Saint Lucy Caffe et Cucina is a pretty and surprisingly up-market new eatery that opened in March this year at the tennis complex at the University of Queensland.
Saint Lucy replaces the old 30/40 cafe, which was destroyed in the 2011 floods that swept across much of the St Lucia campus. The rebuild and refurbishment have delivered a much classier establishment.
Heavy wooden tables, bronze hanging lights and artfully chosen greenery create a relaxed, comfortable environment that really celebrates Queensland's subtropical climate. The cafe is in the experienced hands of Hans Pettersson and Jens Holland, who also operate Hillstone St Lucia and the hundred acre bar at St Lucia Golf Links.
While Saint Lucy is open for breakfast, lunch, cocktail hour, dinner, and everything in between most days, it's a place that screams 'brunch' to me. So when we had a family birthday to celebrate recently, we thought we'd give Saint Lucy a try, and booked for 10am one Sunday. This gave us a couple of hours to eat before we took our sons for their swimming class at the UQ pool, which is just a few minutes walk away.
Our group of six was seated at a long table overlooking the tennis courts, which was cool and pleasant despite it being a steamy day. There was plenty of room between tables, and access was easy for one older member of our family who was in a wheelchair. The place was buzzing with happy weekend diners, including lots of children, and the atmosphere was lovely.
A friendly and efficient waiter quickly brought menus and water, and we got down to the important business of choosing our meals. This was when we got our first surprise -- there were just six main items on the menu for weekend brunch, and pretty predictable items at that.
Our choices (in increasing order of indulgence) were fruit salad and yoghurt ($9.50), Bircher muesli ($12.50), poached eggs with avocado and fetta on turkish ($18.50), bacon and eggs on sourdough ($10.50), eggs benedict with a choice of salmon or bacon ($17.50), or a big breakfast, including bacon, eggs, chicken sausage, mushrooms, etc. ($18.50). Most individual items were also available as sides from $4.50 to $5.50 each.
We ordered an eggs benedict, three of the avocado, fetta and poached eggs, and a couple of bacon and eggs on toast. For drinks, the adults ordered coffee, while my two boys chose a freshly squeezed 'Juicy Lucy' (watermelon, apple, orange and pineapple juice), and a homemade lemonade (both around the $6 mark).
The juices and coffees were good, and our food followed quickly. Here's where we got our second surprise. At the steep prices, we'd expected some special artistry. Instead, we got standard breakfast fare - good but not startlingly so, with key ingredients such as the bacon, salmon and bread falling into the 'nice' rather than 'super-special' category. Which would generally be fine, but was not what we'd expected, given the prices.
Likewise, some of the servings were on the small side. Those who ordered the poached eggs, fetta and avo on toast were disappointed by the size of their meal, and all three said they were still hungry afterwards - as we commented on the feedback form that we were given to fill in at the end of our meal. But, to be fair, the rest of us found our meals filling.
Looking over the menu, I saw that Saint Lucy offers a more extensive weekday breakfast menu, a substantial a-la-carte, pizza and lunch menu, and an aperitifs menu that features antipasto and the like. None look cheap, but, without having tried them, I can't comment on whether they represent value for money. Certainly many dishes look appealing to the tastebuds.
So, do I recommend you visit Saint Lucy? Yes, because the setting is so pleasant, the vibe so good, and the food and drink are nice, if not scintillating. It's a great place for a family gathering, to go with children, to have a cool drink after a game of tennis, or to enjoy wine and nibbles after work. Saint Lucy also caters for functions.
But, just to be on the safe side, I suggest that you turn up to Saint Lucy with a full wallet, and that you choose carefully from what the menu has on offer.
PS Saint Lucy is just two minutes walk from the CityCat stop and five minutes from the UQ Lakes bus station. You could make a nice kids' outing by combining a trip to the lakes, a swim at the pool, and a juice and meal at Saint Lucy (chips for $7.50 are probably your cheapest child-friendly food option).
Great surroundings but wait staff are rude and unhelpfull. The menu is overpriced and portions are small. We stopped going after 2 rude visits and prefer to visit the kiosk at the Atheltics track which has very helpfull staff.