Sometimes, you have to get up at one am in the morning. Sometimes the circumstances that lead to you leaping out of bed at one am on a Saturday morning are the kind that fill your system with adrenaline, and lead to a late night laughing chat with your better half. Sometimes the culprit of all of the trouble is a bowl of potatoes, which in the world’s smallest kitchen had nowhere else to go, but the top of a loaf of fruit bread. Maybe that loaf spent the entire previous day and night slowly subsiding until the slant was enough that that bowl of potatoes smashed to the floor and caused all parties to leap out of bed and race downstairs, fearing imminent attack. Sometimes these are the circumstances that lead to enough of a sleep in, to make a big lunch seem necessary.
So, on a lazy Saturday lunchtime, my boyfriend and I took ourselves over to Libertine at the Paddington Barracks. A little worse for wear, but happy nonetheless, I was looking forward to sampling some French-Vietnamese food. I have to say we perhaps didn’t pick the best day to hit up Libertine, as the weather was not ideal. Brisbane rarely lets you forget that you’re in a humid, sticky, tropical part of the world. So we walked in to the outdoor area, and were politely greeted by our waitress and told that we can take a seat wherever we like. We chose to sit outside, which has fantastic undercover bench seating, and I can definitely see night-time drinks potential here. Mucho red lanterns and fairy lights bode well for a casual summertime drink, and the cocktail list is impressive. I selected a Lemongrass Smash, and my boyf chose to go with a sparkling water (Pellegrino).
There were not many other patrons around, so we had a nice secluded seat, but Libertine does sit right on the main road, and the noise was occasionally a bit overwhelming. I imagine that the gorgeously decorated interior area does not suffer the same problem. As the restaurant was mainly deserted, service is quick, and our waitress comes back shortly to take our order, using what looked like a smart phone. I’m not super keen on this new restaurant trend. Whenever someone uses a phone in front of me, I can’t help but feel like I’m being ignored, but I suppose that’s my neurosis and I shouldn’t pass that on to you! We ordered from the Street Food and Snacks section of the menu, intending to do a tapas style share and graze lunch. Although the menu seems designed to accommodate, and even encourage this, the waitress seemed to think we were ordering entrée’s and main courses, and there was some confusion in the mix. Once the confusion passed, my beverage came out without delay and the food not long after that.
The Lemongrass Smash was an interesting concoction, but my sugar-loving palate was looking for something a little sweeter in the mix. There was a nice flavour from the lemon, lemongrass and chilli, but there was another savoury note there, that I couldn’t place, and I found myself doing a confused little frown after every sip trying to decide whether I liked it or not. I honestly still can’t decide.
Now, on to the food; the above was the Vietnamese Chicken Coleslaw with Sesame Wafers. This dish was truly lovely and excellent choice by Seane on such a hot and steamy day. Nice and refreshing with a good chilli kick, the dish had plenty of juicy poached chicken, and heaps of crunchy fresh vegetables and herbs.
This dish was the 5-spice Honey Barbecue Duck on Tumeric pancake. I have to say, I was foolishly hoping for peking duck pancakes here, and was disappointed by the lack of sweet plum or hoisin sauce, and crunchy cucumber and spring onion. Once I got over that, I enjoyed the sweet, tender duck and savoury pancake. The duck skin was less than crispy, which was a disappointment, and I felt that this dish lacked a dipping sauce and was difficult to convey from plate to mouth.
Finally we ordered the Vietnamese Pork spring rolls with green chilli sauce. The sauce here was nice and savoury with again, a great level of chilli. All of the food we tried had a great balance of flavours, in fact. With these, we were ordered to wrap each in a lettuce leaf and dip into the sauce. It was good advice! These were thoroughly enjoyed, though I have to say I don’t think these were so much greater than your regular Thai takeaway spring rolls, as to warrant the 16 dollar price tag. And in fact that mood permeated the whole meal. It was good, the setting was lovely, the staff were pleasant enough and the food tasted pretty good. But it was a let down in the end. Not worth the price tag, and perhaps better for a drink and a snack than a meal.