There's a very good reason Parisian-style steakhouse Les Bubbles was so named. This not-so-humble little spot which hugs close to the fringes of Fortitude Valley was once home to an illegal casino, brothel and the Bubbles Bath-house (hence the sudsy reference) which played a starring yet notorious role in the Fitzgerald Inquiry during the late 1980s.
In the best tradition of tired old tarts, remnants and reminders of Les Bubbles' former life remain embedded in the architecture. Framed black and white photos depicting people engaging in libidinous entertainment, along with celebrity headshots and portraits of key Fitzgerald Inquiry players adorn the walls. Prominent neon lettering above the bar proclaims that prostitution no longer takes place on the premises and there are frequent reminders of 'quality meat served here since 1982'.
Signature steak and frites. Image courtesy Les Bubbles.
A single flight of stairs leads down to the new-look 'Bath-House' which is essentially a cavernous drinking space - great for parties and functions - featuring a spa bath sized to fit more than a dozen people. (Don't expect to dive on in, though. On the night I visited, the water was swimming pool-cold.) The drinks menu here is a retro stunner, with communal drinks served in flaming tiki bowls and cocktails such as the 'hush money', 'midnight state' and 'page four' delivering a nod to the venue's colourful history. Just imagine downing a few of those amid the Bath-House's disco lighting.
Welcome to Fortitude Valley's only Parisian eatery. Author image.
In terms of food, we're talking steak, frites and salad. That's it. Well, except for the token option available for vegetarians, such as the ratatouille on the night I visited. 'We have one signature dish. We do it well,' the menu proclaims. One drawcard associated with this pared-back approach is that the frites are 'bottomless', meaning you can continue to order as many as you like, at no extra charge. However, given the generous proportions that arrive at our table, it's hard to imagine too many people taking advantage of this offer.
There are a range of Parisian-style desserts on offer to sweeten the deal - including chocolate fondant, raspberry souffle, creme caramel and apple tarte tatin. And, when it's finally time to go, there's another sign strategically positioned above the exit doors which cheekily remarks, 'Thank you for coming'.