The Blockhouse in Nundah is a sophisticated little oasis in suburbia. Housed in a single storey white building in one of the back streets of Nundah (not exactly near the Nundah Village strip), it sprawls across a surprising amount of space, with a bar setup on the right as you approach, and more of a restaurant in another area on the left.
It was not crowded on the weekend afternoon we went there. Staff greeted us as we walked up the steps. When we told them that we were there for food, they showed us through to the room on the left. We were permitted to pick whichever available table we wanted, and glasses of cool water and menus were soon brought out.
The room was decorated with a sleek colour palette of dark wood, black, and white. The dark brown to almost black wood-topped tables and bar counter were a stark contrast to the white walls and ceiling. Decor elements and fittings that referenced nature, like the mirror framed with wooden branches and the pumpkin-shaped silver lampshades, were cleverly subtle accents. The smooth jazz and house music playing in the background added to the relaxed vibe. Perhaps the one thing that could have been changed was the seating. They have cushioned wooden stools, like short versions of bar stools. Perhaps that is meant to echo the bar aspect of the establishment. Seats with backs in this eatery area would have been more comfortable and conducive to relaxing, however.
The menu, in a faux leather-bound sleeve, contained items that would not be out of place in a Melbourne cafe menu, for instance the Breakfast Ramen, which Melbourne’s Hammer and Tong 412 debuted about three years ago. There were a number of asian-style dishes, such as the Peking duck with shallot pancake, chilli caramel, and kimchi mayo, and the Korean rice bowl with avocado, salmon, poached egg, and pickles. After much deliberation, we finally settled on a couple of dishes: the Seared tuna, and the Karage chicken and waffles. We also had coffees, of course.
The iced lattes were served in teardrop-shaped glasses, with dish-like coasters to catch trickling condensation. They had good colour and flavour, roasted and rounded, and without bitterness.
It wasn’t too long before the food was brought out, and the dishes were certainly prettily plated.
The Karage chicken dish, as per the menu, had petite waffles, Thai basil, and siracha maple. We could certainly smell the maple syrup aroma as the dish was placed on the table. Despite the menu listing waffles in plural, there was only one on the plate. The waffle was dense, and just made it to the right side of being not stodgy. It was a little bit crisp just on the extra brown griddle edges, but not otherwise, unfortunately. Despite its appearance, the chicken did not have a crunchy outside either. The meat, at least, was not too dry. The maple syrup was sweet and just faintly spicy. There were green leaves on the plate..but they weren’t Thai basil. They didn’t really taste of very much. As a whole, the dish was rather one-dimensional in flavour before you got halfway through. It was also missing textural variation, as the things that should have been crunchy weren’t crunchy.
The other dish was Seared tuna, poached egg, lime chilli salsa, and rice cake. The tuna had a sesame crust, and was nicely done, still raw and tender in the centre. There were, however, only a few small morsels of it altogether, just three little slices. The rice cake did better in the texture stakes than the whole other dish. It was crunchy on the outside, with an almost powdery batter crust. Inside, the rice cake was soft and a little chewy. It was still piping hot when served, and not oily. The poached egg had an appropriately runny yolk. There were also blobs of mayonnaise on the plate, draped with pickled ginger slices, and smaller dots of packet wasabi (you can tell from consistency and colour) beside. It was probably a wise way to present the wasabi, as people can decide how much they want to have, rather than risk a too-strong wasabi mayonnaise that some patrons can’t handle. The lime chilli salsa didn’t really need to be part of the dish, and was a detraction from the combination of flavours already there. This dish had more flavour and texture variation, but certainly couldn’t be called a hearty start to the day if that was what you were after. The components weren’t filling, and the portion sizes even less so.
Overall, Blockhouse has certainly pitched itself in styling and food media as sophisticated and hipster urbane. It is certainly priced at that, despite being ensconced in a suburb that isn’t Teneriffe or Ascot. The decor and food look good, but ultimately the food delivered a great deal less than promised.
Price point: Brunch items $14 to $19.50. Our dishes were $18.50 and $19.50.
Value: It depends on what is important to you. Can’t rate the food as value for money though.
Address: 130 Ryans Road, Nundah
Phone: 07 3172 6869