Cafes and Restaurants » Brisbane Restaurants

Sassafras Cafe, Paddington

Nestled in the leafy suburb of Paddington, at the start of Brisbane’s number one opshopping and vintage clothes street Sassafras has taken this unique Brisbane feel and run with it. A tiered outdoor eating area has the tables set amongst umbrellas, hedges and trees, inside the pastel painted cupboards and not quite antique tables and chairs make you feel right at home. Probably because your mum had the same kitchen table. Topping it all off is a random selection of strange paraphenalia hanging from the walls and ontop of the cupboards. Bookmaker bags, interesting photos and random teapots are a quirky addition that fit right in with the homely vibe.

The homeliness doesn’t stop there, a huge glass cabinet filled with seemingly home made salads, pies, cakes and tarts takes the place of a service counter, behind it a large hand written blackboard is the menu. The same staff that have been there for years cap it all off with their friendly demeanour and fast service.

Sassafras Service Area The menu is broken into 2 parts, breakfast (until 2pm) and lunch (until 3pm). Breakfast is all the favourites, eggs, big breakfast, meusli and toast with a few interesting additions, three cheeses grilled on sourdough, buckwheat pancakes, chilli corn cakes and savoury mince on toast. The portions are generous and while the price isn’t cheap, it is reasonable.

Lunch has a distinctly mediterreanean feel, sandwiches filled with feta, peri peri chicken, grilled zuchini, eggplant, capers and olives all on sourdough or toasted panini are accompanied by an open steak sandwich, or a variety of pies or salads from the cabinet. With these slightly unorthodox flavours is where Sassafras really shines each dish is flavoursome and balanced again with good portions. The highlight is the peri-peri chicken BLT, an old favourite with a great, spicey touch.

For drinks, the milkshakes are amazing, taking this easily forgotten beverage and taking it to the next level. The coffee is neither here nor there, nothing to complain about but hardly standout, easily overshadowed by the quality of the food. If herbal tea is your thing, there is a large selection of T2 teas by the pot, or to take home.

Add this all together and what you end up with is one of Brisbane’s best cafes. Doing away with any of the yuppy pretentiousness that the inner suburbs of Brisbane often permeate and instead providing a familiar Brisbane cafe experience. Good food, good service, friendly faces and comfortable surrounds are easy to love, surely why this little cottage is packed all weekend, every weekend.

The only mistake this lovable cafe makes is not serving beer.

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Spoon Cafe, Paddington, Brisbane

To call our dining experience at Spoon disappointing wouldn’t do it justice, it was much worse than that. Located in the trendy Brisbane Suburb of Paddington, Spoon is nestled amongst some of Brisbane’s best cafes. At first look, it appears to be a classy place, taking a clean conservative approach which contrasts its trendy, chic neighbours. It is a massive cafe with a large covered outdoor eating area with big tables, an open kitchen and a pretty standard menu. It is positioned perfectly on Latrobe Terrace and unlike most cafes in the area has access to parking and is close to other shops and restaurants. Yet its complete lack of acceptable service puts it in the “never again” basket.

Things didn’t start well with one of our lunch companions mentioning that there was no chance he would have booked a lunch party for 12 at the cafe, offering a few alternatives. At this stage, the damage was done.

On arrival it appeared that the booking had been completely disregarded. Speaking to the wait-staff they indicated that the table I was standing near would do and walked off.  This was a table of 8, not the booked 10. After a bit of rearranging of tables, and chairs we had a table with 1 menu.

Spoon has made the interesting decision not to provide table service instead only taking orders at the counter. Perhaps this works with a streamlined front counter where it takes very little effort to go and order a drink, but the single front counter attendant is preparing cakes and pies while taking orders. The line was regularly 5 and 6 deep, ordering a beer or coffee was a 10 minute mission. 10 minutes we could have spent drinking, and probably ordering more beers.

The meal service was similarly appalling. 45 minutes from the first order of a chicken burger and a lamb burger was delivered, 30 for a rice pudding and beers were anywhere from a 5-15 minute wait. All of this served up with a healthy dose of attitude from the staff scorning our very presence. Clearing plates was a nonstarter, with not a single glass or plate making it to the dishwasher, not to mention crockery on nearly every other table in the restaurant.

The food itself, was mediocre at best, a steak sandwich was half filled, poached eggs with runny whites, overcooked chicken burgers and cold chips as sides. Even the beer was a failure as they ran out of Pure Blonde, perhaps the only thing that wasn’t a complete disappointment was the coffee. It was neither good or bad, at this point it was a relief.

Thankfully the beer was cold and the company was good.