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Brisbane Dining Out

Brisbane Dining Out Overview

The "casual bistro but still smart food" has well and truly established itself. For example Ecco is a very smart bistro that won a national best restaurant award in 1997. It was established in a part of central Brisbane which had been a bit grotty - disused warehouses and so on. Now this upper Adelaide St area has re-vitalised and there is a terrific precinct which includes Circa and Venice a short walk away. The bistro theme is continued in another precinct - The Valley and New Farm where Brunswick Street is the main artery. The Valley (real name Fortitude Valley) is an equivalent to Kings Cross and New Farm is Darlinghurst / Woolahra (using the Sydney analogy). Brunswick St is equivalent to Chapel Street (to use the Melbourne comparison). Along Brunswick, some bistros are smart and sexy ( Isis, Anise); some are eccentric (Gerties), some are hearty (Arc Bistro) and there are lots of minimalist coffee cafes. Just off Brunswick is Aix - casual but smart food and wines. Off Brunswick St is Merthyr Rd with Epicurean and The Grape Wine & Food Bar, with excellent casual but smart bistros.

The concept of a precinct for restaurants in Brisbane is helpful. So far I have mentioned the upper Adelaide St area and The Valley / New Farm. The Riverside precinct is on the river with views to the Storey Bridge - it is a little touristy at night and weekends and at weekday lunchtimes, popular with the suits. Michaels (and offshoot Marcos), Pier Nine, Cha Cha Char, Vinos, Customs House, Il Centro and Daniels have been there for quite a few years and still do it well. "II" Bar and Grill is further along - the new venture of the Two Small Rooms gang. "II" is sexy and wonderful; Two Small Rooms continues as a fabulous suburban restaurant and excellent BYO venue. Classic "fine dining" is offered by the two big international hotels - Victorias at the Hilton (where Phillip Johnston of Ecco is overseeing the menu) and Siggis at the Heritage. There are other precincts - Racecourse Road, Ascot is compared to Toorak; Given Terrace / Caxton St to Lygon St. Park Road, Milton is the the answer by the Brisbane inner west to Racecourse Road in the east. .

Brisbane Restaurant Briefs

Ecco Bistro, corner Adelaide/Boundary Sts, City; (07)3831 8344. (pronounced "echo"). Nationally, perhaps internationally famous with owner/chef Phillip Johnson now a famous face and celebrity. 1997 Remy/Gourmet Traveller national winner. Modern looking smart bistro with visible kitchen; menu is innovative but food portion sizes are generous. Menu design has one foot in the vanguard of cutting edge but still a foot in hearty wholesome fare. Ecco is always busy - it is quite a small restaurant and is vibrant and noisy. Interesting medium sized wine list. Small bar with a few stools. Non-smoking, moderate expense. Quite generous portion sizes - if you want dessert you may have to stick to entrees before.

Isis Brasserie Cnr Brunswick/Robertson Sts, The Valley (07) 3852 1155 Smart and sexy with very interesting modern decor which includes a design to cut down on noise (there are fabric wall panels and so on). A great place to watch the passing parade along Brunswick Street. Owned and run energetically by young guys Simon Hill and Luke Rayment. Medium sized menu of interesting foods including some cutting edge style. Good medium/large wine list. Moderate prices. Small bar. Small smoking area. Circa Adelaide St Newest and trendiest - next to Jamesons and opposite Ecco. Very good looking modern brasserie decor with a long bar at the entry, partial view into kitchen, a high ceiling section and view over the river, and an upstairs area which is mainly for functions. There is lots of bright natural light during