Phoenix Bar at Braken Ridge Tavern

Disclaimer: We dined as invited guests of Phoenix Bar at Bracken Ridge Tavern. My opinions are my own.

There are only 2 occasions I’ve lived in the suburbs and both times were with the SO’s parentals in the south side. While I enjoyed the abundance of space in their home, living out in the burbs had several disadvantages. For one, it was a logistical nightmare to hang out with friends after work in the city for drinks or dinner. The public transport network just didn’t cut it and taxis are too expensive. For another, there were few establishments out in the burbs that matched the sophistication of the places in the city to hang out.

For those of you on the north side, you’re lucky – you now have the Phoenix Bar at the Bracken Ridge Tavern. This family owned and run business has been around 40 years and includes the Panama Jack’s restaurant, Gloria Jean’s, sports bar, gaming room, function room and bottle shop – each quite separate, yet part of the entertainment complex.

The Phoenix Bar opened last year after extensive renovations and the White family have done a great job in bringing a little bit of the city to the north side. It features lots of timber (some repurposed) under warm lighting and well spaced comfortable seating made for hanging out, and comes with an impressive bar (and its phenomenal selection of beverages) overlooking the space.

Phoenix Bar, Bracken Ridge Tavern

Phoenix Bar, Bracken Ridge TavernThe Friday night we showed up, the Phoenix Bar had a bustling trade of young clientele (dare I say yuppie?), kicking back and relaxing to start the weekend. What a surprise for the suburbs!

And when I say phenomenal selection of beverages, I’m not kidding. The number of beers they have on tap even impressed the SO, who happens to love his breweries. But hey, I’m not much a beer drinker – gimme a cocktail instead.

Phoenix Bar, Bracken Ridge Tavern - El Diablo. AUD$14

El Diablo. AUD$14

The El Diablo is a concoction of Patron Silver Tequila (thumbs up) and Chambord black raspberry liqueur topped with ginger beer, fresh lime and crushed ice. If you don’t like your cocktails sticky sweet and tequila is your thing, this one might be for you.

Phoenix Bar, Bracken Ridge Tavern - Wine By The Glass

Wine By The Glass

Phoenix Bar, Bracken Ridge Tavern

Otherwise, you might wanna try the Wine By the Glass. It’s a nifty little machine that dispenses a variety of wines in 3 sizes – a taster, half a glass or a full glass. You pick up a pre-loaded card and slot it into the machine with your glass in hand to select whichever wine and amount you want. Each bottle has prices listed, so it’s a great opportunity to sample several wines without buying a whole bottle or a glass. While we were there, the machine had Penford’s latest releases, but it gets switched every 2 weeks or so.

But what are drinks without some good grub? Well, the kitchen has head chef Aaron Jewell at the helm. If his name sounds familiar, it’s because he was head chef at  the Port Office Hotel’s FiX Restaurant and the Queensland Hospitality Association’s Queensland State Winner in 2011. So here’s some of the offerings at the Phoenix Bar.

Beef short rib potato hash. AUD$12.90 Duck, apple & walnut cigars. AUD$13.90

Beef short rib potato hash. AUD$12.90
Duck, apple & walnut cigars. AUD$13.90

Phoenix Bar, Bracken Ridge Tavern - Duck, apple & walnut cigars. AUD$13.90

Duck, apple & walnut cigars. AUD$13.90

These duck, apple and walnut cigars were my favorite dish of the evening. These deep fried crispy rolls were a modest sized cigar, which is a blessing when you’re hungry and unthinkingly shove one down your gob while they’re still piping hot. Had they been fat cigars, I would be sporting a very sore mouth. But Phoenix Bar have got a good balance between having enough stuffing and too much. Plus it came with a rich smokey sauce that begged to be licked off.

On the other hand, the beef short rib potato hash had a much punchier flavour, but it wasn’t particularly beefy and it collapsed immediately when stabbed with a fork. The insides were so creamy, I had difficulty getting them out of their mini fry basket and into my mouth without looking like a slob. If you love really soft hash and don’t worry about appearances, I say go for this one.

Phoenix Bar, Bracken Ridge Tavern - Crumbed green olives stuffed with goat's curd (V). AUD$9.90

Wagyu meatballs with tomato ragout & mozzarella (GF). AUD$13.90
Toasted Turkish baguette with garlic and herb butter (V). AUD$4.90
Crumbed green olives stuffed with goat’s curd (V). AUD$9.90

Now the wagyu meatballs with tomato ragout & mozzarella are really hearty. There were about 6 of these meat golf-balls, liberally covered in a blanket of melted mozzarella (yum!) and swimming in a thick tomato sauce. If you’re a carnivore and feeling hungry, this one would be the perfect hunger killer. Especially when you can rip chunks of the toasted Turkish baguette to mop up all the sauce and really dig into the dish.

Phoenix Bar, Bracken Ridge Tavern - Crumbed green olives stuffed with goat's curd (V). AUD$9.90

Crumbed green olives stuffed with goat’s curd (V). AUD$9.90

The SO’s favourite were the crumbed green olives. These olives were firm and crumbed for flash frying, resulting in these moorish easy bites that were really hard to stop at one. And they weren’t terribly salty either – something I expected, but never materialised.

Phoenix Bar, Bracken Ridge Tavern - Tempura oysters with lime and soy sauce. 3 for AUD$9.90. 6 for AUD$16.90

Tempura oysters with lime and soy sauce. 3 for AUD$9.90. 6 for AUD$16.90

I am a huge fan of oysters, but I belong to the naturale camp – fresh chilled oysters with a little squeeze of lemon or a dash of spicy tabasco if I’m feeling frisky. I’ll tolerate a well-done oyster kilpatrick, but why mess with a good thing?

Now I get some people are disgusted with the texture of fresh oysters, equating it to ‘snot’ or describing it as ‘slimey’… you lot will probably prefer cooked oysters and one of Phoenix Bar‘s oyster offerings were the tempura oysters with lime and soy sauce. As light as the batter was, I wouldn’t really call it a tempura, but the cooking process definitely eliminated any slippery textures the virgin version is renowned for. I found the sauce particularly salty, so I think I’d stick to the natural oysters instead.

Phoenix Bar, Bracken Ridge Tavern - Pulled pork sliders with coleslaw and crispy onions. 3 for AUD$14.90

Pulled pork sliders with coleslaw and crispy onions. 3 for AUD$14.90

Pork sliders have seen quite a rise in popularity in pubs and restaurants lately. What makes a great pulled pork slider? Tender succulent pork that is full of flavour – Phoenix Bar‘s version met that, though a few bits I’d argue were a little dry. Creamy coleslaw with fresh crunchy cabbage – Phoenix Bar earned another tick.

The point of different with Phoenix Bar‘s pork sliders I’d argue were the buns. Theirs were slightly sweet and the crumb texture reminded me of corn bread – an unexpected surprise. Having been served this later in the evening, we found it sat a little heavy and we left one behind.

Phoenix Bar, Bracken Ridge Tavern - Roasted salmon with double cream mash, asparagus, caper and burnt butter sauce (GF). AUD$25.90

Roasted salmon with double cream mash, asparagus, caper and burnt butter sauce (GF). AUD$25.90

The roasted salmon was the only dish from the mains menu we had. This dish came with a slice of fish crackle, which if you’ve never had before, you are totally missing out. I find the flavour of fish crackle far more orgasmic than pork crackling and far less oily. And don’t worry – despite the number of capers you see on the salmon, it wasn’t salty. That said, my favorite element on the plate were the grilled asparagus. I would’ve happily had a whole plate of those alone and been a happy duck.

Did I also mention there were heaps of free parking available at Phoenix Bar? That’s such a bonus when you live in an inner city suburb, because affordable parking in the city is hard to find. But if you’ve had a couple of drinks, don’t panic. There was a cab waiting at Phoenix Bar‘s doorstep when we walked out at 9:30pm to chauffeur anyone safely home.

 

Phoenix Bar on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer: We dined as invited guests of Phoenix Bar at Braken Ridge Tavern. My opinions are my own.