and breakfast alternatives to offer, so you definitely won't starve in the city. Whatever you do, do avoid Pancake Manor which is an outdated tourist trap in the CBD. Do venture out into the nearby suburbs and indulge in the rich brunch culture and if you're just looking for coffee, I can report back the following positive news: 

Surprisingly, all coffees I've tried have been decent in Brisbane, chain and independent alike. The average cost for a medium-sized Latte or lactose-free Cappucino is about $5, which is a £2.50 happy dance for any Londoner.   

- Coffee Club Brisbane on Queen Street, opposite the casino by the Suncorp Tower: average but ok. Had no complaints.

- Jimmy's On The Mall, Queen Street Mall, pretty much in the centre of the pedestrian: quick, creamy,        tasty

- Nodo, Southbank (near the wheel, beginning of the arbour): creamy, decent size, excellent price/quality

Thanks so much for reading,

Till next time,

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