From the moment you walk into Vieille Branche, you definitely don’t feel as though you’re in the backstreets of Albion’s industrial area. Instead, you’re stepping into a rustic warehouse that you’d expect to find in a charming French country town.
The space is a delight to the eyes, complete with antique treasures, potted and hanging greenery, and vintage furniture throughout. Over the last couple of years, the space run by partners JC Lehuby and Jennifer Hillhouse has evolved from an imported French antique shop to a space that now encompasses an offering of French culture, including a café, workshops, market days and French classes. You can even hire the venue space for your special event.
The French café at Vieille Branche has become a local hotspot for lovers of French-inspired culture and Brisbane foodies alike by boasting a tight menu of plats and tartines; perfect for a French-inspired brunch that wouldn’t be complete without a glass of bubbles. The French kind of course!
When I arrived to Vieille Branche, my friend and I were warmly greeted by Jen and shown to a table close to the entrance of the café. No matter where you sit a Vieille Branche, there is something to look at in the thoughtfully styled space. Making it the perfect place to sit and enjoy a cup of Bear Bones Espresso.
First, we try the Tartine Poisson. The fresh toasted sourdough is spread with house-made herbed cream cheese and topped with a generous serving of in-house cured salmon, asparagus, grapefruit, cucumber, pea shoots and thinly sliced fennel and radish. The zesty addition of the grapefruit made for a perfect pairing with the salmon.
As our Salad Nicoise arrives, so does Jen with two glasses of French bubbles to accompany our meal. The salad is made of rocket, pea shoots, chopped cherry tomatoes and potatoes, cucumber ribbons and dressed in a light Normandy apple cider vinaigrette. The salad is also accompanied by anchoiade (anchovy dip), house-made tuna rillettes and a crispy provincial egg. This dish is something I wouldn’t usually order but when in France, right? The full-flavoured components in the salad were delightful and already have me dreaming of my next visit to try the salad again.
Last but not least, the Pain Perdu is set at our table. I’ll be the first to admit that I was sufficiently full by this stage but I can always make room for dessert (even at brunch time). The brioche loaf French toast came served with fresh thyme, honey and seasonal furit poêlés. This technique means to cook ingredients in its own juices in a covered pot. As well as this deliciously sweet seasonal fruit sauce the dish was also accompanied by house-made orange confiture (marmalade). This sauce, although sweet, was pleasantly balanced with the brioche so to not overpower the overall taste of the dish, making it humbly the best French toast dish I’ve ever had!
It’s clear that every dish on the menu at Vieille Branche has been thoughtfully developed to honour every ingredient on the plate. Vieille Branche profess that in France, life revolves around enjoying quality food and wine with the produce being paramount. They’ve replicated this idea perfectly in their in their French café with the food they serve and the atmosphere they’ve created in a space that is uniquely unlike anywhere else in Brisbane.