Looking forward – our most anticipated restaurant, bar and cafe openings for 2021
Look, we know it’s not going to be particularly hard for this year to be better than 2020, but 2021 is already shaping up to be a benchmark year for Brisbane’s food and drink scene. Over the past few months, we’ve heard whispers of several noteworthy arrivals that will ensure 2021 is a year to remember. From world-renowned croissanteries to new concepts from established local powerhouses, here are some of the restaurant, bar and cafe openings to get excited about this year.
Essa Restaurant and Wine Bar
How does one follow up a widely revered (and The New York Times lauded) restaurant? It’s a tough task, but if anyone can do it, it’s Jerome Batten and Phil Marchant. As the respective owner and executive chef of hatted South Brisbane restaurant Gauge, the duo know what it takes to run a top-tier dining destination. The crew will be looking to do it all again with Essa Restaurant and Wine Bar –a brand-new concept arriving on Robertson Street in Fortitude Valley in the first quarter of 2021. Shrouded in mystery since we first heard rumblings about the project in 2018, we can now reveal some details about the venue, which will be located a mere stone’s throw from James Street. Guests can expect an intimate and moody interior, which will be the setting for an epicurean experience (curated by much of the same culinary talent responsible for Gauge’s menu) centred around share plates of raw seafood, oysters, woodfired morsels and charcuterie made in house, as well as a comprehensive wine list and array of cocktails.
No carb lover’s holiday to Melbourne is complete without a visit to Lune Croissanterie’s architecturally striking production kitchen in Fitzroy. The world-renowned pastry crew has earned acclaim around the globe thanks to its exceptional range of baked goodies and soon Brisbane will have a Lune Croissanterie it call its own. Lune will open a full-scale production facility and shopfront in Fish Lane this winter, with architecture firm Hogg & Lamb working on a design that will result in an outlet completely unique to Brisbane. As for the product range, we’ve been told to expect an identical menu to Melbourne (think traditional French croissants, pain au chocolat, kouign-amann and lemon-curd cruffins, among others) as well as a rotating selection of monthly specials crafted on an alternating basis by the Melbourne and Brisbane teams.
If anyone could be called a winner in 2020, it’s the crew behind Agnes. Ty Simon, Ben Williamson and Frank Li helped make lockdown bearable with their COVID pivot Agnes Street Bakery Pop-Up + Bottle Shop, before finally unveiling Agnes later in the year to massive acclaim (and huge demand). The team is looking to keep the momentum going in 2021, already announcing its follow-up project, Bianca. After securing the Ada Lane corner space formerly occupied by Beaux Rumble, the trio is transforming it into an Italian restaurant named after Ty’s partner Bianca Marchi, who hails from Milan. The restaurant, which is targeting an early March opening, will specialise in everyday Italian dining using local Australian produce. Although Ben is overseeing the culinary direction, Bianca’s menu execution will be the responsibility of Agnes’ Callum Grey and sous chef Mario Asero, who will reportedly be serving up wine-bar-style snacks and antipasti (representing roughly half of the menu), as well as starters, six regularly rotating house-made pastas and six mains. The bar will be amply stocked with never-before-seen biodynamic Italian wines and Australian wines made from Italian varieties, as well as a selection of aperitivo, digestivo and more.
One of Brisbane’s most-acclaimed restaurants is on the move. OTTO Brisbane is picking up sticks and moving from its perch at 480 Queen to occupy the old Stokehouse Q space on the river at South Bank, targeting February 3 as its reopening date. Our fond memories of OTTO’s original space will always remain in our hearts (and bellies), but we can’t wait to indulge in the restaurant’s hatted cuisine accompanied by views of the city skyline and twinkling river. While the vista has changed, we will still be experiencing the OTTO we know and love – head chef Will Cowper will be back in the kitchen and general manager Alan Hunter will be on the floor. Reservations are now open for February – you can secure a seat by clicking here.
As we mentioned above, Agnes’ pop-up bakery was a really big deal. It wasn’t unusual to see a line stretching up Agnes Street with hundreds of foodies patiently waiting for their turn to get a fix of Ben Williamson’s woodfired bakery treats and artisanal pantry stuffers. When the bakery shut to make way for the restaurant, we quietly hoped that the baked goods would return at some point in the not-too-distant future. Well, it seems like our prayers will soon be answered! Late last year, Ben confirmed that the team was getting closer to securing a permanent site for Agnes Bakery. Although details as to potential locations were kept under wraps, we’ve been informed that we could expect at least another pop-up in mid-to-late 2021, if not a permanent space entirely. We won’t lie – we’ve been dreaming about Agnes’ kouign-amann, charred and flaky Basque cheesecakes and n’duja, stracciatella and garlic chive pizzettes. We know we’re not alone, either!
Baker D. Chirico
Yes, 2021 is already shaping up to be the year of the bakery. We consider this to be a good thing, especially when it means the likes of Melbourne’s Baker D. Chirico will be launching in Brisbane. The team behind the Carlton and South Yarra-based bakery recently announced that it would be expanding north to open an eye-catching bakery, shopfront and cafe at Cavcorp’s Long Island development on Longland Street in Newstead. The Brisbane expansion will feature a full-scale baking kitchen, which will be utilised to make Danny Chirico’s famed loaves and pastries crafted using traditional bread-making techniques, natural fermentations and biodynamic stone-milled wholegrain flour. Dine-in visitors will also be able to enjoy a concise bakery-style breakfast menu, with artisanal products inspired by French, German and Italian baking cultures. Baker D. Chirico is aiming to open in April or May.
The Happy Fat Group is making a move to the riverside this year, relocating its beloved boutique pizzeria, charcuterie and cocktail concept COPPA to Eagle Street Pier. The crew closed COPPA’s original Creek Street location in March 2020, but is reviving the locale within a larger space (formerly home to Il Centro). COPPA’s original iteration was known for its woodfired pizzetta, Italian-inspired snacks, selection of Italian wines and Italian-Australian varieties and riffs on the negroni, but we’ve been told to expect COPPA 2.0 will specialise in coastal-Italian cuisine crafted using Australian ingredients. Sounds good to us! COPPA is set to open this week – be sure to keep your eyes peeled for an up-close look soon!
Another of one of our favourite COVID success stories is Kid Curry – the takeaway-cum-restaurant concept conceived by Happy Boy and Snack Man owners Cameron and Jordan Votan. When Snack Man was forced to pause operations due to COVID-19 restrictions, the duo decided to use the extra room to trial a curry focused pop-up. Well, as you can probably guess, it was a hit – so much so that the brothers have secured a permanent bricks-and-mortar space next to their East Street venues. Set to open early this year, Kid Curry will focus on food that is traditionally simple, humble and ‘peasant-style’ – think staple dishes of Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Work is underway on the fit-out, which will result in a dark, intimate space that will be illuminated by a large open kitchen. We’re already drooling over this one!
This isn’t an exhaustive list of places that will be opening this year. We’re also looking forward to the opening of Dandelion & Driftwood in Hendra, Bear Boy Espresso in Windsor, La Costa’s anticipated restaurant addition, Barbecue Mafia’s taco-based concept South Austin, Evra in Newstead and the new-look Manly Boathouse in Manly.
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