Category Archives: Brisbane

— Brisbane —

Brisbane’s best boutique accommodation

WRITTEN BY EDITOR • MAY 26, 2016

  • From renovated Queenslanders-turned B&Bs to hipster apartments and heritage suites, Brisbane’s boutique hotels each offer their own je ne sais quoi. Here are the pick of the bunch

    Indulge your inner interior decorator: Heal House, New Farm

    Impresario of Brisbane’s (sadly now defunct) Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Brisbane, Lindsay Bennett could see the glamour beyond the grime when he and partner Bryce Williams purchased a run-down boarding house in leafy New Farm.

    What started as a small personal project turned into the development of a Queenslander-chic renovation of mass proportions, rebirthing as boutique luxury B&B, Heal House.

    Upstairs, three suites and a cavernous lounge room provide the ultimate inner-city sanctuary. Continental breakfast is included in your stay (cooked, extra) as is the mini bar with non-alcoholic drinks and snacks.

    There’s an honour bar system in the lounge, but from here you’re also well placed to head for a tipple in one of James Street’s many restaurants and bars.

    A punt worth placing: Punthill, Spring Hill

    This hip hotel – the first for Melbourne brand Punthill – took what was a drab apartment block and rolled its proverbial chinos up a few inches, let it grow a moustache and it suddenly became Mr Popular on the boutique stays circuit.

    A short five-minute walk from Central station, here you can take out one of the shiny Papillionaire bicycles lining the lobby to explore the city for free, or enjoy leisurely eats in adjoining jak+hill cafe.

    Artwork by kids from the local primary school makes a quirky appearance on the walls, while comfy king beds, workstations and a small kitchen make longer stays easy.

    There’s a pool and gym onsite, too.

    Night owls only need apply: Limes Hotel, Fortitude Valley

    In the hippest pocket of the Valley, Limes provides a chic place to sleep and one of Brisbane’s original and best rooftop bars (head upstairs on Wednesday and Thursday nights for the rooftop cinema; watch from one of the spas if you don’t mind a bit of exhibitionism).

    Owned by Damien Griffiths, the man pulling the strings on most of the Valley’s newest darlings – Doughnut Time, Kwan Brothers, and Les Bubbles to mention a few – Limes is a tight collection of 21 keys, with courtyard rooms complete with hammocks.

    Amenities are by Appelles Apothecary, and breakfast is provided at sister venue Alfred & Constance.

    You want to feel at home: One Thornbury, Spring Hill

    Perched in a cute cottage on a corner in Spring Hill – dating back to 1886 – this seven-room boutique B&B is the antithesis of one-size-fits-all hotels.

    Owner and host Geof keeps the place humming along, ensuring guests are kept happy with free wi-fi, Nespresso coffee and snacks throughout the day, and serves up legendary pancakes for breakfast.

    Each room at One Thornbury is individually decorated and there is a great covered outdoor area for mingling with other guests.

    Brush up on Brisbane’s history: Royal Albert, Brisbane CBD

    For a city that can sometimes feel as though nothing is older than a Gen Y-er, the Royal Albert Hotel holds over 100 years of history in its demure facade. Originally called Perry House, this was the tallest building in Brisbane when it was built in 1913.

    Sitting adjacent to Queen St Mall, the surrounding 21st-century towers might dwarf it now, but what it lacks in height it makes up for in its solid bones, 12-foot ceilings, Royal Albert fine china and elegant mahogany furniture.

    — Brisbane —

    The fashionista’s guide to Brisbane

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • MAY 25, 2016

    Quietly confident and refreshingly open, Brisbane’s fashion scene is all about lifestyle sans ego. Here’s what you should know…

    “There is this kind of high-brow casual dressing, where people are pairing basics like distressed denim and a crisp white shirt with really good shoes and accessories, that I think is really unique to us,” says Angelique Andronis, second-generation jewellery designer and owner of fine jewellery label BY BABY, when I ask her what she thinks Brisbane’s ‘look’ is.

    We are standing on James Street – inside Angelique’s pop-up shop (that feels more chic New York gallery than jewellery store) – where the confluence of Brisbane’s fashion and lifestyle is on brilliant display on a classic autumn Sunday.

    Despite the cool edge to the morning, the temperature has hit 27 degrees and people are out in force.

    “I think [James Street] really captures what’s great about our Queensland lifestyle,” she says.

    “It’s this beautiful outdoorsy feeling captured in a little hub where you can shop and eat and socialise.”

    It’s a hub with shades of LA’s The Grove that both her and her family business call home. Angelique also manages Andronis Jewellery (visible across the carpark), which doubles as the design studio for both labels.

    Comfort in an inscrutable climate is a variable, clearly, but it doesn’t have to equal boring, as local design savant Gail Sorronda proves, with her concept store a few doors down.

    Her bold and darkly romantic creations were enough to inspire Karl Lagerfeld to announce her as one to watch in the early days of her career.

    Between Gail Sorronda and BY BABY, Angelique tells me to check out Samantha Ogilvie (which is one of her favourites), where the racks hang with hard-to-find international labels like Jerome Dreyfuss, Missoni and Diane von Furstenberg.

    Skipping around the corner, Zimmermann lures me in, before I make a pass at Mecca Cosmetica and fail in my goal of only browsing.

    Across the road and in Maryon’s Shoes, a shrine to stunning investment footwear, it’s easier to stick to my no-purchase rule.

    Camargue, two doors down, takes the more cerebral route – this is thinking girl’s fashion – and is one of the only boutiques in Brisbane to stock the likes of Dries van Noten, the riotously coloured Stella Jean, and Australian basics label, Bassike.

    Next up, ‘It girl’ hub Calexico is a lustworthy collection of high-end labels like Isabel Marant and Alexander Wang.

    Adjacent to Australian classicists Scanlan Theodore, tucked off James Street, it would be easy to lose hours in social media darling, Molten Store; a dreamy treasure trove of trinkets for ethereal, floaty girls everywhere.

    Nonchalantly draped over clusters of crystals, there’s a universe of glittering accessories like delicate crowns and bejewelled ear jackets to buy.

    For the love of vintage

    On the more casual end of the spectrum, The Valley Markets pop up every weekend in Brunswick Street Mall, with independent designers and vintage stalls.

    For serious vintage though, head to the city’s antique centres in Woolloongabba, Paddington, Commercial Road and Southside Antiques.

    Brisbane has its share of multi-taskers too: Vintage Kitchen, Vintage Closet serves up breakfast and lunch surrounded by pre-loved frocks; in Woolloongabba, Can You Keep A Secret  transforms from vintage boutique by day, to cool small bar by night; while in South Bank, Denim Co. cafe doubles as a boutique with labels like Shona Joy, Ellery and Bec & Bridge.

    Cool kids, apply within

    In the CBD, men’s fashion gets the hip Japanese streetwear treatment at Apartment; sharing the same floor, Violent Green stocks both men’s and women’s labels with confident, cool-kid effortlessness.

    Moody may be the aesthetic in Fortitude Valley boutique Fallow, but the welcome is warm and friendly; a cheery “hello” rises from the corner as I enter.

    Home to unisex clothing, accessories and curiosities, Fallow also holds regular exhibitions featuring designers and artisans from Brisbane, and around the world.

    Head to the high street

    The majority of what could be considered Brisbane’s high street sits along Queen Street Mall where recent, international additions to the shopping landscape like Zara, H&M and Uniqlo sit sandwiched in between off-shoot malls Wintergarden, QueensPlaza and Myer Centre.

    Here and in the surrounding streets, you’ll find luxury labels like Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton, among others.

    — Brisbane —

    The ultimate date night in Brisbane

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • MAY 24, 2016

    It may not instantly sweep you off your feet, but when the Story Bridge twinkles and a flurry of jacaranda flowers comes tumbling to the ground, Brisbane certainly gives the illusion of a city de l’amour.

    Date night in a new city means being forced to up the romantic ante – you’ve got no usual spot where wait-staff already know your order, no take-out and Gogglebox.

    If you find yourself loved up in Queensland’s capital, there’s ample opportunity to break the routine and spark a little romance.

    Young love

    When date night rolls around, hip young things go hand in hand to the Brisbane Powerhouse.

    The graffiti-clad former powerstation oozes cool, with an event calendar that runs the gamut from comedy to cabaret.

    After some belly laughs, a little art appreciation, and perhaps a shared cocktail jug at WATT bar, amble a few hundred metres along the waterfront to the New Farm Park CityCat jetty.

    More than just a mode for getting from Point A to B, the CityCat is Brisbane’s answer to the Venetian gondola – sans serenade, of course.

    Hop aboard an outbound CityCat and make your way downriver to Bretts Wharf at Hamilton.

    From here, it’s an easy stroll to the city’s most atmospheric, alfresco food court: the Eat Street Markets.

    A shipping container pop-up turned permanent night market, Eat Street bustles every Friday and Saturday evening.

    Like a Millennial’s fantasy come to life, every Instagram-worthy food is on offer here, from rolled ice-cream to cronut cones, Tim Tam coated apples, Nutella martinis and marshmallow sandwiches. Mix fondue with fairy lights and you’ve got the recipe for sweet, sweet loving.

    New romantics

    For a failsafe date, arrange to meet your special someone at Brisbane’s chicest address, James Street – bringing the butterflies in your stomach along for the ride.

    You really can’t go wrong with a classic dinner-movie combo, especially if it’s a foreign flick or something a little artsy at Palace Centro.

    Conveniently, Palace Centro is neighboured by some of Brisbane’s favourite food haunts, from the much acclaimed and always boundary-pushing Gerard’s Bistro to reliable and refined Harvey’s, its casual sister venue Tinderbox, and mod speakeasy Sixes and Sevens.

    If you’re wanting something a touch more hands-on, James Street Cooking School will help gauge whether or not your new flame knows their way around the grill.

    Endless love

    Brisbane may be a city known for its laidback lifestyle, but you don’t have to dig too deep to uncover its sophisticated side.

    By day, the cultural hub of South Bank heaves with sandy-footed tourists at Streets Beach, but by night it’s all about the well-heeled taking in a show at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, or a special Up Late event at the Gallery of Modern Art.

    The latter’s namesake dining, two-hatted GOMA Restaurant, is home to one of Australia’s hottest young chefs – Josue Lopez – but dinner here comes with a catch: it’s Friday only.

    If you do snag a table, the dot-painting-inspired wattleseed custard is a must. A sojourn south of the city isn’t necessary for a date night to remember.

    The best of Brisbane’s dining is concentrated in and around Eagle Street, with fine-dining icons like Aria and Customs House privy to one of the best panoramas in town: the Story Bridge, shining bright like the diamond in Brisbane’s crown.

    Speaking of which, the big question has been popped dozens of times atop Story Bridge – with a 100 per cent success rate, so we’re told.

    — Brisbane —

    If I could do just 5 things in Brisbane…

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • MARCH 28, 2016

    What’s cool to do in Brisbane? Let’s ask a concierge… Front office manager Yolandie Holtzhausen shares her must-dos in Brisbane while staying at Spicers Balfour in New Farm (right in the hip Fortitude Valley hub).

    1. James Street

    Head to James Street, Fortitude Valley, a boutique shopping precinct home to designers such as Gail Sorronda. Check out Endota Spa and replenish your mind, body and soul, before some Champagne at Cru Bar.

    2. Mt Coot-tha

    Collect a picnic hamper from our front desk and head to the Brisbane Botanical Gardens at Mt Coot-tha for a relaxing lunch. Enjoy a stroll around the sub-tropical gardens before heading up to the Mt Coot-tha lookout.

    3. Newstead breweries

    Just a short drive away in Newstead you’ll find microbreweries such as Green Beacon, Newstead Brewing Co and Tippler’s Tap. Be sure to try 3 Bolt Pale from Green Beacon.

    4. Brisbane River

    Take a cruise down the Brisbane River with Mirimar Cruises (the pick-up point is right near the hotel) and visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary where you can cuddle koalas and feed ’roos.

    5. Chouquette, Barker Street

    Satisfy your sweet tooth at local French patisserie Chouquette for a flaky, buttery chocolate croissant.

     

    More: The Fortitude Valley cool safari

    Australian Traveller issue 67

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    — Brisbane —

    5 reasons to stay in when you stay at Hilton Brisbane

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • FEBRUARY 17, 2016

    ***Created in partnership with our sponsor Hilton Brisbane***

    Modern Brisbane city thrives and throbs with a plethora of activities, but here are five reasons to ignore them all and stay in when you stay at Hilton hotel Brisbane.

    1. Local fare in Vintaged surroundings

    When in Brisbane, eat as the Brisbanites. The Hilton’s award-winning Vintaged Bar + Grill is committed to sourcing its food and wine from boutique (and distinctly south-east Queensland) suppliers. The chef team handpicks the best produce available from local markets and farms each morning.

    Fresh food demands fresh spaces, and the Hilton has a nice selection of contemporary dining areas set amidst the Harry Seidler-designed hotel Atrium. The Chef’s Table, in front of the custom-made grill and aged beef cabinet, can be used for your exclusive event, for up to nine people.

    When you’re out to impress, the Vintaged Private Dining Room – featuring designer furnishings and a soaring ceiling – is suitable for those special events or just a regular boardroom lunch.

    2. A room devoted to wine worship

    For a grape escape, the Hilton’s Wine Table allows you to arrange vino-focused events such as tastings and pairings. The purpose-built LED-lit ice well, which runs right down the middle of the table, is a great way to highlight your considered selection. Or fill it with beer, water or anything else you so desire. The Wine Room houses an impressive 1,000-strong bottle collection, covering around 120 labels, featuring a mix of Australian and premium drops from boutique wineries across Queensland and New Zealand.

    3. Tennis, anyone?

    There aren’t too many quality many hotels in the world, let alone Australia, that let you play a set or two of tennis up on their rooftops. The Hilton features Brisbane CBD’s only tennis court with a serious view. If tennis isn’t your sport, then you can always do a personal workout in the hotel’s fitness room instead.

    4. Cool in the pool

    The natural next step after a workout? A few laps in the new open-air pool (or maybe just simply float away your business day). The heated oasis is open all year round. For a thorough cool-down, a couple of complimentary beverages in the Executive Lounge will do the trick or perhaps just order some pool-side room service.

    5. Hibernate from the outside world

    If you need to get some work done or just want to hibernate for a while, the Hilton’s suites are all-encompassing hidey-holes par excellence. With distinct sleep and relaxation zones, which include a suitably large LCD television and “ergonomic work zone”, there’s very little reason to venture outside.

    The bathroom has you covered head to toe too, with luxurious bath sheets, bathrobes and slippers. In times of great hunger and thirst, the Executive Lounge is at your disposal (and breakfast is complimentary).

     

    For more information or to book, see Hilton Brisbane

    — Brisbane —

    Come on the Fortitude Valley cool safari – bars, restaurants, shopping

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • JANUARY 26, 2016

    Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley used to be the old-school entertainment quarter, but is again the city’s capital of cool. Dan Down uncovers the best bars, restaurants and shopping the Valley has to offer.

    Enough already with the ‘BrisVegas this’ and ‘big country town that’. Brisbane is just as happening as any state capital and, dare we say it, having yet to receive the full gentrification treatment, some areas are even hipper than their more established peers.

    One such suburb, Fortitude Valley – a jumbled collection of beautifully old and new, award-winning architecture – is still a little rough around the edges, and that’s exactly why you should head there now to see its creative, designer-driven revival in the making. The Valley, as it’s affectionately known, has emerged as a hub of cutting-edge fashion, industrial chic bars, rustic, hipster-filled cafes and a thriving arts scene.

    But it wasn’t always like this. Take a walk in Centenary Place, a small park passed en route to the CBD, and clues to the Valley’s history can be found staring down at you in the form of a bronze statue: the Scottish national poet Robert Burns. The Valley was eventually settled by Scottish immigrants having arrived in Brisbane on the SS Fortitude in 1849, hence the name.

    They turned the Valley into a thriving commercial hub before surrounding suburbs caught up and stole some of its thunder; it was once the largest shopping precinct outside of a CBD in the country. The ’90s saw the district’s revival as the heart of a robust music scene within the city and, indeed, Australia as a whole, but as music trends come and go, so too has Fortitude needed to shake off its reputation for rock-infused hedonism and grungy nightclubs and start anew.

    And what a renewal it is. While traces of its seedy past and brash club culture remain (the hip Kwan Bros restaurant pokes fun with ‘Peep show’ emblazoned across an exterior in fluorescent lighting), it only serves to provide a textural depth that seems to be all too often missing from some of the fully reformed ’burbs of Sydney and Melbourne.

    Where to start?

    There are a few places you cannot afford to miss and the first of those is Bakery Lane, off Ann St, which cuts through the middle of the Valley. Lost Boys cafe, found at the arched entrance, looks like it is run by members of a budding folk band – fedora hats, beards and faux moth-eaten clothes are the go.

    Start the day here with a coffee and the corn fritter and haloumi stack then, suitably fuelled, amble up the small cul-de-sac. Here you’ll find a couple of boutique outlets – try Bow & Arrow for exquisitely designed accessories and jewellery. Then there’s I Heart Brownies; need we say more – you can always pop back and grab one later.

    If you prefer a slower start to the day then forego Lost Boys for Kiosk, a hidden gem of a cafe-cum-bar at the end of the lane. The spiced roasted pumpkin in couscous, Persian feta, rocket, pomegranate vinaigrette and pistachio salad is delicious.

    Boutique shopping expedition

    Over the road from Bakery Lane are shops that betray the Valley’s up-and-coming credentials. Head to Akira to browse the finely crafted fashions of Sydney-based designer Akira Isogawa, known for his beautifully gathered embroidery, traditional kimono-inspired stitches, statement beading and embossed patterns of chrysanthemums using a hand-painted batik process.

    Down the road, turn right onto Winn St to find Winn Lane, a quaint host of boutique shops and a hipster hangout. At the end, passed a tiny record store, a barber and a burger bar, you’ll find Künstler, a cupboard-sized shop selling design- and art-themed magazines of the type to leave on your coffee table.

    Around the block on Brunswick St, nearly all but hidden on a top floor, is the wonderful Fallow. Pop in here for the experience alone; it’s like walking into another world as you enter its matte black interior via a minimalist hallway and an antler-handled door that looks like the set of a Stanley Kubrick film. Inside you’ll find moodily illuminated wall-mounted stag heads, a selection of dark, muted clothes, curiosities, and skull-motif jewellery, all from selected Australian and international designers.

    If you have the legs, turn left to take in some conceptual works at the Judith Wright Centre Of Contemporary Art; you can always return in the evening for the theatre.

    Morning tea time

    Head through Chinatown or, if it’s a Saturday, through the Fortitude Valley Market on Brunswick St, and head to the corner of Alfred and Constance. Here you’ll find a bar and restaurant of the same name and what a place it is.

    Set inside a picture-perfect weatherboard Queenslander, A&C (as the locals know it) is the jewel in the crown of an eclectic strip of establishments and another essential stop on your tour. Before heading inside, you won’t be able to resist the whimsical offerings of Doughnut Time, a hole-in-the-wall that’s gained city-wide fame for its mouth-watering flavours, such as the quirky Ya Bacon Me Crazy. Devour it with a coffee at A&C in a big leather armchair in front of the roaring log fire.

    The wonderfully retro interior is by designer Alexander Lotersztain, who also worked his magic on the nearby Limes Hotel and the Kwan Bros pan-Asian diner two doors up. It’s worth returning for drinks later, and hit Dutch Courage further along, to see the strip’s photogenic fluorescent signage and savour this nightspot’s electric atmosphere. This one street corner will have you singing the Valley’s praises long after you’ve left.

    Must-see shops and a spot of lunch

    Head to leafy and upmarket James St. Starting from the north end, you’ll immediately find James St Market, a fresh produce and wholefood-lover’s heaven. There’s a bakery with stacks of old suitcases and Victorian portraits on the wall, the fishmongers has a sushi bar and there’ll be someone on hand to offer you a sample of the latest yoghurt-muesli health food.

    If you haven’t filled up, stop for a light lunch of cured meats, pickles and a glass of wine at nearby Gerard’s Bar Charcuterie, before checking out the collection of up and coming designer Gail Sorronda in her lovely boutique. She’s on the corner of a little arcade, at the end of which you’ll find Scrumptious Reads, a cookbook store that’s perfect for finding a gift and, curiously, trying the local honey.

    For a pre-evening drink you can enjoy champagne with Brisbane’s elite-set at Cru, or mingle with sports stars at the other end of James St in the relaxing al fresco space of At Sixes & Sevens.

    Dinner and drink time in the Valley

    Having freshened up for a night out, you’ll not be left wanting for choice. Our pick for dinner (and seemingly everyone else’s in Brisbane) is the recently opened LONgTIME, hidden down a small alley off Ann St. It serves modern Thai tapas, with unusual flavours (try the red curry of shredded barbecue duck with lychee and Thai basil) and doubles as a late night bar.

    If, however, you feel like sampling the high life, hit the roof-top UP at the fabulous new TRYP art hotel. Sip cocktails in an interior that draws straight from the hotel’s street art-inspired urban styling as you drink in the surprisingly glitzy view of the surrounding high-rises.

    Alternatively, end the evening at Kerbside next door, a jumbled yet chic assortment of furnishings in an industrial warehouse setting, serving around 200 ciders and beers. Like one of Budapest’s famed ‘ruin’ bars, it encapsulates Fortitude’s revival: a transformation from tired and dated to edgy and new.

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    — Brisbane —

    Hotel Review: TRYP, Brisbane

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • DECEMBER 17, 2015

    Brisbane’s street art-inspired hotel is a feast for the eyes, but what’s it’s like for the rest of the senses asks Dan Down.

    It was while I was staring at the sink’s plug for what must have been three minutes, trying to figure out how to operate the ultra-modern fitting, the room illuminated with a futuristic, ultraviolet glow, that it hit me: this is the most of-the-minute hotel I’ve ever stayed in (and maybe I should turn the full lights on so I can see what I’m doing?).

    Half-an-hour earlier I’d gazed up at the brick-faced edifice that is the Wyndham group’s boutique TRYP Hotel, its front emblazoned with the piercing gaze of a woman.

    Sometimes an establishment fits so well into its surroundings it’s as if they’re one and the same thing.

    Found on an unassuming backstreet of Brisbane’s happening Fortitude Valley, the neighbourhood’s creative fingers have seemingly reached in through the glass entrance and painted the halls and rooms with its 21st century urban aesthetic.

    On your left as you enter is a bustling burger joint, filled with young Brisbanites chatting furiously about the live acts they’re seeing that evening, no doubt; on your right an industrial elevator; below the polished surface of 150-year-old wooden floor boards.

    Details, details, details

    And in front, the receptionist, who efficiently hands me a room key in a little sleeve with the same painted face on it that greeted me from the street – it’s fine attention to detail.

    As the lift ascends, bare red brick walls glide past, sprayed with different works from street artists, characters who call themselves things like Magee, Numskull, Rone and Beastman. Banksy would love it here.

    Having walked past a common room cum library, and down moodily lit corridors with bold artwork gazing out at every turn, it’s on to the main event.

    It’s not immediately apparent why the ‘King with Courtyard’ room is called such. Having flicked some switches to turn on the (optional) cyberpunk ultraviolet lighting, I find a remote.

    Pressing a button starts a whirring noise and a large black blind covering one end of the entire room slowly rises. Behind is the courtyard, which is really a massive canvas for a kaleidoscopic mural that instantly fills the room with colour.

    I raise and lower the blind several times, caught up in the playfulness of it all before stepping outside. Looking up past the mural reveals several more works towering above, all the way up to the top floor where the hum of conversation from a rooftop bar can be heard.

    New York vibe

    The room feels like it’s opened up onto a vibrant New York alley.

    Back inside, orange furniture, black notes in the fittings and striking lines add a modern, European feel to this NYC vibe – this hotel would fit just as comfortably in the heart of Berlin as Brisbane – and the option to have that pervading UV glow instantly gives it an edgy atmosphere.

    Needless to say the various paintings are perfectly considered, while the king-size bed is low-set in front of a whopping TV.

    The bathroom, with its rainfall shower, is set off with a custom-made glass basin that’s scrawled in orange and black graffiti (home of the impossible plug).

    I head out for a burger downstairs before taking another lift from the restaurant up to the rooftop for cocktails. Here you can look out over the city lights at UP, the latest cool addition to Brisbane’s burgeoning bar scene.

    You could spend an entire evening at TRYP, but the appetite has been whetted; the streets beckon.

    The Details: TRYP, Fortitude Valley

    Verdict: A case of exemplary design, the hotel perfectly sits in its youthful, energetic environment, infused as it is with some of the best local street art talent.

    Score: 5/5

    We rated: UP bar’s electric atmosphere, and the wow factor of the King with Courtyard room.

    We’d change: Not a thing, we can’t wait to return.

    Notes: We paid $209 for a spectacularly dramatic Courtyard room, free wi-fi and that crazy-looking sink.

    Where: 14/20 Constance St, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane; 07 3319 7888; trypbrisbane.com

    All AT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly what you would.

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    — Brisbane —

    Restaurant review: Gauge South Brisbane

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • NOVEMBER 23, 2015

    Fine dining has shrugged off its turned-up nose and excessive price tag, and turned its attention to the cafe scene, as Celeste Mitchell discovers in South Brisbane.

    What a pleasure it is to walk into a restaurant that’s not known for southern fried chicken wings or American-style burgers.

    There are no fish tacos in sight (only a far more inventive blood taco, but more on that later), and while there is still pork belly on the menu, nothing about Gauge in South Brisbane comes with a food trend-fatigue hangover.

    But there are three things one should know: there is no website, no phone number, and no sign, so you’ll need your wits about you to track down the Scandi-chic space in Fish Lane (and crossed fingers that a table is available).

    Designer digs

    But even if a table doesn’t present itself for a while, the food is definitely worth every 60-second block of staring into the intimate designer digs.

    A matte black La Marzocco espresso machine shares counter space with delectable pastries from Sprout Artisan Bakery, while black light shades hang above leather sling-back chairs.

    Sleek timber tables with duck-egg blue metal frames are complemented by brass shelving details, while blue stools line the window bar.

    Since it opened quietly in May, Gauge has been the buzz of Brisbane. A creative collaboration between Jerome Batten, owner of the almost cult-status Sourced Grocer in Teneriffe, and award-winning head chef Ollie Hansford who hails from Stokehouse, the food is fresh, seasonal and inventive.

    Communal and local

    We settle in to share a large communal table and continue to ogle the space – everything is designer, right down to the wine label; a limited-run 2008 Arneis. We savour each floral-tinged drop knowing there’s no more where that came from in Australia.

    We skip over the blood taco with bone marrow, pine mushroom and native thyme, and begin, on our waiter’s recommendation, with the chestnut parfait with a wafer-thin rye and honey cracker.

    I’m not sure what’s prettier – the golden free-form cracker we break to dip into the creamy chestnut concoction, or the hand-made plate it’s served on. This is style with substance.

    Mains with zing

    Witlof with goat’s curd and shaved fermented pear wakes up our tastebuds with its zing and crunch and as our wine glasses are topped up, the side stars arrive: sweet potato baked in black garlic caramel is incredibly moreish, as is the roast cauliflower with black rice, parmesan custard and mustard seed.

    They complement the baked eggplant with black tahini honey, roasted almonds, flamed grapes and smoked yoghurt, and Spencer Gulf squid with roast gem lettuce, wakame and basil – both as interesting on the palate as on the plate.

    For dessert, we try the wattle seed pastry with umami custard, cocoa and skyr sorbet. Yes, I’ll admit, I had to Google ‘skyr’ but now that I’ve discovered the tart Icelandic yoghurt, I’ll be on the look out for it on more menus.

    Umami is a Japanese term for the fifth taste receptor – translated literally as ‘pleasant savoury taste’ – and this dessert is a sublime example; rich and decadent without being too sweet.

    I’m already planning my return to try their most popular dish – the garlic bread with burnt vanilla and brown butter. Take that, salted caramel.

    The Details: Gauge, South Brisbane

    Verdict: A refreshing and chic dining option that won’t break the budget, but order a large variety of share plates if dining in a group to ensure you’re satiated.

    Score: 3.5

    We rated: The gorgeous décor, the service, even the ‘is-this-the-right-place?’ confusion as you first arrive. But most of all, the unexpected flavours.

    We’d change: Nothing, except to arrive hungrier so we could have more!

    Notes: Gauge is open Monday to Sunday from 7am to 3pm and Thursday to Saturday for dinner from 5:30pm.

    Where: 77 Grey Street, South Brisbane

     

    All AT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly what you would.

     

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    — Brisbane —

    Review: New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites, Brisbane

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • APRIL 30, 2015

    Celeste Mitchell checks into the Inchcolm Hotel V 2.0

    After spending last night feeling the dankness seep through our BYO sheets at a holiday house (with questionable cleaning standards), stepping into the New Inchcolm Hotel feels like sitting at the grown-up table. In the formal dining room.

    The Art Deco building is on the outskirts of Brisbane’s CBD in Spring Hill – though as I walk through the bar and restaurant into its opulent yet cosy reception, I realise it doesn’t matter where I am geographically. This is New York in Brissy.

    The Inchcolm has roots dating back to the 1880s when scientist, astrologer, psychologist and pioneering photographer Dr John Thomson chose the site for his personal residence. The original homestead (named after Inchcolm Island in Scotland) was demolished in the 1920s to make way for the current Art Deco meets Neo-Georgian incarnation.

    A boutique hotel since 1998, the heritage-listed digs were well loved but clearly in need of a major update. A 12-month refurbishment in 2014 saw it reopen under Accor’s M Gallery portfolio with an increase in room numbers from 26 to 50.

    As I’ve booked a base-rate hotel room, I’m delighted to hear the words, “complimentary upgrade” on check-in, meaning it’s straight to a superior suite for tonight.

    I’m enamoured with the silky oak-lined elevator – with its beautiful, original features kept amongst a mechanical upgrade and the addition of glass doors. All that’s missing is my elevator operator!

    My suite is the type of room I imagine Brigitte Bardot lookalikes lounging around in, wearing silk pyjamas while flicking through Vogue and sipping Antipodes sparkling water. You know, because it’s that much more posh than normal water. Luckily, I find both items within reach. (The smoky eyeliner I’ll have to work on.)

    The space is a layer-cake of textiles in shades from black to grey to gold and pewter. A Mad Hatter-esque teacup and teapot lamp-stand captures my eye straight up in the spacious suite, while the king-size bed sits beneath a towering gold pillowed headboard surrounded by textured wallpaper.

    The selection of décor and considered book selection surrounding the enormous flat screen makes it feel anything but chain-brand. While opulence and style is clearly the number-one priority, quirky touches in the manner of a sexy welcome note on the (mirrored) shower wall, and cheeky copywriting on the ‘do not disturb’ sign and room key envelopes give a relaxed vibe.

    An iPad has replaced the standard hotel compendium – pre-loaded with a bespoke Inchcolm app, city guide, PressReader app (no more print newspapers, darling) and iTunes radio stations – the bathroom products are Appelles Black Label and the mini bar (called a maxibar here) includes local Newstead Brewery beers and New Farm Confectionery sweets.

    I contemplate dining in-house at Thomson’s Reserve but there’s not a soul to be seen so I choose to eat out with friends, where there’s a little more atmosphere on the menu.

    Sleep is bliss in the pillowy bed but the included continental breakfast leaves me a little flat. I don’t find any serving utensils for the selection of pastries, meats and cheeses, and what I grab thinking is yoghurt is actually a sweet pannacotta. I’m left unsure if there is actually a breakfast menu on offer. Nonetheless, the coffee is decent and made on Merlo Coffee beans (another nod to local business).

    While the floor leading to reception is polished, I think it’s safe to say no tile was left unturned in this makeover. Accor’s M Gallery portfolio is branded M for ‘memorable’ and this stay has proved to be just that. Hopefully the quietness I experienced was just Sunday night blues.

    The Details: The New Inchcolm, Brisbane

    The New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites 73 Wickham Tce, Spring Hill, QLD
    The verdict: I’ll return for its blend of luxury, comfort and style.
    The score: 15/20; great
    We rated: The boutique aesthetic and vintage touches, pleasant staff, complimentary wi-fi and Nespresso coffee.
    We hated: Spring Hill on a Sunday night and breakfast.
    Notes: There’s no pool on- site, but passes to a nearby Fitness First are provided. Try the Spring Hills Baths, built in 1886, if you want a dip ($5.10 entry). We paid $299 for a hotel room with complimentary upgrade to a superior suite.
    Contact: inchcolm.com.au

    All AT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly what you would.

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    — Brisbane —

    Review: Jamie’s Italian, Brisbane – red hot or lukewarm?

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • MARCH 17, 2015

    Jamie Oliver’s latest dining spot in Brisbane has Tiana Templeman feeling a little lukewarm.

    There is no denying Jamie’s Italian is the hottest restaurant in town. One of Brisbane’s hippest nightclubs used to occupy this site in the ’80s and getting a table for a ‘lovely jubbly’ dinner proves even more challenging than getting past the pastel-clad Rosie’s doorman on a Friday night. The best option, a 4:45pm sitting on a Monday, offers another blast from the past. I haven’t eaten this early since I was five.

    Our dining experience has more ups and downs than a classic 1980s rom-com but two things really impress. The cool Italian-farmhouse-meets-hipster fit-out and the charming staff who are young, enthusiastic, and eager to please.

    Both bring a funky, energetic vibe to the restaurant as does the soundtrack, which doesn’t appear to have changed much since my last foray here in 1989. This isn’t a criticism. It’s fun, upbeat and works surprisingly well. However, the rest of what’s on offer is somewhat less successful.

    First our drinks fail to materialise and we have to chase them down. Twice. They eventually arrive after the food which offers an appealing mix of modern Italian appetisers, antipasti, house-made pasta and Italian-inspired mains.

    We’ve skipped the signature wooden planks, which come loaded with cured meats, fish or vegetables, in favour of a selection of other dishes. Everything arrives together – entrees, mains, sides, the lot – so it seems strange when the waitress asks if we’d like share plates given we need them almost by default.

    Some dishes hit the mark, others not so much. Prawns wrapped in crispy angel hair pasta are visually appealing enough to justify the $14.50 price tag (just) but lack any sort of kick from the tomato and chilli sauce. This dish is the last to be finished.

    An entrée of lamb and ricotta tortellini is more appealing although the flavoursome broth is much needed to moisten the filling which is rather dry, as are the tops of the tortellini. Tiny daubs of ricotta lack the generosity we have come to expect from Italian cuisine.

    Fortunately these disappointing dishes are redeemed by the daily special: half a chicken flat-roasted with a dash of Italian spice and served on a bed of broadbeans, capers and zucchini. It is perfectly cooked and the zesty accompaniments are the ideal foil for this rustic dish. A crunchy side of rainbow slaw dressed with mint and yoghurt is equally good.

    Desserts are fine but just like a typical ’80s romantic comedy, there are complications. The delicately flavoured (and excellent) amaretto ice-cream served with the chocolate brownie is overpowered by an overly rich chocolate sauce.

    We rescue the accompanying chewy caramelised amaretti popcorn from the encroaching brown tide just in time. Tutti frutti lemon meringue pie looks impressive, topped with a mountain of meringue and a sprinkle of pistachio brittle, but a lack of lemon filling makes this dessert almost impossibly sweet.

    The bill for two comes to just over $100, which isn’t exactly cheap, especially given the patchy quality of our dining experience. As we leave to the dulcet tones of a young Michael Hutchence singing ‘This is what you need…’ I am not entirely sure I agree with him when it comes to this latest addition to Brisbane’s dining scene.

    The details: Jamie’s italian 237 Edward Street, Brisbane, Queensland

    The verdict: Keep your expectations low and you won’t be disappointed.
    The score: 12/20; satisfactory
    We rated: The friendly service, funky fit-out and retro soundtrack.
    We hated: The poor execution of dishes.
    Notes: Jamie’s Italian does take walk-ins but the wait can be up to two hours.
    Contact: 07 3144 3000; jamieoliver.com

    All AT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly what you would.

    Australian Traveller Issue 61

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    — Brisbane —

    Why Brisbane is Australia’s new Cool Capital

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • OCTOBER 3, 2014

    The Queensland capital might have taken a bit of time to emerge from the shadows of its east-coast cousins, but boy, has Brisbane ever gotten its cool on. Enough so to have Lonely Planet proclaim it as Australia’s hippest city in December last year; and it’s only going to get better. Here’s why.

    1. it’s a rising hub of gastronomic creativity

    Do we dare declare Brisbane as Australia’s most hot-right-now culinary corner? Whoops, we just did – sorry Melbourne. With a host of lively and über cool watering holes, chic wine bars, excellent fine dining, and cute and cosy cafés, Brisbane has enough to please even the fussiest of tastebuds. So where to start your gourmet gallivant?

    For multicultural flavours, Fortitude Valley is the hub to go; walk through Chinatown or along bustling Brunswick Street for a multitude of global flavours. Inspired by street food in Asia’s most delicious cities – Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Bangkok – the new-ish Kwan Brothers is the place to go for tasty Asian bites and great cocktails. And when another cocktail seems like a good idea, head to The Bowery, a New York-style speakeasy.

    Dress in your best and book at table at Caxton Street’s Black Hide Steakhouse for some fine dining (it was awarded a chef’s hat in the 2014 Brisbane Times Good Food Guide Awards). Or, for a casual bite, stop in at beer den Brewski Bar, on Petrie Terrace, for a wood-fired pizza washed down with some Aussie craft beer. Also on Petrie Terrace, Peasant is one of the many Spanish restaurants that have influxed the city in recent times; rustic Spanish fare here is served in a moody intimate space coloured with street-art murals. Its little sister, Cabiria, is a wine bar, luncheonette and oyster bar getting rave reviews, as is PUBLIC, a sexy establishment melding inventive fine dining with a casual atmosphere (the unique dishes are designed to share) in the CBD.

    Head to the inner-west suburbs of Paddington and Rosalie to cute specialty stores like Monty’s Chocolates (order the hot chocolate here!) and the old-world Paddington Deli & Epicerie (olives, French cheese, sliced meats) on Latrobe Terrace. Or try the Sourced Grocer in Teneriffe, for fresh gourmet produce (it’s also a great spot for coffee and breakfast); and in nearby New Farm, The Foraging Quail is an elegant restaurant serving a delicious shared degustation with an eclectic wine list. Satisfied?

    2. the (nice) nightlife is thriving

    Gigs have been cool since we were cool (or thought we were) and Brisbane has plenty going on. In the Valley, the back alley underground bar Greaser serves all-American food and plays some great bluesy/rock ‘n’ roll tunes in the cellar of a 130-year-old building, or Black Bear Lodge, in Brunswick Street Mall, is a low-lit funk, soul and rock ‘n’ roll club with free shows on the weekends.

    The West End has The Hi-Fi, which features a constant line-up of big name international and home-grown acts; as well as the much smaller, but funky The Waiting Room, which used to be a recording studio but now hosts regular gigs, exhibitions and workshops.

    Former gentleman’s club Lefty’s is a beloved bolthole – drink whisky and listen to old-time rock at this Caxton Street venue. For a laugh, Powerhouse in New Farm hosts comedy shows, as well as live music and theatre. And jazz lovers can’t go past Brisbane Jazz Club in Kangaroo Point.

    3. you’ll find culture, art and more

    Who knew Brisvegas would become a cultural hotbed where flocks of culture vultures head for a fix? South Bank is buzzing with creativity – its cultural strip is an exhibition in its own right with public artworks, like the iconic Mates sculpture. The Bank is also home to GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art) and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre; upcoming events include 30 Years of Japanese Fashion (from 1 November at GoMA) and Le Noir, the dark side of Cirque du Soleil (from 1 August at QPAC).

    The industrial-cool Brisbane Powerhouse (a disused power station in New Farm) is a venue for comedy, visual arts, music and theatre. It also comes alive on the second and fourth Saturday of each month with farmers’ markets and throughout summer with its moonlight cinema.

    4. There’s shopping. Good shopping.

    Believe it or not, Brisbane is beginning to nip at Melbourne’s fashion-forward heels. Head to James Street in Fortitude Valley to find a trail of super cute fashion boutiques like Calexico, Easton Pearson, camargue, Aje., Maryon’s and Samantha Ogilvie. And while you’re here, make sense of that hefty (but very necessary) handbag investment by dropping into Bag Beauty, specialising in bringing your Hermès, Chanel or Burberry back to life.

    Once suitably suited up, head to Ivy + Bird on Arthur Street, which stocks one-off exotic jewellery, homewares and more; then get your stationery in order at Happiness Place on Paddington’s Latrobe Terrace.

    If you’re a vintage maven, Paddington is your Mecca – try Hobohemia, Adornments, Blake & Taylor, and Retro Metro – or Woolloongabba Antiques Centre, a huge treasure trove warehouse with a cute ’50s-style milk bar for refreshments.

    5. it’s all clear skies ahead

    While Sydney shines in summer; and Melbourne appeals in winter, that balmy Queensland weather means Brisbane is a cool (or warm) capital year-round. Bike and walking paths have popped up across the open-planned city to take advantage of the sunshine. Cycle or walk along South Bank’s Promenade, finishing up at River Quay for a coffee in one of the cafés. Pack a picnic for New Farm Park and sit under the gorgeous Jacarandas (there’s also free Tai Chi classes and a five-kilometre fun run every week). Or walk across Story Bridge to Kangaroo Point, well known for its cliffs and gardens from which you have amazing views, then catch the ferry back across the river to the city.

    And then, when the day is ending, head back to one of the city’s trendy hotels. Limes Hotel, part of the 8 Hotels Collection, in Fortitude Valley has 21 sophisticated guest rooms, each with its own unique hand-painted feature wall and bespoke furnishings. But the best bit is the hotel’s own rooftop bar and cinema. From $440 per night.

    Then there’s new contender Gambaro Hotel on Petrie Terrace; a fresh faced boutique hotel with spacious rooms, lush bedding, an extensive pillow menu and a warm, brown and gold colour scheme. Their onsite award-winning seafood restaurant is a must. From $199 per night.

     

    MORE:

    Australian Traveller’s guide to Brisbane

     

    Australian Traveller issue 58: The Hot List issue

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    — Brisbane —

    7 hip haunts in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • SEPTEMBER 30, 2014

    You could say Thea Basiliou knows Fortitude Valley well. The owner of Blonde Venus has clothed Brisbanites in her boutique’s chic labels since 1990 (that was 24 years ago, can you believe it?!). Here, she reveals the Valley’s hip haunts.

    1. Sourced Grocer
    A cool, buzzing café in a converted warehouse that focuses on high quality locally sourced produce making for great breakfast and lunch. They also have a selection of organic and ethically produced groceries to complete the package. sourcedgrocer.com

    2. Gerard’s Bistro
    Gerard’s food is inspired by the Middle East and Northern Africa – making for an unusual menu, full of flavour. The interior is modernist but exotic, marrying mid-century style with a Moroccan twist.

    3. Chinatown
    Let’s face it; it’s going to be Chinatown at least one night of the week, right? My favourite Valley Asian eateries, depending on the mood of the day, are Thai Wi-Rat, The Vietnamese and for casual Japanese (or karaoke) Wagaya.”

    4. The Institute of Modern Art
    The IMA feels more like a community than a gallery. Their exhibitions are always supported by great public programmes including music, film and artist talks. It’s always such an inspiring experience.

    5. Jamie’s Espresso Bar
    I have lived and worked in this area for a long time and you need your coffee place. Jamie’s has been here for 16 years, so it’s my place – the coffee is always great. It’s also open late most nights for an after-work aperitif.

    6. Ryan Renshaw Gallery
    An intimate gallery space with a lean towards progressive and emerging artists including Yvonne Todd, James and Eleanor Avery, Peter Madden, Bruce Reynolds and Michael Candy.

    7. Palace Centro Cinemas
    I love the fantasy and escapism of going to the movies. I love the dark room, the big screen, the big sound. I particularly love art house and foreign film, which are supported by Palace Cinemas, and for which I am grateful.

     

    MORE

    5 reasons Brisbane is Australia’s new cool capital

    Australian Traveller issue 58: The Hot List issue

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    — Brisbane —

    The meal I’ll never forget: ‘Brisbane’s rival restaurants’

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • OCTOBER 11, 2013

    Travel writer Daniel Scott divulges a secret about Brisbane’s best bites.

    As an adopted Sydneysider I’ve been looking down my nose at Brisbane’s restaurant scene for years. So, when I checked out its riverside eateries recently, my expectations weren’t stupendously high.

    My first surprise was Bacchus at the Rydges Hotel on Southbank – a beacon for slinkily-dressed young Brisbanites. The tapas that was delivered – from lamb chips with gribiche mayonnaise to spicy chorizo with Tarragon-style Romesco sauce – revealed a Brisvegas sophistication I’d not experienced before. Then, with an unforgettable Heston Blumenthal-like flourish, my rum-based cocktail arrived, liquid nitrogen spilling from a goblet containing an accompanying rose.

    Next day, at Eagle Street Pier, my Sydney pride took further knocks over Hervey Bay scallops and chilli-roasted Queensland snapper for lunch at Jellyfish restaurant, and prosciutto-wrapped Moreton Bay bugs for dinner at the new Pony bar.

    But it was dining at Stokehouse Q, at Riverside Quay near Southbank, that dealt the fatal blow to my snobbery. With its views of the twinkling cityscape, relaxed Brisbane ambience and immaculate dishes like lobster tagliatelle with saffron cream, I was finally forced to concede. “You couldn’t get this,” I whispered, sipping a Slovenian pinot gris, “in Sydney.”

    Make your own memory

    Bacchus; Eagle Street Pier; Pony; Stokehouse Q

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    — Brisbane —

    Teen Brisbane by the ‘teen concierge’

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • SEPTEMBER 26, 2013

    Hannah Davies, 15, 'teen concierge' at Marriott Brisbane.

    Hannah Davies, 17, works at Marriott Brisbane as a ‘teen concierge’. Here the self-confessed foodie and ice cream lover shares her simple ideas for teens to explore Brisbane. Continue reading

    — Brisbane —

    Get a room… and a coffee machine

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • JUNE 17, 2013

    Unbelievable, but true: Brisbane’s new business stay, Traders Hotel by Shangri-La, is giving away Nespresso coffee machines when you book to stay.

    The offer is available all year, until 29 Dec 2013.

    See shangri-la.com/brisbane/traders/

    Issue 51

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    — Brisbane —

    City Hall houses Brisbane’s new CBD gallery

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • JUNE 6, 2013

    After three years, the new Museum of Brisbane has finally opened in a purpose-built gallery atop City Hall in the city’s CBD.

    As well as a fresh collection of exhibitions, the museum runs daily clock tower tours for a bird’s-eye view of the city.

    For more information see museumofbrisbane.com.au

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    — Brisbane —

    Look Out Everyone. Brisbane Has A New Bar Boom

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • JANUARY 18, 2013

    Brisbane has been inundated with a slew of chic new bars in recent months. Here’s some of the latest:

     

    PONY BAR

    This rustic new stable serves a lengthy list of boutique wines from Australia and abroad, as well as creative cocktails involving smoke machines and dehydrators.

    You’ll find it above another noteworthy newcomer, Matt Moran’s Brisbane River Bar.

    ponydining.com.au

     

    ALFRED & CONSTANCE

    There’s something here for all tastes with a rather eccentric mix of bar areas, each with their own theme and drinks menu.

    Among them is a beer garden, tiki bar, hidden cellar and a late-night dessert café and bar. The food offerings are also worth a visit.

    alfredandconstance.com.au

     

    SUPER WHATNOT

    There’s a hint of Melbourne at this little laneway bar, housed in the storeroom of an abandoned beauty college.

    Inspired by ‘The Americas’, expect a rotating range of craft beers, boutique wines, original cocktails, and gourmet snackery like roast cob corn with smoked cheese fondu.

    superwhatnot.com

     

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    — Brisbane —

    Bacchus: Brisbane’s New Bite

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • DECEMBER 20, 2012

    Newly opened Bacchus restaurant is a poolside oasis in the heart of Brisbane, and a testament that the city is continually moving up in the culinary stakes, writes Megan Arkinstall.

     

    I’m standing on my balcony at Rydges South Bank enjoying the view of the Brisbane River. My room is clean, comfortable and spacious, but I’m not here to inspect the room. I’m here to try out the new Bacchus restaurant and poolside bar downstairs that opened in October to much fanfare – Matt Preston hosted the red carpet launch featuring fire twirlers and roaming acrobats. I have an empty belly ready to indulge; after all Bacchus is the Roman God of Food, Wine and Indulgence.

    The restaurant is located within Rydges, so I am expecting a similar standard to the hotel itself. However, when I make my way to the Podium Level with my dining companion, my expectations are immediately surpassed.

    The aesthetics alone are striking: large opulent chandeliers, bold patterned carpet, bronze and cream tiled walls, sleek furniture, chic ornaments and impressive art works. The styling works well, which comes down to the expertise of LA-based designer Tracy Beckmann, who bring Miami chic to South Bank – along with a few quirky touches such as a diamante-covered skull adorning a bar table. We also admire the staff uniforms, which happen to be stylish LBDs by Zimmermann.

    When we are seated, our waiter explains the menu focuses on the different tastes of locally-sourced olive oils. One variety is made in collaboration with Cobram Estate specially for Bacchus (and can be purchased to take home too). We are given a tasting plate of olive oils with warm bread as we pore over the Mediterranean-inspired menu, conceptualized by Executive Chef Dominic Rose and implemented by Head Chef Americo Fernandes.

    After much deliberation I choose the Beef Carpaccio ($22) for entree and the Milly Hill Lamb Noisette ($38) for main, whilst my friend orders the Chilli Red Claw Ravioli ($24) and the Pan Roasted Duck Breast ($39).

    We are then greeted by our sommelier, Andrew Giblin, who takes us through the extensive wine menu – which is somewhat overwhelming at 25 pages long.

    He matches our menu choices to the Evesham Wood Pinot Noir ($99). My companion takes her glass to her nose and exclaims, “it smells so good I’d wear it as perfume”. Satisfied? Indeed.

    As the sun slowly disappears, one staff member pain-stakingly lights what seems like hundreds of tea light candles that envelop the restaurant, creating a warm glow and offsetting the brown, cream and gold hues of the decor.

    Suddenly our waiter comes to me slightly concerned, “Madam are you drinking the Pinot noir?” he asks. I nod.

    He proceeds to tell me that the Sauteed Mushroom Burata entrée ($19) is a better match to our wine. I agree to try this entree instead – it was my close second choice and his fervent recommendation cannot be ignored.

    When our entrées arrive they look fantastic and as my friend takes her first bite, her expression suggests they taste that way too. She tells me the crab is not as spicy as she thought, but clearly enjoys it as she clears the plate.

    Although the five varieties of mushrooms in my dish were extremely flavoursome, toward the end of my meal this richness combined with the slow cooked duck egg becomes a little much. I’m satisfied nonetheless.

    Our mains follow shortly after and are just as promising. My lamb shoulder is slow-cooked to perfection: so tender it quite literally falls apart in my mouth. In contrast the crunchy beans and asparagus mixed with a creamy pumpkin mash make for a delectable dish. The much-anticipated crispy duck doesn’t disappoint either and we finish our mains with slightly more rounded bellies.

    I loosen my belt in preparation for dessert.

    My friend chooses the Chocolate and Pear ($18), which comes encased in a chocolate egg. The waiter pours hot chocolate sauce over it, causing the egg to crack and reveal a crunchy caramelised pear inside accompanied by almond ice cream. My Apricot Soufflé ($20) tastes a little more homely, like an apricot bread and butter pudding and is complemented by a fresh lemon myrtle sorbet. Delish.

    After dinner we waddle our way outside to the balmy Brisbane night and take a seat by the illuminated pool. Cocktails are ordered and arrive in theatrical style. The Impressionist ($22) was highly recommended by our drinks waiter who mixes it with dry ice causing a cloud of mist to linger around our table as we enjoy our final tipple.

    Although the hotel upholds it’s mid-range brand reputation, Bacchus is certainly a high-end fine dining experience. We call it a night and head back to our well-appointed rooms full and merry…and although our beds are only an elevator ride away, the experience of Bacchus somewhat feels like a world apart in style and sophistication.

     

    The details

    Where? Corner of Grey and Glenelg Streets, South Bank.

    Contact? Ph. (07) 3364­ 0843  // Bacchussouthbank.com.au

    — Brisbane —

    Jellyfish Restaurant & Bar, Brisbane – Review

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • JULY 2, 2012

    Does this seafood staple live up to its name? Tiana Templeman pulls up a chair Continue reading

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    — Brisbane —

    ‘Your Shot’ Winner: Brisbane Botanic Gardens

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • MAY 9, 2012

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