Street art, Burnett Lane

Big names, big tastes and serious coffee define Brisbane’s dining and cafe scenes.

With seafood leaping from ocean to plate, and
forests of tropical fruits, you’re not going to starve in Brisbane, people.  

Beautiful and breezy, River Quay, on Southbank, is the
city’s newest open-air restaurant strip. Fast
becoming a local’s fave, Brisbane restaurateur Andrew Baturo’s Popolo is just the ticket for family
Italian: big plates made to share – the veal cutlet is a winner – or small
tastes that let you snack and watch the beautiful people jog the riverbanks in
very tight shorts. Order the Kingaroy sucking pig, fast becoming Popolo’s
signature dish, just to spite them. 
The other big-news resident on South Bank is Melbourne’s Stokehouse, which now has a Queensland
cousin, and chef Tony Kelly has brought ‘The Bombe,’ a frozen white chocolate
parfait, to a new wave of adorers. Bar aficionados are making a beeline for the
Stoke Bar’s more laid-back tasting plates and signature cocktails. The views
here are pure Brisbane: river, cityscape, mangroves.
Harajuka Gyoza, Fortitude Valley

At the
other end of the budget, you’ll have to elbow the locals out of the way at
Japanese newcomer Harajuku Gyoza,
which has a devoted following for its Kirin on tap and grilled duck gyoza. It
doesn’t hurt that the Fortitude Valley winner is cheap for snacking – a plate
of five gyoza will set you back $8 – and it’s definitely cheerful, with walls
of Jap-pop kitch and plenty of shouting. 

Locals will tell you they’re torn
between Harajuka Gyoza and the hipper Brunswick
, another new opener, also serving fried and steamed dumplings, also
$8 a plate, but with cocktails for grown-ups, rather than easy-going beer
steins. Open til late, late, late on weekend nights, it’s a pleasant
alternative to the 1am kebab.   

In times
past, southerners would gnash their teeth and swear there wasn’t a decent
coffee past the Qld border, but Brisbane’s caffeine scene is a-buzzing. In the
city, Brew burrows underground into Burnett
Lane, a service lane that’s suddenly gone hip, thanks to local efforts to
fashion a laneways culture. Brew’s studenty sofas belie series caffeine intent:
not content with its single origin coffees, it’s now serving cold drip and siphon
coffee to go, in what’s fast becoming the chic strip of the city. New
neighbours on the lane, which runs parallel to Queen St Mall, include The Survey Co Bistro for classic dining
in edgy surrounds.
are the the drive-through
cafés by Brissy roaster Merlo, which
churns out its daily-roasted private blend to loyal locals who zip through,
arms outstretched for a hit. Its hour-long Coffee Appreciation brekkys and brunches lets you peek
at roasters, sample a few beans and get some expert advice on the best in home
brewing.  Classes are held at its five
torrefaziones. Don’t know what a torrefazione is? Better turn up.
amongst the vintage shops and seriously fabulous restaurants on Woolloongabba’s
tiny uber-block on Logan Rd, you kinda wish Pearl Café was your local. With smooth brews and a counter of fresh
cream cakes from the upstairs kitchen, Pearl’s also finessing its charcuterie
table and private dining room. The clientele is bronzed and beautiful, yet the
mood is Gallic, so order up with the French toast for a calorific start to the
day, and delude yourself that your gentle amble home will work it off.
River delight
salty and naughtily buttery, chef Ryan Squires’ grilled sweet corn parfait with
caramel popcorn and tarragon is worth the trip north. The Queensland lad, who’s
cut it in the world’s top kitchens, now has a riverside home at Esquire and his charcoal grill is
working miracles. Time-poor degustation devotees already know about the new lunchtime
pre-fixe three dishes for $35 in the pared-down Esq; a fine-dining bargain (145
Eagle St, CBD,
Aria, Eagle St Pier, CBD, 
Brew, Burnett La, CBD,
Brunswick Social 367 Brunswick
Street, Fortitude Valley
Canvas, 16 Logan Rd, Woolloongabba,
Harajuka Gyoza, 394 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley,
Merlo drive-through, 104 McLachlan St, Fortitude
Valley, 78 LaTrobe Tce, Paddington,
Ortiga, 446 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley,
Pearl, 28 Logan Rd, Woolloongabba,
Popolo, River
Quay, South Bank,
Sidon St, South Bank,

Source: Sun Herald newspaper