Brisbane’s food scene is seriously stepping up to become as much a drawcard as its sweet sunshine. There’s diversity and first-rate quality being dished up and suddenly Melbourne and Sydney can’t lay claim so boldly with bragging rights as the standouts on the gastronomical front in Oz. What’s the buzz in Brisbane? All sorts of things. They include big and bold pub grubbin’, burger joints galore, Asian sensations, and anything that’s raw and organic. But it’s the fine dining where Brisbane is setting tongues wagging for more reasons than one, raising the bar in the process and carving a reputation as a serious player on a global scale in food finesse. With that sort of vibe comes the big boys and girls. So just where are the big name celebrity chefs setting up shop in Brisbane …
ARIA Brisbane, Matt Moran (pictured)
It’s easy to fall in love with Mr Moran’s food whether you’re watching one of his cooking show episodes or sticky noting a page in one of his books for that next dinner party. But there’s nothing quite like a first-hand two or three-hour dining experience at ARIA Brisbane on Eagle Street Pier to appreciate the celebrity chef’s finest work – or certainly what he’s set in motion. It’s Moran’s mission and principles derived from ARIA’s big sister and more renowned Sydney restaurant of the same name that has infiltrated into Queensland and found a monumental home on the riverfront. Moran’s – and his longtime restaurateur partner Peter Sullivan’s – food is all about seasonality and local produce, while flavoursome, balance and premium quality are imperatives. For the Brisbane incarnation, a quick warm up Chilli & Passion cocktail in the exquisite entrance bar area sets the scene and builds an appetite for a feast inside where some rock star treatment on the service front awaits. Think entree choices of freshly shucked oysters served with pickled ginger, soy and lime caviar or grilled lobster with tomato, asparagus, basil and lemon oil. Mains are insanely good, especially the roasted numbers: fillet barramundi with spanner crab, puffed rice, sweet corn and cold pressed lemongrass or duck breast with witlof, turnips and toasted buckwheat. Dessert? It’s a tough decision, but a choice of seven from which you can’t go wrong, but the hazelnut, popcorn and caramel ganache with hazelnut ice cream is deliciously wicked and alone is worth road-tripping to Brisbane for. Head chef Ben Russell and team have completely nailed it. With an insurmountable wine-list, striking views from the restaurant across the Brisbane River and wait staff who make you feel like royalty, ARIA is up there not only as a standout on Brisbane’s elite food scene, but Australia’s.
Jamie’s Italia Australia, Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver’s fun and delish restaurant opposite Queen’s Plaza is an experience for everyone to enjoy, young and old, offering an Italian feast for the senses at a price-tag everyone’s comfortable with. The two-storey, 240-seat venue is the celeb chef’s biggest in Australia (and his fifth), and features lots of Queensland-inspired leadlight glass, leather work and “exposed walls to create a cool, urban feel, which works really well against the backdrop of the traditional space”, Oliver told the Courier Mail recently. As for the food? Magnifico. Freshly made house-produced pastas, tasty antipasti and sides, mains including fillet steaks, burgers, osso bucco style lamb, baked king salmon and more.
Fat Noodle, Luke Nguyen
As far as tasty Asian casual dining experiences go with menu’s delivered by the best, Fat Noodle at The Treasury, Brisbane Casino, in William Street is unbeatable. Think wok-tossed charred beef, chicken with peppercorns, and generally offering a mix of offers Chinese cuisine, with a mix of Vietnamese, Thai and Malay fare.
Moda, Javier Codina
Moda Restaurant is set in the heart of Brisbane city, a gorgeous Spanish-inspired restaurant with well-known chef Javier Codina at the helm and front of house whiz François Le Savéant charming one and all. Tapping into his Spanish heritage, it’s all about rustic cuisine that includes tempura whiting and manolette chorizo for entrees before feasting on gorgeous share plates, duck breast, spanish mackeral and loads of other scrumptious options.