Whether it’s a special occasion, date night, or the mood simply strikes for a night on the town, Brisbane’s CBD has a stellar offering of restaurants for just about every taste. From seafood to steakhouses, New York to Rome and everything in between, here’s a list of top restaurants around the river city.
There’s a large buzz around this place, and reservations are few and far between due to its enormous popularity but when you can squeeze in, you’ll surely be happy you did. Another roaring success from the crew behind Same Same and Honto, Agnes is rustic, earthy, smoky. Everything is wood-fired cooking so the smell alone when you walk in the doorway is an experience unlike any other.
Renowned chef Ben Williamson works his magic over the fire with the freshest of produce and an exciting blend of flavours transforming into art on a plate. I mean that literally – the dishes are just beautiful – almost too beautiful to eat.
Menu standouts include the scarlet prawn doughnut with Vietnamese mint and the clams with pork sausage, Kipfler potato and onion butter. As for the mains, the Red Emporer, soubise, fermented celeriac and basket grilled sweet potato leaf is a sure winner but the roast chicken with harissa, labneh, curry leaf and charred lime is up there too.
A must try!
Rico Bar + Dining
At the southern-most tip of Eagle Street Pier in the spot where fine dining restaurant Aria used to reside now lives the fresh Latin-Australian fusion that is Rico. The views from pretty much anywhere you sit are going to be either of the river or the story bridge, particularly pretty at night, so it’s a win-win for location.
Let me start by saying you cannot mention Rico without talking about the speciality oyster menu. Whether you like them fresh with a wedge of lemon or prefer to mix it up a little, you’ll find a flavour you’ll be craving again for weeks after you have left the building. My personal favourite is the Frambuesa (oysters with raspberry wine vinegar pearls).
When it comes to mains, I did say it was Latin inspired so there are a couple of paellas to choose from but again going with that theme, there are plenty of tapas on offer which is great if you’re anything like me and prefer a few smaller dishes versus a large one. You can’t go past the signature bug brioche or the grilled lamb ribs.
From restaurant royalty, the Gambaro Group comes their latest venture, Persone. Located within the W Hotel, the views offered here span the river across to South Bank. The interior is modern and sleek with the option to sit inside or out.
The menu has Italian classics with a modern twist. The Carpaccio Di Manzo (raw beef carpaccio with smoked onions, ricotta and blackberries) and the Polpette Con Finocchio (beef, pork and fennel meatballs with tomato, parmesan and basil) are a standout but their signature main dish is the Pappardelle Al Rago which is sheets of silky pasta topped with a melt in your mouth pork and beef ragu.
I haven’t yet mentioned dessert with the other restaurants but feel I can’t not when it comes to Persone. The house-made cannoli filled with vanilla and chocolate pastry cream is to die for.
Walters Steakhouse and Wine Bar
Located on the corner of Edward and Alice Street, overlooking the Botanical Gardens you could easily mistake the entry of this steak house for one off the streets of Manhattan, complete with that New York-style awning. The Manhattan vibes don’t end there as you step into the warmly lit bar area and restaurant complete with grand red leather booths. The décor and interior design hits the nail on the head for achieving the traditional steak house feel.
Onto the food! Of the appetisers, the herb-crusted scallops with panko, parmesan and herbs are worth a mention, but the pick of the bunch has to be the dry-aged beef tartare. Also worth mentioning is a section of the menu dedicated to potatoes, you can’t really go wrong there! As for the mains, the house speciality, a signature porterhouse, is something truly special. Designed to be shared, it’s a melt in your mouth taste sensation, which I recommend enhancing with a side of the velvetiest creamed spinach you’ll ever come across.
SK Steak and Oyster
Hailing from the team that brought you Hellenika at The Calile, the neighbouring SK Steak and Oyster is fine dining at its peak. Another restaurant to bring back the booths, the décor here is clean, sophisticated, elegant… very James Bond.
Recommended starters would, of course, be oysters, but also worth a taste are any of the seafood cocktails. Just pick your seafood – there’s prawn, crab, bug and lobster. Did I mention the potato menu? No, I didn’t because if I did I would have highlighted the bug and lobster mash potato.
From the mains, the Patagonian Toothfish with burnt miso and spring onion is amazing as is anything off the dedicated steak menu. There’s even a hand-selected Wagyu exclusive to the restaurant with a marble score of no less than 12.
Tucked away in a side alley of Ann Street in Fortitude Valley, in the old residence of Longtime Restaurant is Eterna, a new Roman-inspired eatery brought to you by the team behind Salt Meats Cheese.
The layout hasn’t changed from its predecessor and it works well to have the open kitchen bustling in the background of the moody, dimly lit space.
The menu is exciting and adventurous with a very large selection of antipasti and share plates like grilled octopus with warm chickpea puree and crusty paprika battered salt cod with tempura artichokes and zesty herb mayo. When it comes to the mains, there are three highlighted as ‘The Eternal Three’ – three quintessential pasta dishes of the eternal city. This first being a traditional Carbonara, the second a tonnarelli pasta tossed with pecorino Romano cheese and pepper, and the third a Bucatini di Gragnano pasta in a gentle spicy sauce with guanciale and pecorino Romano cheese.
While those are tempting, the Pacchero di Gragnano pasta sautéed with Moreton Bay Bugs and clams, dressed with a chilli seafood bisque is just too good to pass up.
By Bettina Maniatis