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Brisbane's Most Impressive Spots for When You Finally Meet the Parents

Spots that'll set the tone and put you in their good books.
By Ellie Grounds
October 05, 2017
By Ellie Grounds
October 05, 2017


in partnership with

Spots that'll set the tone and put you in their good books.

If there's anything more nerve-racking than a first date, it's meeting the parents. Picking the perfect place to do it is a balancing act — you need somewhere that isn't too loud or crowded but is busy enough to combat any awkward silences. Also essential is a spot that's trendy enough to impress the future in-laws, but not so upmarket that they're concerned. And, of course, you want somewhere that takes bookings. Everyone knows that parents don't love being waitlisted.

Thankfully, Brisbane's bustling dining scene just keeps getting bigger and better. But, as anyone who's ever been in charge of the restaurant selection knows, narrowing the River City's culinary choices down to that one perfect spot isn't always easy. That's why we have American Express on our side to help sift through our directory and pick the best casual dining spots across the city. We've narrowed them down and found a few excellent destinations to help you nail that first meeting — and increase that stock of Amex points you've been collecting. Read on and impress the parents with more than just your dazzling smile.

Got yourself in another dining situation and need some guidance? Whatever it is, we know a place. Visit The Shortlist and we'll sort you out.

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    Any place along River Quay at South Bank is sure to impress with its stunning views of the water and city skyline. The Jetty is no exception, especially since its recent makeover. With a modern Australian menu showcasing local produce, fresh seafood and quality ingredients, this place is a surefire winner.

    If you’re going for an all-out dinner, start off with some crisp calamari, market prawns or a Jetty papaya salad, before moving on to mains like the nicoise seared tuna or beef cheek pho noodle soup. Top it all off with a delicious dessert, but good luck trying to choose between the orange frangipane tart, vanilla pannacotta and sticky fig pudding.

    And for those who understand the struggle of finding a place open to eat past 3pm when you’ve got parents in tow, The Jetty has a special afternoon menu from 3pm to 5:30pm with substantial snacks and a couple of meals.

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    Esq - CLOSED

    The younger sibling of the highly acclaimed Esquire (Brisbane’s only three-hat restaurant), Esq. might be slightly more casual, but it’s no less spectacular. The concept is the same — exquisite, sensational dishes which hero locally and sustainably sourced ingredients. Pro tip: book ahead of time to really show that you know what you’re doing (and avoid the wait).

    The menu is slim but impressive — it’s very much about quality over quantity here. Fewer options mean easier choices with your newest family members. It’s safe to say, though, that whatever you choose, you’ll be happy with Esq.’s high-quality meats and fresh, local seafood grilled over charcoal on the menu.

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  • 6
    La Lune Wine Co

    A great place to wow the parents with your wine knowledge, La Lune will then match those tipples with the perfect dishes. Sure, every wine-serving establishment wants to do the same, but here you’ll find six special menu selections that have been handpicked to match specific drops. This is a wine bar, so charcuterie and cheese are also available, along with oysters, ceviche and carpaccio.

    Design-wise, expect timber aplenty, including 103-year-old reclaimed oak taken from the chateaus and barns of the French countryside, paired with French tiles, small tables and an intimate air will also help bring a taste of Europe to your dinner — and woo any Francophile. If you can’t head to Paris, you’ll always have South Brisbane.

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  • 5
    Lennons Restaurant & Bar

    Lennons Restaurant & Bar caters to everyone at any time, on any day, at any budget, so it’s good for when you may want a quick dine-and-dash meeting with the ‘rents, and for those longer meetings when the parents want to really suss you out. Located within the Next Hotel and with floor-to-ceiling glass windows that look onto Queen Street Mall, Lennons’ interior finds that warm balance between modern sophistication and comfortable class. Large space with natural light? Tick. Executive chef worth writing home about? Tick. (Todd Adams previously worked at Stokehouse and The Euro). Totally air-conditioned? Tick. (something that can’t be underestimated in summer).

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  • 4
    E'cco Bistro

    Perfect for out-of-town parents, Philip Johnson’s E’cco Bistro is a Brisbane institution. Since 1995, the award-winning restaurant has remained a fixture on Brisbane’s eating scene thanks to its welcoming staff, warm and inviting décor and tasty meals.

    Johnson makes seasonal menu changes according to which produce is at its best, priding himself on delivering food that hasn’t been played with or fussed over but still looks beautiful on the plate. His style in the kitchen is to highlight simple and succulent pieces of meat or fish — or often a cheese-based dish for vegetarians — with the most flattering accompaniments and sauces. Accordingly, every plate of food at E’cco is prepared with the perfect arrangement of flavours and textures. Here is the place to show off your prowess for selecting top-notch eateries.

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  • 3

    Enter Atalanta Bar and Greek, and try not to feel like you’re on holidays. Only think of this as the preamble to the next step — actually going on holiday with your partner’s folks. Given the Mediterranean fare on offer, that laidback, far-flung vibe hasn’t just come about by chance — it’s by design. But, really, the relaxing atmosphere and gleaming décor are just the appetisers. There’s plenty of delicious food on offer, and whether you’re dropping by for lunch, dinner or drinks and nibbles, the food is the best view of all.

    As Atalanta’s attentive staff happily explain, the menu is meant to be shared and is split into three sections: the mezze, the gathered and the hunted. In the first category, you’ll find snacks for the table, while the latter two groups consist of veggies and proteins respectively. Their options may be modest in number, but they’re big in taste. Go on, tuck into some olives and charm the table with tales of your time spent backpacking in Greece.

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  • 2

    Tucked off Creek Street, just around the corner from Red Hook, this Italian watering hole was dubbed the best Aussie Wine Bar in 2015, and pulls no punches when it comes to food and drinks. Its discreet location and muted ambience make it an ideal spot for a tête-à-tête with your significant other’s parents.

    With bio-dynamic, organic and sustainable wine options available, you all can taste and sample your way through Italian reds and whites from Sicily, Tuscany and Sardinia, bonding over which varietals you prefer. Hungry? Look to boards of meats and cheeses to bond even further over. Sample three salumi (the nduja, a spicy, spreadable sausage, is divine) or go the ever-classic cheese route with five options including taleggio, gorgonzola and la tur — a sweet, soft-ripened goat’s cheese.

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  • 1
    Asana by Pete Evans

    If you dare to dabble in the dangerous combination that is parents and paleo, Asana by Pete Evans is the place to go. Those who recognise Evans’ name will know that paleo is his game, with the celebrity chef almost synonymous with the movement towards consuming the type of unprocessed foods our ancestors would’ve eaten. Think leafy greens and lean meats, nuts and berries, because that’s what you’ll be seeing on his specially curated menus.

    Of course, you don’t have to be a convert to his strict culinary style to enjoy his health-conscious restaurant fare. His macadamia-crumbed chicken schnitzel and roasted wild barramundi with sweet potato puree are sure to satisfy regardless of usual preferences.


    As you drink and dine with your American Express, reap all the sweet rewards of being a Card Member. Explore the many ways American Express has your back here.

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