The year in review: the trends and tastes that shaped Brisbane in 2021
Here we are, bleary eyed and weary at the end of another year. While we can’t say that 2021 was an amazing year for the world at large, there were still some bright spots worth celebrating. The year that was saw Brisbane’s dining scene evolve in interesting ways, from the massive influx of new Italian-inspired eateries to the return of the sambo. We’re taking a look back to commemorate the notable happenings in the Brisbane foodie landscape and also spotlight some of the pieces that resonated with you, our dear readers, the most …
If we were to assign a ‘Cuisine of the Year’ award to one culinary niche, we’d probably pin the pennant on Italian fare. This year saw a sharp spike in the number of Italian-inspired eateries popping up around town, with some of 2021’s most notable new nosheries delivering delicious takes on the classic cuisine. From peach-hued Biànca’s antipasti-favouring menu and Gemelli Italian’s rustic home-style pizzas and pasta to Sasso Italiano’s retro-inspired interpretation of American-Italian fare and Rosmarino’s refined Sardinian-accented style, there was plenty of variety to enjoy. That’s not even an exhaustive list – other newcomers such as Elementi, Ombra Italian Bar, Toscano Bar & Kitchen, Italian Street Kitchen, La Valle and COPPA made Italian the top trend of 2021.
Brisbane’s bakery bonanza
This year was also a big one for carb lovers. Yep, bakeries were also a big-ticket trend in 2021 and for good reason – we saw some noteworthy operators make some sizeable moves that had loaf lovers in a spin. The year started with the arrival of Darvella Patisserie in Bulimba, which made a killer first impression with its Swiss-inspired pastries and cakes. Not long after, established bakery crew Flour & Chocolate expanded with a new location in Redcliffe, while MICA opened an express-style dispensary in the heart of Brisbane City. Around the mid-way point of 2021 some big-name players unveiled their own bricks-and-mortar spaces, starting with Lune Croissanterie’s space-age zont production facility and retail site in South Brisbane. Despite opening in the middle of a lockdown, hordes of socially distanced croissant-crazy patrons lined the block for a taste on opening day. Sprout Artisan Bakery started serving dreamy danishes and savoury tarts from it own permanent site on James Street and, soon after, Agnes Bakery unveiled its own long-awaited home nearby – granting the wishes of all that frequented its pandemic pop-up in 2020.
Brewing up a storm
If we’re being fair, Brisbane’s craft-beer brewing scene has grown nearly every year over the past decade, meaning it’s now less of a ‘trend’ and more of a way of life. Regardless, the local suds scene is worth singling out again thanks to some awesome ale-soaked arrivals. Local stalwart Slipstream Brewing Co. flicked on the taps at its new Yeerongpilly brewpub in February, significantly expanding its production capabilities while also revamping its kitchen and taproom. After some delays, Revel Brewing Co. lifted the cloche on its Morningside production facility and restaurant at the Rivermakers precinct, while small-batch specialists Brewtide headlined the official opening of the anticipated food-and-drink hub Craft’d Grounds in Albion. The Katarzyna Group elevated the brewing game in November with the unveiling of its rooftop brewery Valley Hops, which sits atop multifaceted Fortitude Valley party spot Cloudland. Finally, Alderley bar Ploughman evolved from beer slinger to beer maker this year, moving operations further down South Pine Road and reopening last week as a microbrewery and tasting room in Enoggera specialising in small-batch brews made on site.
Sure, sandwiches never go out of style, but 2021 saw a resurgence in sandwich specialists across Brisbane. Kould Be Anywhere in Woolloongabba put a fine-dining spin on its selection of salivation-worthy sambos, with its elevated array of toasties (filled with the likes of confit chicken and wagyu pastrami) putting its offering a notch above what’s readily available. Around the corner, Mr Badger’s delivered its own spin on deli-style sandwiches, offering the likes of South Philly cheesesteak, meatball and provolone, and Reuben varieties in addition to a swag of NYC-style bagels. Speaking of bagels, the Zero Fox crew expanded its Teneriffe footprint with its attitude-loaded step-sister Unbearable Bagels – a handy grab-and-go joint dishing out loaded bagels (featuring the likes of salmon gravlax and pastrami with seeded mustard and pickled cabbage) and cups of specialty coffee. Joining this surge last month was Sunny Side Sandwiches – a culinary offshoot by the Wanderer Coffee crew that draws inspiration from iconic sandwich shops like Hector’s Deli in Melbourne and iconic London shop Brick Lane Beigel Bake. The menu here features an Eggslut-inspired breakfast sandwich, a panko-crumbed chicken schnitzel roll and a salad sandwich, among others.
What you loved
Looking over the year as a whole, our readers once again showed that they have exceptional (and diverse) taste. Loads of you referred to our plant-based dining round-up often, alongside our lists on Brisbane’s best pizza parlours, bakeries, barbecue joints (both American and Korean), Indian restaurants, Japanese joints and Thai eateries. Our features on Harris Farm Markets, The Green, Lune Croissanterie, It’s Still A Secret, Bisou Bisou and Iris, Nodo Hawthorne, Rothwell’s Bar & Grill, Queens, and Banc Brasserie & Wine Bar also resonated with a lot of you.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.