Cicada Review

Cool Confusion

I hate Crocs.

Not because they’re sort of ugly (apologies to any Crocs lovers out there). I hate them because as a shoe, they fail. What are they? Are they gardening shoes? Are they shoes to wear in the shower at the gym? Are they casual weekend shoes? Do you wear socks with them? They don’t know what they’re doing. They need to find a singular identity.

So does Cicada, a fairly new joint on upper Adelaide Street (this could or could not be King George Square-I’ve only lived here for 18 years, what do I know) in the CBD. It’s downright beautiful inside: little candles; gold, black, and grey tones; chunky, new modern furniture; and cool copper wall hangings. There’s lots of seating and it’s a popular place for after work drinks. Outside is simple but pleasant, and has a lively vibe.

That all sounds dope, but what’s with the incredibly loud, pounding house music inside? What’s with all the low tables that make you feel like you’re in a restaurant, but the menu that makes you feel like you’re in a pub? What’s with them not being open on the weekend? What’s with such a gorgeous place mainly offering just cheap takeaway breakfasts (from $4) and lunches (pastas, sandwhiches, etc.) during the day?

On the one hand, it’s awesome that one place has managed to capture the holy triumvirate: restaurant, bar, and office takeaway. The bar part is fantastic, although the lack of lounge- and bar-style seating may throw some. It’s mainly the restaurant part of Cicada that is a little weird; the interior design and furniture make you feel like you’re in a restaurant, but the loud club music makes you think you’re wearing fat pants and ordering your third Red Bull.

Now, having said all that: the food is good. Yay! The menu is quite small, with six or seven main dishes and a small snack selection with chips, antipasto, and the like. I ordered the Salt and Cayenne Pepper Squid ($16~), while D went with the Chicken Burger with Portugese Chili Mayo ($15~). Other menu items included a lamb salad; a beef burger; and fish fillets.

While you order and pay at the bar, food is brought to the table. Service was very good: the waiters and bartenders were young and relaxed but still had that professional vibe. Squid Photo
So many places stuff up squid. Often, I find deep frying is the culprit: why deep fry something that only needs a minimal amount of cooking time? In animal life, a cicada would have no chance in a throw down against a squid. But this is food land, and Cicada nailed that bad boy. The generous serving of the squid strips were very lightly crumbed and flash-fried, and melted in my mouth. The accompanying aioli resembled a pile of mayo, unfortunately; a bit of garlic would have made the fish pop. The side salad was quite standard but fresh.

Speaking of salad, who hates iceberg? Hands up. It’s a shame the ‘filler lettuce’ was used on D’s grilled chicken burger, because the rest of the dish used very quality ingredients. A thick breast rested between a pair of very soft buns. Who else is giggling right now? But seriously, it was a good burger. The accompaying chips were a bit of a wedge/chip hybrid, which to me is the perfect love child: a thick, crunchy, seasoned skin gave way to a little pocket of fluffy potato. The Portugese Chili Mayo was another nice addition, although it was very mild in spiciness.

I really like Cicada, but make sure you brace yourself if you’re going there to just eat dinner. The food is tasty and of good quality, and it seems like a great place for drinks. Eating a ‘proper’ meal there, however, can be a little weird.


275 George St
Brisbane CBD

07 3211 2161

Cicada on Urbanspoon

18 Responses

  1. Ally says:

    Good to know I'm not the only one r.e: Cicada, Claire! Such a cool place that is just a bit…odd.

  2. get out and live! says:

    ditto on the above – the other thing I noticed was the guy who seems to be the manager there. He never has a smile on his face, and seemed to get a kick out of harrassing his staff – or was that performing quality control ?!?! The staff noticeably brighten up when he is not there.

  3. Anonymous says:

    cicada is awesome, i love it. the staff are amazing, pappardelle pasta is beautiful, and drinks arent too expensive, all in all i like it 🙂

  4. customer says:

    nice place but the coffee is bad…actually finding it harder and harder to find a nice cup of coffee in the city or any where for that matter.

    • ally says:

      That sucks – their food was quite good though, I haven’t had the coffee yet.

      It is hard to get a good drop in Brissie isn’t it? Cibo Espresso at New Farm is still holding the torch for the best Brisbane coffee I’ve ever had. Strangely enough second place is Merlos at the Brisbane airport??

  5. Salvatore says:

    I have no idea why the author of this comprehensive “review” wants to compare this multi purpose venue to a pair of shoes !

    I think the writter has tried a little too hard with their analogies.

    I frequent this place regularly and it does well in representing all areas, there is nothing confusing about offering choice !

    Oh and the crappy photos posted on the site do no justice to the food on offer.
    You should see the que for tables at lunch !

    Well done to them, they have started the revival of this end of town, been boring for years.

  6. ally says:

    I know, Salvatore – I’m an idiot, right? I’m a bad writter evidently.

  7. A Regular Customer says:

    I have been to Cicada on many occasions and have always found it to be a great experience. I could not fault the food, drinks or service. I find myself regularly coming back to Cicada for a quick coffee, easy lunch or after work knock off drinks. I can’t agree with the review as I am yet to be let down.

  8. ally says:

    Great to hear you love it! ^ But I must correct you – Cicada didn’t let me down, overall I really liked it too 🙂

  9. Blake says:

    If you are looking for great coffee try Naked in the Elizabeth St Arcade

  10. rosa says:

    Ally , you write “il villagio” review with absolutely no ‘gusto!”…. are you trying to sound cultured by adopting an italian expression? …do you actually know what is means? You then distatefully express your opinion of a fabulous new eating precinct to a pair of “crocs!”

    You are a downright whinger..!.. Your overall dining experience was satisfactory, yet you still manage to write comments like the ‘cheap breakfast menu’ on offer or the ‘use of iceberg lettuce on the burger!”

    This fabulously decked out food precinct is exactly what Brisbane needed! It is vibrant, well presented and very good value for money!

    If you cannot appreciate the point of difference this place is making in the food industry… an ‘identity” crisis then perhaps you will feel more at home at your local mcdonald’s!
    Macca’s offers newly renovated premises no identity crisis or loud music here!
    Fat pants and crocs definitely welcome!

  11. ally says:

    Hi Rosa! “Il Villagio” is actually the name of the bakery in question.

    If you read my review of Cicada again, you’ll see that I say “I really like Cicada”, and “the food is good”, and “The bar part is fantastic”.

    So thank you for reading, Rosa! (or rather, not reading).

  12. amber says:

    I have just read a fabulous book on food writing (Will Write for Food — Dianna Jacob) and was very interested in the chapters on reviewing. Jacob stresses the importance on writing with honesty, which is what I think Ally has done here.

    It’s possible for different individuals to have very different impressions of the same venue! I think it’s valuable to weigh in with different opinions in the comments section, but taking personal, nasty potshots at the author is so unnecessary.

    I read it this way: the venue’s food was good, but a little incongruous with the atmosphere.

    That’s just as worthy an observation as anybody else’s!

    Keep going, Ally. 🙂

  13. ally says:

    Well summarised, Amber! I enjoyed Cicada’s food, prices, and service, but was just a little thrown with the atmosphere. As for Crocs, well…still hate ’em.

  14. amber says:

    …but they’re so comfy! I don’t own a pair, but I have borrowed some and I was, embarrassingly, tempted to buy some. 🙂

  15. not happy says:

    i had a really bad experience with this restaurant.. the waiters were rude to us, took forever with our order (we had to wait about 30 mins and were STARVING) and gave us the WRONG orders! not to mention there’s this rule where you cannot order food from the front (cafe food) if you are dining in.

    i know i shall not be going back again..

  16. Peter says:

    Cicada is one of the best places to eat great food, drink great coffee and relax in a modern, well thought out environment.

    I have never had a bad experience at Cicada in all of the times I have been there with my work colleagues.

    This is our favorite place to go.

    I think that after nearly 12 months that Cicada should be re-reviewed!


  17. Tezi says:

    We had lunch at Cicada today – was NOT impressed. Service was probably the worst I have received in a long time. Confused waitress who cant remember what you have ordered or even that you have already ordered and have been waiting for 30 min. Then she delivers the wrong order to your table 2 times ?!? The food was bland and I would probably not return.

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