Howard Smith Wharves welcomes modern Greek taverna Greca
The last two weeks of rapid-fire openings at Howard Smith Wharves have left us giddy with excitement and it’s not stopping any time soon – this weekend will mark the arrival of Jonathan Barthelmess’ highly anticipated new restaurant, Greca. After conquering the tastebuds of Sydney and Tokyo, Jonathan has come to Brisbane, bringing with him tonnes of taramasalata, a surplus of saganaki and deluge of dolmades. Greca officially opens on Saturday December 8, but we couldn’t resist the chance to get in early to have a closer look.
When it comes to Brisbane’s dining scene, the story of the past month has undoubtedly been the arrival of Howard Smith Wharves beneath the Story Bridge. Recent openings Felons Brewing Co. and Mr Percival’s have already whipped visitors into a stir, and the frenzy is set to continue with the arrival of Greca. The brainchild of Jonathan Barthelmess (The Apollo, The Apollo Ginza and Cho Cho San), Greca sees the restaurateur bring his brand of seductive Greek and Mediterranean cuisine to the Wharves. It was Howard Smith Wharves founder Adam Flaskas who first pitched the idea of being part of the precinct to Jonathan, and once he saw the vision for the development, the pieces fell into place quickly. Intrigued by the good vibes, energy and potential of Howard Smith Wharves (and Brisbane’s proximity to family on the Gold Coast), Jonathan signed on and got to work on the concept behind Greca – a riverside taverna with a contemporary interpretation.
Jonathan has linked up with long-time collaborator George Livissianis for Greca’s design, drawing upon the concept of a traditional Greek taverna for the visual aesthetic, but sculpted and shaped to suit the heritage shed structure. Greca’s 170-seater build boasts a central bar and open kitchen, surrounded by interior dining and surmounted by a private dining space on the mezzanine level. More tables spill out to the front of the restaurant – scoring some amazing river views – while a cosy laneway area runs between Greca and the neighbouring support pillar for the Story Bridge above. Embracing the building’s bones, George has implemented elements synonymous with the white-rendered tavernas you might be familiar with, but modernised each aspect to give it a contemporary feel. The central colour palette features white, grey and pops of bright orange, offset by straw and timber furnishings. Smaller decorative flourishes such as paper pendant lights from Uashmama, various plates from Robert Gordon, The Plate Man and a ceramics, and candles by Britt Neech add integral details to the restaurant’s overall aesthetic.
The food and drink
For Greca, Jonathan has envisioned a youthful and fun menu that doesn’t subscribe to any rules. The foundations of Greek cuisine are present (if you were worried you wouldn’t find dolmades on the menu, take a breath – they’re here) but Jonathan has let Queensland’s bountiful produce shape the tastes, letting the ingredients sing. Dips and breads kick off festivities (the taramasalata is a must try), followed quickly by plates of sizzling saganaki cheese, spanakopita, fried calamari with prawns and mussels, and kritharaki pasta topped with braised oxtail. A series of salads and vegetables leads towards the meat and seafood selection, cooked lovingly on Greca’s charcoal grill. Grilled octopus, charcoal chicken and baked lamb shoulder will be plenty for a protein fix. Finally, the menu winds down with desserts such as katoumari (smashed filo, walnuts and semolina cream), chocolate Metaxa pudding and lemon-meringue pie. Greca’s bar brings the fun with a selection of spritzes, negronis, cocktail jugs and ‘taverna twists’. Greek beers, ouzo, tap wines by glass or carafe and bottled wines are also available.
Greca opens officially on Saturday December 8. Get all the details you need on the Stumble Guide.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.