Pimp My Plate #8 – Brisbane, QLD

PIMP MY PLATE is my weekly series of reviews of cafés and restaurants in city and regional areas – I pop up all over over the place. My foodie challenge to find a good meal – lunch or brunch – with a limited budget of $18 or less for the main plate.

Bourbon Street Louisiana Creole – restaurant

Perched on the edge of Brisbane River at Southbank, the landmark Wheel of Brisbane dominates the skyline like a giant Frisbee.

Bourbon Street Louisiana Creole is located in the Southbank restaurant strip between Little Stanley Street, and Grey Street.

It was a very hot summer’s day and I was keen to escape the midday heat, and find a spot to eat lunch.

I wanted to make it a spontaneous choice, and when I saw the Bourbon Street sign, I was reminded of visiting New Orleans in 2014 during a similar summer heatwave.

Everyone’s memories of New Orleans are happy because it’s that kind of place. Everything there is larger than life, and full of flavour.

My foodie memories of N’awlins made the decision easy: bowls of gumbo and effouette; a pilgrimage to Café du Monde for their famous deep fried beignets drenched in icing sugar; sipping my first Sazerac, and being served Absinthe in the traditional way at The Old Absinthe House in Bourbon Street, in the real French quarter.

I stepped inside this Brisbane version of Bourbon Street. For lunch I ordered a Buttermilk Fried Chicken Po’boy with coleslaw from the $10 Lunch Specials, and a starter of Jalapeno Beignets with sweet corn puree ($14) from the All Day menu.

Beignet is the French term for a pastry made from deep-fried choux pastry. These can also be made from yeast dough but I’ve never eaten a savoury version. I love chillies, so I was curious to try them.

The plate of Jalapeño Beignets arrived – pickled jalapeños inside a light, crunchy batter. The sweetness of the corn puree was a nice contrast to the pickled jalapeños. What a great bar snack to pair with an icy cold beer. I could easily have eaten two plates of them by myself!

My Fried Chicken Po’boy arrived in a round bun, rather than the traditional American submarine shaped French bread. In some states of the USA, po’boys are named and sold based on their size:  a Shorty measures 13-19cm, a Quarter Po’boy is 20cm, and a Half Po’boy is around 41cm. A Full Po’boy is around 81cm long.
This one needed just a drizzle of hot sauce to add a kick of flavour.

New Orleans made Po’boys famous.

Legend has it that the po’boy came about during the 1929 Streetcar Drivers’ Strike. Brothers Clovis and Benjamin Martin owned a restaurant on St. Claude Avenue. As former streetcar drivers themselves, they took up the strikers’ cause and created an inexpensive sandwich of French bread – filled with gravy and spare pieces of roast beef – which they served to unemployed workers.

The cry would go out,“here comes another poor boy” on strike. The name Po’boy eventually transferred to these sandwiches. Fillings include fried shrimp, soft shell crab, fried catfish, crawfish, Louisiana hot sausage, roast beef, or fried chicken breast, depending on where you buy them.

The daytime vibe at Bourbon Street is ‘big easy’ (without the crime) and relaxed, however I think this venue really comes alive at night, especially on a balmy evening.

The bar has a piano, and when I visited, the bluesy background music changed pace when a staff member sat down and played a few David Bowie songs. Being a Bowie fan myself, that was fine with me.

Bourbon Street also serves a range of Southern-inspired classic drinks, including Absinthe, Mint Juleps, and bourbon and scotch whiskey based cocktails, using some interesting flavour ingredients including creole bitters, and hickory.

It’s a friendly place, and I’d like to go back and try their Hot Grit Cakes, braised Short Ribs, Cinnamon Doughnuts, and sip some of those cocktails.

RATED: Pimped Beignets! FOOD: 3.5/5
VALUE: 4/5 ATMOS: 4/5 VIBE: Nawlins’ vibe and decor
Bourbon Street Louisiana Creole – 184 Grey St, South Brisbane

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Pimp My Plate #7 – Teneriffe, QLD

PIMP MY PLATE is my weekly series of reviews of cafés and restaurants in city and regional areas – I pop up all over over the place. My foodie challenge to find a good meal – lunch or brunch – with a limited budget of $18 or less for the main plate.

Sourced Grocer – café and organic grocer

This week I’ve had to pimp my budget! Only by $1, and only in the interests of reviewing and sharing an innovative dish from Sourced Grocer café.

I first heard about this café while chatting about art, life, and food with a young Brisbane hipster – thank you! Further online investigation uncovered an enthusiastic review for Cabbage Pancakes. Trying to imagine what these might look like, let alone taste like, became the incentive for my excursion to this foodie oasis.

The Sourced Grocer café is planted in the middle of an area of rapid residential development, in Teneriffe, on the outskirts of Brisbane CBD.

A wall of potted green welcomes you on arrival. Once inside, this airy converted warehouse space is divided into a grocery section – chock full of mindfully sourced gourmet produce – a cold room, and a small restaurant area next to the open plan kitchen.

I take a seat near the kitchen, and scan the menu. I notice one of the cooks is busily chopping through a bundle of kale. Love it or hate it, kale is still the queen of green, and its presence signals organic sensibilities, and no-fear vegetable bravado. Or maybe that’s just my interpretation.

The menu presented a dilemma of choice. My tastebuds had travelled to taste the Cabbage Pancakes ($17), but another menu item grabbed my attention: Saltbush Spaghetti ($19) with sorrel leaves, cured egg yolk, and burnt garlic. If in doubt, ask. I did. The chef recommended I try the spaghetti so I did.

I also ordered a dessert – Coconut Tapioca Pudding with passionfruit, basil, bee pollen, and coconut ($16).

The food here is ‘eating clean’ with top marks for mouth feel.

My plate of Saltbush Spaghetti arrived – a green tumbleweed of sorrel leaves, with green spaghetti nestled below.

I foraged through my bowl, twirling the crispy sorrel leaves and al dente pasta together into a happy green mouthful. Crunch! It’s rare to find crunch anywhere in a pasta story.

The sorrel leaves were light as air, and as crisp and addictive as air dried potato or kale chips. It’s never a crime to pick up food in your fingers in the name of research, and I started nibbling on them like a rabbit.

No soggy clingy sauces here. Instead, imagine a nest of crunchy dried green sorrel leaves sitting on top of perfectly al dente spaghetti, creating a crunchy-chewy contrast in your mouth. Difficult to describe, but I recommend it.

The pasta was served just-warm, and I was grateful because it would have added moisture into the leaves, and it was a really hot day.

Dessert arrived. A confident, pretty bird’s nest of colour, and textures: fresh mango pieces, strips of young coconut, passionfruit, and a sprinkling of bee pollen, nestled on top of a creamy tapioca pudding base. I loved the simplicity and texture of the ingredients.

The food at Sourced Grocer is all about quality of ingredients, combined with innovation. Their dedicated-to-good-food-and-innovation earnestness radiates from the kitchen.

Enjoy the joie de vivre of this food – it’s feel-good, eat-clean food with a creative edge.

There is plenty of on-street parking midweek, or you can simply take the City Glider bus, like I did, and get off at the last stop by the water, and take a 10 minute walk which also takes you by a Swiss chocolatier, should you want to savour a few pieces of quality chocolate to eat on the spot, or take with you – for much later.

RATED: Maxxed!  FOOD: 6/5 yes, you read right
VALUE: 5/5  ATMOS: 4.5/5  VIBE: relaxed, airy, with kitchen staff 100% focused on showcasing quality produce
Sourced Grocer Café – 11 Florence St, Teneriffe, QUEENSLAND

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Visit me on facebook at Awia’s Kitchen for what’s happening now
All images © Awia Markey