Friday, March 12, 2010

February 28, 2010: Caravanserai

I've been in Brisbane for work, with a side of nostalgic pleasure. I made room in my itinerary for old friends, old neighbourhoods and a few restaurants that are old favourites too. One of them is Caravanserai, a richly decorated Turkish restaurant in West End.

I was keen on the Turkish lemonade with limes, lemon and mint, an enthusiasm that spread round the table and culminated in a jug of the stuff. It had just the right sweet-to-sour ratio, though having now tried a rosewater-tinted version nothing else is quite as spectacular.

I don't know that I've ranted too much about it on this blog but the vegetable stack is one of those dishes that often appears as the sole vegetarian option on a menu. (It seems to have been superseded by gnocchi and/or risotto in recent years, but that's another story...) Though these are occasionally tasty, they are more often bland and poorly cooked, and they are a sign that the resident chef has no love or imagination for their vegetarian customers.

Not so at Caravanserai! Their Sebze ($22.50, described as a stack of chargrilled vegetables) is one of three vego options. And it is fabulous. The eggplant slices and mushroom are meltingly tender and deeply flavoured. The smothering tomato sauce didn't excite my eyes but it was an entirely different story once it hit my taste buds - it has just the right complementary tang of vinegar. Fried strips of haloumi and a wedge of polenta add richness and further contrast, and there's a little fresh greenery to perk it all up.

Dining at Caravanserai isn't cheap, but the food is made with care and the servings are generous (I challenge anyone and everyone to finish the banquet!). Vegans and gluten-free folks are catered for, and service is usually good - on this night we had a terrific and savvy waiter.

Address: 1-3 Dornoch Terrace, West End QLD 4101
Ph: (07) 3217 2617
Price: veg mains $22.50


  1. I totally agree that vegetarian options at most restaurants are all too often an afterthought!

  2. unfortunately I am unlikely to try that veg stack as I can't see myself being in brisbane any time soon but it is a shame because I would love to try it - I am interested to see I am not the only one to avoid and dislike vegetable stacks on any menu after too many bad experiences

  3. Snaps. One more for hating the vegetable stack. Nothing worse than hard eggplant that's been given some torch marks..

  4. Ha! Glad it's not just me. :-)

  5. Yay! I have moved to Brisbane this year so will get someone to go with me. That sounds fab. Especially with the polenta, yum.

    Any other must eats in Brisbane? Already a fan of the 3 monkeys and that vege place not far from there. (I miss the Melbourne Uni food co-op! and Las Vegan, and Trippy Taco.)

    Oh in fact.. if you're up again Michael, and particularly if Cindy comes up, at the Continental Cafe near the Powerhouse, they had a mind-blowingly amazing chocolate and chestnut cake that was served with some boozy prunes. We went there for dessert.. It was phenomenal.

  6. Hi Cathy! Hope you're enjoying balmy Brissie. :-)

    Our list of local favourites is getting a little out of date (it's 3 1/2 years since we lived in Qld) and is largely concentrated in West End with a bit of the Valley/New Farm thrown in. However we have revisited and blogged a number of our favourites in the years since so our Restaurants index gives pretty good coverage. (If the Valley's Kuan-Yin Tea House is still open in the Valley, pop by for a weekend lunch - it's quite special!)

    Otherwise, the local food blogging scene appears to be thriving - I'm sure they'll have heaps of great tips!

  7. Whoops, second Kuan Yin link was totally wrong - I meant to direct you here.

    Thanks for the tip on the Continental Cafe - the Powerhouse neighbourhood has really grown since we were locals!