Sunday, 24 November 2013

Casual Dining - Cicada in the CBD

Throughout your working life, you will work with heaps of people you like and for many it's the main reason why they keep getting out of bed in the morning and keep going to work.  When you manage people it's the same but unfortunately sometimes they will leave you and move onto bigger and better things.  While it's sometimes hard watching them leave the nest to spread their wings, it's also quite rewarding as well.

When you stop working with those people, it doesn't have to be the end and hopefully you can continue on with friendships to replace working relationships.  In the last twelve months I have had a couple of team members leave my team for greener pastures but I have continued to remain close to them and managed to catch up for a long overdue lunch.  It's not always easy to catch up with the 'dynamic duo' as I will call them for the rest of the post, they are both vegetarians and in many ways are like 'peas in a pod'.

Usually I am the dude that is recommending lunch spots but I was happy to accede the responsibility of choosing a lunch spot to one of the dynamic duo, one that would be right in the middle of our now diverse work locations.  While we all work in the CBD, the Brisbane postcode of 4000 now covers a lot of ground.  The spot that was chose was Cicada, which is underneath the Telstra building on the corner of George and Adelaide Street.  As it turned out I had the furtherest to go but still was the first to arrive, with RL coming along as short while later.  Of course SG was the closest to our lunch destination and was the last to arrive, something RL and I had to chuckle about.

Cicada is one of the new breed of lunch locations in the City and is part of a larger group of restaurants that includes Sparrow & Finch, Firefly Pizza, Chocolate Soldier and numerous other city hotspots.  The Cicada group are actually out of Sydney but have really made Brisbane home with the introduction of decent lunch spots that are reasonably priced, quick and most importantly provide quality and inventive food offerings.  They have done a great job of transforming the Brisbane CBD lunchtime to something more resembling the Sydney dining scene, but with typical Brisbane flair.

Once the dynamic duo had arrived, we spent a while catching up with the latest goss and finding out the intricate details of the current status of work and personal lives.  We had the menus dropped off but it took a few attempts of the wait staff to grab out attention before we got the drinks orders underway and a few more before we finally settled down enough to look over the menu and make some decisions.

While we waited for our lunch to arrive, I had a look around the restaurant, which is actually quite massive inside with plenty of alfresco dining spilling out to the courtyard.  There was an interesting mix of city workers spaced out across the very busy dining area.  It was a 'casual' Friday and normally you would see plenty of casually dressed city folk around but being the 'top end of town' there were still a few suits splattered here and there.  The was a huge bar that dominated one wall of the restaurant and I could imagine that later on that night it would be pumping with city bees relaxing and unwinding with a few beers or cocktails to help them ease into the weekend.

I was getting pretty hungry and since I was facing the kitchen (as I usually try to do), I had a few false starts thinking our meals were about to arrive.  Eventually those false starts turned into the food actually reaching our table as opposed to plates tantalisingly being delivered to tables near us.  Given the dynamic duo are both vegetarians, they broke the cardinal rule when dining with a blogger and ordered the same thing.  They both opted for the grilled haloumi with a polenta and pecorino cake, roasted field mushrooms, semi dried tomatoes, base pesto and a cider vinaigrette.  There was one minor difference between the two with RL opting to have the mushrooms removed.  I'm not a fan of vegetarian options but the dish actually looked kind of appetising.  The dynamic duo both got stuck into their dishes and the feedback was that they were great, especially the semi dried tomatoes which was in a paste that quite looked like minced meat....

I've been eating a lot of meat lately so I immediately discounted much of the menu, with meat being a predominant theme at Cicada.  There was a smaller fish section so I went for the crispy skin salmon with pickled beetroot, beans, orange, radish and roasted walnuts.  The dish was well presented with a large piece of well cooked salmon fillet sitting atop a bed of bean puree and white beans, with a smattering of orange pieces and pickled beetroot quarters.  While the salmon was a perfect medium rare, it really needed some extra seasoning to bring out the fish flavour and the skin was not really crispy, it had gone soggy.  A couple of the flavours really worked well on the plate, with the orange complimenting the fish nicely, with the pickled beetroot adding some real zing to the plate.  Unfortunately, the beans were quite bland, lacking in seasoning and I ended up leaving them on the plate.  I would say that the whole dish lacked seasoning and could have been elevated nicely with some salt and pepper.

We also shared a couple of serves of the fries with garlic aioli.  The fries themselves very much reminded me of McDonalds fries, they were super skinny, salty and very more(ish).  With fries like those you just know they are not good for you but keep on eating them anyway and before too long most of the fries were history.

The dynamic duo had spent a large part of the meal talking about exercise and healthy stuff so it was not surprising when they both declined the dessert menu.  Not me, I was keen.  There were a few interesting looking dessert options but the one that stood out for me was the lemon curd crumble slice, advertised as a super citrussy lemon curd topped with a crumble topping.  The curd was simply presented on the plate and was just as advertised.  I loved the bitter sweet curd that had a lovely thick texture that was aided by the crumbly topping.  The addition of cream and fresh berries on the side were a bonus and mixed very nicely with the citrus flavour from the curd.  It was a lovely way to finish off the meal.

I had eaten at Cicada once before and had an OK meal and found that it had still maintained its OK status with this one.  There was a good range of options available on the menu for most people and even my picky dynamic duo of vegetarians had a few options to choose from (although I don't know why they got the same thing).  I've also eaten at a few of the other Cicada group lunch spots around town and regularly get milkshakes from Sparrow and Finch, which is right across the street from my office.

During the time that we were there I witnessed the place fill up and then empty out, which is typical for a lunch spot in the CBD.  There were plenty of staff working on the day and were all very friendly and helpful. Most of the people that I saw around the dining area all seemed to be enjoying themselves with many keeping an eye on the numerous TV's spaced throughout the dining area.  Normally I don't like TV's in a dining space but with the cricket on and Australia dominating England in the first test, it was OK.

As far as lunch places that are a step up on your typical 'food court' areas, Cicada does quite well, with reasonable prices and pretty quick service.  A place like Cicada is perfect for a Friday afternoon lunch and I thing the CBD would be greatly enhanced with a few more dining options like it.  I'm hoping with all the new buildings going up in the CBD we will see a few more sprout up.

The dining area spills into the courtyard for alfresco dining
Love the bling
An eclectic mix of lunchtime diners
The well stocked bar area ready for a big Friday
I'm thinking they love vodka and cocktails

Cicada on UrbanspoonCicada Restaurant Cafe Bar

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