Thursday, 25 April 2013

Casual Dining - The Three Monkeys

There is a lot to love about Brisbane at the moment, sure there is a burgeoning food scene, but there is also a genuine desire of the Brisbane City Council to make Brisbane a more attractive place for visitors and residents alike.  Things like the Ideas Fiesta and the laneway projects around the city streets and laneways are a great initiative.  One of the things I love most about Brisbane is the Gallery of Modern Art, or GoMA, and a really cool exhibit at GoMA at the moment is the Monsters Exhibition.

SC and I have had our eye on the Monsters Exhibition for quite some time and in particular the screening of the original horror film, Nosferatu.  Nosferatu is one of the earliest examples of silent horror films and was made in 1922.  What particularly excited SC and I was the fact that on the morning we had booked to see Nosferatu, the film was accompanied by a live band.  Awesome!

Once the movie finished we decided that since we were in South Brisbane we would go over and check out The Three Monkeys for lunch.  Incredibly, in all my years living and eating in the CBD and its surrounds, I had never been to The Three Monkeys.  Contrasting my lack of visits, SC has eaten there a million times (maybe a slight exaggeration) as it's one of the closest places to eat from her work.

Walking into The Three Monkeys was a bit of an experience!  It's located in an old Queenslander, so its a bit pokey with lots of different rooms to walk through and the front serving area has a heap of eclectic paintings and wall mountings that have no rhyme or reason.  The other thing I noticed was that this eclectic approach was also reflected in the menu and food offerings, there didn't seem to be a particular style but a mix of Mexican, Italian, Turkish, Greek and Australian cuisine.

SC has her usual menu items that she chooses when coming to The Three Monkeys, but I convinced her that we needed to get a mix of food that she didn't normally eat, just for something different.  To start off though we ordered drinks, I opted for a banana and mango smoothy and SC went for a simple orange juice.  SC's OJ was nice but clearly not a freshly squeezed juice but it had lots of orange pulp in it, so at least it was a good quality juice.  My smoothy was a mix I hadn't had before and I really liked it.

We decided that we would chose three menu items and share them, so we could get a good cross selection of the eclectic food offerings.  First up was a the Haloumi Platter, a Greek offering of haloumi cheese with a Greek Salad.  The Greek salad looked really fresh on the plate but the halumi didn't look as nice as a well cooked piece of halumi can, you know, with the slightly golden crust.  They couldn't get that golden crust and while the haloumi tasted OK, there was something missing.  The salad that accompanied the dish had a lovely dressing and the ingredients were fresh and crisp.

Next on our culinary journey was Mexico with a chilli con carne.  My first thought when I saw the con carne was pretty poor, I thought it looked thick and over cooked with some burnt areas around the edge where it had been in the microwave too long.  I was apprehensive to start this one as I like my chilli con carne to be more viscus and not so thick.  The con carne itself was very mild with only a light hint of any heat coming from the chili.  Surprisingly SC and I ate most of this, while there were a few things not quite right with the dish, the salty crunch of the corn chips and the melted cheese helped to get the con carne down.

Our last dish was straight from Italy with a pizza that had a very Australian name!  The pizza was the Shazza and Dazza but most people would call it a ham and pineapple pizza.  This was perhaps the nicest of the three plates we ordered on the day with a generous helping of toppings and a tomato sauce that had a good depth of tomato flavour.  The pizza base was not quite crispy enough but the overall tase was good.

The food that we had on the day was a bit hit and miss but considering that the prices for the meals were about $15 each, the value was not too bad.  SC was really quick to point out that her usual sandwich of turkey on brown bread and toasted (the number 3 sandwich) is fantastic.  She also highlighted that The Three Monkeys is primarily a 'cakes and coffee' shop and that this is what it's best known for.

As a cafe to sit down in a cool spot and enjoy a coffee, tea or other beverage and have a nice cake, The Three Monkeys is perfect.  There is lots of space and it's amazingly quite large inside, even if it is spread out throughout many rooms and a large outdoor area at the back.  The service was great on the day and we didn't need to wait long at all for our drinks and food to be delivered.  

However, as a cafe to have a good feed, I think it just misses the mark.  There is too much of a cross selection of foods, which potentially means that there is not enough of a focus on getting each one perfect.  I can certainly see the appeal of The Three Monkeys but for me, it's just not 'my cup of tea'

A really diverse and eclectic selection of foods
A large and great outdoor area to sit and while away the day
Three Monkeys is in an Old Queenslander in West End
Eclectic food offerings, wall art and brick-a-brak
Lots of weird and wonderful items around the cafe

Three Monkeys Coffee & Tea House on UrbanspoonThree Monkeys Coffee & Tea House

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