Now Open: Cloudland Garden Is the New Restaurant That's Taken Over the Fortitude Valley Venue's Ground Floor

This new 200-seat eatery is serving up a Mediterranean-influenced menu that heroes cooking by fire over plenty of cocktails and wine.
Sarah Ward
Published on July 08, 2024

Stepping inside Cloudland is like stepping inside nowhere else in Brisbane. There's no forgetting the feeling of indulgence that comes with visiting the Fortitude Valley mainstay, a vibe that flavours both its look and its lineup of events. That sensation is still on the menu on Ann Street, as it has been for 15 years now; however, a big change has transformed the venue's ground floor, turning the space into new restaurant Cloudland Garden.

Consider this a blend of the beloved and the fresh, then — a fitting approach for a site that takes its name from a piece of Brisbane history, aka the dance hall that stood in Bowen Hills from the 1940s through to 1982. Hospitality outfit Katarzyna Group, which is also behind Valley Hops Brewing upstairs plus fellow Valley spots Empire Hotel and Press Club, has kept much of the interior design and artwork in place. That said, new seating and tables now await, plus a remodelled kitchen. And, of course, the lower level has gone all in on operating as an eatery, serving up a Mediterranean-influenced menu that heroes cooking by fire.

The aesthetic remains decadent, complete with bespoke hardwood tables that feature solid marble insets, booths, wrought iron appearing heavily (including in pods) and being able to see into where the culinary magic is happening. While hanging out in such luxe surroundings, patrons can expect a lively time mood-wise. Share-style eats may be the focus, but Cloudland Garden hasn't skimped on its cocktail game, with 15 options on offer across both boozy and non-alcoholic tipples.

If you're the kind of diner who starts with a drink, you can choose between sips that champion seasonal ingredients, as the food spread does. Go with the Agave Heat Wave for tequila, mezcal lime, jalapeño, coconut water and tajin rim, for instance — or with the Mango Gin Basil Smash for a mix of gin, lemon, mango and basil. The wine list has also experienced a revamp, spanning sparkling, champagne, rosé including sparkling champagne varieties, white, skin contact, red and dessert picks. Valley Hops unsurprisingly supplies the bulk of the beers on tap, but there are bottled brews as well.

With Head Chef Alec Kapitz and Executive Chef Andrew Musk leading the charge, patrons have a feast of dishes cooked on an Argentinian parrilla charcoal grill to choose from, such as the wagyu ribeye. Or, the Fremantle octopus gets the woodfired treatment, as paired with smoked labneh and chickpeas.

Butterflied spatchcock with chermoula and sorrel pops up among the other highlights, as do seared wagyu beef skewers, kingfish tartare, pan-seared scallops and lion's mane mushroom. And for dessert: malted crème brûlée with orange and pistachio biscotti, Basque cheesecake, charred pineapple with spiced rum and granita — plus coconut ice cream — and a cheese plate.

"We want to share the great produce we have available locally, and regionally here in Australia, taking a 'less is more' approach, adding the minimal required to show off each dish and hero the ingredients," said Musk.

"It's a charming and traditional approach to cooking, especially with seafood. It emphasises getting back to basics and exploring what can be achieved with a particular product or ingredient when it's exposed to a burst of flavour from the charcoal grill or wood oven," added Kapitz.

Find Cloudland Garden Restaurant on the ground floor at 641 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley — open 5–11pm Wednesday, 5pm–1am Thursday, 12pm–1am Friday and 12pm–2am Saturday. Visit the Cloudland website for more details.

Published on July 08, 2024 by Sarah Ward
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