Last week I was invited to dinner at Alfred & Constance Restaurant in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane. It’s just a stone’s throw away from the Ekka (think American county fair on steroids) and the restaurant was showcasing their use of locally sourced meat and produce.
As I walked up to the front door-ish (ish because there isn’t really “a front door” to Alfred & Constance) I couldn’t decide where to look first. No matter where I looked, something in the corner of my eye wanted me to look there. The restaurant was built by connecting the main floors of two lovely old timber homes on the corner of Alfred and Constance streets. The idea is brilliant.
Owner Damian Griffiths created Alfred & Constance and with famed Brisbane chef Jocelyn Hancock centered the kitchen around a big wood-fired oven. Jocelyn likes ‘clean food’ or food that hasn’t been played with or tricked up. I call that low human intervention and it’s the way I like to eat. They also don’t waste anything. Whether it’s a pig or a cow, it’s all fresh and it’s all used.
I was met by Marci Turrisi from Lucid Media who told me about Damian Griffiths and his growing empire. She explained that the restaurant was several “micro venues” with different themed areas over the two buildings which is really one building now. She spent a lot of time explaining how the wood fired oven was designed and built and how it’s not like turning on the stove and popping a pan on and dinner gets cooking. It takes skill to slow cook in the oven to retain flavour and moisture.
The oven was built by Dennis Benson who honed his skill in California as a founding father of the artisan bread baking movement. The oven has arches like you’d find in a cathedral and a high flue so that the smokey flavour makes its way all the way to my plate.
The menu can be described as Australian soul food but I’d describe it as delicious. I did wonder if it would be like so many restaurants where the flavour is all in the menu and not on the plate.
It took me ages to decide but I wasn’t the only one who kept going from suckling pig with crackling (sold by weight) to steaks or chicken or salads. The menu descriptions made me want to order one of everything – not practical. The table decision was to request tasting plates and everyone order a main and we’d put them all in the center of the table and share. Brilliant.
The pork was moist, the crackling was so crispy you could hear it snap across the table and the whole roasted garlic and home made applesauce were the perfect accompaniment. Yes, it tasted as good as it looks – or better.
Then there was the beetroot salad with feta and maple spiced pecans. I could have eaten all of this and two more just like it. Absolutely my favourite. It was a special of the night and it deserves pride of place on the menu. I also liked the lentil salad.
We all chose something for dessert and shared those too. Here’s a molten chocolate pudding and sticky date pudding in the back. I didn’t have room, I swear, but somehow I managed to taste everything and enjoy a lovely cup of coffee.
I thought about this peanut butter cheesecake and figured it would be really heavy so decided against it. I was wrong. It was mousse-like and delicious and I would have eaten the whole thing but I wasn’t the only one who liked it.
How about a lemon filled polenta cake? This was good too. Okay, I’ll have to admit that there wasn’t anything I didn’t like and frankly, I can be a picky eater at times.
After we finished eating I was eager to take a tour of the restaurant and the adjoining pizza restaurant, Alfredo’s. The American part of me felt so at home at Alfred and Constance. It’s delightfully quirky and goes from Grandma’s parlour complete with fireplace, to a cafe and then upstairs there’s the Hemingway Room and the White Ligntning Tiki Bar and the balconies and then all the way down to the cellar there’s the Air Raid Shelter. There are bars everywhere so you’ll never be far from a drink.
I enjoyed a lovely “Jumbled Julep” that was just sweet enough and filled with muddled mint. I could have had a “Ginger Ninja” or a Sailors Swizzle” but that’s for next time – and there will be a next time.
Jamie, who’s on the staff at Alfred and Constance took us from the Air Raid Shelter in the basement and then up through the Black Room which is a private dining room and on up the stairs. Photos provided. By the time we took the tour it was too late to shoot without flash.
At the top of the stairway is an old light from a surgical theatre. I offered to do heart surgery but nobody was interested. Upstairs is the Hemingway Room. I’ve been to Hemingway’s place in Key West a few times and the old man himself would have been happy in this room. It’s even got a balcony. On the other side of the Hemingway Room is the White Lightning Tiki Bar. The only thing it lacked was torches. It’s an Australian Tiki Bar with surf boards and no torches.
Back downstairs we stopped for a moment in the Tunes Bar where music was playing and happy people were drinking and having a good time.
You know I’m all about orgasmic food experiences and I really enjoyed the food, the friendliness of the staff and the quirkiness of the decor. You can’t go wrong at Alfred & Constance. It’s not a cheap night out but all the food is top quality and grown locally and that counts for a lot in my book.
I ate as a guest of Alfred and Constance and I thank them for their hospitality.
Helene D'souza says
I just fell in love with the place and all the different decorated rooms. The food looks fantastic, especially the pork pieces look like food gems. I d happily dig in and take in the whole atmosphere which they have provided so well. The picture where he carries the pig is sensational Maureen, what an amazing shot! That should go into a Magazine.
Thanks, Helene, I had a great time. Congratulations on being in the India Times Magazine as one of the top Indian bloggers. Well done! I’m not surprised though, you’re really clever.
Wow Maureen, what a culinary experience!!! I’d love to have a slice of the lemon polenta cake and I’d love to get my hands on the recipe to bake it at home!
We’ll have to work on a recipe together, Roz. you ‘n me 🙂
Penny @ From Harvest to Table says
This looks like a fabulous place! Thanks for taking me on the tour.
I’m so glad I went, Penny. It was a lovely time.
Lizzy (Good Things) says
Maureen, what a wonderful place! And great photographs too!
Love the look of that whole pig!
Anne ~ Uni Homemaker says
Sounds like a great night! The food looks amazing. I especially love the p0rk. YUM!
Lilly Sue says
Wow, this place looks wonderful! Very unique and of course taste food 🙂
A good restaurant is always more than food. It’s the complete experience and I got it that night. I came away smiling – and full.
Serena @Serena Bakes Simply From Scratch says
What a wonderful night! The restaurant looks gorgeous and very unique. So fun!
Thanks Serena, they cook simply from scratch too – without one whiff of foam. 🙂
Love it the place looks like it has ALOT of character 🙂
It does – come on over!
Jennifer @ Delicieux says
Looks like you had a fantastic night Maureen! Those desserts look killer. Generous portions too. And I love the black room. I’ll definitely have to check Alfred and Constance out.
Jennifer, you’re nearly a local to Fortitude Valley, you should check it out. It’s a lovely spot and I couldn’t fault the food or the service.
Judit @WineDineDaily says
Everything looks lip-smacking delicious, and now we are in love with this restaurant Maureen! Beautiful photos as always.
So when are you going to dine with me? 🙂
e / dig in hobart says
that lemon polenta cake looks amazing. just layers of lemon curd in the cake? ooooh… delish!
I wasn’t too sure when I looked at it but when I took a bite – wow.
Great photos! Love the one of the pig slung over the chefs shoulder 🙂
I like how they have different spaces and would definitely check out the Tunes Bar.
Each area is clever and unique. You should come over. 🙂
What a tour and what a great evening! That place must be huge!
It’s not huge. Each space while not “intimate” isn’t cavernous. It’s really well done. Even the surgical lamp. Need any surgery? I know where I can perform it, although it’s a bit snug on the staircase.
Bam's Kitchen says
Pork crackling you can hear across the room is something I dream of. What a wonderful event and such a beautiful place and very interesting rooms! Take Care, BAM
Now that you’re feeling better, visit Australia instead of Thailand and we’ll go to Alfred & Constance, okay?
Nami | Just One Cookbook says
What a cozy dining place and how interesting there are different rooms too! If I was him, I’d love to use the pigs on shoulder photo for profile picture. 😀 Great review!
That was a cute photo. The whole experience left me smiling and that’s really the key to an outstanding restaurant – that people leave smiling as broadly as when they arrive, even after paying the bill. 🙂
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
I adore that Black Room Maureen! I just saw your comment on Pinterest and I wholeheartedly agree! 😀
Norma Chang says
My kind of place, I too would have a difficult time deciding what to order, smart to each order a different item and share, its like when we go for Dim sum.
I kept going from the specials menu to the main menu and back again. I need to try one of everything just to be sure. 🙂
Lisa the Goumet Wog says
ok, roast pork yesterday, suckling pork today. I’m drooling for a good crackling done correctly!! I need to get some pork on my fork as they say…
Lisa the Goumet Wog says
I was going to say ‘I need to get porked’ but that just sounds so wrong!! Ha!
I believe it’s okay to get porked at Alfred and Constance 🙂
You lucky girl! Each and every photo makes me want to jump right in. I can’t even imagine how it must have been to be so stuffed and still want to taste each and every morsel. The aromas must have been intoxicating. I’m sure this was one memorable experience, Maureen.
Thank you so much for letting us tag-a-long…
I wish you could join me for dinner there! 🙂
This is over the top fabulous! I really enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for sharing.
Hi Velva and thanks so much for coming by. Welcome to the friendship of Orgasmic Chef! I wish you were closer so we could go to Alfred & Constance and get to know each other. 🙂
Rachel Cotterill says
Inventive decor! I’m all for local food – and the desserts look heavenly 🙂
The food was definitely all local and delicious. The decor was as quirky as I am. I loved it.
Charles Smith says
Oh my God – those first two food pics… that’s some real food porn right there. Obviously, I’m sure everything else was fantastic – it looks great, but as a “crackling-addict”, and lover of beets, those two pics really speak to me.
The place looks awesome too – really cool décor!
It was a lovely evening and I can’t wait to go back with John.
Such fun photos! Loved the pig shots. And it’d be hard to turn down suckling pig – that’s what I would have ordered. This sounds so terrific – a really good restaurant. You must have had a wonderful time. But I can’t imagine why no one took you up on your generous offer to perform heart surgery! 😉
I would have done the surgery for half price, John! I’d already had my drink, I was prepped!
The Squishy Monster says
This is gastronomic Heaven!
What an amazing experience … not only the food but the locations. You’re so fortunate to have such things in your area.
I had to drive an hour to get there but you’re right, it was a wonderful experience.
Hotly Spiced says
When next in Brizzy I will be dining there. I love the look of the old weatherboard buildings and it’s so good they haven’t been pulled down. The food looks really good and I love how you describe it as low human intervention – that’s the sort of approach I like. I don’t like it when I can’t tell what’s on my plate. I just love all the different rooms – some interior designer has had a great time xx
Can we go with you? We’d have a great time. We could invite a bunch of people. 🙂
Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen says
What a gorgeous restaurant, Maureen. It’s got character in spades and the food looks incredible. I like their ‘nothing goes to waste’ approach. Great photos!
I like the owner’s mission.. local, fresh, delicious and nothing wasted.
Claire @ Claire K Creations says
Isn’t it a wonderful spot? I wish they’d open something different in every suburb (they’re getting there!).
Think they’ll ever get up here to God’s country? I can but hope.
What a charming restaurant! And I’m swooning over all the amazing dishes you sampled! I would have dived into that beet salad and then spent the rest of the evening deciding which magnificent dessert to choose 🙂
It looks like an American style restaurant, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s why I felt so at home there. That and the staff were so friendly and more than that, they looked like they were really enjoying their jobs. (maybe they were pretending LOL)
I tasted everything and then did it again and THEN decided to look at dessert. I could eat the whole meal again it was that good.
Julia | JuliasAlbum.com says
What a wonderful experience you had! Such a lovely place – I’d love to visit it too, after your review. Your photos truly tell the story about the place. Great photos of all the dishes. I am craving for that beet salad now.
I know I could live on that gorgeous beet salad!
Fran @ G'day Souffle' says
Is that Russell Crow putting the whole pig in the oven- looks just like him!
I don’t THINK it was him, Fran but when you get back to Australia, we’ll stalk the place just to be sure.
Shirley from Rhubarb Whine says
I’m so very pleased you had a good time. I want that pork….
We should go the four of us one night and get porked!
InTolerant Chef says
What a fun venue! The only major problem I see is that by ordering the suckling pig by weight, everyone would know how greedy I was as I couldn’t blame the kitchen for large servings 🙂
I hadn’t thought of it this way. Order with someone else and say they ate the bigger share. 🙂
Great photos Maureen – love, love the one of the chef and the pig. And that pork crackling……heaven on a plate.
Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says
I think I’d have had to go straight to dessert – that peanut butter cheesecake looks and sounds divine! Mousse and peanut butter in one mouthful? Oh yes!
Hi Maureen….I wanted to go here when I was up in Brisbane . It really is a good as I read about. The rooms look so good, I can’t wait to see them in person. I love the way you have described the food. Especially the beetroot salad that you could have eaten two more of x
When you come back, Tania, we can go together. We’ll get Shirley and Claire and Kirsten and the rest and have a big ol time of it.
Stephanie - The Dessert Spoon says
I’ve heard good things about Alfred & Constance. After reading this I am looking forward to trying it out for myself. The desserts look amazing. Great post; thank you!
Wow! Maureen that sounds like so much fun!! Good food, beautiful atmosphere! it looks gorgeous!! Good for you! I am so glad you had a good time. Blessings dearest. Catherine xo
Kim | a little lunch says
Maureen, I thoroughly enjoyed your review. I also know who to call if I ever I need heart surgery, lol — but only if I don’t end up like the creature in the corner of the Black Room. 😉 What a marvelous place and fantastic food. It’s thrilling to read about a restaurant that “gets” the concept of a “dining experience.”
Kim, you got that right. It’s about the dining experience. We all expect the food to be terrific – they’re trained chefs but it’s much more than that. I can cook a great meal at home so I go for laughs. 🙂
Claire @ Simply Sweet Justice says
Good people, good food, and a beautiful environment? Sounds like the perfect night to me!
I can’t wait to go back, Claire!
Mary Frances says
Lovely review. Wish it weren’t so far away. I love wood fired ovens!! The smoke is the sauce!