Whose dimwit idea was the alphabet undertaking? There are only two suburbs starting with “J”, Jindalee and Jamboree Heights. Thankfully they are only a stone’s throw apart which made the logistics quite simple. On the negative side the options are fewer – I am going to have to put in some serious homework to find the hidden treasures of these two suburbs. Jindalee is the home to a DFO (Direct Factory Outlet for the uninitiated) and every big box homewares store you can jam onto a block of land in the Western suburbs on Brisbane. It’s probably one of the first places that spring to mind if you want a new dining table, escutcheon or antimacassar to make your house the envy of the street. But it doesn’t enter your thoughts when thinking about the food that will grace the new table during meal time.
My previous Jindalee food experience was with some old school friends and I who were spasmodic visitors to a Vietnamese place (My Pho Bar) for the some glorious pho but then I discovered Darra’s offerings were within slurping distance and slightly superior. We used to get some deserved dirty glances when jokingly referring to the broths as “dirty dish water”. In our defence this was truly a term of endearment. I can see how this can be construed as a slight on a national dish but we lapped that stuff up like we were about to start the 40 Hour Famine. Those familiar with my most recent trip to Vietnam can tell it was just youthful stupidity as pho holds a special place on my palate.
When I was younger Jindalee was the home to Brisbane’s premier amusement park, Amazons. A water park that had it all (including overacting if you click on the link). But much like the bath at home, there comes a time when your fingertips get all wrinkly – Amazons had outstayed its welcome. What used to be the school excursion destination for teachers and students alike had the taps turned off. The only memories many have now of Amazons is a hacked off skin cancer and a tan line that refuses to fade. Property developers realise more money can be made by tapping into Australian’s love of home renovation.
The Greek restaurant is called Icarus. If you think that sounds vaguely familiar it shares it’s name with the character from Greek mythology who didn’t listen to his father and flew too close to the sun, fell into the sea and drowned. Fortunately I didn’t suffer the same fate as it was easier for me to get to Brisbane via car than wings made by my father. Even if I did use the feathered option there is no way I would have been able to get off the ground for the return journey. Nobody has ever seen a wombat fly. A betting man would wager the restaurant had a hand from the vendors across the road. A sea of cushions, fabrics and a large wall hanging made me think that I was atop a cliff gazing into the Mediterannean Sea. Add the Greek tunes from the speaker near the counter and I was instantly in the mood, eyeing off the nearest plate to throw into the tiles. Quick, give the man some food before all the crockery turns to rubble! The Greeks are responsible for many things but the high point of all these is haloumi. Sure the Olympic Games are good but you don’t have to wait every four years to get some haloumi in your guts. A few small plates to start before a main and a sneaky dessert.
Probably ordered one too many starters but I’m on “holidays”. Firstly a plate of baby octopus. I know they are not to everybody’s liking but if you are not a fan, give them another chance. Slightly charred and with a bit of lemon they are hard to beat. Add some haloumi to the equation and the good times are just getting started.
I imagine that if I was an octopus I would choose a pillow of haloumi. It’s squishier than bamboo or normal down, it’s water resistant and not too many sea dwelling creatures like the stuff so they wouldn’t hassle you as you were trying to get some sleep. The squeakiness of the cheese would also be masked underwater. The guy above is a perfect example of a good night’s sleep (until I bit his head off). Last but by no means least on the entree front was kolokithokoftedes. Didn’t even attempt to pronounce it, opting for the rough English translation (which was thankfully on the menu) of zucchini balls. They were trying to camouflage themselves by hiding among some lettuce, dill and tzatziki but my well trained eye saw right through their flimsy plan. These little buggers were piping hot and delicious.
Rather than separate dishes we chose the main share plate. This had some melt in your mouth lamb, smokey chorizo, rice and a neat greek salad just in case you were hungry after powering through 5kg of meats and rice. Billed as a “share plate for two” I doubt two people have been able to polish it off since there was enough there to feed an entire Athlete’s Village at an Olympic Games. Just looking at that lamb brings back happy memories.
Four hours later we ordered dessert – that is no reflection on the level of service at Icarus, it just took a while to make some room for the sweet stuff. Should have been a bit quicker as the party across the room ordered the last of the semolina cake that my tastebuds were hanging out for. Baklava is a decent second prize, especially if it comes with a scoop of vanilla bean gelato. A bowl of Greek rice pudding was the fullstop on this wonderful meal. Sure it looks like the rice pudding you know and probably turned your nose up at as a kid. This one however was more exotic because it had a dash of rosewater in it. Not too much that you feel like you have eaten all of your Grandma’s prize winning rosebushes, but enough to know it’s there. Like wearing some of your Dad’s cologne at a blue light disco, less is more.
Before the Greek feast I had to find somewhere for breakfast. Options are fairly sparse in Jindalee but my research kept pushing me in the direction of a cafe, Piggy Back. I’m unsure of the significance of the pig in the name but I think they could have easily substituted “dog” in the title. I was the only person sitting outside that didn’t have at least one dog. There were poodles, greyhounds, sausage dogs. You name the breed there was a fair chance there was one around somewhere trying to hump a leg whilst their master made light work of their eggs benny. Being one of those people that didn’t book ahead I was relegated to the great outdoors. The wind was that strong I had to tack into the breeze like a trimaran to get to my seat. They did a wonderful job to get me a seat so I was more than happy to sacrifice a bad hair day.
Apparently Piggy Back is known for its rainbow latte. Milk normally doesn’t go anywhere near my coffee, being a long black aficionado. But one needs to see what all the talk is about before throwing stones.
Pass the stones! The rainbow latte has art which has food colouring in it. Now I’m not anti-colouring, it’s just the rainbow latte is a tad too over the top for my liking. The drinking conditions weren’t conducive to hot coffee either. The near cyclonic winds increased in an instant to something never seen on the Beaufort scale, causing the beautiful swan atop of the coffee to fly onto my left hand. My hand looked as if I had squeezed Pappa Smurf into a pulp. There’s a good chance this food colouring is what they make tattoo ink from. It will be a long time before the purple-brown stains give way to white. Should have chosen the crazy milkshake instead, it looks interesting.
Knowing that there will be many a meal to come today the breakfast was zucchini fritters. Much like the colourful latte swan, the garnish on the fritters was quickly blown off the plate. The three fritters seemed as if they had a fight with a waffle iron. Even though they were slightly bruised they were flavoursome. The avocado and tomato salsa along with the pesto make sure nothing was too dry. Inspired by the sea of dogs around I licked the plate clean, marked my territory and left.
It’s about time to give some love to Jamboree Heights. With a name like that I think it would have been ideal for Baden Powell’s holiday home. Hand on heart I had no idea that this was actually a suburb. Didn’t get here during my Jindalee jaunt due to a logistical anomaly. Pressed up against Mt Ommaney, Jamboree Heights is not much more than a collection of houses. Everybody must eat at home or get their nutritional needs met at the Mt Ommaney Shopping Centre Food Court? If one casts their eye over looking for somewhere to eat there are four options – Dominoes Pizza, Baskin-Robbins and a Patisserie. That leaves one place to eat – Madders Brothers Patisserie.
Located next to a hairdresser, dental surgery and a martial arts hall is an absolute hidden gem. Not only can you get an unmatched range of petit fours they also do a few specialised breakfast items. Being the last trading day before Father’s Day (unfortunately closed on Sundays) they celebrated with the addition of spanner crab tarts and chocolate truffles (not as one dish) to the menu. I opted for the cornbread and avocado whilst another in the group couldn’t say no to the mini breakfast burger. But before the food was ordered the issue of selecting the pastries was stressful. So popular are these treats that it is a distinct possibility that they could be sold out in the time it takes to spit out your order. Things this good are like a good woman, they are not on the market for long. The good news is they do cater for indecision with boxes that can house up to twelve.
Sitting outside waiting for our breakfast to come was an odd experience. Inside the store you could easily think you were somewhere in Paris, outside it’s a different story. The morning sun was already melting skin at nine o’clock and the constant exertion from the martial artists sounded like a porn set. My mind was oblivious to the external noise once the food showed up because the corn bread put a wide grin on my face. It wasn’t an instantaneous reaction however because the cutlery didn’t come immediately. Was I expected to smear the avo on the bread with my fingers?
It didn’t take me long to realise why the dental practice and the martial arts hall are next door. I imagine some argy-bargy in the carpark would be a regular occurrence when there is one banoffee pie left and three people clambering for it. One needs to be able to defend themselves (these things are that good!) Now onto the decadent portion of today’s proceedings. Any flavour you want, it’s probably here. In the pictures there is pistachio cheesecake, a Tim Tam version, an over the top chocolate number, a coconut and caramel one but the knee-weakening-best-on-show was the banoffee. Originally this didn’t make my initial cut. When the ladies next to us were letting out these primal screams of pleasure we all looked at each other and ran to the door to check if there were any left. There were only three but the neenish tart had come back into the rotation.
For those playing at home the banoffee is the yellow one and I have even included a side profile complete with bite marks. Just in case I get accosted on the way home for my box they can identify my body with that photo and existing dental records. Let’s face it, it’s a rough neighborhood.
Are these J’s going to stack up against the better known food hubs in Brisbane? Simply “No”, but that’s not the point. You just need to search that little bit harder and you will be rewarded with something like Madders Brothers, a place you need to check out.
The added advantage of Jindalee is that after you have had your fill of Greek lamb you can cross the road and get some muntin for your windows. The weekend warrior in all of us gets hungry and needs to be treated occasionally. Me, I’m not a handyman (I only discovered what “muntin” was with the help of the internet), so I decided to pick up something that would help keep my place spotless.
P.S. On closer inspection I found out that Icarus is literally five metres away from Jindalee boundary. So don’t waste your breath pointing it out. I have adopted it as part of Jindalee for the point of this exercise because the food was so damn good.
Brunch: Piggy Back Cafe, Jindalee (Cafe)
Lunch: Icarus Restaurant, Jindalee (Greek)
Snacks: Madders Brothers Patisserie, Jamboree Heights (French Patisserie)