Argentinian-inspired restaurant and bar Evita opens inside a heritage Fortitude Valley hideaway
Tomahawk steaks and whole lobsters cooked over oak and ash, a wine list boasting close to 300 bottles from Latin America and further abroad, a pisco-soaked cocktail list, and some chic heritage-listed surrounds – those are some of the top-line highlights one can expect from an outing at Fortitude Valley newcomer Evita. The fetching arrival (which opened to the public last week) is the result of a culinary collab between two hot-shot hospo groups, designed to deliver transportive tastes and atmospheric ambience influenced by the rich culture of Buenos Aires. This spot isn’t only for fans of fire-singed fare – Evita’s looking to become a go-to spot for any lover of adventurous epicurean outings.
We love blockbuster team-ups. No, we’re not talking about the latest big-name Marvel film – we’re thinking more along the lines of unions between hospitality identities. Salt Meats Cheese Group (the crew behind Eterna, La Costa and Cielo Rooftop Bar, among others) has partnered with Icatha Hospitality (whose newly minted nosh spot Dos Manos opened in Newstead this year) to create a new powerhouse of culinary endeavour – one concerned with crafting concepts that allow Brisbane locals to travel abroad via their tastebuds. The tandem’s head honchos (SMCG’s Stefano De Blasi and Icatha’s Ross Ledingham) have sought to debut with a concept that was approachable, stylish and could cater to a cross-section of the local market – a venue that not-only worked as an occasion-worthy splurge spot but also as a site for intimate cocktail-fuelled rendezvous and laid-back impromptu dinners. The first joint project to open its doors is Evita, a 128-seat restaurant, bar and lounge that draws inspiration from old-world South American cuisine, chiefly flame-licked Argentinian fare.
Stefano and Ross have secured a cracker of a location for the concept, which is situated in the McDonald’s Bakery building on St. Paul’s Terrace – just a few doors down from Netherworld. This heritage site, its facade stamped with A. & G.F. McDonald PTY. LTD. Pastry Cooks, lent itself perfectly to the Argentinian-style of cooking primarily thanks to the building’s century-old oven, which forms the woodfire-powered centrepiece of Evita’s new-fangled kitchen. With the building’s predominantly white interior an untouchable fixture of its heritage status, the Evita team have looked to use the oven’s cast-iron fixtures as an aesthetic starting point to work backwards from. Evita’s dining space is divided into two separate nooks – a moody lounge area and a more laid-back and louder portion – both furnished with black leather banquettes and marble-topped tables (with cast-iron supports), while the bar’s front and shelves are fashioned from reclaimed sleepers. Come January, Evita will also unveil its top floor 64-seat private-dining space, which will draw influence from the moody bar culture of Buenos Aires and come equipped with a wine wall and dry-ageing chambers.
Though words like smoke, flame, embers and ash conjure images of fire-touched steaks and similarly scorched morsels, Evita champions the use of this powerful element across a broader range of nosh. Yes, steaks are a big fixture of the offering, but head chef David Hernandez has struck a nice balance across his range of para picar (for the table), entradas (entrees), fuertes (mains) and acompañamientos. Things start in a quintessentially spicy fashion with woodfired chorizo with salsa criolla before moving into small plates like grilled octopus with roast potato and chimichurri, butterflied and woodfired king prawns, kingfish ceviche and bone marrow with crispy capers. Evita’s selection of sizeable share-style mains is where you’ll find much of the protein (cooked over oak and ash on a solid-fuel grill), including butterflied lamb leg, rump cap with farofa and pico de gallo, grilled whole lobster with sriracha butter, 28-day dry-aged sirloin, and a whopping Cape Grim tomahawk with a marble score of five-plus. It’s best to order one of the above as a centrepiece, which is orbited by sides including grilled corn with chilli-lime butter, plaintain chips, fresh salads and a selection of condiments. Non-carnivores can also take advantage of a range of vegan- and vegetarian-friendly options. Balance is also key to Evita’s beverage program, which is led by a whopping (and still growing) wine list consisting of nearly 300 bottles touching on Argentinian and Australian varietals, as well as single-growth small batches from Spain and Latin America. Pisco is a prominent fixture in the back bar, with a selection of 16 signature cocktails featuring four pisco-infused options to choose from. Expect liberal usage of citrus, lychee, mango, pomegranate and lemongrass – zippy sips perfect for cutting through the richness of the fare.
Evita is now open to the public. Operating hours, menus and contact details can be found in the Stumble Guide.
Image two supplied by Evita
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