So after the move over summer, I needed a new local café that met my requirements. It is a truth universally acknowledged that an ex West Ender must be in search of a good café. For myself, gentle reader, this includes decent coffee (obviously), good or great vegetarian options, ambience and affordability- for who can be a regular if you can’t afford the menu?
I refused to make anywhere in Southbank a regular coffee spot, because even though there are some cafes and restaurants working hard at catering for locals, the fact of the matter is Southbank is expensive, whether it’s good or not. Although walking back into West End (note: one should never drive into West End unless it’s to load something into your boot; it limits your alcohol intake, adds the extra expense of parking and wastes your time. But I digress…) yes, umm… walking back into West End is always an option, it’s a distant option for lazy-bones like me.
How lucky that Pear Café Bar is close by, servicing the good people on and near Gladstone Road. If I think that somewhere could become a regular spot for me, I have a process I go through:
1) Go only for a coffee or drink. Check that the basics caffeine requirement is in order and see how the ambience and staff are.
2) While on trip a), peruse the menu and plan for trip b). This means checking for veggie options and prices to see if it’s in my pathetic budget (Oh, and did I mention my work overpaid me so now I need to pay it back while working part time? Grrrr)
3) Go on said plan b) trip and check out the noms.
So it was with Pear. I went for coffee (tick) and decided that I’d come back for poached eggs soon. These took a little longer than I would have expected, but were served with good toast and rocket. I had to admit, whatever the poaching method used, the visual result was odd- my eggs looked like they had been boiled, but were runny and poachey when cut open. Peculiar for an egg-squeemish person like myself (it’s a vegan hangover I think) who has to talk themselves into ordering eggs, but still nice to eat. On that occasion, we sat out the front on the stools that face the raised boxes of herbs and plants. In theory, this is very lovely and a really good attempt at screening out the road, but in reality, Gladstone Road is too busy for outdoor ambience. People also park directly in front of this space, which means that what streetscape you may have had become the side of a van. Que sera sera. I think the outdoor area would be perfect on a warm morning for a quick coffee before running about your day. I would recommend eating indoors if you have the option.
Which I did next time I ate (see how I started a new sentence and paragraph but kept the thought going? This is terrible writing but I like it anyway). Last week, Ben and I popped in for a coffee and brekkie. Well, I had brekkie, Ben had a coffee. The first time I had brekkie here, I ordered the Welsh Rarebit. I didn’t know what this was before I ordered it, but when I was waxing lyrical to my mum about it later on, she pulled out an ANCIENT recipe book and proceeded to show me the recipe her mum had. Is anyone else in on this Cymruvian (not a word. What’s the adjective for Cymru?) secret? Would you like to be? It’s toast with egg, cheese and, in theory, Worcestershire sauce. All grilled together in toastie goodness. But this is South Brisbane, this is fancy shit. We can’t just eat cheese on toast; we need to serve it on brioche and with rocket. And it’s awesome. I ordered it without Worces, as it isn’t vegetarian (anchovy is in it) and this was happily obliged. Now obviously serving this on regular but good-quality bread would significantly lower the calories (and yes, I worked it out, and no, you don’t want to know), but the brioche was heavenly. It was quite rich and filling, but was only one slice, which I like for brekkie. There’s nothing worse than being served a huge plate of food for brekkie and then needing to go back to bed. At the communal table, I heard a man say (and I quote, because I wrote it down), that his was the “best brekkie I’ve had in Brisbane in the last two years”. I have no idea what he was eating or if it was vego (I was already being invasive enough with my eavesdropping) but it’s high praise.
Other veggie brekkie options ($5-16) include an avo toast, poached eggs, bircher muesli, mushrooms, croissant, a stack that can be made veggie and fruit toast. So vegos really won’t go hungry. Friends of mine had the fruit toast and croissant with preserves and were happy with them. There are good options for vegans too: items like the avo toast, mushrooms, fruit toast and muesli, could easily be vegan if you ask for the dairy to be omitted and check items such as mushrooms aren’t cooked in butter. The stack, served veggie, could also be vegan without eggs and, once again, checking butter isn’t the cooking oil. My Welsh rarebit has since been replaced by the back by popular demand corn fritters. I love me a corn fritter. Have a look:
On a mild downer, Ben went there with his sister and the avo toast was served on supermarket multigrain, which is a little disappoint considering that Flower Power bakery is up the hill and Sol Breads is round the corner on Vulture Street. In the past, my mum has had poached eggs that came with chilli, which she can’t eat but wasn’t noted on the menu. I think chilli is a common food allergy or sensitivity and a different garnish would work just as well. I get the impression she didn’t want to say anything because it’s our local (too nice, mum!).
That aside, there are two lunch and two dinner options for vegos ($14-16). The lunch options are hearty-looking salads that appear to be veganiseable (especially the Mediterranean salad, which is really yummy). The dinner options are not quite so vegan friendly, but the Facebook page (hyperlink) says it’s vegan friendly, so it could be worth a call in advance.
PS- On a hilarious yet apologetic side note, Ben took his grandmother to Pear a couple of weeks ago, who proceeded to talk loudly about all her new bowel problems because of her cancer (“I was just popping off and popping off and popping off”), had Ben and his sister in stitches, and resulted in noticeably fewer people in the café at the end of their coffee than at the beginning. For this, I apologise, thank you for your patience and grace with her coffee demands (water in her coffee..)! Hehehe.