Laneway dining can be as dangerous as it is delicious. In the early days of Brew, Flamingo and Bean, trendy eaters were adventurers wandering down uninhabited, barely lit alleys; dazed, confused and chasing a hidden coffee hit. But now we've become accustomed to the escape from bustle and smoke that laneway cafes almost always offer, and Brisbane's latest addition to the scene is one you'll risk limb and pride for — because it's a hidden, inner-city gem that deserves a little light.
Strauss has been open for a few months now, and in that time has taken a little while to be discovered. It's neatly tucked in a lane on Elizabeth Street opposite Wintergarden; let the high, glowing Strauss sign be your guiding star. The lane is lined with seating, but inside is the kind of cosy atmosphere you should really invest some good eyeing to secure. Plus, inside you can watch your coffee being made and food being prepared while maintaining some super uncomfortable eye contact with the wonderfully polite waitstaff.
It's run by the same cafe curators as Merriweather and Cup, so you know their cafe game is strong, and their coffee one is even stronger. Truck along a few times, and you'll become familiar with the barista, who may not pump out coffee at Starbucks speed but does so with a hell of a lot more care and precision.
Food wise, there's not a lot to choose from, but that's quickly compensated by the quality on show. If you're craving something hearty but don't want to torture you're waistline, then the salads are the way to go. Don't groan; these ones are actually, dare I say, tasty. From chickpea and fennel to tomato and mozzarella galore, these healthy options are packed full of ingredients and flavour. Strauss even offer a tasting plate of all the salads, will should really be used and abused.
If a salad makes you writhe with fear, Strauss's sandwiches aren't your run-of-the-mill ham and cheese between two slices. The pastrami, tomato and caramelised onion baguette feels like something from a Woody Allen film and tastes even better. And if all that's just a little to high end for your CBD lunch break, treat yo' self to some avocado on toast; Strauss have got it down to a tee.
Whether you're looking for somewhere quiet to chill, a salad to Instagram or a coffee with a little heart, then Strauss is the laneway cafe you best be trekking towards. Just make sure you go down the right alley.