Walking towards Chow House on James Street last week I passed by the site of Will and my first date – Palace Cinemas. Usually you choose the movie first but we decided on the time and the only movie showing was Melinda & Melinda an art-house style movie. Luckily, we had been friends for years so neither one judged the other for the choice of movie. It was very ‘different’ and not to either of our liking but I didn’t care because I was on a date with Will (no we didn’t make out in the back all of you thinking badly of us!).
Afterwards, like the polite young man he was, he drove me home. Had it been these days, we would have probably gone out for a bite to eat or at least dessert but back then, at 9.30 on a Wednesday night, everything was closed (Brisbane has come a long way in 8 years).
Fast forward nearly eight years and James Street, New Farm is home to many eateries, shops and bars that have much later closing hours than back then. Last week, mum and I went out for lunch before doing a spot of Birthday shopping (my Birthday is the 22nd in case anyone wants to put that in their diary ).
I strongly suggest either getting to James Street before the lunch rush or leaving the car at home because it took us at least 20 minutes to find a spot. By then we were both ravenous and happy to arrive at Chow House New Farm. Arriving a little after 1pm, we both paused for a minute to admire the beautiful light and airy set up at the new restaurant.
Of course my eyes went straight to the walls full of plants to see which herbs they had growing. They were actually mostly decorative though, with some holding jade and some aloe vera (maybe in case of kitchen burns?). Greeted warmly, we took our seats and perused the menu. On one side was the lunch and dinner and on the other, the breakfast, or so I though. Since I stopped drinking Diet Coke I like to take a peek at the drinks menu but to my eyes there was only the wine list mum was given.
It wasn’t until I sat down to write this that I saw there’s a rather extensive non-alcoholic drinks list right next to the breakfast menu. Had I seen it, I would have ordered the Thai mocktail with lemongrass, lime, mint and kaffir lime leaf.
We were so hungry by the time we arrived we ordred a starter after a two-second glance at the menu. I’ll admit, when this arrived, I was a bit disappointed. It looked just like boring toast on a plate (and I wasn’t a fan of the napkin either) but after a bite of the warm, crusty bread spread with thai peanut jam I changed my mind.
The jam was like a sweet, sticky peanut butter and the salt sprinkled on the bread just brought out the flavours even more. Inside, the bread was light and fluffy and not too spicy but with a nice hint of flavour. Mum doesn’t like peanut butter but she loved this too and we devoured it pretty quickly.We were kind of hoping that these were more like a Vietnamese rice paper roll with ‘Saigon’ in the name. The pastry was crispy and not too thick and inside, the non-breast (I still ate it) meat was sticky and flavoursome. They know how to do a good dipping sauce/jam/anything on the side here because again, I could have eaten it all on its own. I’d never eaten anything cooked on sugarcane before but the sweetness it imparted into the prawns was lovely. The only thing I didn’t like abou this was the consistency. It was a bit like chewing a bite of omelette.
It doesn’t seem like much food but we were both quite full after the three dishes (or maybe we were eager to get shopping).You don’t think that stopped me having dessert do you? When this arrived, again I was a bit disappointed. I though the presentation was quite bland and it really looked quite boring. A few mouthfuls into I said to mum ‘you really couldn’t eat more than a few spoonfuls of this it’s so sweet.’ Fast forward a minute or two and most of it had disappeared.
Despite the deceptive appearance, the meringue was crunchy all the way through and not ridiculously sweet, the passionfruit curd’s tartness balance it out well and the chantilly creamy, while it might have done well to have a little vanilla folded through it, finished the trifecta. It just goes to show, sometimes simple really is the best. They only problem was that I ran out of cream and curd before I’d finished the meringue.
I’ll definitely be returning to sample more menu items at dinner or breakfast or even stopping in for a cup of tea and a taste of one of the scrumptious-looking baked goodies in the display cabinet.
So what about you? Do you prefer to drive or catch public transport and would you have expected fresh or fried spring rolls?
Chow House is located at 39 James Street, New Farm. It is open 7 days from 12pm until late and from 7am on the weekends.