PLATE IT UP

Treat your taste­buds to the finest food Bris­bane has to of­fer. By Kerry Heaney

Where Brisbane - - Brisbane’s Top Dining -

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.

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