Tuesday, 11 September 2012

September project day 6: Champ in South Bank

Today I was lucky enough to get a tour of the new ABC/QSO Building in South Bank. It’s a pretty wonderful building and the views from the offices and the radio room are just glorious, particularly on a sunny Brisbane day.

Afterwards, my companion and I decided to treat ourselves to lunch at Champ, the recently opened café on the building’s ground floor. Now, I’d been to Champ, or Champ Kitchen + Bar, on one previous occasion – before seeing the QSO perform Lord of the Rings. On that occasion I’d enjoyed both the wine and food but the food was ‘delicate’ read: insufficient. Fortunately the wine was nicely chilled and the pleasure of sitting on the terrace watching the street traffic sort of made up for it.

A delightful place to sit on a sunny Brisbane day.

I was expecting a similar experience today, until I saw some impressive looking fresh pies all laid out on the counter. Both I and my companion ordered the pie of the day – chicken and leak – with a mix of tomato, fennel and olive salad and pumpkin and rocket salad, washed down with a glass of Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc. When it arrived it looked delicious.

But it wasn't.

On cutting open the pie, imagine my disappointment when it promptly deflated to reveal that the ramekin was 1/3 full. I dislike these pastry-topped pies at the best of times, a pie should be encased in flaky pastry as far as I’m concerned, but to open one up and discover that not only have you been short-changed on the pastry, you’ve been short-changed on the filling as well is just plain insulting.

On the salads, the olives had a lot of pips, the pumpkin varied between delicious and stringy, a lot of my rocket was yellow and the fennel was cut much too thick and chunky for enjoyment. The best part of the meal were the fresh, ripe tomatoes. Even the pie filling needed a bit of salt or something to perk it up.

It pains me to say these things because I have never been disappointed by the owner’s other venture, Anouk in Paddington. You may have to wait for a table sometimes but every meal I’ve had there has been enjoyable and the coffee really hits the spot. I expected Champ to be a practical fine dining alternative but no. It wasn’t just the food. The coffee to round out the meal wasn’t all that bad but it did leave rather a nasty taste in the mouth.  Also, the service was patchy.

Champ will get most of its traffic from QPAC theatre goers and passing tourist trade, I suspect. Local business people will not, I imagine, be going back day-to-day unless the game’s picked up a bit. The only reason I’d go back is to enjoy a chilled glass of vino and watch life pass me by. Champ will be good for that.

Pie and salad: $11, the cheapest, heartiest lunch item on the menu.
Wine: $12 a glass and lovely.
Service: meh
Will I go back: There are too many other places around Grey Street for me to buy a delicious meal for me to return to Champ.
Coffee: no 

Champ Kitchen + Bar on Urbanspoon

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