August 30, 2013

Brisbane breakfast scene booming as foodies dump dinner plans

CASH-strapped foodies who are sick of getting dolled up for dinner are making the Brisbane breakfast scene boom.

The early morning rush has been so busy one restaurateur has dubbed Brisbane the breakfast capital of Australia.

Woollongabba’s Paw Paw cafe general manager Giorgina Venzin reckons the river city’s southside cafes often have queues around the block, a trend she said was unique to Queensland diners.

“No one does breakfast quite like Brisbane,” Ms Venzin said.

“We have lines around the block starting from early in the morning every weekend, it’s crazy.”

“Brisbane is really becoming a foodie capital comparable to Sydney and Melbourne.”

She said the cafe’s affiliate restaurant, The Green Papaya, was struggling to draw dinner crowds prompting a decision by management to open up the back of the premises in a bid to entice the lucrative breakfast crowd.

“We noticed people were more likely to eat out for breakfast and decided to open up the restaurant to all hours to cater for it,” Ms Venzin said.

“For a lot of people it’s more affordable than shelling out $50-plus on dinner and you have the added bonus of just dropping in for an affordable coffee as well.

“Since then we have more than doubled our revenue and always have customers coming through the doors.”

Feed Me Now blogger Jessalyn Chan said social media had a big part to play in the breakfast success, as more and more people were taking photos of their meals on smartphones and posting them online.
“People are constantly drooling over each other’s breakfast photos,” Ms Chan said.

“I think this encourages people to plan and come out for breakfast for things they saw online through their friends.”

She said Brisbane’s laid-back attitude and warm climate also helped to draw the crowds, making it easy for restaurants to open outdoors.

“I’d say Brisbane is one of the biggest breakfast capitals in Oz.

“Our climate definitely plays a role in this but it’s also much easier to just go out for breakfast than to plan and get dolled up for dinner.”

After-dark venues are catching on to the trend. Popular Fortitude Valley restaurant Gerard’s introduced a middle-eastern inspired weekend breakfast menu earlier this year, with sweet almond pudding and slow-poached duck eggs.

Is Brisbane the breakfast capital of Australia?

Is Brisbane the breakfast capital of Australia? Source: News Limited

Dan Rodriguez, who just bought Canvas, in Woolloongabba, plans to start weekend breakfast popular at cocktail bar in September.

“We looked at the area and noticed a really big breakfast trade. I just came back to Brisbane after five years overseas, and the breakfast has exploded – it’s at the point where many places don’t even take bookings.”

Mr Rodriguez, who also plans to serve up breakfast cocktails, said that adding a morning service made economic sense.

“You’re paying rent for 24 hours a day, so you might as well make the most of it.”

Kimberly Roberts, marketing manager of the Hilton Brisbane, said breakfast was a burgeoning trend for the hotel’s restaurant Vintaged, with both in-house and local customers.

“It’s definitely something we’re trying to push for the weekend – come in the city, have breakfast with friends and then go shopping.”

The $38 full buffet option is most popular with customers, she said, who have gotten used to shelling out main meal prices for breakfast.

“There are a lot of high end places doing breakfast now, so I don’t baulk at paying $23 for a dish – it’s about the norm now.”

Corporate breakfast meetings have replaced boozy lunches, letting business people get back to their desk by 8.30am. Like many venues, Vintaged has also started offering breakfast cocktails, including bloody marys, champagne and espresso martinis, but Ms Roberts said the uptake hasn’t been strong.

“Personally, though, I don’t mind an espresso martini on a Sunday morning.”

TOP 10

Brisbane’s Best Breakfasts

1 Pearl, Woolloongabba

Pearl at Woolloongabba is a popular breakfast spot. Picture: Bruce Long

Pearl at Woolloongabba is a popular breakfast spot. Picture: Bruce Long Source: News Limited

Rustic and refined, this Woolloongabba cafe has been instrumental in turning the five-ways into a food lovers haunt. Snaking Saturday morning lines are a testament to the brilliant European-influenced breakfast menu, featuring elegant lemon verbena crumpets with goats’ cheese and mandarin compote, or braised beef short ribs with hash, rainbow chard and egg. Genovese coffee is served with Barambah organic milk, and the brunch cocktails – Campari and blood orange, or peachy bellinis – kick things up a notch.

2 Shucked, Newstead

Avocado on toast at Shucked Cafe, Newstead.

Avocado on toast at Shucked Cafe, Newstead. Source: News Limited

Tucked in Newstead’s industrial area, this coffee house proves that location is not everything. Wised-up locals head here for sure-fired hangover cures, including sweet potato hash with bacon and eggs or ranchero-style baked egg with black turtle beans, jalapeño salad and chorizo. Got a sweet tooth? Try a Turkish delight or chilli chocolate shake, and the breakfast tiramisu, with espresso-soaked muesli and vanilla mascarpone. There’s also a waffle of the day, which has previously included a sweet goats cheese, with cherries, port syrup and toasted almonds. The coffee ain’t bad, either.

3 Grub St, Gaythorne

 Grub Street Cafe, Gaythorne.

Grub Street Cafe, Gaythorne. Source: News Limited

While this suburban gem doesn’t make itself out to be health hub, the globetrotting menu caters to most dietary requirements, with gluten-free carrot pancakes with pea puree, red pepper relish and haloumi, or a chevre omelette with salmon gravlax, pickled beetroot and microherbs. Nasi goreng and Israeli couscous also make an appearance, and you can go all out with the pumpkin and haloumi fritters, served with merguez sausage. Head there early to beat the weekend crowds, unless you’re prepared to perch outside on milk crates.

4 Pablo, New Farm

Pablo at New Farm.

There’s savoury mince, and then there’s Pablo’s version, tricked up with chorizo, speck, herbed crème fraîche and a fried egg. The granola? It comes with a lemon and vanilla bean posset, spiced pear and pistachio mousse. The French toast? A simple hazelnut fairy floss, homemade chai ice-cream and vanilla syrup. The above-and-beyond breakfast dishes have earned this tiny, family-run eatery a loyal following, despite being located in one of Brisbane’s most competitive brunch suburbs.

5 Hamptons Home Living, Paddington

Hamptons Home Living, Paddington.

The leafy rear deck of this converted cottage turned cafe-home wares store, with its sweeping city views, is almost enough to qualify for this list alone. Sip a St Ali espresso and take in the scenery, or tuck into a full breakfast at the communal table and admire the well-curated collection of elegant home wares. The menu has all the cafe classics, such egg benedict, avocado on toast, and a BLT, and a few rib-sticking winter options like English pork sausages, with fried potato gnocchi, fried egg and onion gravy.

6 Comfort at My Table, Milton

 Comfort at My Table, Milton.

Comfort at My Table, Milton. Source: News Limited

Thought nanna chic was limited to knitting and fashion? Owner chef Nims Zavackas proves otherwise, putting a quirky spin on retro-favourites, such as banoffee waffles with nutmeg Chantilly, or frenched croissants, with poached red currents, pistachio and natural yoghurt. Friendly staff and a homey setting make it easy to settle in with the weekend papers and a mulberry smoothie.

7 Scout, Petrie Terrace

Scout in Petrie Terrace.

Scout in Petrie Terrace. Source: News Limited

Cute as a button Scout is a newcomer to the cafe scene, housed in a heritage-listed 1920s Victorian terrace. Fans of the breakfast salad are well-served here, with an eggy roasted mushrooms, piperade, pine nut and ricotta number, while the avocado and goats fetta on toast can be pimped out with chorizo, fried egg or German ham. Friendly staff flit about the small interior, with exposed brick walls, hanging ferns and recycled timber cabinetry, serving up Coffee Supreme brews and salted caramel shakes. It’s one of the few breakfast places where you’ll get a hot meal, coffee and a change from a twenty.

8 The Chelsea, Petrie Terrace

The Chelsea, Petrie Terrace.

Housed in a heritage-listed part of the Barracks, the Chelsea delivers a slick, European-style breakfast package. The moody setting and an often updated menu keeps things interesting, with fun options like posh toad in the hole, with brioche, gravlax and horseradish sauce, and savoury French toast with pea puree, ham hock and truffle oil.

9 Spicers Balfour, New Farm

New Farm’s Spicers Balfour Hotel.

Considered one of the city’s best bed and breakfasts, this boutique hotel has, very quietly, opened the private dining room to the public for weekend breakfasts. Opt for the full breakfast, which include a continental selection of artisan breads, fresh fruit and pastries, plus an al a carte option, such as hot smoked salmon with poached egg, grilled asparagus and organic labna, or frenched brioche with banana, vanilla bean ice-cream and salted caramel. Sit out on the hotel’s leafy Queenslander deck, add a glass of Veuve Clicquot and you’ve got the classiest breakfast experience in town.

10 The Corner Store, Toowong

Corner Store Cafe, Toowong.

Tucked down a suburban side street, this reconverted corner store has become a weekend staple for inner-west families, cyclists and hipsters. A purpose-built vegie patch and herb garden serves the kitchen, which churns out breakfast basics like quinoa porridge and granola, with inventive twists, and hearty fare such as corned beef quesadilla with white sauce, cheddar, poached eggs and braised cabbage.

Single origin espressos and cold-brew from Marvell St roasters, organic coconuts, cracked to order, and a solid juice menu rounds out the crowd-pleasing menu.


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