Saturday, 26 July 2014

Breakfast Series - Customs House Breakfast

After what had been a pretty huge couple of weeks at work and eating, we were feeling pretty exhausted and in need of a sleep in.  It doesn't happen very often, we're usually up fairly early on Sunday mornings so we can grab a table at one of Brisbane's burgeoning breakfast spots.  But, on this occasion, exhaustion definitely won out and off-went-the-alarm and we had a blissful sleep in until around 9am.  The only problem with lolling around in bed until 9am was that we were super hungry when we got out of bed and really felt like breakfast somewhere - oh!  The irony...

It just so happens that there is a great little breakfast spot in the CBD, right next to my apartment, that is only open on Sunday mornings from 9am.  We'd been to Customs House for breakfast a few times before, but not since I started my blog, but it immediately sprung to mind once I realised what time we'd crawled out of bed.  After a quick call to the restaurant and  a quick confirmation that we could just pop over without a reservation, we got dressed in our slightly less casual Sunday duds and made our way across the street to Customs House.

One of the most striking buildings left standing in Brisbane, Customs House was designed by Charles McLay of the Colonial Architect's office and work commenced on its construction in 1886.  Taking around three years to build and costing thirty eight thousand pounds, the riverside building was a fine example of Victorian Free Classical style and most recognisable by its copper sheathed dome. Customs House was a functioning government office building until around 1994, at which time it was sold off to the University of Queensland and is now used as a function facility.

As well as being a beautiful old building, and function facility, Customs House also has a beautiful riverside restaurant, which provides a number of dining experiences, including an inside heritage setting as well as an outdoor riverfront experience.  When we first arrived, we were offered the option of sitting inside or out and after confirming that there were some heaters available, decided that it was too beautiful a morning to be sitting inside.  One of the things that sets Customs House aside is its adherence to traditional service values and our impeccably presented wait staff quickly showed us to our white linen and silver service table with stunning views of the Story Bridge.

We were given some menus to look over while our drinks orders were taken, with a half strength latte the standard order for SC.  I'd noticed that there were no smoothies on the menu but there were freshly squeezed juices, so setting my usual desire for a smoothie aside, I ordered the juice special of the day - the carrot, orange and ginger juice.  When our drinks arrived, SC's coffee was presented in an unusual but beautiful cup that looked truly unique and my juice looked fresh and vibrant.  Both were wonderful with my juice being a standout, fresh, not overly sweet and just a hint of ginger.

We'd both eaten at Customs House over the years and had enjoyed every meal.  Originally from Belgium, Didier Pollaert has been head chef at the restaurant since 1996 and has a passion for modern cuisine with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal produce.  This is reflected in the menu at Customs House, which changes three times a year to maintain it's freshness and keep in line with his philosophy.   This approach was also reflected in the breakfast menu, which had a good mix of contemporary and traditional options.

I was surprised when SC opted something completely different for breakfast, in fact, I'm not sure I've actually seen her order an omelet for breakfast but the lure of the sand crab omelet with chilli, ginger, green onions, bean sprouts and soy dressing was too big to ignore.  When presented, the omelet looked pretty fresh and appetising with a perfect 'half moon' omelet covered in fresh ingredients.  The omelet was perfectly cooked with a hint of golden crust and filled with heaps of deliciously subtle crab meat. The soy dressing added some sweetness that you can crave at breakfast without making the dish sickly sweet and the crunch of the fresh vegetables maintained throughout the meal.  It was an unusual choice for SC but she really enjoyed it.

I made a minor change to the Customs House Breakfast of scrambled eggs with bacon, pork sausage, grilled tomato, sautéed mushrooms, hash brown and toasted ciabatta by ditching the very American hash browns.  My plate of food was huge with generous portions of each of the ingredients, dominated by a pile of scrambled eggs and bacon.  Once I dug under the top layer of food, there were heaps of sautéed mushrooms and a piece of grilled tomato.  My eggs were perfectly cooked, wonderful and creamy and for once, I actually ate them on the accompanying ciabatta with the extra texture working well.  I loved my bacon, firstly because there was heaps of it, but also it was very good quality and had a lovely flavour.  My mushrooms were also massive and cooked well, but I thought needed a pinch more seasoning to bring out the flavour.  I was pretty stuffed by the time I got to the huge pork sausage and only made a half hearted attempt at it before I gave up - I think I may have been able to struggle through if it was some chorizo though!

Normally after we've eaten our breakfast, we scoot out as quickly as possible but given we were feeling relaxed and were in a beautiful setting, we sat around for a little while longer and enjoyed another drink each.  This time I'd noticed and ordered an iced chocolate, which came out in a tall glass and was topped off with fresh whipped cream - yum!

Throughout our meal, we'd experienced impeccable service from the staff, definitely befitting of silver service and for a while I lamented the decline of silver service in the Brisbane dining scene.  The outside dining area was indeed the perfect setting for breakfast and even though it was a cold morning, strategically placed heaters kept the dining area nice and toasty warm.

It wasn't super busy for breakfast service, although there were a few groups of diners enjoying a leisurely Sunday morning breakfast, one of which was a former boss of SC's whom she hadn't seen in ages, so that was a pleasant surprise.  I'd have to say that Customs House breakfast is one of the real pleasures in the CBD on a Sunday morning, one in which must also be one of Brisbane's best kept secrets.  I'm hoping that it soon becomes one of Brisbane's wort kept secrets and you all get along to enjoy a Customs House Sunday morning feast.

A great setting to have breakfast with the Story Bridge as a backdrop
The wonderfully cooked omelet with fresh crab - yum
Huge fry up of food with creamy scrambled eggs
Yep, that did taste as good as it looked!
A casual spot to enjoy a drink 
White linen and silver cutlery - all class at Customs House
There's a heap of beautiful wines to be enjoyed 
Award winning function and convention centre with a beautiful restaurant - winning!
There is a feeling of history at Customs House
The main dining room has a contemporary feel while steeped in history
The juxtaposition of the old and the new.  You can see my apartment in the background too!

Customs House Restaurant on UrbanspoonCustoms House

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