I have a bit of a love affair with The Emporium precinct, so in an effort to impress my visiting interstate colleagues recently I insisted we dine at Capri Café Bar which holds some fond memories for me, as I spent a lot of time dining there when I lived nearby in Newstead.
From what I can tell, Capri Café Bar is a family business of two brothers delivering their impression of fine Mediterranean cuisine to the masses. I’ve always been impressed by their pizzas, and if you check out their website, you’ll see their nominations as finalists (year on year) for the Restaurant and Catering QLD Host Plus Awards for Excellence.
On this most recent visit, I brought with me 8 of the harshest food critics I know (yes, they all eat food therefore they are critics!) and they were super hungry after a frantic day in the office. We decided to share a range of starters between the 9 of us to take the edge off our hunger. These consisted of a serve of the toasted Turkish bread with baba ghanoush, tzatziki and hummus ($13.50), the arancini balls of porcini mushroom and truffle risotto with capsicum coulis and fried chorizo sausage ($17), and the pan fried calamari with a seasonal vegetable salad and mango chilli coulis ($16).
The arancini balls were superb; in fact, they were the best meal of the night. The chorizo morsels were packed with fiery flavour and were the perfect accompaniment to the lightly battered mushroom risotto packages.
The calamari on the other hand had a strange smoky flavour and whilst it was cooked perfectly, there wasn’t much substance to the dish as a whole.
The dips for the Turkish breads were flavoursome and fresh – the baba ghanoush was the stand out.
On to the mains and with such diversity (and increasing intoxication) at the table it was going to be interesting to see who would opt for what dish. Without hesitation I chose the pumpkin gnocchi in a creamy sundried tomato pesto sauce with fresh spinach and Grana Padano cheese ($21). This dish was mild on the cream but full of rich pumpkin and cheese flavours, well complimented by the tomato pesto.
SH was all smiles with her special-board dish of the crispy skinned salmon fillet on a bed of fresh Asian greens ($21). The salmon was perfectly cooked and drizzled in a light olive oil.
Woody decided to go against the Mediterranean theme and chose the 250g eye fillet in red wine jus ($42.50). His steak was cooked to perfection at medium-rare and accompanied by creamy mash and fresh greens.
Surprisingly, CB and Princess were the only pizza goers at the table, and both opted for the Capricciosa Special ($21) with salami, mushrooms, olives and mozzarella cheese. To be honest, the pizzas didn’t have the usual flare and finish that usually comes from the pizza oven at Capri Café Bar, but the girls were happy with the flavour.
Big Dog didn’t seem too pleased with his choice of the prawn and calamari linguini with chilli, garlic, Italian parsley and olive oil ($30); he was disappointed with the lack of flavour however there was a generous amount of seafood in the dish.
Similarly, LR thought his sand crab and scallop risotto in seafood bisque ($32) was missing something on the flavour side and looked to scavenging other plates to fill the void.
The other dishes were demolished before I could get a picture or sneak a taste, but the general consensus at the table was that the meals were sound. The service was exceptional; we weren’t the easiest bunch to contend with and were getting a little rowdy towards the close of the evening. There were some concerns over the prices, particularly with the seafood and steak dishes and I’m inclined to agree that perhaps Capri Café Bar is pushing the envelope a little here, particularly when you can go to a specialist seafood or steak venue for the same price and have an exceptional meal.
All in all though, Capri Café Bar is a lovely venue with good atmosphere and great service. Their menu is varied and offers a range of dishes that represent the flavours of the Mediterranean and all this makes for a lovely dining experience.
- Capri Café Bar – Shop 18, The Emporium, 1000 Ann St, Fortitude Valley (07) 3257 0401