Chow House, Fortitude Valley

Chow House, with its multicultural melting pot menu and Timmy Kemp at the helm, fills a James Street gap for well-priced (many items between $10 and $15) but full flavoured food available in a comfortable but casual restaurant atmosphere.

Owners, the Andronis family, describe Chow House as designed to stimulate the senses, an urban oasis where spicy street food meets chargrilled eye fillet and where bartenders serve beautiful wines and colourful, exotic cocktails.

It’s a robust and flavour-driven dining experience designed to please both simple and discerning palates and preferences, all day long.

Breakfast dishes in include old favourites such as smashed avocado on sourdough, bacon and eggs your way, savoury mince, salmon benedict with wilted spinach, bircher muesli with grated apple and toasted almonds, and waffle and cherry compote with maple syrup and ice cream.

Oriental breakfasts also flirt with the tastebuds, challenging diners to experience decadent chow house coconut crumpets with passionfruit curd, confit duck and potato open omelette served with ginger, steamed basmati and chilli soy dip , and Indonesian nasi goreng with chicken, bacon and fried egg.  I’ll put a hold on the chilli but I’m up for everything else on the breakfast menu, especially the nasi goreng.  It’s so refreshing to see innovations in breakfast where so many eateries stick with the boring tried and true.

The Chow House lunch and dinner menu runs from 12.00pm until late is split into a vibrant mix of Vietnamese-inspired street food, lunch time chow including sandwiches and baguettes (available until 5.00pm only), light and fragrant Asian-style salads, heartier meals from the chow-grill, traditional rice and noodle plates, and a variety of meat and fish dishes ignited by aromatic herbs and spices.

I especially like the ‘A bit on the side’ section which is an array of side dishes that can be purchased individually ($8) or in groups of three ($20). Think simple French fries with aioli, green papaya salad, wok fried vegetables with ginger, garlic and soy, and the house favourite, chilli coriander bread with peanut jam.

Look inside and you’ll see a cabinet filled with sweet goodies all made on-site using hand-picked, fresh local market produce.  I was told that the kitchen team strictly avoid the use of pre-packaged sauces, dressings and marinades and that Timmy is passionate about sourcing seasonal market produce which inspires the creation of her changing weekly “specials”.

And here's what we ate -

Hanoi pork belly and prawn rice paper roll with Asian herbs - Touches of ginger and Thai basil with a delicious crunch in the rice paper roll, big juicy fresh prawns and slices of pork belly
Saigon chicken spring roll – Generously- sized, freshly made, light and crisp and plenty of chicken.
Chargrilled de-boned baby chicken marinated in soy bean paste with vermicelli salad.
Smokey barbeques flavour and crisp skin covering tender young flesh.  Salad has Asian flavours with crunch of peanut and rice noodles and mint. 

Delicate salad of chicken with Thai flavours of green mango, coconut and fresh crunch of ginger

Pandan sago with coconut sorbet

This is the sort of food I like to eat on a hot summer's night in Brisbane.  Light, fresh and full of an interesting mix of textures and flavours.

Why the change? James Street Bistro, owned and operated by Andronis family for the past 11 years, was an easy fit but as the street developed the family knew it was time for a new look.

“We felt it was time for a big change, and recognised the need to contribute to James Street’s colourful evolution,” Yolanda Coroneo. We decided to bring to the fold something young and different, which echoed the relaxed, boutique and cosmopolitan vibe of James Street.”

Bottom line: Perfect for a pre or post movie meal.
Best tip:  Try one of the citrus-inspired cocktails at the bar.

Chow House 4A / 39 James Street, Fortitude Valley

Disclaimer: Ed+bK and partner were guests of Chow House for this meal.