Fish Lane welcomes Southside – the much-anticipated new restaurant from the Rick Shores crew
Any long-distance runner will tell you the importance of finishing strong – a mentality we are trying to keep in mind as we hit the final stretch of the marathon that is 2020. It seems like Brisbane’s dining scene is following suit, because the recent weeks have seen an influx of impressive eateries. South Brisbane’s foodie thoroughfare Fish Lane has sought to end the year on a high note with the unveiling of Town Square – the tropical jungle-inspired addition that has brought with it a host of new openings. Following hot on the heels of spritz joint Bar Brutus and margarita-slinging kiosk Kiki is Southside – an irresistibly attractive multi-storey restaurant that might soon be regarded as one of Brisbane’s best. With a kitchen plating up everything from lobster and chive har gow to Sichuan fried chicken, and a design worthy of a feature in Architectural Digest, Southside is capping off 2020 in style.
Fish Lane’s captivating newcomer Southside is, perhaps, the most adventurous-yet-approachable concept that David Flynn, Frank Li, Andrew Hohns and Nick Woodward have assembled to date. As the brains behind restaurants Rick Shores and Little Valley, the group has fostered a reputation for excellence – a pedigree that ensures any new venture instantly becomes noteworthy news for discerning diners. As a planned anchor tenant of Fish Lane’s new Town Square addition, Southside has been in the works long before the word COVID embedded itself in our day-to-day vernacular. When Aria Property Group offered a coveted spot within its highly regarded hospitality strip, David, Frank, Andrew and Nick were eager to jump onboard, but it was the precinct’s proximity to a multitude of markets – not its reputation – that really sold them on the idea. Until now the group had yet to tackle everyday dining – Rick Shores quickly carved a niche as a destination restaurant, while Little Valley’s nuanced take on modern-Chinese cuisine elevated it into the realm of experiential indulgence. Southside, at its core, has been designed from the outset to cater to the time-pressed pre-show set, casual and curious laneway wanderers, and the culinarily courageous. The team has broadened its scope and, therefore, its appeal, all while maintaining a high level of service and knack for crafting exhilarating eating experiences.
Of its cadre of restaurants, Southside might be the group’s most visually striking endeavour. The design, described as a “ruined jungle temple meets sleek semi-industrial structure”, serves to make the most of Town Square’s lush surrounds – with the ground-floor alfresco space and interior dining area benefitting from a lack of distinction between boundaries. The Richards and Spence-designed facade meshes with the solid brick-heavy aesthetic of Town Square as a whole – its palette of materials helping create a rawness (meshing with the rail lines above) softened slightly by the abundance of palms and vines. Southside’s interior comes courtesy of Sunshine Coast design practice OGE and local construction crew Tonic Projects, who have helped convey the venue’s underlying conceptual juxtaposition by piecing together a sleek and comfortable aesthetic that stretches across the venue’s courtyard dining area, ground-floor kitchen, dining room and bar, an upstairs dining space and bar, and private-dining room in its own mezzanine level. The assembled palette of materials features a savvy interplay of textures, from the terracotta rendered walls and the soft-leather banquettes to the sturdy plinth of the ground-floor bar and concrete floors. This attention to tactile sensation is applied to even the smallest details – from the ceramic plates from Robert Gordon to the sturdy-yet-smooth Ross Didier chairs. Those seeking a more electric atmosphere are encouraged to dine in the alfresco space or in the lower dining room (which opens up to the square thanks to some hangar-style windows that raise into the ceiling), while upstairs offers a quieter, more insulated and immersive experience – free of distraction.
Southside’s menu has been crafted by head chef Simon Hanmer and senior sous chef Benny Lam, who have elected to put forth a balanced menu that blends fast-serve, easy-to-consume bites with more elaborate dishes. The menu’s foundations are rooted in traditional Chinese cooking, but also boasts a cross-pollination of flavours from East- and Southeast-Asian cuisines, as well as European techniques. Common reference points help create a sense of familiarity, but are imbued with an element of surprise courtesy of some more adventurous flavours. The menu kicks off with a selection of dim sum (created in its own room visible from Melbourne Street), featuring the likes of prawn and truffle har gow, smoked pork and herb xiao long bao, and chicken wontons with black vinegar and chilli oil. A selection of share plates showcase Southside’s communal lean, with Goolwa pipis in XO Sauce, Xinjiang lamb ‘kebab’ with roti bread and smoked yoghurt, Hiramasa kingfish with charred onion, and siu yuk pork belly with native plum showcasing the diverse well of influences. Rice and noodle dishes are also a key fixture – the master-stock duck with house noodles and Benny’s chilli, egg fried rice with with roast pork and Fall’s Farm veg, and char kway teow with Moreton Bay bug and lup cheong (Chinese sausage) are highlights. The dessert selection is concise, with pineapple custard buns and Vietnamese coffee tarts helping end things on a sweet note. Southside’s beverage list is similarly diverse. Venue manager Maui Manu’s wine list (boasting a tight 99 bottles) favours international imports from the world’s best wine regions, backed by a selection of the team’s favourite Australian producers (Scorpo, Shobbrook Wines, Mac Forbes). Bar manager Sophia Bradtke has assembled a selection of Southside signature cocktails that feature Asian-inspired flavours and produce (think Southeast-Asian fruits and Chinese spices), available alongside the classics.
Southside is now open to the public. For opening hours and contact details, head to the Stumble Guide.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.