The round-up: Brisbane’s best new restaurant and cafe openings of the year (so far)
Look, we get it. Since March there has been a lot happening at home and abroad that has understandably required our attention and shifted our priorities. It’s been easy to miss things such as new foodie arrivals, especially when we’ve been forced to stay inside as much as possible. Seeing that restrictions have eased somewhat, now is a great time to acquaint yourself with these newcomers. We’ve compiled a handy list of some of the best new restaurant and cafe openings that have occurred over the past few months.
Agnes, Fortitude Valley
Ever since it was first announced that Ben Williamson would be teaming up with the crew behind sAme sAme and Hôntô to open woodfire-centric restaurant Agnes, we knew it would be one of the biggest arrivals of 2020. Even though anticipation was high, we were blown away by how popular the restaurant has been, and hasn’t been open long at all! Reservations to dine at superstar woodfired restaurant have been snapped up months in advance, with locals eager to savour the flame-licked and smoke-caressed fare coming from the venue’s two charcoal pits. The menu makes us drool just reading it. The likes of malted sourdough with smoked cultured butter (a nod to Agnes’ pre-launch life as a bakery), scarlet prawn doughnuts, lamb ribs lathered in sesame whey caramel, octopus with black lemon, smoked lamb neck with ancho mole, aged duck with cumquats and bread sauce, 70-day aged heritage pork with apple sauce, and smoked potato ice-cream with brown butter and cocoa crunch sound like winners on paper, that’s for sure. Pair that with a list of cocktails similarly influenced by smoke and woodfired flavours, and a wine list boasting hundreds of bottles to choose from, it’s no surprise Agnes is already living up to the hype. Now, excuse us while we refresh the booking page in hopes of a free table to snag.
Confidently gunning for the title of ‘Best New Cafe 2020’ is Plentiful – a youthful and inviting cafe that cropped up in Graceville back in March. The venue exudes a playful personality across its interior and outdoor spaces, with a crisp and modern aesthetic setting the cafe head and shoulders above the standard. Here, locals can pop in for some incredible barista-brewed specialty coffee (Five Senses is the cafe’s coffee supplier of choice) and a bite of elevated brunch classics. Locals have gone gaga over signature dishes like the Get Some Spork on Your Fork (crispy potato rosti topped with spicy grilled pork, poached eggs and hollandaise), Pretty Great Pancake (fluffy buttermilk pancakes served with seasonal fruit, vanilla ice-cream, butterscotch syrup and pistachio and praline sprinkles), Granoly Moly (Plentiful’s own granola served with lychee panna cotta and coconut yoghurt), and the Plentiful Salad (a combo of quinoa, kale, roasted pumpkin, sesame, broccolini, beetroot hummus, avocado, falafel and turmeric-infused cauliflower). This cafe is one worth visiting as soon as possible.
La Patrona Mexican Cuisine, Teneriffe
Although the departure of Sourced left many inner-north locals saddened, the culinary concept that recently took over its Florence Street space should do wonders for their low mood. La Patrona Mexican Cuisine is the brainchild of Rebeca Flores, a Mexican expat who has sought to bring a dash of authentic cuisine from her home region of Bajío to Brisbane. Alongside chef Ariel Becerra (who also hails from the Bajío region), Rebeca has created a venue that is reminiscent of the eateries commonly found in San Miguel de Allende. The menu is as close to the real deal as you’re likely to find in Australia – lime-cured prawn ceviche, Aztec Soup, Veracruz-style snapper, tacos al pastor, and tender glazed pork calf are just a fraction of the morsels available, and La Patrona’s selection of Mexican beers, wines and cocktails make for a and incredibly alluring culinary experience.
Emily Yeoh Restaurant, Paddington
After appearing on our screens as a contestant on the sixth season of MasterChef in 2014, Emily Yeoh furthered her culinary craft by working in top-flight kitchens at Attica in Melbourne and our own GOMA Restaurant. With her skills sharpened, Emily has finally opened a restaurant on her own – showcasing a menu boasting pan-Asian influences mixed in touches informed by her own heritage. Dumpling lovers will swoon after lifting the lid on serves of Emily’s Gold Coast prawn har gao and vegetarian ham sui gok, while mains like the signature boneless duck and lychee red curry, Emily’s mother’s secret Hainanese chicken, Malaysian-style fragrant beef-brisket curry and fried egg noodle with shredded duck are absolute must-try dishes.
Ping Pong, Newstead
If you want a feast for all your senses, not just your tastebuds, then pencil in a visit to Ping Pong – the new pink-hued eatery for the team behind Morning After and Yolk. Sitting snug in the heart of Gasworks Plaza, this vivid Derlot-designed eatery is an Instagrammable delight that backs up the aesthetics with a stellar menu of Thai eats. Co-owner and head chef Khanittha ‘Bowyo’ Muangsong has taken a fun multi-sensory approach with the menu, dipping into her own Thai heritage for Ping Pong signatures like betel-leaf wraps, beef-cheek massaman curry (a side of flaky roti is a must), lamb-neck rendang, wild-caught-prawn curry, sticky beef short ribs and whole fried reef fish. This spot is perfect for group dinners, with most dishes suited for sharing. Park yourselves under the sea of floating ping-pong balls or nab a booth in the secret jungle room at the venue’s rear and tuck in!
Eterna, Fortitude Valley
Since the sAme sAme crew closed LONgTIME ahead of its move to James Street, the Fortitude Valley space it vacated has been one of the most intriguing tenancies on the market. After operating for a while as a function space, the venue was handed over to the team behind Salt Meats Cheese, who have transformed it into a striking late-night eatery called Eterna. After some renovations imbued the space with a moody feel reminiscent of the buzzing all-night energy of New York’s dining scene, the team crafted a menu that encompassed the simple and heart-warming charm of Rome’s culinary delights. From street-food morsels like the suppli al telefono (fried-rice croquettes that boast a heart of melted mozzarella cheese and a dollop of tomato sauce) and pasta (rigatoni alla carbonara, tonnarello cacio e pepe and bucatini all’amatriciana) to the mains (rosemary-marinated chargrilled lamb chops, prochetta di Ariccia) and desserts (crostata di rocotta e visciole), Eterna has fashioned a dining experience that will charm the pants off any lover of Italian cuisine.
Pasta Club, West End
Fans of CJ’s Pasta’s Secret Pasta Club were crushed when the cosy eatery and providore closed just before the pandemic. Spirits were lifted, however, when the Secret Pasta Club’s originators Leila Amirparviz and Darcy Adam secured a new home for the concept on Boundary Street in West End. This new iteration of Pasta Club is no longer secret – this is a bona fide culinary star specialising in home-style Italian fare. Pasta Club’s menu is designed to be easy to navigate, with a handful of entrees, salads, pasta dishes and desserts forming the bulk of what will be on offer at any given time. Start with a serve of truffled-mushroom arancini or salad of radicchio, goats cheese, caramelised onion and balsamic before twirling your fork through plate of spaghetti carbonara or braised beef-cheek ragu, or savour bite-sized portions of pumpkin agnolotti lathered in burnt butter. The only wrong choice is electing not to check this place out.
MICA Brasserie, Newstead
Shannon Kellam – another big name in Brisbane’s culinary scene – has been making moves this year, pandemic be damned. In early 2020, the owner and head chef of Montrachet announced a high-profile partnership with the Breakfast Creek Lifestyle Precinct, which entailed bringing a multi-stage concept to the waterfront promenade. Stage one was The Kneadery – the central state-of-the-art pastry production kitchen – and Lumiere Events & Culinary Studio. Stage two brought us MICA Brasserie, a casual riverside patisserie, bar and bistro that launched in a streamlined capacity in early April. Shannon and his team opened the patisserie first – initially only serving takeaway coffees, breads, pastries and gateaux from its breezy locale. As of June 24, MICA has expanded its service to include breakfast – that means folks can stroll in for pastis and citrus-cured Ora king salmon, a spin on an eggs Benedict boasting red gum-smoked pork jowl, English-style toasted muffin and poached free-range eggs doused in Chardonnay vinegar hollandaise, and cold-smoked cauliflower rubbed with pumpkin-seed butter and maple barbecue seasoning. At full flight MICA will also open for lunch and dinner – we can’t wait!
Only. Specialty Coffee, Fortitude Valley
After cementing its rep as a go-to caffeine dispensary for discerning drinkers, the crew behind Only. Specialty Coffee shifted gears somewhat, closing its Brisbane City and Wooloongabba locations and focusing energy on a new HQ on the ground floor of the T C Beirne building off Brunswick Street Mall. The Only. team has sought to elevate its coffee experience to another level, expanding the concept to cater for those seeking coffee and food. Coffee still is a key focus – those seeking a flat white will be catered for alongside the batch-brew or pour-over crowd, with a rotating selection of single origins from various roasters showcased alongside Five Senses as the espresso go-to. The debut food menu boasts a scrumptious breakfast burger (filled with free-range thick-cut bacon, fried free-range egg, cheese and tomato chutney), toasted croissants filled with local mortadella, cheese and chutney, avocado on rye with bush native dukkah and probiotic goat-milk labneh, and handmade crumpets with Pepe Saya butter, with more to come in the future.
Superthing, West End
Lovers of baked goods have been spoiled rotten by 2020’s bevy of arrivals, and West End bakery Superthing is what we envision to be heaven for pastry fanatics. This pink-hued croissanterie comes from the brains behind NYC Bagel Deli, and was conceived as an outlet to take the baking craft beyond bagels. Located at the base of Turrisi Properties’ INK Apartments on Montague Road, Superthing is a feast for the eyes – we’re talking musk-coloured walls and ceiling, plush pink booths and a temperature-controlled rolling room located behind iridescent rainbow-filmed glass. The aesthetic is almost enough to draw attention away from the pastries. Almost. Superthing’s pastries (all based on croissant dough) are things of beauty – from the ham, cheese and bechamel croissants to the burnt Basque cheesecake cruffins. Now that folks can dine in, Superthing has also launched a new menu of eats boasting the likes of avocado on toast, toasties, bagel sandwiches and more.
Kid Curry, Fortitude Valley
Cameron and Jordan Votan already had their hands full navigating the COVID-19 lockdowns with their three established venues Happy Boy, Snack Man and Greenglass, so you’d think opening a new concept would be the last thing on their minds. Well, these times are perfect for innovation and experimentation, and that’s exactly what they did when they elected to open online eatery Kid Curry in April. Alongside chef Tom Swapp (formerly of Yandina’s Spirit House) and Damien Paliwoda of Greenglass, the team decided to create a culinary offering taking in Southeast Asian-style cooking with a sharp focus on curry. The initial menu boasted six curries, including an Indonesian rendang with confit duck and potato, a Thai/Burmese hang lae featuring slow-cooked pork belly, Thai khiao wan (green curry) with beef and eggplant, and Kid Curry’s own take on Indian butter chicken. Now that restaurants are open for dine-in service, the Votans have converted Snack Man’s moody space into Kid Curry’s temporary home. Guests can sit down and enjoy the curries on site, alongside new additions such as stir-fried greens with yellow-bean sauce, large curry puffs filled with curried vegetables, chicken and egg, and grilled flaky paratha.
El Planta, South Brisbane
In early March we broke the news that the team behind popular plant-based Mexican pop-up El Planta was in the process of opening a bricks-and-mortar eatery in South Brisbane. While the pandemic pushed the opening date back a bit further than anticipated, locals were able to get a taste of El Planta’s phenomenal fare when it launched a streamlined takeaway service El Planta At Home in late April. The menu featured ready-to-make taco kits (boasting fillings like tacos de al pastor and roasted-cauliflower), potato and mushroom ‘beef’ stew, roasted spiced-pumpkin wedges with pepitas and ancho mole, and DIY nacho kits (featuring tortilla chips, queso sauce, frijoles, guacamole, pico de gallo, smoked paprika, radish and coriander). Now El Planta has opened for dine-in service, which means the menu has grown to include more taco fillings and a drinks selection – think margaritas, tomatillo sours, beers, wines and seasonal non-alcoholic beverages.
Smokey Moo, Newstead
Here we move from plant-based fare to something for carnivorous eaters only. Smokey Moo opened its brand-new location in June, moving from its original home in East Brisbane to a much larger space at Gasworks Plaza. With more room comes more barbecued goodness. Smokey Moo increased its already formidable menu – carving up lovingly cooked brisket, pastrami, beef cheek or beef rib and serving it by weight, as part of a platter or added to a sandwich. Signature dishes include The Dirty Dozen feast (all four meats served with fries topped with caramelised onion, three cheeses and two sauces), Idaho potatoes (fried potato skins filled with creamed corn, accompanied by meat) and a special cob salad, and a brand-new drinks menu adds ice-cold beers, an Australian-dominated wine list and a bevy of signature cocktails to the mix. If you’re keen to indulge in a meat feast, just follow the smell of macadamia and hickory smoke and you’ll find nirvana in no time.
Winston Quinn, Fortitude Valley
Winston Quinn gin started popping up in back bars of Brisbane’s restaurants and watering holes in late-2019, earning a groundswell of interest from serious sippers and cocktail makers alike. Fast forward nearly a year and Winston Quinn has taken the next step in its evolution – opening a new tasting room in Fortitude Valley that gives gin lovers the chance to sip from the source and learn more about the intricacies of the spirit itself. The distillery is running tasting sessions from Thursday to Sunday, where guests can enjoy a 90-minute experience that includes a tasting paddle (featuring a sip of Winston Quinn’s flagship range, plus a bottle of soda water and tonic and a selection of garnishes) and a gin and tonic on arrival. That’s not all – a food and booze menu contains extras including cocktails, mocktails, cheese boards and grazing plates.
Kulcha’d, West End
When Zach Dexter visited the northern-Indian city of Mohali in 2019, he fell in love with kulcha – a form of leavened and crispy tandoor-baked flatbread filled with chilli, spices and a variety of mouth-watering ingredients. Upon returning to Australia, he made it his mission to raise the profile of kulcha (and northern-Indian cuisine in general) in Brisbane. Along with his brother Calvin, Zach founded Kulcha’d – an easygoing eatery located on Boundary Street in West End. As you can probably guess by the name, the specialty here is kulcha. When Kulcha’d opened in early June, the eatery’s debut menu included a traditional aloo gobi option (kulcha stuffed with tandoor-baked potato, onion and spices), another boasting a 50/50 mix of cauliflower and potato, and a cheesy mushroom-and-paneer variety. Since then, Kulcha’d vegan-friendly menu has expanded to include a chilli-and-potato kulcha, a chicken, mushroom and paneer option, a breakfast kulcha, and a spicy egg omelette served with fresh coriander, grilled onion, tomatoes and mushrooms on sourdough. The crew is also currently constructing a bar, which will be serving local craft beer, cocktails and whiskies once completed.
Moonshine Coffee, Kangaroo Point
Byron Bay-born coffee outfit Moonshine Coffee softly opened its own Brisbane in early May, taking over a vacant space on Main Street in Kangaroo Point (across the road from Sea Legs Brewing Co.) and converting it into a casual cool cafe. Initially opening for takeaway only, Moonshine Coffee has been luring in foot traffic with its organic Moon Runner blend and fresh single-origin batch brew and filter coffees. A streamlined menu featuring sizeable toasties (including Ruebens and truffled-mushroom varieties), treats from Jocelyn’s Provisions, doughnuts from Doughluxe, and Wardell Pies is also available, with plans in the works to add avocado toast, fresh salads, 63-degree eggs and smoothies to the offering.
Honourable mentions: This isn’t the be-all and end-all of recent foodie openings. Other noteworthy arrivals include MAYA Mexican in Fortitude Valley, Dalgety 2.0 Public House in Teneriffe, Suburban Social’s new bar in Holland Park, Hey Joe Coffee Co. in East Brisbane, Potato Boy in Bowen Hills, Mama Taco in West End, Sprout Artisan Bakery’s James Street pop-up, Joedy’s Cafe in New Farm, Amalfi Pizzeria in Clayfield and Bao Bar in Teneriffe.
Heading to the Gold Coast soon? Why not have a look at our list of the GC’s best new openings and add a few spots to your itinerary!
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