Your in­side guide to the food and drink help­ing Toowoomba take off.

Nick­named The Gar­den City and gate­way to the Dar­ling Downs, South­ern Queen­land’s largest town is home to a flour­ish­ing food trail. de­li­cious. on Sun­day Queens­land re­viewer Anooska Tucker-Evans is your in­sider guide to its best restau­rants, cafes and bars.

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From hard-work­ing hos­pi­tal­ity duo Tony Kelly and Scott Hoskins comes the smart and so­phis­ti­cated The Of­fice (14 Dug­gan St; the­of­fice­bar.com.au). The pair has trans­formed an old restau­rant space into an el­e­gant yet ap­proach­able eatery and bar (com­plete with a Mel­bourne-in­spired laneway), serv­ing an ex­cit­ing mod-Oz menu that high­lights the best lo­cal pro­duce. Start with some share plates, per­haps the seafood chow­der with salmon floss and crusty rye sour­dough, paired with a top-notch cock­tail. A wel­com­ing, highly trained wait team adds to the ap­peal of a venue that would be at home in any big city.

Open­ing a ve­gan cafe in a re­gion of meat lovers may sound like risky busi­ness, but chef Asher An­drews and part­ner Jess Greer are prov­ing good food ap­peals to even the most diehard car­ni­vore at Lit­tle

Seed (100 Rus­sell St; lit­tle­see­drestau­rant. out front, has a vibe as nur­tur­ing as the food. Break­fast ranges from whole­some smoothie bowls to lemon­grass beans with a fried tofu turmeric ‘egg’, while the fluffy chick­pea flat­bread with tanned pump­kin falafel from the com­pact lunch menu is de­li­cious and sat­is­fy­ing.

The Wal­ton Stores (476 Ruthven St; wal­ton­stores.com.au) may just be Toowoomba’s best-kept se­cret. Still largely un­known to many lo­cals, the hip foodie precinct is linked by a graf­fiti-lined laneway and fronted by health-fo­cused cafe Full of Life Or­gan­ics. The space then opens onto an ex­pan­sive out­door area com­plete with big screen, stage and fast-ca­sual eater­ies – Asian fu­sion Junk

Boat, burger bar Hello Harry, fried chicken spe­cial­ists 2 Birds and liq­uid ni­tro­gen ice cream­ery Nitro­ge­nie. It’s also

home to the Toowoomba Farm­ers’

Mar­ket every Satur­day from 8am. Toowoomba is filled with quirky dual-pur­pose venues, such as boun­ti­ful health-food-store-meets-eatery

Homegrown Health (11 Rail­way St; [07] 4613 0870) and hair­dresser-cum-cafe The

Mixx ( 2/263 Mar­garet St; themixx.com.au). But there’s noth­ing quite like the achingly cool Bunker Records (229 Mar­garet St; face­book.com/bunker­records.au). The work of mu­sic-lov­ing friends Kirsty Lee, Ali­son Gill­more and Carl Lar­son, the eclec­tic space makes the most of its min­i­mal real es­tate, sell­ing new and used vinyl, turnta­bles, play­ful T-shirts and ter­rific cof­fee, as well as host­ing the oc­ca­sional live gig.

Per­haps re­spon­si­ble for kick-start­ing Toowoomba’s laneway cul­ture is Ground

Up Espresso Bar (501 Ruthven St; face­book.com/groundup­toowoomba). The com­pact spot opened in 2013 when three mates, Ryan Evans, Nathan Eshraghi and Jeyan Chaman­mah, con­verted an old store­room in a sleepy al­ley­way into a hipster hang­out. The rus­tic ven­ture opens onto the brightly graf­fi­tied Searle’s Walk, where um­brella-cov­ered wooden ta­bles en­cour­age com­mu­nal din­ing. Cof­fee is from Toby’s Es­tate, while the all-day menu ex­tends from smashed avo to a Per­sian break­fast with fried eggs, flat­bread and a shi­razi salad.

Hid­den down a laneway and guarded by a be­suited door­man, speakeasy-style bar The Chelsea (14 Dug­gan St; thechelseabar.com.au) is like a pock­et­sized slice of the ’20s. Crystal chan­de­liers hang from the ceil­ing and scar­let-tinted vel­vet cur­tains hug the ex­posed brick walls, while a back­lit bar glows with co­gnac hues. The cosy room’s mood may be from an­other era, but the drinks list is very much of the here and now, with top-shelf spir­its, bou­tique beers and a clever wine menu. The true high­light, how­ever, is the cock­tails, which of­fer mod­ern takes on clas­sic in­fu­sions. The Ful­ham Frappe, a froth-capped spin on the espresso mar­tini, and del­i­cately smoky Maple Ba­con Man­hat­tan are equal favourites among pun­ters and the charm­ing, skilled staff alike.

Push through the metal door of an in­dus­trial shed and you’ll find your­self in Toowoomba’s first craft brew­ery,

4 Brothers Brew­ing (57-73 Brook St; face­book.com/4bros­brew­ing). Run by tal­ented home-brewer-turned-pro­fes­sional Adrian Cu­bit and his part­ner, Kate­lyn Garner, the man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity and bar opened in April. Of the four beers cur­rently be­ing brewed, the ‘Lazy Brother’ is an easy-drink­ing pale ale, but it’s the gen­tly smoked yet smartly bal­anced ‘Ar­ro­gant Brother’ and the com­plex yet clean ‘Evil Brother’ cof­fee porter that show this place has se­ri­ous prom­ise. Drinkers can grab their favourite in a growler to go or sip from a tast­ing pad­dle at the hand­made com­mu­nal ta­ble on­site.

For the sake of waist­lines, it’s per­haps a bless­ing that The Baker’s Duck (55 Belle­vue St; face­book.com/ the­bak­ers­duck) opens its doors to the public only once a week, when long-time chef Rose New­berry’s com­mer­cial bak­ery runs Re­tail Satur­days from 7am. A cult fol­low­ing wake up with the spar­rows to avoid miss­ing out on ar­ti­san good­ies served from the no-frills bak­ery fronting the man­u­fac­tur­ing shed. The crusty sour­dough is a huge hit with lo­cal cafes, but it’s the ro­tat­ing range of cre­ative pas­tries, such as per­sim­mon, pis­ta­chio and rose wa­ter streusel, pas­sion­fruit cheesecake Dan­ish and the shat­ter­ingly flaky crois­sant-muffin­fu­sion, the cruf­fin, that have pun­ters lit­er­ally lin­ing up to break their di­ets.

CLOCK­WISE: Ground Up Espresso Bar; mix­ing a killer cock­tail at The Chelsea; An­drew Bourke’s An­gel street art; sweet treats and or­ganic sour­dough await at The Baker’s Duck; en­joy Asian fu­sion at Junk Boat; ve­gan eats are a hit at Lit­tle seed; (inset) Lit­tle Seed own­ers Jess Greer and Asher An­drews.

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