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. The hospitality company is making its first foray into this area of the CBD, and while these new additions share the same heritage-listed art deco building at 171 George Street, they couldn't be more different.
Patrons will need to head down to the basement to find the Boom Boom Room, which can accommodate 250 people in its decadent bunker-like surroundings. If you're feeling ultra fancy, the space also includes private rooms in old bank vaults.
Decked out in deep reds, blues and blacks with old-school furniture and lighting, the bar boasts booth seating aplenty, and will play host to jazz and Motown-esque performances. Music also inspires the changing wine, spirits and cocktail list, as thirsty punters will notice in the names of the latter. Plus, bottle service is one of the venue's opulent touches — and, if you're feeling peckish, you can order a snack from a from a shorter version of Donna Chang's menu.
Upstairs, spread across both the ground floor and the mezzanine level, Donna Chang 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.
Indeed, like its downstairs counterpart, Donna Chang is a place with a distinctive style. Here, the vibe is even a little theatrical. 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.