Get a glimpse at the flirtatious fare at Foritude Valley newcomer Bisou Bisou
On Monday February 22, Fortitude Valley’s newest accomodation arrival Hotel X will open its doors to guests. On the same day, the award-winning group behind restaurants such as Donna Chang, The Boom Boom Room Izakaya and Blackbird Bar & Grill will lift the cloche on its brand-new Parisian-inspired restaurant and lobby bar Bisou Bisou. We’ve been given an advance look at the restaurant’s mouth-watering menu, which blends the indulgent flavours of French cuisine with some quintessentially Queensland touches. Take a look inside …
Nehme and Adonis Ghanem have wanted to add a French restaurant to Ghanem Group’s hospitality portfolio for a little while now – they even came close to making it happen once before. Unbeknownst to many, the duo had plans to install a French-style eatery in the opulent inner-city space that eventually became home to their lauded neo-Chinese restaurant Donna Chang. Fast forward a few years and the team is on the cusp of finally adding French cuisine to its rainbow portfolio of culinary concepts. Bisou Bisou is set to open on Monday February 22 at Hotel X on Brunswick Street, a new accommodation destination that’s placed a quick trot from Fortitude Valley’s party precinct. Hotel X’s developer Pointcorp had originally tabbed Ghanem Group as operator of the building’s rooftop bar Iris, but soon two sides expanded the agreement to include all of the hotel’s food and beverage offerings, including the ground-floor dining space next to the lobby. Seeing the site’s potential as a gateway to neighbouring precinct’s Howard Smith Wharves and James Street (not to mention the hotel’s proximity to The Valley’s heaving nightlife strip), it took little convincing for the Ghanem Group to sign on. Taking the reins on the restaurant’s interior design, the group set about installing a French brasserie-style venue that tastefully evokes the frivolity of Parisian escapades. The effort has given Bisou Bisou a glamorous personality, communicated via a collection of elegant details. A stately aperitivo bar greets guests upon entry, surrounded by high tables and cushy red-velvet stools, where hotel guests and those meandering down Brunswick Street can pop in for a sip and a snack. Sitting further back is Bisou Bisou’s main dining space, which is ensconced within white-washed brick and antique mirrors, and lavishly furnished with artfully patterned seats and dark marble-topped tables. A courtyard at the rear offers room for leisurely al fresco lounging, with an entrance connecting to Robertson Street allowing for quick entry and egress.
With the aesthetic direction of the venue firmly in hand, the Ghanem Group looked within to fill the role of Bisou Bisou’s culinary overseer. Anthony Donaldson has moved from Ghanem Group’s Eagle Street mainstay Blackbird Bar & Grill to take on the role as Bisou Bisou’s head chef, working with executive chef Jake Nicolson to craft a menu that recontextualises quintessential French tastes for a Queensland palate. Both chefs come from French cooking backgrounds and are relishing the chance to put their skills to work modernising brasserie-style bites to suit Brisbane’s warmer climate. While not departing entirely from French cooking’s classically rich and hearty fare (which is often heavy on the cream and butter), Anthony and Jake are looking to Brisbane’s surrounding regions for produce that can help cut through the robustness of the core ingredients without undermining the inherent indulgence. Early risers can slink in for Bisou Bisou’s breakfast service, which offers lavish day starters like Oscietra caviar with soft boiled eggs and warm potato blini (yes, you can have caviar for breakfast), three-cheese omelettes, Lyonnaise sausage and eggs, and French toast with strawberries and candied pistachios. At midday, the dejeuner/lunch service commences with Moreton Bay rock oysters, more caviar, escargot and bone marrow on toast, cod brandade beignets with saffron mayonnaise, parmesan-and-thyme-crusted chicken schnitzels, and seafood bouillabaisse made using some of Queensland’s best catches. The brasserie dinner menu leads with hors d’oeuvres like steak tartare with tête de moine and cured egg yolk, followed by large plates of duck breast with caramelised witlof, steak frites with cafe de Paris butter, silky pommes aligot (potato puree imbued with melted Alpine cheeses), and Parisian gnocchi. Bisou Bisou’s kitchen centrepiece is the French rotisserie oven, which has been flown in to handle many of the restaurant’s prized proteins – think whole roasted free-range chickens, whole New Zealand sole and Australian shorthorn rib eye. Ensuring the Bisou Bisou dining experience is comprehensive, proper attention has been paid to the dessert assortment. Ice-cream machines freshly churn ice-cream and sorbet each service (a black-truffle and white-chocolate mixture is reportedly worth tasting), while pastry chef Jason Brown is adding some magic to the restaurant’s sweet selection with reworked versions of the classic tarte Tatin, Mont Blanc and strawberry meringue. What’s more, a fromage trolley offers 25 top-notch French and Australian cheeses, so be sure to save room for a slice or two.
Bisou Bisou’s beverage list is refined, finding a happy medium between diversity and accessibility. A 200-strong wine list takes in a broad range of varieties and regions, with a by-the-glass menu featuring drops from Alsace, Loire Valley, Chablis, Bordeaux and Beaujolais, as well as regions from this side of the pond like the Barossa Valley, Yarra Valley and Margaret River. Among this selection are several high-end drops served via EuroCave enomatic dispensers, which holds and perfectly preserves eight reds and whites. Cocktail sippers can treat themselves to seven house concoctions and eight reserve sips, including striking mixtures such as the Bisou Bisou Martini (Brookies gin, Lillet Blanc, yellow Chartreuse, St. Germain elderflower liqueur and a pepperberry tincture – served with a handful of Parisian olives), Ligurian Strait (cognac, apricot, lemon, pineapple, orgeat, Amaro Averna) and the Coco Bellissimo (coconut-washed vodka, Aperol, white-chocolate liqueur, lime, soda and desiccated coconut). The back bar is overflowing with a multitude of spirits (of special note – cognac lovers can indulge in a lavish tasting experience) while beer sippers have an array of bottled and tap brews to enjoy.
Bisou Bisou officially opens to the public on Monday February 22. Bookings are active and are being snatched up fast – head to the Stumble Guide for the important details.
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