Step aside Victoria and New South Wales – it looks like Australia’s Sunshine State, Queensland, is set to take the lead in the food stakes, with its capital, Brisbane, tipped as a foodie hot-spot.
For those in the know it’ll come as no surprise that Brisbane is emerging as a stand out, stand alone, culinary destination. I decided to find out for myself with a weekend stay.
One of the newest urban ‘neighbourhoods’ is Fortitude Valley, just 1 kilometre from the Brisbane CBD. ‘The Valley’, as it’s affectionately known, is a contradiction in itself — raw, yet sophisticated, where elegance and style meet grungy and offbeat, and heritage-listed properties proudly stand among contemporary buildings. It was here I found King Street, a brand new retail high street brought to life with laneway shops, apartments, office buildings and restaurants to brag about.
Notably prominent is the extraordinary King Street Bakery. From handcrafted croissants to decadent éclairs, artisan brioche, baguettes and loaves, the range is supplemented with a selection of covetable Viennoiseries, sweet and savoury tarts, and more. Owner and head chef Shannon Kellam graciously allowed moi to roll my own croissant; what an unbelievable thrill!
Just ‘down the road’ and breathing life into one of Brisbane’s most historical sites — Howard Smith Wharves, established in 1935 — is a riverfront foodie playground in a unique position beneath the Story Bridge.
Howard Smith Wharves is now home to Felons Brewing Co., Mr Percival’s, Greca and the ARC Dining and Wine Bar, with abundant green spaces and picnic areas, two unique indoor spaces; and more to come.
Check out the on-site brewery with one of thedaily tours at Felons before enjoying a cold beer and authentic wood-fired pizza (prices start at $18) or choose from a menu of delicious plates to share, or enjoy all to yourself! Want to enjoy Brisbane’s warm winter sun? Bring your friends, family and furry friends and enjoy a picnic on the lawn at the Felons Fish n’ Chippery ($24 for pan-fried market fish ‘n’ chips). It’s the perfect day out!
If life only pops when you’re sipping champagne or a cocktail, then Mr Percival’s overwater bar is the place for you. The octagon-shaped venue is set right over the Brisbane River with interiors brimming with furniture and objects handpicked by Brisbane-based interior designer Anna Spiro. It takes its cue from European beach clubs, designed to appeal to visitors all-year-round, so grab yourself some Aperitivo-style snacks and a cocktail and watch the sunset.
Hold onto your plates … and say hello to a new concept Greek restaurant and bar, GRECA by Jonathan Barthelmess, the brains behind The Apollo, The Apollo Ginza and Cho Cho San. Inspired by the Mediterranean way of life, and the pleasures of eating together, all dishes are designed for sharing. Plates include spanakopita, vine leaf parcels, grilled octopus and other Greek favourites and start from as little as $8.
Located at the New Farm end of the precinct, and set on the edge of the Brisbane River, is ARC Dining and Wine Bar. With rising star Alanna Sapwell as head chef, her philosophy is “centred around sourcing produce from local suppliers and farmers, respecting their products and making a conscious effort to use as much as possible to minimise waste”. Highlights on the ARC Dining menu include dishes such as Spanner Crab, Gala Apple and Cranberry Hibiscus ($32), Spanish Mackerel, Zucchini, Chilli and Native Ginger and Granny Smith & Sunflower Tart with Lemon and Honey ($15). It also boasts a 400-plus strong wine list curated by award-winning group sommelier, Ian Trinkle. ARC is not to be missed.
I stayed at The Calile, located in the centre of the James Street precinct, Fortitude Valley. The 175-room architecturally designed hotel draws on the enviable Queensland climate and tropical surrounds to deliver a resort style experience in an urban setting. The elevated, centrally located pool and surrounding deck area boast outdoor dining, cabanas and sun lounges that entice you to play and stay. The rooms invite the climate in too with a mix of individual Juliette, pool-side and terrace-style balconies and two private rooftop terraces.
Having spent the weekend indulging in this way, I’d have to agree with the culinary experts’ predictions that Brisbane (Brissy, Brizvegas) has become a prominent gastronomic destination. Step aside southern states, it looks like Queensland is set to take the lead in the food stakes.