It’s refreshing to see just how much quality dining is now available around Southbank, Brisbane’s tourist focal point. Sure there’s still some shockers within Southbank itself – pizza warmed in a toast conveyor, surimi ‘calamari’ rings, Subway, Max Brenner – but places like Sardine Tin, Beastie Burger, Fifth Element, Bamboo Basket and South Bank Surf Club are lifting the bar.
A recent addition to the Southbank dining scene, Champ Kitchen and Bar looks out from the ground floor of the new ABC building to the Brisbane Eye and sits at the edge of the Cultural Forecourt. Proprietor Justine Whelan has a fine pedigree in casual dining, and you might recognise her from Anouk in Paddington or Gunshop in West End.
The staff do a nice job of greeting and seating all comers promptly and this being Southbank there’s a mixed bag of patrons. The corner space is new and exposed suspended slab ceilings and ducting are softened with giant woven lamp shades and a ripple of reclaimed VJ boards wrap the space and provide warmth. Seating ranges from chairs to couches and the look is fashionable and modern, but in a relaxed and unconceited way.
We dropped in for breakfast on Sunday and enjoyed a fruit salad with passionfruit and mint, three cheese sweet corn and potato hash cakes with salsa verde and pork and beef rissole with fried egg, bacon, mushroom and tomato ragu. There’s plenty of other interesting breakfast options and a few basic ones too for the less adventurous. Breakfast here will set you back around $16 and this puts Champ’s prices a touch below its Southbank counterparts. Quality is high and the dining area large enough that finding a table shouldn’t be too much of a challenge, even at the busiest of times.
Whilst the Merlo coffee is well made, the barista seemed to be operating at half pace during our visit which got things off to a slow start. We ordered a second round of drinks but found they hadn’t been made, since the order wasn’t sent. This was quickly forgiven when I went to pay, as the cashier sought feedback and was genuine in his efforts to search out details of our experience. You can see that Justine and her team are still getting a handle on the ebbs and flows of operating in this location and I’m sure they’ll have problems like this solved in no time.
There’s a handsome selection of cakes, salads and other take away items available if you don’t have time to eat in. Champ would be a great spot to meet for a drink before you take in a show at QPAC or during the Brisbane Festival and I hope they extend their hours a little to take full advantage of this.
Champ Kitchen and Bar is well positioned for success and is a welcome addition to the Southbank set.
Champ Kitchen and Bar
114 Grey Street
07 3844 4470
Breakfast and lunch 7 days a week
Dinner Thursday to Saturday