Review: Chow House
Giulietta Avenia | On 29, Jun 2014
Some nights are just magic. The food is delicious, the company is lovely and the conversation bubbles and flows without any awkward lulls.
I recently enjoyed such a night at Chow House in Fortitude Valley for an Eat Brisbane dinner. Meeting a bunch of food bloggers and instagrammers over dinner is extremely enjoyable. Despite the differences in our age, background and our various strengths, we all had the same interests and were fascinated by the same thing. Food.
Whether their particular interests were finding inexpensive, paleo food in Brisbane or adapting recipes to suit their own tastes, these food bloggers were all excited to sample Chow Houseâ€™s menu and so was I.
Chow House prepares everything in house, from their curry pastes to their flatbread. Drawing inspiration from the street stalls of Asia and serving only the freshest local ingredients, Chow House delivers on fresh, delicious food with serious flavour.
To start the night right, we all shared a round of cocktails. The tableâ€™s favourite was the Vanilla Fig Sour, a smooth, creamy blend of Absolut Vanilla, limoncello, fig gomme and egg whites. Its tartness was refreshing and every time I went to place the glass down on the table I had to pick it up again for another sip! As it was World Martini Day (genius idea), I thought I should probably guzzle a martini. I thoroughly enjoyed the Honey Basil Martini, which mixed Å»ubrÃ³wka vodka, Manzanita apple liqueur, honey basil gomme and apple juice. This martini definitely packed a punch, but the silkiness of the honey and the sweetness of the Thai basil helped to soothe the strength of the vodka. The third cocktail tasted was the Blue Jeans, an icy blend of Tanqueray gin, blue Curacao, limoncello, ginger, cucumber and pepper. Lana Del Rey would have nothing to cry about with this drink as it was seriously yummy.
The shared entrees all feature on the Street Chow menu and will definitely see me returning soon to savour them again. The favourite dish was the Peking Duck with homemade shallot pancakes served with cucumber and hoisin. Whilst this has become a classic dish served at Asian restaurants across Brisbane, Chow Houseâ€™s version is by far my favourite. The freshly grilled pancakes had a lovely smoky, charred flavour and the plump bits of duck were juicy and soaked up the hoisin sauce beautifully.
Our other entrees were also delicious. The home baked chilli coriander bread was extremely light and fluffy and its topping of Thai peanut jam oozed across the tongue in a languorous fashion.
The Chow House spicy Thai pork street sausage were fleshy and moist and their bedding of tomato and chilli relish was fiery hot and fresh.
For mains we shared four different curries with accompaniments of basmati rice, almond and apricot flatbread and sauces of cucumber, yoghurt and mint raita, sour rosella, a sweet fruit chutney and fresh chilli.
My favourite curry that I could not help but return to was the North African inspired beef, chickpea and sweet potato curry. The meat was cooked to perfection and was almost as soft as the sweet potato which both blended perfectly with the Moroccan spices. The flatbread was perfect for scooping up the rich, thick brown sauce and I could happily visit Chow House again just for this curry.
Another favourite was the Braised New England Lamb Rendang with toasted coconut and pickled onion. Sadly, this curry is not on their regular menu but I hope to see it on the specials menu soon! The indulgent flavour of the coconut snuggled up to the lamb and made it soft and tender. The liberal scattering of fresh chilli on top helped to cut through the richness and made the dish comforting and fresh.
The Green Prawn curry was piled high with fresh prawns and seasonal vegetables such as broccoli (ahh broccoli, I love you), beans and bamboo along with spinach, lime and Thai basil. The bright green colour and the aromatic steam coming from the curry was tremendously enticing and did not disappoint.
The Vegetable Jungle Curry consisted of seasonal vegetables, krachai (Chinese ginger), water chestnut and kaffir lime leaf. In accordance with every other meal served, the vegetable curry was fresh, steamy and packed full of hot, delicious flavour.
For dessert, we sampled lassiâ€™s and a mini pandan sago. My favourite lassi flavour was the saffron, cardamom and cinnamon, which was extremely refreshing and soothing after all the curry! The winter strawberry, apple and cinnamon lassi was also tasty but a tad too sweet for me.
The mini pandan sago was similar to a rice pudding with the sago soaked in molasses and coconut. The creamy, treacle flavour was comfortingly recognizable and yet interestingly new using ingredients I would not usually encounter.
Overall, Chow House is a lovely restaurant that allows the diner to feel comforted and loved through their generous portions, friendly service and delicious food. It is far from your average fare, however, with only the freshest ingredients used to create new and intriguing flavours. It is the perfect venue for a large group of friends keen to share and explore the menu or for an intimate dinner for two. If the date doesnâ€™t work out, at least your meal has been delicious!
What: Chow House
Where:Â 39 James St,Fortitude Valley.
For more info, check out their website.