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A basement dive bar brings street cred to the sleazy end of Brunswick Street, with Picklebacks, Daiquiris and superior American eats
This pocket of the Valley has long been Brisbane’s seediest, and happily, nothing much has changed. Greaser is a little bit underground both in location and attitude, occupying a century-old basement of the Elephant Hotel. To find it, turn your back on the yobbery of the mall, cross Wickham Street and hang a left at the laneway past the bottle shop. If you find yourself at the peep-show end of Brunswick Street, you’ve gone too far. Once in the laneway, head away from the light, into the shadowy, cavernous and wonderful world of Greaser.
Take in the framed black-and-white prints on the walls depicting hard-living heroes, find yourself a booth, tap your foot to an eclectic mix of fun tunes from decades past and settle in for the night. From the cocktail menu, start with a Pickleback: a shot of Jameson’s in one glass, and dill-pickle brine chaser in the other ($10). Just when you thought it could get no better, there’s a tiny pickle to nibble on afterwards – a cornichon, strictly speaking, but a member of the pickle family all the same.
The Red Snapper comes a close second. Greaser’s version of a Bloody Mary is a tasty Tanqueray Gin-based jar of zingy, tomato-based goodness, plus the ‘chef’s secret ingredient’ ($18). You guessed it: it’s a dash of pickle brine. If pickles don’t do it for you, there’s the Downtown Daiquiri with Pampero Especial, homemade vanilla spice syrup, fresh lime juice and coconut foam, or the All Americano blend of sweet vermouths, Campari and lemonade (both $18).
There’s also an interesting selection of local and imported beer, including Green Beacon Cross Knot Kolsch, and Hop Hog on tap, along with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Torpedo, Kellerweis and Autumn Tumbler, Anchor Steam and Founders All Day IPA ($9-$12).
By now you’ll be ready for some grease. If you’re thinking old-school American diner fare is getting a bit tired, think again. Greaser gets it right: so very right. Crunchy, down-home, southern-style buttermilk-fried chicken pieces are a must. Don’t mess around with individual pieces – go the half or full bird ($16/$28). It comes with gravy and a smoked chipotle mayonnaise. Those pickles make another appearance on the cheeseburger ($12) and the hot dog comes with pickled jalapeño and cheese floss ($10).
Greaser definitely brings the tone of this 'hood up a notch or two, but we love that it’s also at one with its seamy surrounds.
Greaser weaves it patrons through a back alley and fully-functioning commercial kitchen before the dingy basement bar is revealed in its rebellious glory. Walls are adorned with vintage photographs and the bluesy rock’n’roll vibe provides a sin-camouflaging backdrop for good
Greaser serves cheeseburgers to rival California’s greatest while the marinated southern fried chicken is rumored to induce tears. Don’t like pickles in your burger? Order a ‘Pickleback’ and try them with whisky and spicy brine instead. If dark spirits aren’t your thing grab a ‘Pony Boy Paloma’ with tequila,
lime juice and grapefruit soda - all syrups, juices and foams are made in-house by experienced cocktail staff. The beer offering ain’t no slouch with local and American craft beers on tap and in high rotation.
If the first challenge is finding the entrance, the second is resisting the fried chicken. But the third? Just try leaving the place.
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259A Brunswick St
|Opening hours:||Wed-Fri 5pm-late; Sat-Sun 6pm-late|