Thursday, 11 April 2013

Casual Dining - Sage on Ann Street

It seems like every new building that opens up in Brisbane nowadays has a cafe established in the foyer, which I think has significantly added to the cafe culture in Brisbane.  This is a good thing but it has led to a glut of cafes that do great coffee and a decent meal, it's sometimes hard to know what you are going to get.  You know the story, you have an hour for lunch and don't have too much time to waste on waiting around for a meal to be delivered, only to have to rush through eating.  You also want to have something to eat that is creative, tasty but most of all, cheap!  There are not too many cafes in the CBD that meet all of these criteria.

One of the cafes that I stumbled upon a few years ago pretty much ticks all the boxes of an tasty and creative lunch, but does not hurt the hip pocket.  That cafe is Sage on Ann Street.  Like a lot of the CBD cafes, Sage is at the bottom of a relatively new commercial building and as a consequence is a funky looking place with great instillation art incorporated into the cafe.  There is the obligatory alfresco dining outside with a heap of tables arranged next to a long bench down the length of the cafe.  It's not a big space, but it fits quite a few people and can be a bit squishy during peak hour.

I have eaten at Sage a lot over the years but the reason why I was there on this day was due to a lost bet!  I have regular wagers with a colleague from work about who will win the regular tennis matches between Roger Federer and Scot, Andy Murray.  EC is a Scot himself, so always goes for Murray and I am a huge Federer fan.  Unfortunately, my man did not prevail this time and it was my turn to buy lunch, hence the visit to Sage.  One of the things that I love about this place is the quality of the food for the price, it's really quite amazing!

EC and I have our usual favourites on the menu, so we didn't really need a lot of time to study the options available.   There is a pretty decent array of options on the menu that cover most tastes, including a good selection of sandwiches and more hearty meals such as wild mushroom risotto (wich I love), vietnamese style duck salad and macaroni and cheese.  I have it under good authority from previous visits with some vegetarian workmates that the mac & cheese is to die for!!  Before the meals came I ordered a root beer for EC and a freshly squeezed orange juice for myself.  The OJ was really nice and had that frothy feel to it that only comes from freshly juiced up oranges, yum!

For his lunch EC ordered the beef curry and naan bread.  This is a strong favourite for EC and he gets it every time he comes here (we are both creatures of habit at Sage).  The curry was relatively mild and had a perfect balance of flavours that were rich and intense.  The beef itself was incredibly tender and fell apart under the touch and in combination with the curry was delicious.   There was a good helping of rice and naan bread to help soak up the remainder of the curry once the beef was devoured.  EC again waxed lyrical about how much he enjoyed this.

As I mentioned, I am a creature of habit here so could not pass up on the roast pork belly with spicy green papaya salad.  The thing I love most about this dish is the generosity of the serving size.  For just under $17 you get two massive and perfectly cooked pork belly pieces.  As usual, the pork belly was masterfully cooked with soft juicy flesh, wonderfully rendered fat and most importantly of all, perfect crispy crackling on top.  Make no mistake about this dish, it is rich and decadent and a little over the top, you really need the spicy papaya salad and the acidity from the tomato to cut through the fat of the pork belly.  Again as usual, I could not eat the whole serving, I started to feel a little sick from all of the fat!  I did however polish off all of the crackling!

An hour is not a lot of time to get two courses for lunch and Sage is not really the type of pace to linger over a dessert, so we settled for our mains, drinks and a great chat.  EC again had a laugh that I ordered the pork belly and did not finish it off, it's almost a little ritual at the end of our meals here.

When we first arrived at Sage it was not so busy, but by the time we finished it was packed and the next round of city dwellers were looking for a table to sit.  The vibe in the cafe is great when its packed, although I did notice a distinct leaning towards an older crowd on this day!  It's not table service at Sage so there is no waiting around for waiters to take your order, it's make a decision and pay at the front counter.  We didn't have to wait long for our meals, which is good at peak hour in such a busy little cafe.

I really like Sage on Ann Street and it is my 'go to' place when I am paying for the meal (team building events anyone?). None of the mains are over $17 and the value that you get for your $17 is fantastic.  Sage is also open for breakfast and I have only been there a couple of times for the start of the day, but found the breakfasts to be equally generous.

EC and I finished off our meal and as we were leaving shook hands on the next major tennis tournament.   I wonder who will by buying next time?


That pork belly is so nice!
Not a lot of space and starting to fill up 
Funky decor
A slightly cheaper option of sandwiches 
The building art is incorporated into the alfresco dining area

Sage on Ann on UrbanspoonSage on Ann

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