PLATE IT UP
Treat your tastebuds to the finest food Brisbane has to offer. By Kerry Heaney
WANT TO SIT DOWN TO a meal that would put a smile on a food critic’s face?
These are the Brisbane restaurants that consistently win favour with food reviewers resulting in hats, awards and plenty of praise.
At the top of the pile and firmly entrenched amongst Brisbane’s food royalty come two inner-city restaurants, Esquire and Urbane. Esquire follows chef/owner Ryan Squires’ food visions, which include treats such as buffalo jerky and house made salami. The menu is dependent on what the market produces each day.
At Urbane, chef/joint owner Alejandro Cancino also works with seasonal produce, using little-known ingredients sourced from local suppliers to delight diners. With an eye on environmental impact, Urbane also grows herbs and has a beehive on the roof. Menus are five or seven courses, omnivore or herbivore.
Aria makes the most of its enviable Brisbane River location on Eagle Street Pier, offering upscale dining with a Matt Moran touch. Its seasonal menu marries exquisite flavours such as Moreton Bay bugs with shiitake mushrooms and seaweed butter or short ribs of smoked veal paired with beetroot and horseradish.
Pitched at adventurous eaters, Gauge moves to its own beat, combining kimchi paste and black cabbage with avocado on sourdough for breakfast. It’s sleek and modern with more room for walk-ins than most, but demands credit card security for bookings with a $40 fee per person for late cancellations.
Brisbane’s river never looked better than from the bar balcony at Stokehouse Q with a cocktail in hand, but it’s the restaurant which has garnered critics’ attention. Chef Richard Ousby turns out modern Mediterranean-style dishes
perfectly suited to their Brisbane location. A winner on a typically gorgeous Brisbane day.
E’cco Bistro has been on the preferred dining list for Brisbane since it opened in 1995. Philip Johnson has a strong local following for his clean, well-balanced food which always wins the flavour test.
Gerard’s Bistro brings Middle Eastern flair to James Street, delighting food enthusiasts with tastes of coalinfused hummus, morcilla, ras el hanout and smoked almond. Ben Williamson’s food is inspired by his travels through the world’s ancient regions combined with the freshest of local produce. It’s a good match.
Tucked away in Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art, GOMA Restaurant is a sleek, open space where food becomes art, not only because of its flavour but also its presentation. The dot painting-inspired wattleseed custard is a standout amongst an impressive array of dishes. This is a restaurant where you’ll enjoy the good life.
The funky purple-hatted fans at Otto Ristorante almost succeed in dragging attention away from the view, but not quite. Otto champions Italian cuisine with everything but pizzas. Rather, expect prosciutto and burrata; vongole in long thin pasta, pork cheek and sheep milk yoghurt panna cotta.
There are more Italian delights to be found at Tartufo with classic Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizza amongst house specialities that include vitello tonnato with tender scallops of thinly-sliced veal.
Lighting up the fine dining landscape at East Brisbane, The Wolfe is chef Paul Mcgivern’s answer to share plates—there are none. Instead, it’s a refreshing return to entrees, mains and sides with the likes of charcoal king salmon or smoked duck breast accompanied by kohlrabi with hazelnut and aged cheddar.
Woolloongabba’s darling, 1889 Enoteca serves up award-winning Roman fare where you’ll find handmade pasta and an extensive wine list. Expect veal saltimbocca, risotto, gnocchi and linguine, and finish with pannacotta, tiramisu or torta.
The Brisbane River views and elegant fit-out make Alchemy Restaurant and Bar a popular dining destination for special occasions while The Euro, which is the flip side of Urbane, always surprises with its flavours.
Other Brisbane restaurants that make the must-try list include Bacchus at Rydges Hotel, South Brisbane, Blackbird Bar & Grill on the waterfront at Eagle Street, and Black Hide Steakhouse for some of Brisbane’s best steaks.
For more Italian food head to Bucci or Il Centro but if you are craving the clean flavours of Japanese food, Saké Restaurant should be your destination. Moda Restaurant offers a contemporary menu with Catalan flavours.
The modern Australian food at Nickel Kitchen & Bar, The Balfour Kitchen, The Survey Co., Thomson’s Reserve and Public are also worthy of your attention.
Otto Ristorante. Photo: Nikki To.
Aria Brisbane, roasted duck with red cabbage, rhubarb and pecans. Photo: © 2017 Reyment Photographics.
Otto Ristorante. Photo: Nikki To. The Balfour Kitchen. Photo: Hamilton Lund.