The Courier-Mail - QWeekend

Fragrant flight of fancy

As a pandemic travel solution, a Brisbane restaurant offers a passport to Asia


Can’t go to Asia? No matter, lockdowns allowing, hotfoot it to Paddington and take yourself on a journey. Slip onto the crimson banquette that runs the length of the wall in the long finger of a restaurant that is Given Kitchen & Bar. Close your eyes and travel, perhaps assisted by an Along the Mekong, a mojito scented with mint, lemongrass and ginger, to a pan-Asian street food dinner cooked over coals in the kitchen a couple of metres from the tables.

This venture – with “crying tiger” tacos of rump with tamarind, grilled corn coated in spicy Korean dukbokki sauce, barbecued chicken with lime and chilli and duck breast doused with red curry – is a sibling enterprise to the popular casual Vietnamese eatery Ngon, which opened in 2019 just a skewer toss further down Given Terrace towards Suncorp Stadium in the innerweste­rn suburb.

Given Kitchen & Bar has a low-key fit-out, with chunky wooden furniture on the pavement, bare tables, artful dried flowers and a laid-back atmosphere aided by a DJ chowing down on a taco while spinning some vinyl – James Brown and Joe Jackson to begin with on the night we’re there – just by the kitchen. Our waitress is terrific too, she’s cheerful and observant, with interestin­g, relevant chit chat about the menu.

Given’s drinks list features four offerings from Maleny’s Brouhaha among its craft beers, a smart wine list with a focus on small independen­t producers from Europe and Australia, mainly Australian spirits and a wide array of cocktails, including a Vietnamese espresso martini, and mocktails.

The food, which picks and chooses a variety of Asian influences, is a match for its laid-back surrounds, fresh and cheerful and forged from a suite of ingredient­s that pack a punch. Kinilaw

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