The first and only time I’ve previously visited Papa Jack’s was last December during my Birthday Eating Month. Papa Jack’s is a Creole-inspired restaurant, with it’s chilled lazy casual vibe in partnership with good cocktails. You can be sure you’re in good hands for excellent drinks with ex-Canvas owners, Emily and Marco Nunes.
Creole food is a wonderful southern-American cuisine that is a melting pot of cultural influences – French, Spanish, African, South American, and Caribbean. Their culture is known for sassy jazz and blues music. Papa Jack’s features regular live jazz and blues music, aiming to be as authentic as they can be to the Creole culture.
They’ve just released their third menu change since opening up late November last year. Last week, I was invited to Papa Jack’s to check out their new winter menu. This most recent re-incarnation keeps a few favourites and brings in some new warming delights for cooler weather.
An extensive “something small” menu includes very impressive, generous meals that’d be great for a light lunch.
This particular day was not a light lunch day that’s for sure.
We powered through the deliciously soft, twice-baked crab souffle with a thick tomato cream (basically a thick passata). Perfect for a cool winter’s day. One of my favourites on the day. I was also impressed with the tacos, served with generous avocado and julienne strips of refreshing cucumber to contrast with the spicy prawns.
The Club Croque from their sandwich menu has undergone a few alterations but with the latest version of the classic croque monsieur, it features a spicy bechamel sauce. I’m a big fan! Perhaps for those who want something more heavy. After half a serving, it was more than enough cheese and bechamel for a day. The brioche bread used was fantastic too. Mostly because brioche. Enough said.
The melon salad, complete with parma ham and strawberries is so American. My mother has done it for years and even now I still struggle to get my head around it. Doesn’t mean it’s not delicious. Strawberries add a wonderful sweetness and tart acidity to salads – particularly in an otherwise sweet melon salad.
The salted cod croquettes were unexpectedly fluffy and soft on the inside. Sometimes croquettes can be quite stodgy but these were light and I’d happily eat all of this. The winning combination of soft and crispy was improved with an ultra-thick scraped-out-with-a-knife paprika-based creole version of remoulade (like an aioli but tastier).
The mains all sounded and looked delicious. I chose the duck. Because I love duck and I take any opportunity to eat it/them. As my dish was explained to me, I nicknamed it “double duck” because it features duck breast AND a crispy sliver of confit duck boudin (a style of sausage). The smoky, gamey flavours of duck work wonderfully in this dish which was slightly sweet from the caramelised vegetables and the sauce. I love the generous portions of the mains. They’re a complete meal on their own. I am very glad I chose the duck.
The duck would have to be tied with the crab souffle for my favourite dishes.
They have a shared platter called “The Big Easy” for a cool $48. It’s basically a giant meat platter including Jack Daniel’s and Coke baby back ribs, BBQ chicken wings, pulled pork boudin, onion rings and grits! I’d love to check this out. The only trouble would be sharing it and not eating it all myself.
Papa Jack’s have a new weekday lunch menu which features meals conveniently priced at $10-$20 depending on how hungry you are.
Tip: Try a refreshing glass of their home-made iced tea. No sugary versions of brown water here! You can even spike it with alcohol!
Corner Connor & McLachlan Street, Fortitude Valley
Monday – Friday: 11:30am – late
Saturday & Sunday: 7:30 am – late
I dined as an invited guest of behalf of Emily Nunes and Papa Jack’s.