Lara Baxter and Staff Writers
Housed in a 1920s era former antiques emporium in Woolloongabba’s antique precinct, the Crosstown Eating House promises fine dining without the fuss.
The boisterous eating house and bar works on the philosophy of “good food, good music, good times”.
The decor in the main dining hall looks like it was sourced from the neighbouring antique stores, creating a vintage kitsch vibe.
The handmade wooden tables and chairs add to the venue’s laid-back, casual atmosphere.
Howland says the concept behind the restaurant is simple.
“We wanted it to be somewhere we would want to go to eat good food at a good price without having to get dressed up,” he says.
“It is a chilled place to come and eat good food and have good time, and laugh and enjoy it.”
Howland says the Brisbane restaurant scene is changing and evolving, which makes restaurants like Crosstown more appealing.
“The Brisbane scene is maturing, which makes diners mature,” he says.
“It’s not just go to a restaurant and eat anymore, it’s what sort of environment, what sort of atmosphere [the restaurant offers].”
Howland says the popularity of shows like MasterChef have also increased interest in restaurant dining.
“It’s made eating out more popular,” he says.
“Diners are more savvy, which is a positive for our industry.
“I think that’s important to not try to please everybody and just do what we want to do well, and hopefully enough people will like what we do.”
Crosstown’s dinner menu, which is paired back rather like the décor, offers a mix of tasty bites ($6 to $12), shared starters ($17 to $19) and bistro style mains ($32 to $37).
My dining partner and I ordered the shared starter of Kinkawooka mussels ($18.50), which was more than enough for two.
The mussels, served in a soupy mix of garlic, tomatoes and herbs, with char-grilled bread, tasted refreshingly light with a hint of sweetness.
Adding amaretti to my main of pumpkin ravioli ($29.50) turned what might have been a standard pasta dish into an exceptional one, as the sweetness of the biscuits offset the richness of the dish.
My companion ordered the pork belly with brussels, bacon, cranberry and Jerusalem artichokes ($32).
He found that this slightly different take on the traditional dish, thanks to the inspired addition of earthy artichokes, complimented the salty pork beautifully.
We found our mains to be both tasty and satisfying, although they did not quite live up to the reasonably hefty price tag.
The only real low point to our meal was a glitch in the service.
Our waitress who, it turns out, was on her first night at the restaurant, “forgot” our order and came back to our table about 20 minutes after taking our original order to retake the order.
She was a touch rude and abrupt about it, but we put this down to first night on the job stress.
The problem with the order meant, not surprisingly, that we had quite a long wait until our food arrived.
Other than that, it was a good meal, which is fitting for an establishment that prides itself on the standard of its food.
But it’s not just food that Crosstown takes seriously.
Drinks are an equally important matter.
The wine list is quite extensive given the size of the food menu, and features a carefully chosen selection of international and local drops.
The house wines start at $8.50 per glass, while the price per bottle for the Crosstown’s top sparkling drop is $95.
Somewhat unusually, beer is a limited feature on the drinks menu, with just six choices on offer, primarily Australian in origin.
There are, however, eight choices of whiskey including offerings from Scotland, Ireland, Kentucky and Japan.
The cocktails menu includes standard favourites such as Bloody Marys and Mojitos, as well as some more retro offerings such as Kir Royales and Pimm’s Cups.
For the more adventurous there is the Corpse Reviver #2, featuring Beefeater Gin, lemon juice, triple sec and lillet, which is dubbed a “once forgotten classic pick me up”.
Crosstown patrons also have the option to take advantage of the venue’s upstairs bar, known as the Uptown drinks lounge, which oozes 1950s’ retro chic.
The bar can be visited for either pre- or post-dinner drinks and can also be booked out for canapé functions.
All in all, Crosstown is a good choice if you’re after good food in a relaxed atmosphere and are not expecting to dine out on a tight budget.