Love it or hate it, there's something mesmerising about Paris – the city of love.
It was on a bright Saturday morning that I discovered The Chelsea Bistro, the Parisian themed café situated in The Barracks at 61 Petrie Terrace. While it's a little outside the city centre, The Chelsea is a favourite amongst tourists and locals alike.
The Chelsea's menu, renowned for its fine simplicity and French authenticity comes courtesy of head chef Dallas Costello, who was previously based at South Bank's French favourite, Piaf.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about The Chelsea is that it doesn't try to be pretentiously French, sourcing the finest French baguettes and cheeses. It's a modern Australian restaurant that takes cues and passion from the bistros you'd find in Paris.
Which is fair enough. Australians aren't notable for our fine quinines and gastronomic expertise. We have more of a 'snags on the barbie' kind of cooking culture. So combining the French passion for good food with Australian ingredients is a tre bien idea.
Some of the lip smacking dishes from the menu include French toast with black truffle Anglaise, Blueberry cured salmon, and a delicious brandade (Barramundi poached in milk blended with fresh herbs, lemon zest and potatoes) served with pickled vegetables on tasty sourdough from Jocelyn's Provisions.
The Chelsea serves breakfast, lunch and dinner (buffet-style or a la carte) with a store of Australian house wine and an array of wines from France, Italy and New Zealand. Some menu items are seasonal to ensure fresh ingredients.
The Barracks themselves have an interesting and rich history. The site that had once laid derelict for nearly 20 years was in 2008 transformed into the landmark retail and commercial precinct you see today.
The Barracks are a complex of three heritage listed buildings from the Police era – the stables (1912), the three storey brick barracks (1939) and the radio communications centre (1941).
From 1860 to 1883, the space housed the Brisbane Petrie Terrace Gaol, accommodating 96 prisoners in 2 cell blocks. This was demolished in 1940, with excavation revealing sandstone foundations that now feature in the new development.