Monday, October 10, 2011

Books and Rice Paper Rolls

Specialising in two completely separate things is a hard gig. There's nothing worse than a fab homewares store that serves crap coffee or a great gym that sells those awful prepackaged salad rolls (that's an example I made up, I never go to the gym).

Buuut, I caught up with an old friend today and we both suggested Riverbend Books & Teahouse at Bulimba. I wanted to go there for the food (specifically, the rice paper rolls I'd read about in a review) and my dear friend is an avid book reader, so she was there for the books.

I have to hand it to them, they do both really, really well. There's a gorgeous, breezy deck out the front for dining, overlooking bustling Oxford Street, and Brisbane put on a spectacular, sunny day. Inside, the bookstore is cosy and warm, stacked to the ceiling with bookliness with the smell of freshly printed literature.

They take their food seriously, with a modern, fresh menu. If I hadn't ordered the rice paper rolls (vegetarian version), then my next pick would definitely have been the Soba noodles with shitake, mango, spring onions, ginger and soy. Anyway, my rice paper rolls were divine, super fresh and simply but beautifully presented. Similarly my lunch date's Salmon Nicoise looked delectable...even to a vegetarian and the servings being a decent size we probably could have forgone the thick cut chips with Japanese mayonnaise. But I ate them anyway. Had I noticed the dessert cabinet before I ate them I would have saved room.

The service was quick and friendly and the coffee was good. AND..they got the bill right. I love that.

To be fair and balanced I did actually go into the bookstore. I'm not really a reader at all (yes, I'm aware of the irony), so I wasn't actually sure what I was looking for. Josh had mentioned that he liked a book they were reading at school so I asked a lady in there for some help. She was unbelievably helpful. She took a while to find it because it was under the shelves right at the very back. All up I think it took about 20 minutes to find, but she regularly popped her head up and said, "I'm still looking", and handed me no less than 3 other age appropriate books to consider while she found the other one. All that effort, for the $16.99 I eventually spent. And she seemed genuinely chuffed she'd been able to help. I think secretly she was harbouring the notions she might convert me to a book reader.

No way. But I'll definitely go there for books, even if they are for someone else. And I'll definitely go there for the time though I'll start with that dessert cabinet.