Lauded chef Ben Williamson has joined forces with restaurant dream team Tyron Simon, Bianca Marchi and Frank Li (sAme sAme and Hôntô) to create a new woodfired restaurant in Fortitude Valley, Agnes. The concept, built entirely around woodfired cooking, was originally delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, and spent several months as as a well-received pop-up bakery and bottle shop. The restaurant finally opened in August 2020, showing off the moody interior found within the character-filled brick warehouse-style home on Agnes Street. Spread over three levels, Agnes is be split into three distinct areas – the main dining room, a wine bar and a rooftop bar. On the higher side of the building, the 66-seat dining area is centred around a completely open rustic-style kitchen that boasts two charcoal pits – one dedicated to seafood and starters, another reserved for meat – and a woodfired oven. Ben’s menu moves away from focusing on a specific cuisine, with the only connecting thread between dishes being its use of wood fire. Ironbark, apple wood, cherry wood and olive wood are all used to give ingredients unique flavours, with all snacks, starters, mains and desserts interacting with flame or smoke in some way. The likes of malted sourdough with smoked cultured butter and lamb ribs lathered in sesame whey caramel share menu space with larger plates including smoked lamb neck with ancho mole, aged duck with cumquats and bread sauce, and 70-day aged heritage pork with apple sauce. Downstairs from the main dining room sits the wine bar, which serves a formidable list of beverages. Various cocktail ingredients have also been touched by flame, while the wine list (which encompasses European and Australian varieties) has been similarly designed to respond appropriately to the food. An empty glass-encased room in the centre of the bar space will soon house an on-site distillery, which will be used to craft small batches of whisky, gin and vermouth. Finally, also situated upstairs is a 22-seater private dining space and a rooftop terrace, the latter of which is currently closed due to capacity restrictions and will hopefully be activated come summer.


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