Bicycle Diaries: Woolloongabba

I’ve been meaning to make it over to the newly-opened Southside Tea Room for a while now. Run by Patience Hodgson (of the Grates fame), early reviews were enough to lure me out of my inner-city bubble that I usually reside in. So on Sunday I enlisted my friend Rachel and we decided to spend a leisurely afternoon cycling along the river to Morningside for a disgustingly hipster afternoon tea.

Or at least, that was the plan.

Five minutes into the ride I turned around to find Rachel stopped, holding an one of her pedals in her hand. I’m not a bike expert but this seemed like an issue. After a futile attempt to fix it and walking our bikes to a hardware store (closed) and a bike store (severely lacking in what felt like essential bike parts), we found ourselves in Woolloongabba, sans transport. Luckily in the past few years the once run down suburb has sprung forward with a bunch of neat little bars and cafes. I’d been meaning to check out Pearl, which I’d heard plenty about, so we decided to ditch our tea plans and spend the afternoon holed up with some fine dining.

Even at the slightly odd time of 3pm on an overcast Saturday the place was buzzing. Clearly the swathe of gongs it’s collected in the past couple of years had been doing wonders for word of mouth. Unfortunately we’d arrived at the slightly odd time of not-quite-lunch-but-not-quite-dinner; the al-a-carte menu finished at 3 but didn’t resume until 5. It’s a shame they don’t do all-day-breakfast, because the menu looked far more appetising (the Quinoa porridge undoubtedly a favourite with the soccer moms that have descended on the area of late).

Not to be put off, we ordered coffee and a generous helping of some of their homemade cakes. The cakes at Pearl have become something of an urban legend, and it’s easy to see why. My pear, pecan and maple pie featured the equivalent of at least half a pear, without it being overpowering and at the expense of the pecan and maple. At $10 a slice, it doesn’t come cheap (but then this is a restaurant that charges $24 for a sandwich), but it made for a hearty afternoon treat. Judging by the size of the meals around us, this isn’t the place for those on a diet.

While the rustic vintage-meets-industrial decor has been done before, it works well for Pearl, whose menu matches the old-world style of food it presents. I’m just disappointed we didn’t get the chance to have a proper meal.

And one day we’ll eventually make it to Southside as well.

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