LaRuche has been on my 'to visit list' for some time. You all know I'm a sucker for good cocktails so actually, I surprised even myself by waiting this long to visit. I put this down to the fact that Brisbane's dining scene is so busy at the moment- my 'to visit' list is considerably longer than it was this time last year. (Sorry guys- there will be no photos for this post either- my phone had a coniption and lost the images.)
The opening of LaRuche attracted a lot of attention some even spruiking it as the 'new cloudland.' Personally, I don't really think this description suits the place at all. Even though the interior design is complex and quirky, the only comparison I can draw between the two is that they are both quite different to your usual Brisbane establishment so therefore have been lumped together as being the same. Don't be fooled. LaRuche has a completely different, much more intimate feel than Cloudland. The staff are friendly, happy and knowledgeable and genuinely seem like they enjoy each other's company - and working in the bar. They were honestly high fiving each other and hugging staff members who were just arriving. And it somehow worked. The atmostphere gives off a very cool vibe, as do the staff. The decor is worth checking out for sure.
We dined earlyish on a Friday night-around 7:00p.m. We arrived to find some rogue ladies sitting in our seats, but they were promptly kicked off and we were seated with drinks ordered under the five minute mark. We were seated at the marble tables at the end of the bar which are a great place to watch the goings on within the establishment. At the time we were there, the crowd was generally older i.e 50's (now I'm not saying that is OLD but saying older than the usual Valley constituant)- but one of the waitstaff informed me that this usually changes later on in the evening when they play host to a 20something crowd.
Clearly the focus of LaRuche is not the food, but even so, they have put together quite a handy little menu comprising of mainly of small bites, nibblies and share plates- with a couple of larger dishes and desserts. C and I were in the mood for some smaller share plates because we also wanted to indulge on a couple of cocktails, which I find harder (please, by no means impossible) to do on a really full stomach.
If you are going to go to LaRuche, I would suggest checking out their website first. I could leave the background music ALL day whilst perusing the menu, which is exactly what I did, until my boss asked me to turn off the music because she had already heard the song eight times in a row. Fair call. Maybe, just for me, they could chuck another couple of tracks on there too. The drinks menu is 21 pages long- which is extensive, but not too long and the cocktail list offers some interesting options. The prices are pretty standard at $16-$18 each.
To start I ordered the Lychee and Lemongrass Love $16, which, as the name suggests contains lychee, lemongrass, lime and vodka. Although relatively simple, this is a winner, and although perhaps better sipped in Spring rather than winter- I would find it hard to pass up any time of the year. The fusion of lychee and lemongrass is a favourite of mine. C's Italian Sour comprised of Campari, Galliano, lemon and eggwhite($16) and was exactly that- short, sharp and sour. I'm a fan of campari (depsite a one time binge that miraciously didn't turn me off for life) and enjoyed the tang. C probably would have preferred his usual toblerone styled something, but was happy enough with this mix for a change.
First out food wise was the herbed polenta chips with roasted garlic and porcini aioli ($9). One thing to say- Get these damn chips! Go to LaRuche just to get the delicious morsels. They are crunchy on the outside, yet so smooth and creamy on the inside. The herbs add extra flavour and the aioli is garlic packed and some of the best I've tasted. I almost ordered a second serve because they were so good. The perfect bar food- just salty enough to make you need more cocktail!
Next, and far too quickly out, was the confit duck and sweet corn spring rolls with plum pisco and chilli jam for $12. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy prompt service- but I had only half finshed my first polenta chip when the spring rolls were being placed on the table. I have a problem with food not being timed because it means that the table becomes crowded, and more importantly, I feel rushed to finish in an effort to stop the food going cold. At one point, we had all the dishes we ordered on the table, and this was a little too much to handle - slow down please!! Despite being too early to arrive, the spring rolls were good. The corn and duck combo was good and the plum pisco was a nice touch.
The jamon serrano croquettes, tomato and sage puree, basil and mayonnaise $12 were an odd shape- rolled long and round instead of oval shaped. Whilst this wasn't completely bad - it meant that you didn't get as much flavour as there was more crumbing and less filling. The insides were creamy but the jamon flavour didn't come through as much as I'd have liked.
To balance out all the fried, I predicatably chose the QLD scallops which were served with shaved fennel and herb saute, chilli jam, charred lemon and kettle one vodka emulsion for $12.
I thought the scallops were good- though halved, so not as fat as my greedy scallop loving self would have liked. The fennel was great and the vodka emulsion was fresh, meaning it complimented the natural style of the scallop. I appreciated this and think it was a much better fit that a creamy, saucy topping that masks the flavour and texture of the glorious scallop.
By this stage we were well and truly ready for my pink gin gin mule ($18) and the special Bailey's based something that they concocted for C, also $18. The grenadine with a nice touch to the usual gin gin mule. I think this is one of the greatest cocktails of all time and was pretty happy with LaRuche's version.
My only huge gripe from the night was the speed at which the food came out. Aside from that- the evening was seriously enjoyable. In fact, LaRuche are serious about a lot of things- the decor, the food, the service and the alcohol- but manage to pull it off in a fun and cosmo way. The food is definitely some of the best bar food I've come across and the cocktails were consistently good. The prices were also really reasonable. I welcome the presence of LaRuche into Brisbane and hope places like this continue to raise the bar for venues here.
When to go: Early on a Friday evening after work- don't forget to call ahead to book one of the tables so you can nibble on some bar snacks in comfort.
Tell me readers, What do you look for in a cocktail bar?
LaRuche Bar and Supperclub
680 Ann Street
07 3666 0880