Gillian’s Garden Cafe

There is something very homely and comforting about a visit to Gillian’s garden cafe. Kinda like visiting nanna’s house but with much, much better food.

I love everything about this cafe located in a garden centre/antique shop on Stanley Street at East Brisbane. It’s relaxed and charming and the food is always extra special, thanks to chef/owner Gillian Hirst and head chef Tracy Hirst.

On this particular visit with Al and Miss Melb, although only April, there was a chill in the air and we all wanted something warming for lunch. Al went with the three cheese gnocchi served with crunchy toasted bread and a rocket salad. This was the dish of the day. Bubbling over the little black pan, the gnocchi melted on your tongue and the cheese made you wish you had a gym membership. This was a seriously good dish but incredibly rich and not for the faint-hearted. Thank god for the rocket salad which was beautifully dressed and very fresh.

Dish of the day

Miss Melb boldly choose the set garlic custard with mushroom tortellini and a porcini cream. The garlic custard was light and not too overpowering. The tortellini silky and strong with mushroom flavour. Overall, another lovely combination but not for anyone watching their weight!

Garlic custard

I choose the Morrocan pie with sauteed spinach and a rich jus. The pie pastry was flaky and covered in a light sprinkle of icing sugar. I love this Morrocan combination of sweet and savoury and the pie lived up to this combo with a filling of shredded chicken and sweet almonds spiced with cinnamon. This was also a deceptively rich dish and sadly I only finished half my pie.

Morrocan pie

As a chip connoisseur, Al had also ordered the chunky chips with aioli. The chips are worth ordering just to taste the brilliant aioli. At any other rainy day lunch, these would have been quickly devoured but we were all so full, most of these were also left behind.

Gillian is famous for her sandcrab lasagne and this is always on the menu for $26.50. Despite having visited four or five times in the last few years I’ve never tried it. I usually go for a risotto and have never been disappointed. This image is from a very memorable saffron, scallop and snowpea risotto I had a few years back on a visit with Miss P.

Scallop saffron risotto

Gillian’s is also memorable for the cakes and desserts but on this occasion, none of us could manage a sweet treat, although it would be wrong of me not to include something sweet to entice you, so I’ve included a chocolate cake topped with crunchy gold balls that Miss P and I shared on our last visit. It was divine!

Chocolate cake

I’ve never been for breakfast but the morning menu on the website looks delightful with items like poached free range eggs with herbed hollandaise and brioche soldiers and poached salmon on potato and leek cake and maple cured bacon with grilled sausage and creamy mushrooms. Need I say more?

This little restaurant/cafe has become so popular with ladies that lunch it pays to make a phone call and book, just in case it’s a busy day. It’s hard to leave without a browse around the antique shop and a bonus that you can leave with a potted plant, a bunch of flowers or a quaint teacup and saucer or some other quirky find. It’s a perfect place to meet your girlfriends (you can bring your own bottle of wine) or take your mum and nanna for a special treat.

phone: 3391 1001

Located in the Cottage Garden Nursery, 999 Stanley St, East Brisbane.

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