Every year, the Rabbitohs make the long trip all the way across Australia to treat the people of Perth to a live rugby league game. While AFL-obsessed Perth is a pretty long way from home for an NRL team, they can’t complain too much about the trip, because they normally come over here to take on the NZ Warriors who probably have to endure two flights to get themselves over to Perth. A group of friends and I look forward to the game each year, which is partly a legacy from our dads who are mad Rabbitohs fans, partly because the Kiwi fans are probably the most good natured fans I have ever barracked against, and partly because it’s a bunch of incredibly muscly men running at each other at each other at high speed – and what could be more sporting than that? Lunch and a few beers is always in order before the game and the Brisbane is always the place to get amped up before heading to NIB stadium – it doesn’t hurt that the food there is always outstanding as well. So on that sunny Saturday at the end of autumn we got all geared up in our red and green and headed on over to Highgate early to get a table before the crowds arrived.
Now, traditionally when you think of pub food, you think of hefty serves of chicken parmi; more chips on your plate than you could possibly think of eating; some sort of burger with a kitschy name, probably involving beetroot; and the ubiquitous chicken caesar salad. When you turn up at the Brisbane however (or it’s sister venue The Boulevard for that matter), these expectations will need to be turned upside down and back to front.
We started off with the a tasting board with chorizo, polenta chips, marinated olives and veal meatballs (I think this was around $20). There wasn’t one thing on there that I could complain about, but the polenta chips would have to a highlight – light and fluffy on the inside and delightful dipped in the leftover meatball sauce. The chorizo was also worth a mention, lightly grilled and chock-a-block full of flavour without those chewy, fatty bits that you can sometimes find in this type of meat.
The salt and pepper squid was different to what a normally expect from this dish – without that usual crunch but the meat was perfectly tender and the lemon aioli was tangy and refreshing.
The beer list was also a highlight – I finally got my chance to try Little Creatures Return of the Dread, and on tap nonetheless. I think the waiter had his doubts about whether I would enjoy it, and bought me a taste of it before pouring a pint – and fair enough, its a pretty heavy brew. I relished every sip though, and even went back for a second pint later down the track.
We also tried a few of the pizzas, namely the Italian sausage and and prawn one that I didn’t try due my distaste for the taste of our ocean-dwelling friends. The pizzas were top notch though, with a crispy, stretchy base and not totally overloaded with toppings, allowing the quality ingredients to shine.
Also on the craft beer list was Mash Grasscutter Summer Ale, and possibly the Mash copycat American IPA? My memory gets a little hazy by the time I was drinking that one. The Brookvale Union Ginger Beer was also a big hit – it’s one I have found before in a few select bottle shops and it has that strong ginger bite to it that I love to find.
Someone also grabbed a serve of the pizza bianca with housemade dips – beetroot, capsicum and hummus if I remember correctly. It was the perfect snack to go with the beers – simple yet flavoursome, with plenty of carby goodness.
It was a great afternoon at the Brisbane – rugby league game or not I would head back in a heartbeat for a meal or a few drinks. From the beautiful green alfresco area to the classy restaurant and casual pool tables, whatever the weather or the mood, The Brisbane will have a place where you will feel right at home.