14 Collingwood Street
Paddington QLD 4064
+61 7 3172 1655
There aren’t many places I’d go to for brunch in Brisbane – heck, there aren’t many places I’d eagerly eat brunch at in Melbourne. I just don’t like brunch; I don’t like the food, the whole culture of waking up late and queuing for more than 30 minutes to pay more than $20 for a dish I can easily whip up at home and the microherbs. Oh goodness me, those damn microherbs. Sorry, not for me. Unless you can offer dishes that are more exciting than bacon and eggs or avocado on toast, you won’t see me lining up at your door.
But Shouk Café is a little different, though. Yes, it’s one of Brisbane’s most popular brunch places and yes, it serves avocado. However, the service is efficient so you generally don’t have to wait too long even on weekends and their smashed avocado comes with Persian feta, dukkah and prik grapefruit gel. In actual fact, most of their menu items have Middle Eastern influences – think eggs benedict served with toasted challah and sumac peppered hollandaise, for example.
Paddington is one of Brisbane’s oldest suburbs, full of tree-lined streets, old Queenslander houses and hilly roads that are a pain in the ass for manual drivers to drive around in. The leafy suburb is also home to Paddington Antique Central, said to be Queensland’s oldest antique store, which is just around the bend from Shouk (itself a former corner store).
I had my first coffee of the day (at 2pm, no less), a short macchiato ($3.50) made with Veneziano coffee. It wasn’t the best coffee I’ve had in Brisbane (a bit too pungent for me) but it did the job. Far better was the falafel salad I hungrily devoured; there were a handful of crispy green falafels on the plate, with fresh heirloom tomatoes, Lebanese cucumber, radish and pickled kohlrabi thrown in the mix. To tie everything together, a (not really that) spicy green yoghurt sauce did the trick.
I’m not one to order vegetarian dishes at cafés, especially when there are at least half a dozen meat dishes to choose from. However, Shouk’s falafel salad was spot on and a dish that I’d happily order again. It was delicious, fresh and filling – so much so that I had to weakly ask for the reminder of my lunch to be boxed up so I can finish it at home.