Personnel from nearby Enoggera Army Barracks are wearing full camouflage. They stand out like sore thumbs when surrounded by walls that are painted with kooky flying carrots, green-winged bugs, sunflowers, and trees sprouting knives, forks and spoons. The murals at Grub St change six monthly, though, so maybe next time they visit these men and women in uniform won’t look so out of place at this northside destination café.
Glass separates the small dining room filled with nude timber tables from four lanes of traffic pandemonium outside. Inside, works by Christine Manfield, Stephanie Alexander and Frank Camorra provide kitchen inspiration from the bookshelf beside stacks of bright plastic cups for the kids. The cluttered open kitchen is filled with pots, pans and plates plus enough eggs to feed an army, and they just might need them – we are in the military heartland after all. Among the visual mayhem, the chef segments an orange (for today’s lunch special with seared salmon, rocket, avo, truss tomato and vincotto, $18) as if nothing else matters, and for the moment nothing does.
Waitstaff wear shorts, sports singlets and joggers; Grub St thumbs its nose at the notion that good cafés require excess primping and preening. It’s the grub that matters here, and it’s always very good. How does ginger-laced corn cakes holding folds of lime, tequila-cured salmon and citrusy, chilli-warm chimichurri ($16) sound? Giancarlo Coffee goes down well with PB ‘n’ J Vanilla French Toast ($16) with a weighty slick of rosella jam and awesomely smooth peanut butter ice-cream that’s made right here. Stix is owner-chef: his preserves are for sale and he reckons the tomato relish made from his Great Grandma’s hand-me-down recipe is pretty spesh. He’s not wrong.
Taken to the bosom of Brisbane since 2007, Grub St is no flash in the pan. Isn’t it time you fronted up for something more than daily rations?