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Published November 19th 2014
Top tier eating experience in the Gabba dining precinct
Before visiting BirdCage Restaurant in Woolloongabba, I'm didn't know exactly what pan-Asian cuisine was, and after trying the food, I'm still not sure I'm much wiser. What I do know is that this was an excellent place to dine, and a perfect way to spend an indulgent evening.
A quick Google search tells me that a Pan Asian menu is one with a selection of different dishes from around Asia, not exclusive to any particular one country. The menu at The Bird Cage is one that definitely take influences from many areas of the vast Asian continent, with dishes from the south east being the major focus.
Located in the local icon Moreton Rubber Works building, we arrived as early birds to get the proverbial worm at just after 6. This allowed us to secure one of the best seats in the restaurant - the plush booth. Who doesn't love a booth to sit back and lounge in and be catered to? It just feels so much more relaxing and you can slouch more, especially convenient with a full belly.
Scroll across for pictures of food we ordered and other pictures from inside the restaurant
After ordering round drinks (lemon lime and bitters x2, plus a Campari and soda) we perused the menu. This decision always can rattle me somewhat, especially in a new restaurant where I haven't checked out before since I'm always wary of making a 'wrong' choice. Nothing looked wrong on the menu here, however as soon as I saw pork belly was on the menu, the decision was done.
To start with we decided on satay chicken stickers with lemon grass, spicy turmeric, peanut sauce and cucumber relish. They were delectable and juicy. Between friends we weren't shy about double dipping, not wanted to waste any of the precious peanut sauce or relish. My only gripe being I would have liked a portion triple the size – alas it was only a starter to be shared by three! Whet the appetite it surely did.
The zesty green paw paw salad was a tart way to wipe the palate clean and generous for the three of us perfectly complementing the satay chicken. Before the mains arrived I made my way downstairs to the bathrooms, but wasn't prepared for the beautiful subterranean world that lay below the main floor. The cellar, which can be hired out for private dining and functions, features beautiful timber beams and original old world brick and stone walls, allowing you to easily convince yourself you're in Dublin, circa 1920s.
Now I don't normally comment on restaurant bathrooms, normally because they aren't worth commenting on, but this was a very pleasant experience. Instead of a unisex cubicle tacked on as an afterthought near back alley dumpsters as in so many restaurants, ladies and gentleman each had their own washroom complete with marble floors and a basket of crisp white rolled hand towels. Did it make a major difference to the dining experience? No, but it's the nicest restaurant bathroom I can remember outside of a hotel, and its these little things which all compounded to make our experience at the Bird Cage a little more indulgent than your average dinner out.
The venue is a lot bigger than meets the eye, with an entrance on Logan Road, and Stanley street, and plenty of dining on the outside footpath. The restaurant and bar area were quickly filling up on the Thursday evening, possibly more so than usual due to the G20 public holiday the next day.
The generous slabs of pork belly were quickly transferred to from one belly to the another
Shortly after being back at the booth, the mains came out . The pork belly was succulent, rich and the kind of serving size I really seem to be missing lately at other places. I couldn't quite finish it, at the $30.00 slabs of pork were perfectly cooked, juicy without being fatty, and with that special light crunch as you bite into the rind. Absolutely delicious as this belly was transferred to my own, one bite at a time.
Across the table the free range poached chicken Panang curry was also winning praise with a lighter sauce, without the richness or overpowering flavours that can characterise some curry dishes.
All fed, with great food and service, it was hard to find anything to fault with The Bird Cage, and honestly, I'm surprised I haven't discovered this beautiful bird before. If you're looking for an upmarket Asian dining experience in Woolloongabba, The Green Papaya is not the only contender – fly into the BirdCage today and like me there's a good chance you'll be a flapping fan of the pan (pan Asian that is) in no time.