Level 1, Treasury Casino, Brisbane CBD
Cafe 21 used to be one of my favorites in the city because it's a casual but 'clean' atmosphere (well-dressed waitstaff and plush napkins) with a hearty menu (meatloaf was my pick) for low prices, open 24hrs. I hadn't been in AGES... nearly a year... but decided to give it a go again recently.
The menu had changed completely and prices had gone up but the place was extremely popular. It was a weekend, around dinnertime and there was a queue to get in. For a few moments, we toyed with the idea of heading up to Marco Polo to beat the rush but somehow couldn't justify upgrading the dinner to 'Fine Dining' just for the sake of impatience.
After finally being seated, we chose beverages to start with. Daiquiris are my drink of choice at the casino. Sure, they're mostly just sugar, coloring and ice but there's something cheeky and festive about a frozen daquiri. I chose strawberry. It was everything that I expected - sweet, chilled and only mildly-alcoholic. Really hit the spot though and I could've gone for a few more. Hien went for some kind of chilled white wine (don't look at me - I'm no wineo).
My head was spinning out of indecisiveness on the main. I ended up getting the crumbed veal. I had been craving schnitzel-type foods since K&K disappointed me with a non-crunchy version. I'm sad to report that this one was also lacking in the crunch department. This was more than made up for by the amazing bernaise sauce. So rich and creamy and amazing. You could slather that on just about anything and it'd save the dish. I don't really understand the presence of crab meat here. It sounded good on the menu but wasn't a harmonious contribution to the plate. The asparagus was kinda meh. But the sauce + veal together was a treat.
Hien ordered a rump steak. He wanted it rare but it came... well it looked well done to me. That was disappointing. Aside from that I think he was happy to eat the steak anyway and mushroom sauce always helps. I didn't think much of the chips.
Cafe 21 didn't really deliver on quality. The menu prices have gone up but I didn't see a likewise improvement in the food. Service is OK and it's still a nice environment to eat in (I just like how it's sort of 'got standards' but brightly lit and unpretentious). Let's not forget that it's open 24 hours too.