It’s a busy time for restaurant openings in Brisbane with a brace of new venues at Riverbend, the new South Bank restaurant precinct as well as in the CBD.
Spring (Cnr Felix & Mary Streets, Brisbane)
One of the most anticipated openings, for me anyway, is Spring, opposite Waterfront Place and near Urbane and The Euro. With Lizzie Loel, former restaurant critic, chef and more recently consultant to John Kilroy’s restaurant group as general manager, its fair to say there’s a keen interest from city workers and industry types alike in seeing what Spring delivers.
Spring brings together a bistro, cooking school, wine store, retail and a ‘market table’ for quick but high quality lunches and breakfasts. I was lucky enough to have a quick tour from Lizzie prior to opening and to find out about the philosophy and intent of Spring. Owner Sarah Hancock is a Queenslander with evident passion for interiors and design who has put together a high calibre team, with chef Andrew Clarke, formerly of Poole’s Rock Winery in the Hunter Valley heading up the kitchen and sommelier and Brisbane hospitality industry figure Peter Marchant announced this week as Spring’s Fine Wine Manager.
In its various guises, Spring will provide regional and seasonal food in a comfortable setting, designed to evoke the ambiance of a gracious country home, with chef Andrew Clarke keen to continue his use of sustainable and organic ingredients in dishes with simple, bold flavours at the fore. As you walk towards Spring, you’ll notice the rotisserie on display through the corner glass windows which will be used to produce roast meats for market table lunches. In another show of Spring’s philosophy of sourcing high quality products unique to Brisbane, Spring will serve Niccolo coffee, roasted in Melbourne under the direction of former Illy master, Manuel Terzi. The blend of mostly arabica and some robusta beans is a flat white drinker’s dream. Pastries from young Brisbane pastry chef Matt Tierney (formerly of Brew Bakers and Aria) are excellent. Spring’s market table is open for trade from 7am for breakfast, lunch and in between snacks.
The retail offer includes homewares, condiments and both new and vintage cookbooks. With Marchant now onboard to steer the wine offer and sommelier/consultant Liz Carey (MoVida, Universal) having laid the foundations with a focus on organic and biodynamic wines, I’m looking forward seeing how Spring evolves as the bistro and retail components open for trade at the end of the month. The cooking school should be popular with corporate groups and Lizzie says they plan to mix it up with local talent and producers rather than just rely on big name chefs.
Stokehouse & Stoke Bar (South Bank)
The first Brisbane foray for the Melbourne based Van Haandel Group, Stokehouse Brisbane occupies the top spot in the new Riverbend precinct and includes a fine dining restaurant and a bar. It’s great to see more venues on the river, and as a big fan of the Stokehouse in St Kilda I’m looking forward to trying Stokehouse. A quick peek at the bar and its menu and drinks list shows plenty of promise.
Cove Bar and Dining (South Bank)
Just along from Stokehouse, I think this is the pick of the Riverbend precinct for views and pure relaxation. The décor is simple with seats at the bar, a scattering of banquettes, stools and tables and a contender for best view in Brisbane. Cocktails are excellent and the wine list, while small, is well conceived with smart options by the glass. A selection of oysters served 10 ways and a promising menu with items like charred goat ribs with black garlic, scallops with black pudding crumble and vanilla pea puree & cocoa dusted quail with ajo blanco look worthy of further exploration.
Burnett Lane Bars (CBD)
Joining Brew in the CBD’s Burnett Lane (running from around the corner from Rocking Horse Records and back up to George Street) are new bars Super Whatnot and The Survey Company Bar and Bistro. I know little more about Super Whatnot than its hidden away location and whacky name but how can it not be good with a name like that?
Survey on the other hand has been well publicised and owner Simon Livingstone is no stranger to operating bars and bistros with Piaf and Sardine Tin at South Brisbane both well loved and established venues. I hope these three venues do a great job of proving beyond doubt that small bars are both supported and viable in Brisbane. Both are close to opening – watch this space.
There’s plenty of other new places opening and it will be interesting to see them evolve and how they land with Brisbane’s sometimes novelty seeking dining public. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these new venues and which ones you’ve tried or are looking foward to trying.