It’s a pretty brave step opening a Brisbane restaurant specialising in American cuisine these days, given the amount of competition around town.
With the likes of Mighty Mighty, Carolina Kitchen, South Side Diner and more recently Nantucket Kitchen and Bar already established, how do you assert yourself from the other quality American restaurants around? What makes you so special?
New Brisbane restaurant Blue Raven opened its doors two weeks ago with understated confidence.
The interior is stripped back to basics, with wooden boards covering one side of the restaurant and exposed brick on the other. Old US number plates and vintage liquor signs are the only decorations alongside industrial pendant lights.
As its centrepiece the restaurant has an old jukebox pumping out a gentle stream of classic American tunes. The whole thing feels like it’s the sort of place you might stumble across as part of a road trip through the mid-West.
The menu is similarly straightforward and no-nonsense. Classic dishes like fried chicken with cornbread and coleslaw are here as well as the ubiquitous chicken wings and jalapeño poppers wrapped in pancetta.
Three types of burgers (‘on the bread’) are available stuffed full of pulled pork, beef pattie or beef brisket and the beer battered chips are stiff competition for crispy fried onion rings.
It was refreshing to see a gumbo with prawns, chicken, crab, smoked sausage and okra on the menu rather than ribs cooked five ways. And if you have room after your main meals, dessert options include peaches cooked in dry wine or chocolate and walnut brownie.
The drinks menu has a range of local and imported beers, and there’s talk of draught coming soon when they can figure out where to fit the taps.
But one of the best features of this new Brisbane restaurant is the people. You are greeted warmly as you arrive and from that point on nothing is too much trouble. Owner Mehdi Manavi, ex-bar manager of Beccofino, has been quoted as saying that he wants to bring Beccofino-style service to American food.
Blue Raven is set to be another great locals restaurant where regulars stop by for a good, hearty plate of food and service with a smile.
As one fellow diner said to the owners as he left “You have a great place here”. And that’s the best way to sum up Blue Raven—no pretention, no gimmick, just good food and friendly people.
Image credit: Tash Sorensen