To be fair, when a Melbournian goes anywhere, especially interstate, especially up North, we already have our mind made up. As we board our domestic flight, we are resigning ourselves to the fact that we are kissing proper coffee goodbye for a while and nothing is going to come up to scratch compared to our favourite cafe/restaurant/eatery at home.
So it was with high hopes that I entered The Gunshop cafe in Brisbane. After all it had been named by delicious magazine as Australia's Best Cafe for 2009 - they have a giant banner out the front telling everyone - and it had been recommended to me by many people. Foodie people. People who know good eating.
I walked in and pulled up pew just before midday. Only to be told the lunch menu wasn't ready. Uuum OK. Apparently the changeover of the menu means no eating or ordering in between times. And that means no drinks either. Unless you ask for one, which I had to do after sitting there for close to fifteen minutes. When I got my latte the coffee was burnt and the milk scorching hot (insert Melbourne coffee snob snub here).
This establishment in Brisbane's West End serves three different menus a day. A day! An ambitious pursuit at the very least, and totally fine if you can pull it off. Which on the day I dined there, they did not. At a quarter past twelve (almost thirty minutes after I arrived) I had to ask for a menu hot off the photocopier. The meals were $18.50 to $22.50 which is not your average cafe lunch price, but OK if you're making a day of it I suppose. (There is not much in the way of vegetarian fodder on the daytime list FYI.)
It took another ten minutes before I could stand it no longer and did the rude, wavy-handy thing to summon a waiter in order to order. I went for the macadamia (well, when in Queensland) crusted king snapper with crushed herb potatoes, asparagus and lemon caper dressing. The first two drinks I selected were out of stock (if you're printing a menu three times a day you could update this no?).
Never mind, I pretended to read my book and instead listened to the very important meeting going on beside me; the tables are jammed quite close together you see.
When my food arrived The Gunshop began to redeem itself. The portion of fish was massive, the asparagus was massive and the crust, to be honest, was too massive. I was a little worried about the size of the green spears on my plate, I expected them to be woody, but they were tender and sweet. Apart from the crust being a little too thick, the salty/sweet nuts blended beautifully with the capers and lemon juice. The snapper was cooked to perfection and the potatoes too. Having been in the cafe for over an hour by this stage, I just sat back, relaxed and savoured the meal; laid-back Brisbane-style.
Unfortunately in the time I was there, the table beside me turned over three times. One party left after their drinks as they were not impressed at having to wait so long to order; the next pair also moaned about being starving and how long was it going to take?
The floor system, or rather the lack of, really lets The Gunshop down. Everyone working seemed to be in a complete tizz at all times. As if they were nervous. And perhaps they are? They have a big accolade to live up to now and I left wondering if perhaps they were better before they were told they are the best?