Jack reads Brisbane’s Budget Bites 2012 by Mei Yen Chua

Words by Jack Vening

Published on April 22, 2012

My first few years of living in Brisbane were not marked with great culinary endeavours. As a student, I breakfasted most mornings on wafers stolen from an abandoned Pentecostal church, and I spent my evenings squeezing water from a cactus I’d brought from home which, if I’d bothered to look, I’d have noticed had been dead for a real long time (the water was just the goop of green ants that had gone inside to die :(). Girls who came over were subjected to mi goreng, and if we went out it was no further than the pizza restaurant on the corner of my street.

And while that pizza restaurant did a pretty mean goddamn Greek lamb pizza for just $12, I was unaware of the amazing quantity of extremely decent, cheap food that was to offer in Brisbane. Now, I’ve got no excuses for not eating very well if I don’t want to spend close to no money.

Brisbane Budget Bites is a tremendous collection of cafes, restaurants, delis, bakeries patisseries, all over Brisbane and its surrounds (including the Gold Coast in the 2012 edition), and sets itself out by sourcing eateries that actually give a whole damn about producing great food for under $20. The places editor Mei Yen Chua and her minions have collected number in the hundreds and cover a mind bogglin’ range of cultures and styles: Fijian, vegan, Filipino, Taiwanese, Shanghaiese, special-diet, Peruvian, artisan pizza joints, artisan burger joints, artisan coffee joints, not to mention the countless whole-sellers for sourcing ingredients for your own delicious meals.

I’ve been lucky enough to eat at a few of BBB‘s recommended sites and can’t give them anything but two-thumbs-up-A-OK-110%. Dang, horse-raddish fritters and specialty juices at Anouk Café in Paddington: you nice. Whatup, West End’s Swiss Deli, with your cheap gourmet pies, enormous hunks of meat, and jars of goose fat which I’m sure have some use? And you know what, Babu Burger* in Wilston? You had me at deep-fried shredded onion, patties that are ground in-store, and bottom buns larger than top buns, eliminating the need to invert your burger to stop it disintegrating all over your trousers.

Brisbane Budget Bites should be compulsory reading for anyone looking for good, good food, for not too many clams, or anyone trying to not appear as too much of a fuck-up to their dates in their first few years, or any years, living in Brisbane.

* Bronte would like to inform everybody that after a recent trip to sample these deep-fried shredded onion it was discovered that this venue has disappeared and been replaced with an Italian (?) restaurant.