A Saturday night in Fortitude Valley, particularly on or around Brunswick Street Mall, can risk getting a bit same ol' same ol' at times. Laruche is just different enough to set itself apart, without being too fancy. Fans of Lychee Lounge in West End may recognise the eclecticism and opulence that is fun rather than stifling — almost gaudy, but in an acceptable way.
The two levels are plush, with dim lighting, mismatched chairs, cushy lounges and chandeliers that look like upmarket versions of the biological anomalies found in sci-fi. The central bar is big, with plenty of space for you to sidle on up, and staff are many.
Feeling the inevitable midnight munchies when you're out and about in the Mall, you may want to reconsider that slice of pizza or kebab. At Laruche, bar snacks change with the season, with the current winter menu including warmers like the taleggio croquettes with tomato chilli relish ($8), ricotta stuffed crumbed mushrooms ($8), slow-braised pork belly, pickled radish, puffed wild rice, pork broth ($12) and sliders. For those among you who get to a certain point in the night and crave something sweet, the mixed berry and caramel tart with creme Chantilly ($6) fits the bill.
As well as filling your belly, you should hang around for a cocktail or two. The drinks menu at Laruche is sectioned off with subheadings like Champagne Cocktails Mid–1800s, Highballs 1890s, Juleps 1770s and Nightcaps 1700s (to list only a few). Each category features both classics and modern interpretations.
The cold weather might call for a sour like the Innoculation (Chivas Regal Scotch, Herbsaint, lemon, honey water, Creme de Cacao, egg white), but the Laruche Punch (Absolut, Plymouth Sloe, St Germain Liqueur, elderflower, Apricot Brandy, pineapple, lime, passionfruit, ginger beer) is as refreshing as it sounds and it gets the job done.