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Where To Get a High-Flying Feed in Brisbane Without Dipping Into Your Savings

From affordable Greek feasts right by the river to lavish (but quick) lunches, these dining experiences will help you save some hard-earned dime.
By Caity Booth
October 28, 2021
By Caity Booth
October 28, 2021


in partnership with

From affordable Greek feasts right by the river to lavish (but quick) lunches, these dining experiences will help you save some hard-earned dime.

There's no better feeling than hitting a savings milestone. And what better way to celebrate than with a luxe meal and a couple of A-class drinks? But, often such celebrations can be a bit of a budget breaker, which creates quite the conundrum.

Thankfully, here at Concrete Playground we believe in celebrating — even the small stuff. In partnership with Great Southern Bank, we've uncovered some clever hacks that let you eat at Brisbane's top spots without forking out a fortune. And, if you're someone who gets a little tap-happy after a few glasses of wine, then Great Southern Bank's hidden savings account feature, The Vault, will help curb that temptation, so you don't dip into the funds that may just buy you a house one day. Result.

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    E'cco Bistro

    Believe it or not, it’s possible to experience Philip Johnson’s celebrated bistro without being sent into a budget-induced blackout. This darling of Brisbane’s fine dining scene offers a $65 three-course lunch special on Fridays and Saturdays, so if you want a taste of E’cco Bistro’s renowned fare without paying top dollar, this is the ticket. You’ll be tucking into quintessential E’cco dishes — which could include artisan sourdough with truffle butter, perfectly cured salmon and wagyu petite shoulder — and settling into its plush interior of marble finishings and polished concrete surfaces. If you’re more of an evening diner, E’cco Bistro also offers a three-course dinner for $69 on Wednesdays and Thursdays only.

    Image: Atlanta Bell

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    For simple but oh-so-tasty Italian fare, put Otto at the top of your hit list. With a seasonal and produce-led menu, the world is your oyster (served simply with fresh lemon) here and its walk in-only Osteria means you don’t have to book — or dig too deep into your pockets. The restaurant’s riverside location makes it the perfect spot for an al fresco aperitivo and opting for the Osteria space means you can get A-class food without having to commit to a full-blown feast. Expect Northern Italian snacks like house-made mini focaccia with white anchovy and salsa verde ($8), fried artichokes ($12) and chargrilled local king prawns ($12 each). If you’re after carbs, you can also get a generous bowl of spaghetti cacio e pepe for $28. Whichever you choose, you’re likely to spend less than you are in Otto’s dining room. Just be sure to order an Aperol for maximum Italo summer vibes, then soak up the water views.

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    Restaurant Dan Arnold

    If there’s one place to properly celebrate a milestone in Brisbane, it’s Restaurant Dan Arnold. The Fortitude Valley fine diner is one of the top spots in town; however, it can leave quite the financial dent. Thankfully, it has one set menu that comes in under $100: Experience #3.  Available every Wednesday to Friday, the three-course (plus amuse-bouches) ‘experience’ is priced at $90 per person and showcases elegant, modern Australian food to a tee — without the stuffiness of traditional fine dining. The dishes change with the seasons, but you can expect top-quality produce from local farmers and plenty of creative flair.

    Image: Dane Beesley

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    This Scandi sleek-meets-industrial chic spot has been around for a few years now, but it certainly hasn’t lost its lustre. While you can head there for dinner for less than $100 a head (sans booze), you can sample the restaurant’s boundary-pushing dishes for even less at lunch. Gauge’s luxe (but more affordable) Saturday lunch special features six dishes and clocks in at $68 per person. Food-wise, you can expect the likes of school prawns with grapeseed emulsion, potatoes with trout ‘nduja and cheesecake with bergamot and umeboshi for dessert. There’s no better time to take in Gauge’s dreamy green-hued interior than when it’s doused in the early afternoon glow, too. So really it’s a win-win.

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    If the Mediterranean is calling you, there’s no better place to quell the wanderlust than a feast at Greca. Bringing a contemporary spin to traditional Greek fare, the Howard Smith Wharves spot has the perfect balance between exceptional service and a raucous family kitchen, so relax and let those stellar river views and convivial vibes wash over you. At $60 per person, The Full Greek banquet does what it says on the tin: leave you exceptionally full. You’ll be feasting on everything from olives and taramasalata to oven-baked lamb shoulder and garlic-smothered roast potatoes, making Greca an ideal spot if you have some hungry mates in tow.

    Image: Nikki To

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    A word of advice: book in for Nota’s Saturday Scran sessions quick smart. Nota, which is short for the Latin term for ‘familiar kitchen’, excels in creating top-tier culinary experiences in an unpretentious setting. Here, it’s all about the food and a relaxed, communal atmosphere. So, it makes sense that it hosts a family-style lunch on the last Saturday of the month. Scran — Scottish slang for tasty-yet-affordable grub — is chef Kevin Docherty’s version of a classic roast. The food changes each month and comes with a curated wine and cocktail menu to match. Best of all, you can tuck in for just $55 per person, which is quite the steal.

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    Same Same

    LOS, otherwise known as ‘Land of Smiles’, will have you grinning from ear to ear for two reasons: it stocks more than 110 tequilas and, secondly, a night here doesn’t have to cost a bomb. The boozy upstairs bar at Ada Lane’s Thai restaurant Same Same, LOS is a slice of paradise. It’s open from 5pm Wednesdays and Thursdays and from 2pm every Friday and Saturday, meaning you can park up for a post-work bev or settle in for a night of exceptional Thai-inspired, tequila-based cocktails and tasty bar snacks — think soft shell crab bao rolls ($12), chicken burgers ($8), and red curry and sesame prawn toast ($16). Considering Same Same’s banquets start at $65 a head, we’d say LOS is the restaurant’s more affordable (and boozy) sister.

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    In the mood for a fancy feast but only have an hour to spare? Make tracks to Brisbane’s newest French brasserie and bar, Bisou Bisou. From the team behind Donna Chang, Boom Boom Izakaya and Blackbird Bar & Grill, Bisou Bisou is located in the heart of Fortitude Valley and boasts a lavish fit-out of velvet accents, a gorgeous curved bar and marble tables. The food here is just as indulgent — think chicken liver pâté, Parisienne gnocchi and confit duck — and the cocktails are also impressive. But if you’re here for a quick feed, the Express Lunch menu is just the ticket. With two- ($48) and three-course ($58) options, it’s the ideal feed on those days when you need to break up the office banality.

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    From the outside, 22 Agnes Street mightn’t particularly stand out. But this old brick warehouse in Fortitude Valley is home to a top-notch culinary combo. From the same crew behind Same Same, Agnes has fast become a popular spot for every kind of diner. Step inside Agnes’ three-level space, and you have a trio of options. Those wanting a full-blown feed can book into the main dining room for a regularly changing, woodfired feast (the banquet clocks in at $75 per person). Keen on just a drink and snack? Skip straight on down to the wine bar, where you can sip a vino and graze on flame-touched snacks. Or, if you want to make the most of Brisbane’s temperate climate, head up to the rooftop terrace. Up here, it’s the sweeping city views that will take your breath away, not the prices. Both bars are walk-in only, but they do let you experience Agnes without paying top dollar. It’s a small sacrifice, really.

    Image: Chatfield

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    Sometimes nothing but dumplings will do. But instead of heading to your local takeaway joint and calling it a day, why not treat yourself? Waterfront Cantonese restaurant Stanley is reminiscent of Hong Kong’s namesake fishing village with its jovial vibes and seriously good food. Here, you can watch the sun refract off the Brisbane River as you get your dumpling fix — and if you want to do it on a relative shostring, then you’ll want to go for its Sunday Yum Cha. This Sunday session clocks in at a tidy sum of $58 per person (and $15 for kids) and features dishes such as crispy prawn rolls, har gow, and duck and mushroom dumplings. If you’ve budgeted for a bigger affair, you can add two hours of free-flowing Louis Roederer champagne to your yum cha feast for an extra $79. Stanley also offers a ten-dish share-style banquet for $68 per person, if that’s more your speed.

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Great Southern Bank is empowering Aussies to get clever with their banking. Whether you want to stick to your savings goals with The Boost or hide your house deposit fund from yourself with The Vault, Great Southern Bank helps you get there. For more information on savings tools and home loan options, head to the Great Southern Bank website.

Top image: Greca, Nikki To

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