Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Cheap Eats - Spoon Deli at Festival Towers

I was having one of those days.  You know the type, back to back meetings to all parts of the city with little or no time in between.  It seemed as if I was going to have to go without lunch, which I am OK with on a fast day (see five two) but definitely don't love doing the day after a fast.  I was pretty darn hungry.

Rushing from one side of the city to the other has it's challenges but I'd managed to gain fifteen minutes by leaving a meeting early, which meant that I could grab a quick bite to eat.  The problem with wandering around the CBD at lunch time is that just about everywhere is packed and I didn't have time to wait in a queue.  Walking past one eatery after the other, I was getting close to my destination and I'd still not found somewhere to grab a bite.  Panic was setting in (well, not really but it adds to the drama).

Reaching the corner of Albert and Charlotte Streets, I wandered past a little cafe that is usually quite busy but was strangely quiet.  Given it was one of my last options, I wandered into Spoon Deli at Festival Towers.  I'd been intrigued by Spoon, which at one point in Brisbane's history was just about the hottest cafe chain going around.  I remember trying to get in for breakfast many times and giving up due to the long queues.  That was before the rise of the unique-little-cafe and the spurning of the cafe chain which eventually led to a reduction of Spoon Cafe's around Brisbane.

It was the lure of a cheap hamburger that had me walking through the doors.  I could have tried the Miel Container just around the corner (see post here), but at 12:15pm, it would have queues to the botanic gardens (well, not quite that far).  I'd walked past Spoon on many occasions, which has a big banner advertising $10 dollar burgers.  I was sold, a burger and shake would go down a treat, especially in my post fast hunger daze.

Walking into the little corner deli for the first time, I was struck by how funky and cool the place looked, a fact reinforced with a heap of 'hip young things' serving at the counter.  I could have actually been in a cafe in West End, it had that kind of feel.  Looking over the burger menu, I saw just what I was looking for - the Spoon Burger, which came with beef, cheese, onion, salad and with a choice of sauces that included tomato, BBQ and relish.  I also had a look at the smoothie menu and ordered a banana smoothie.

I took a seat at a tiny little round table inside Spoon and flipped open my iPad to continue to work on reducing my emails while I waited.  A few minutes later I had my first delivery, the banana smoothie.  Taking one look at the drink, my immediate thought was it wasn't a smoothie but a simple milkshake, with a squeeze of banana sauce smeared around the side of the glass.  A big sip through the straw confirmed, it was just a milkshake, with no ice cream and definitely no fresh banana.  It seemed as if the flavour came from the banana sauce, which tasted very artificial - it wasn't great and I didn't drink much of it.

While I was contemplating what I was actually drinking, my burger was delivered.  My immediate reaction was that it looked very home made, which for ten bucks wasn't necessarily a bad thing.  There was lots of fresh salad, including big chunks of tomato, sautéed onion and lettuce, which were the best things about the burger.  What I didn't love so much was the beef patty, which was way overcooked for my liking (well done instead of medium) and the bun, which looked wonky and more like a sandwich bun than a burger bun.  The flavour of the burger was alright, but nothing special, mainly because the flavour had been cooked out of the meat, which was a shame.  For ten bucks, I got what I paid for.

The best thing about my meal at Spoon was that it was quick and the setting was actually pretty cool for a city cafe.  I've seen lots of people in the Spoon at Festival Towers enjoying a morning or afternoon coffee on my many walks past the deli on the way to George Street and they all seemed to be pretty happy.  In hindsight, what I hadn't seen was a heap of people eating burgers, but that could have just been a timing issue.

I definitely remember the early to mid 2000's when Spoon was simply the hottest cafe around and it seems as if those halcyon days are well behind them.  I'm a regular shopper at James Street Markets and I regularly see the Spoon Cafe there with heaps of Valley residents enjoying a morning breakfast.  Maybe I'll need to head over to James Street one morning to see if a breakfast might be better.

The cafe has quite a funky little feel
There are spoons everywhere
I can see this!
More Spoons
Fresh ingredients and lots of thick tomato - I liked the salad
But a burger is about meat too and my patty was over cooked 
Lots of nooks and crannys to hide
Spoon on Albert Street underneath Festival Towers

Spoon Espresso Deli on Urbanspoon

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