Sunday, 19 October 2014

Cheap Eats Lunch - The Charles Bean Bar

Sometimes I wonder if you can look too deeply into things.  

I've recently been going on solo travels around the Brisbane CBD, looking for great little lunch spots where I can fuel my inner introvert and enjoy quiet lunches on my own.  In most cases, there are heaps of cafes around that you walk by every day and just never step into, it's these types of little eating oases that I'm looking for.

The Charles Bean Bar is just such a place, squeezed into the foyer of one of the CBD's many commercial towers and next door to one of the many popular Sumo Salads around town.  It would be pretty easy to walk by and never notice, and if fact I did walk past countless times without observing.  It was only because I've been recently keeping an eye out for such gems that I even spotted the little cafe on Adelaide Street.

Which brings me back to my opening statement, have I made the right connections?  Charles Bean was quite a famous Australian that not too many people remember.  A schoolmaster, judge's associate, barrister, journalist, war correspondent and historian, Bean was instrumental in the establishment of the Australian War Memorial and of the creation and popularisation of the ANZAC legend.  The Charles Bean Bar is located just across the street from ANZAC square, so in all likelihood refers back to this legendary historical figure......

One day last week, instead of walking past the Charles Bean Bar as I had done many times before, I stopped and checked out the menu taped to the front of the cafe, then manoeuvred my way to the back of a forming queue.  It's often surprising when you notice something for the first time, the Bar was quite long and had a row of tables and chairs for dining along one side and a series of comfy looking chairs along the other.  It was really quite modern looking, the type of place where you could grab a coffee and sit in one of those comfy chairs and do a bit of work on your laptop, just as easy as read a good book.

I'd been pretty interested in the Charles Bean Bar menu, which had read like an upmarket carvery and included such lunchtime classics as the quiche of the day, the beef lasagne and the chicken breast schnitzel roll.  The menu was a little more exotic though and included interesting middle eastern inspired dishes, such as the marinated lamb wrap, the sweet potato and chickpea fritters and lamb, feta and salad.  While there were some tasty looking treats, I'd only had eyes for one item, the Angus Burger.

The interesting food menu was accompanied by an equally tantalising drinks menu, which included the usual assortment of coffee, tea and milkshakes as well as some drinks that you don't usually see!  The London Fog was an earl grey tea infused with a shot of vanilla; The Honey Lemon Soother was lemon juice with honey and hot water and there was an unusual mix of Chai-Choc-a-latte.  Best of all was the smoothie bar.  It was a hot day, so I ended up ordering the Mad Mango, a blend of fresh mango, mango juice, honey and ice.  I'd been a bit nervous that it didn't have any low fat yoghurt in it, like the rest of the smoothies, but when it arrived, it was just perfect. The blend of ice and mango was smooth and it had a very punchy mango flavour with just a hint of honey - bliss..

I didn't have to wait too long before my Angus Beef Burger arrived and my initial reaction was one of trepidation,  it looked just like a burger I'd not enjoyed at Spoon in the CBD (see post here).  It looked just like a home made burger, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but my last experience with a similar looking burger had left me disappointed.  The Charles Bean Bar burger (phew, thats a mouthful) was tall, it was filled with fresh lettuce, tomato, beetroot, tasty cheese, grilled onion, BBQ sauce along with a big fat patty of Angus beef.  My first bit was a small one, just to get a sense of the flavours.  

My next was massive, to get more of the wonderful flavours into my gob!  It was really good, the beef patty had a very strong flavour and while it would have been nice to see a little pink in the patty, it didn't impact the juiciness.  I normally like raw onion in my burgers, but boy, the sweet caramelised flavour of the onion in the burger was amazing.  It was fresh too, the abundant beetroot, tomato and lettuce hit the spot, as did the tasty cheese.  

Since my burger odyssey in NYC,  I'd been chasing down that US of A burger memory for so long that I'd forgotten that us Aussies can make a pretty decent burger too.  The Charles Bean Bar Angus Beef Burger was superb and it reminded me that burgers can be fresh as well as tasty. The only thing that might have made it better would have been a fried egg, sunny side up and the burst of sweet yolk.

While I'd been sitting in the cafe enjoying my smoothie and burger, the place had slowly seen people trickling in to look at the menu - some stayed and some moved on.  I think those that had moved on and missed out on a pretty decent lunch.  There was a mix of city suits sitting in waiting impatiently for their lunch as well as some clusters of elderly people who were obviously regulars into enjoy some home cooked meals in the city.

And that's what I'd say about the Charles Bean Bar, the menu has a feeling of quality home cooked meals about it and that's what I saw coming out of the kitchen.  The place looked as if it was family owned with Mum and Dad out the back and a couple of the kids waiting tables and cleaning up.  It was something that I'd have expected in the suburbs but the fact that it was in the CBD made it all the more special.  

It's a place I think I'll start taking people to for meetings and those quick casual lunches - yeah, I'll be back to the Charles Bean Bar - maybe next time I'll ask if the cafe is inspired by a truly great Australian...  or maybe the owners name is Charles Bean too.  As I said, I can look too deeply into things sometimes!

Comfy chairs look ready made for a coffee and relaxing!  Or working, I mean definitely working...
The smoothies and daily specials - looks like they do catering too!
Comfy bench seating for lunch too
I usually prefer my smoothies with yoghurt but the addition of a little honey and made this one pretty refreshing
The fresh looking burger was great - but a smashed yolk from a fried egg would have been perfect
The Charles Bean looks like its a family run business 
It's a modern looking fit out and much bigger than I gave it credit for when I first spotted it
The flower was a nice touch...
Blink and you will miss it from the outside, unless you are paying attention!!

Charles Bean Bar on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks very much for your comment, I really love and appreciate feedback and your thoughts


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...