Brisbane's Best New Restaurants of 2018
Honouring the very best new additions to Brisbane's restaurant scene this year.
BRISBANE'S BEST NEW RESTAURANTS OF 2018
Honouring the very best new additions to Brisbane's restaurant scene this year.
A Chinese fine diner in a former bank. A futuristic eatery decked out with Prince-themed crockery inside a hotel. An inventive Indian restaurant from a Michelin-starred chef. These are just three of the boundary-pushing restaurants that have opened their doors this year.
Brisbane's restaurant scene has had an impressive year with both big-name chefs opening new outposts, and smaller, but equally talented, chefs opening their first eateries. And the restaurants that have opened are as diverse in their cuisines as they are in their decors — Indian, French, Chinese and Greek; pastels, velvet purple banquettes, communal benches and revamped 1920s-era buildings.
At Concrete Playground we encourage exploration and showcase innovation in our city every day, so we thought it fitting to reward those most talented whippersnappers pushing Brisbane to be a better, braver city. And so, these six new restaurants were nominated for Best New Restaurant in Concrete Playground's Best of 2018 Awards.
The sandstone building on the corner of George and Elizabeth streets has been home to many things over the years, including Queensland’s first radio station, government departments, offices, cafes and a bank. It’s now the site of Brisbane’s two newest places to eat, drink and hang out — a luxe underground bar and a new Chinese restaurant. Called the Boom Boom Room and Donna Chang, the duo are the latest ventures from the Ghanem Group, the folks behind Blackbird Bar & Grill on Eagle Street, Byblos Bar & Restaurant at Portside and chicken chain Lord of the Wings. Head upstairs to find Donna. Spread across both the ground floor and the mezzanine level, the Chinese fine diner fills its open space with pink, green and neutral-toned furniture, while group executive chef Jake Nicholson, head chef Jason Margaritis and head dim sum chef Sam Lie all endeavour to fill your stomach. Their focus: Chinese dishes with Sichuan and Cantonese flavours and influences, as they aim for that highly sought-after blend of the old and the new. As you’re picking from the menu, you can stare at the live grouper and shellfish tank — and yes, you can order fish, crab and crayfish. Other food options range from crispy pork bao and roast duck dumplings in goose broth, to barbecue Peking duck, suckling pig and char sui pork. The list goes on for both lunch and dinner, as does the wine selection.
Words: Sarah Ward
After cooking up a storm on the Gold Coast, the team behind Burleigh Heads’ Rick Shores has brought its famed Asian-style fare to Brissie — please welcome neo-Chinese dining hall and beer garden Little Valley. There are no prizes for guessing which suburb this 70-seater seater eatery calls home, but you’ll find Little Valley’s kitchen pumping until late in Warner Street rather than Chinatown. Still, the menu by ex-Rick Shores head chef Jake Pregnell takes inspiration from Chinese cuisine, drawing upon his recent study tour of the country — and his general love of the area’s tastes and flavours. That means that patrons can expect a feast of regionally inspired meals — think twice-cooked duck and roast pork neck with char siu glaze, plus kung pao mushrooms and duck egg noodles with something called ‘strange flavour’. Drinks-wise, a hefty wine, beer and spirits list is complemented by eight signature cocktails. And if you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy a tipple or two, Little Valley also boasts an open air bar and beer garden, as well as an adjacent laneway that’ll be home to a new lighting installation.
Words: Sarah Ward. Images: Adam Hunter.
With years of Michelin-star restaurant experience under his belt, Brisbane-born chef Dan Arnold has left France and brought his culinary skills and sharp eye back to his hometown, offering fine dining in the heart of Fortitude Valley. Restaurant Dan Arnold is situated within the Alex Perry Hotel and Apartments, and the high-ceilinged, open-kitchen dining space mirrors the same refined elegance as the finessed fare. Diners can choose between a three- or five-course menu ($72/$98), along with optional wine pairing and cheese. Or, if pre-decided tasting journeys aren’t your thing, enjoy smaller a la carte options at the bar. Expect modern Australian flavours with a French twist, like charcoal duck breast, confit leg, pumpkin, young leek and black garlic ($24) or citrus crème brûlée with chocolate dacquoise and mandarin Aperol sorbet. The menu is seasonal and responsive to what fresh produce available, as well as the requests of diners and the creative flourishes of the chef — which means there’s always something new and exciting to discover. Restaurant Dan Arnold is open Tuesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner, for your next special occasion or upscale drinking session.
Words: Stephanie Monteith. Images: Dane Beesley.
This Indian restaurant hails from top chef Manjunath Mural, Malt Dining‘s Nick Pinn and Sridhar Penumechu from Gold Coast restaurant Saffron. Mural was the first Indian executive chef to receive a Michelin star for an Indian restaurant in southeast Asia, for Singapore’s Song of India. In his Brisbane venture, he’s turning his applauded talents towards an inventive take on both Indian and Asian cuisine. With that in mind, his menu features hearty, spicy and creative dishes that you won’t find at your local Indian takeaway joint. The flambé leg of lamb is the restaurant’s signature option, flambéed right there at the table before diners dig in, and served with roast accompaniments such as heirloom carrots, beetroot and mint sauce. Or, patrons can tuck into sambal barramundi with charred silverbeet and caviar, a plate of pomegranate prawns, or papdi chaat, which is described as Indian street nachos. It’s all served up within Heritij’s nearly 800-square-metre space, which features a 400-square-metre terrace, four private dining rooms and a bar. Unsurprisingly, the latter is where Pinn’s influence can be felt, courtesy of a cocktail lineup blends new house styles with old favourites.
Words: Sarah Ward. Images: Mark Buckley.
2When The Calile opened its doors on James Street in October, it didn’t just add a rather striking-looking hotel to the busy Fortitude Valley strip. It also became home to the first Brisbane outpost of Gold Coast Greek restaurant Hellenika. Now serving up meals and drinks for lunch and dinner seven days a week, Brisbane’s Hellenika lets enjoy their meals in a pastel and neutral space that befits the complex’s cruisy, stylish and minimalistic digs. And seafood is the main culinary attraction. Hellenika’s daily fish market range flies in the ocean’s finest from around the country, including kingfish, lobster (served whole or in halves) and more. Pairing your meal with a beverage involves perusing a 500-strong wine list, including Greek tipples, naturally. As for cocktails, the Hellenika G&T comes with a splash of rosemary, while the Ari Onassis combines mastiha, gin, elderflower, lemon and cucumber. Classic cocktails, non-boozy options, beers, ciders and ouzo are also on offer. Plus, come December, Hellenika will be open for breakfast, too.Words Sarah Ward. Images: Sean Fennessy.
Stepping inside the the Ovolo Inchcolm feels like stepping back in time, and that’s completely by design. Eating at the onsite restaurant and bar, however, feels a little like leaping into the future. There’s a thoroughly old-school vibe about Salon de Co, which is true of the hotel that its housed within — but the restaurant’s menu is all about surprising hungry diners. Perusing Salon de Co’s culinary lineup resembles playing a guessing game, with chef Anthony Hales’ (Spicers Peak, Medusa Dining, Esquire, Tartufo, Thomson’s Reserve and Deer Duck Bistro) keeping customers on their toes. Armed with only a two- or three-ingredient rundown of each item on the menu, you take your pick. Does the combination of chickpea, beetroot and coriander ($4) whet your appetite? Or lamb, eel and desiree potato ($24), perhaps? Maybe you’d like pork, daikon and sesame ($38) — and fejoah, cream cheese and cinnamon ($16) to finish? To wash it all down, you can opt for wine by the glass or by the bottle, all hailing from Australia, New Zealand, France, Spain and Italy. The cocktail list is small but worth delving into, especially if you like martinis of the lemon, rosemary or coffee variety.
Words: Sarah Ward.
Top image: Heritij.