Saturday, 3 May 2014

Breakfast Series - The O Bar and Restaurant

If I was to think about a street in Brisbane that held a lot of promise and potential, one that was not so well known, it would have to be Astor Terrace in Spring Hill.  It's a little street just on the outskirts of the CBD that has lovely large trees and sidewalks, almost boulevard like in its appearance, and an increasing number of hotels and apartments opening.  Of course, where you get a smattering of hotels, cafe's and restaurants soon follow and Astor Terrace is starting to get it's fair share of dining establishments.

I'd already checked out one of the newer cafes in Astor Terrace late last year and thought that the funky little Jak + Hill had a lot of promise (see post here).  It was when visiting Jak + Hill that I'd stumbled across the O Bar and Restaurant, which we'd considered going to for New Years Eve dinner a few years back with some buddies, but not knowing much about it, ended up at Iceworks in Paddington instead (see post here).   We were looking for a breakfast spot to catch up with our mate DruBoy and it just so happened that the O Bar was midway between our two apartments and in an ironic twist, it was with DruBoy that we'd almost visited the O Bar for that NYE dinner.

The O Bar was an interesting looking spot.  From the outside, it had a very modern appearance, with lots of wood and feature brickwork, but inside, it went from contemporary to 'old-world' charm.  In fact, it looked a lot like the inside of a Swiss ski chalet with a patchwork of exposed stone and a warm feeling that would not be out of place in any Scandinavian country.  It was quite a juxtaposition between the inside and out, especially with the crazy lighting features that separated the two.

We'd arranged to meet DruBoy at the O Bar for an 8 am breakfast and arrived just a little bit early and when we asked for a table, were told by the staff that they were not quite ready to open yet and asked for a few minutes.  We plonked ourselves down on one of the outside bar tables and waited for DruBoy to arrive.  

After a few minutes, our waitress came over with a couple of menus and asked us what we'd like to drink, with SC ordering a half strength latte.  I noted that there were no smoothies on the menu but asked if they could do a shake instead.  Fortunately, they were able to whip together an iced chocolate for me, which was actually pretty nice.

Once Druboy arrived and ordered his coffee, we got down to the serious business of deciding what to order for breakfast.  The menu at the O Bar is not what you would call comprehensive and runs to just shy of a dozen fairly traditional options.  While the menu itself was quite limited, there was a large list of optional extras that had some pretty interesting looking items that helped round out the overall feel of the menu.

Being a pescetarian, Druboy went for the potato ‘n’ feta hash cakes with oven roasted tomatoes, poached egg, rocket and a house made avocado salsa, but passed the bacon and chorizo that came as an option with the dish and replaced then with some smoked salmon.  There were a couple of large circular and golden brown hash cakes that were cooked well and quite tasty accompanying an almost perfectly spherical poached egg.  The egg was nicely poached and had a golden gooey yellow yolk that was just right.  The egg, hash cakes and tomato all worked well and avocado salsa was quite nice, but the salmon was not quite right, with an overly pungent flavour that indicated that it was not as fresh as it should have been.  Leaving the salmon aside, Druboy polished off the rest of the dish but he was a little disappointed with the fish.

Almost every breakfast menu in Brisbane has an eggs benedict on the menu and SC was keen to check out the O Bar version, which came with double smoked bacon and the unusual choice of poached or scrambled eggs with sourdough and a hollandaise sauce.  Of course SC went with the more traditional poached eggs version and what was presented was a lovely and fresh looking benne that had a great ratio of eggs to sourdough toast and loads of hollandaise sauce.  Again the eggs were poached wonderfully and the golden yolk mixed in beautifully with the hollandaise sauce, which on it's own was a bit vinegary but with the yolk to balance it out, perfect.  The bacon added some nice crunch and extra texture to the breakfast and overall it was a nice job.

I was pretty happy to see all of the wonderful extras that I could order with my scrambled eggs and went for the chorizo, double smoked bacon, grilled field mushrooms and roasted tomatoes.  Initially I was pretty happy with the huge plate of food that was presented, but as I dug into the food, I had to revise my initial thoughts. The eggs were nice and tasty, but they were a little under cooked and had that slightly slimy texture that didn't bind the eggs together well enough.  I definitely liked the well seasoned mushrooms and the slightly smoky flavour of the bacon, but I didn't love the chorizo and tomato.  Unfortunately, the chorizo was not of a high quality and really didn't taste that great and the tomato pieces were cold, so they both detracted from the dish.

When we'd first arrived at the O Bar, we were the only people around, apart from the wait staff, but as the morning progressed, a surprising number of customers started to arrive and order breakfast.  It looked as if many were coming from the myriad of hotels in Astor Terrace but there also looked to be some local CBD residents as well.  By the time we were ready to leave, there was quite a little buzz in the restaurant, which is good to see in a weekend CBD breakfast spot.

There were only a couple of staff on hand the morning that we were there but they managed to handle the increasing number of customers really well.  Our waitress was nice and friendly and was even cracking some jokes with the three of us, which goes down really well with our twisted sense of humour.

While there was a good little buzz at the O Bar, it was quite a bit different from the type of weekend crowd that you would get at one of the better known inner city suburb cafes, which are normally completely packed out.  The O Bar considers that it's "rapidly becoming one of Brisbane's worst kept secrets" and while I wouldn't say that just yet, it's got all the right ingredients to become just that.  It's in a lovely spot and a cool street with plenty of potential and I can definitely see a few more restaurants and cafes eyeing off this little strip of Brisbane.

The O Bar uses Toby's Estate coffee - which passed muster
Druboy went for a juice that included kale!!  I had a crack at him about that #NoKalePlease
The eggs benedict looked really nice
My scrambled eggs were a bit runny for my tastes
And out of nowhere was this!!
Really interesting light fittings with Druboy and SC paying the bill

O Bar & Restaurant on UrbanspoonO Bar and Restaurant

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