Sunday, 2 June 2013

Casual Dining - Brew Cafe & Bar

I love the idea of restaurants, bars and cafes that are tucked away in laneways and that are hard to find, unless you know where you are going.  Brisbane has precious few laneways and spots that are tucked away, but Brew in Burnett Lane certainly fits the bill.  For many years Burnett Lane was a place to be avoided at all costs, but then something happened and it all changed.  There are some cool restaurants and bars in Burnett Lane now, with The Survey Co and Super Whatnot, but Brew is a little different.  Where The Survey Co is more refined and Super Whatnot is uber cool, Brew is a little more grungy and dare I say it, a little more real (or should I say accessible).

I have been trying to get into Brew for ages but have been foiled at every attempt.  It's not as if you need to book months in advance for Brew, there is a no bookings policy, but it's usually so jammed packed, that it's impossible to get a table without meticulous planning.  Even with careful planning, you need a slice of luck to get a table, for example one time I left work at 4:30 trying to snare a table for an early dinner with a mate!  No go, even then every table had been scoped out with other patrons with the same idea as me.

Today was to be the day to finally get into Brew.  After a good sleep in, I surprised SC with a declaration that we were off to Brew for breakfast and after a little grumbling about giving no notice, we set out.  Arriving at 9:30 am I was foiled again, the place hadn't opened yet and after wandering down the lane to check out why, was informed by the guy behind the cage that they were open at 10am.  Mmmmmm, I'm wasn't sure how I could get that wrong, but after checking the website, I could see on the landing page that it said 10am, but the menu (which admitedly seems quite old) notes a 9am start.  Not to worry, I had a cunning plan to come back later in the day and try for lunch, today was to be the day......

Right, it was later in the day, after what I was sure to be the lunch rush, and SC and I ventured back into Brew to have a second attempt at checking it out.  By the time we arrived, there was some live music at the entrance that sounded pretty cool, and while the place was still pretty busy, there were a few seating options.  Score, we were in and it was all coming together.

After being seated for only a few minutes the waitress came over to take our drinks orders and give us the menus with one key update, there was pretty much no breakfast left, all sold out.  This wasn't a problem as I had my eye on the tapas options, so that was all cool.  SC ordered an English Breakfast tea and I went for a iced chocolate.

The menu at Brew is quite diverse on Sundays with a good range of breakfast options (but no bacon) and a really good selection of tapas.  We ordered a mixed selection from the tapas menu and after quite a long wait the food all came out on two huge bread boards.  I wan't too bothered about the wait as the vibe in Brew is pretty relaxed and the tunes playing inside were right up my alley, a bit of funky house and acid jazz, awesome.

First to be tasted was the chorizo with chilli jam and those of you that are regular readers of my blog know I love chorizo.  I have to say it's hard to get chorizo wrong, but it's also hard to get it as perfectly cooked as it was at Brew.  It was slightly charred on the outside but still moist and delicious, with a slight heat coming from the paprika.  What was amazing about the dish was the chilli jam, which was the perfect accompaniment for the spicy sausage.  The chilli jam was really sweet and balanced out the heat from the chorizo perfectly.  This was a super start to the meal.

Next to be tasted was the grilled haloumi, which was probably my least favourite of all the tapas we tried but was still pretty good.  There was quite a generous serving of haloumi and it was grilled really well and and had that lovely golden colour that haloumi goes, but it was sprinkled in some herbs, which dried it out somewhat.  Great flavours but the textures were just a little off with the herbs.

As much as I loved the grilled chorizo the star of the show was the spanish meatballs in rich house made tomato sauce, sour cream, lemon and toasted tortilla.  The meatballs were soft and really well cooked, with just a hint of spices throughout and bathed in the rich tomato based sauce.  The addition of the incredibly light and fluffy sour cream was a beautiful match for the rich tomato sauce and seriously enhanced the flavour of the meatballs.  I really loved these and if I can ever get back in at dinner time, will definitely be ordering these again!

Last of our tapas was the trio of house dips with toasted turkish bread.  SC ordered this one because she had already eaten a healthy lunch and just wanted something to nibble on while I pigged out on the spanish tapas.  The three dips were pesto, hommus and what looked to be an olive tapenade.  I was too focussed on my trio of Spanish delights to try the dips, but SC enjoyed them and even though she had already eaten, polished off most of it (along with some of my chorizo and meatballs)

I was completely blown away by our little visit to Brew.  I wasn't too sure what to expect from the food as the kitchen is quite small but I have to say I was impressed.  For a cafe that is essentially a bar and cafe, Brew can certainly pump out some tasty food.  The wait staff were quick, friendly and efficient and at one point ninja like!  I was chatting to SC about stuff then all of a sudden I looked down and my iced chocolate had magically appeared.

The other thing that I loved about Brew was the set up itself, there is a spot out the front for live music, then tucked away even further into the alley is the main bar, wich doubles as the cafe area.  It's pretty narrow but the team have squeezed in heaps of seating, including comfy couches, benches and more traditional tables and chairs.  It's a real hodgepodge but works really well.

It's no wonder it's hard to get into Brew most nights and impossible on Friday and Saturday nights (without supreme planning and patience). It's a brilliant little spot.  The crowd is really eclectic and diverse, which adds to the flavour of the place.  This is a great example of what can be done with a little creativity.  A few years ago something like Brew could never have happened in Burnett Lane, but I'm really glad that its time has come.  Now all we need is more cool laneway bars and cafes!


My iced chocolate was a bit warm even with the ice in it.  After a few minutes it went cold.
How good does that chorizo look?
Big board with all the goodies piled on, yummy.
There was quite a lot of food and Brew is reasonably priced
Brew branded fridge.  Cool
Some great beers on tap.  Brew has a double meaning - beer or coffee :)
I think Sunday afternoons are the best time to come to Brew if you want to chill out 
Heaps going on too.  Live music and all sorts of crazy stuff
The kitchen seems to have expanded, this used to be an additional bar area
Live music
At night, the projector would have a bigger impact!

Brew on UrbanspoonBrew Cafe & Wine Bar


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