‘Fine dining’ in the food court
The last Brisbane venture for and , co-founder of award-winning cocktail bar The Bowery, Fortitude Valley, was a collaboration on the well-regarded Valley fine-diner, The Buffalo Club.
Now, the duo is back in the capital city along with Birt's partner CC Smith, co-founder of Valley live music venue The Zoo, to debut Bordertown - their casual Tex-Mex burger and taco concept, which kicked off in Noosaville in 2016.
This time around, the offering will be sans booze and it's located in a Brisbane City food court, Post Office Square, with a focus on lunchtime trade and takeaways.
"It's very different for us, but it's really exciting," says Smith.
"We're taking a fine-dining approach and breaking it down to street-food level."
Post Office Square management is keen to bring a different level of lunchtime fast food to the centre, dubbed the Golden Triangle because it's surrounded by so many offices of big banks and law firms.
The Bordertown City digs won't be a carbon copy of the existing Noosaville space, but they will break with the "plastic-fantastic-neon" style of fit-out associated with food courts.
As you'd expect, there will be cool twists, including an art installation by Thom Stuart and HeArt space, a section dedicated to supporting local visual and performing artists.
The team is keen to experiment with different iterations with other Bordertown ventures already on the drawing board.
"We want to do lots of different Bordertowns, not just cookie cutter versions," says Smith. "Food courts, a restaurant or even a food truck or festival."
Birt says he'd love to do a beer garden version if a space became available.
Their first Brisbane venture has just 20 seats and will open next Monday.
Noosaville fans will be stoked to hear the menu will be similar and the Harley James Special, a double beef, double cheese burger, is relocating too. Expect a few changes though: fresh calamari replacing prawns in a taco with a jalapeño labne and melon salsa, for example, plus a new pulled roasted duck taco with pistachio salsa, manchego, citrus and celeriac. Breakfasts - featuring burgers, burritos, tacos - will arrive once everything's bedded in.
QUACKER VENUE FOR W BRISBANE
The signature restaurant for luxe new City hotel, W Brisbane on George St, looks like being an absolute quacker, with the popular team behind NSW phenomenon Three Blue Ducks set to fly in to launch its first Queensland venture in April.
Three Blue Ducks started out with a venue in Sydney's Bronte, then spread its wings to open at Byron Bay's The Farm and now also have a warehouse-style space in Sydney's Rosebery.
The new W Brisbane 150-seat digs will overlook the Brisbane River and will open daily, serving everything from breakfast to dinner in a relaxed space kitted out with a wood-fire oven, rotisserie and charcoal pit, plus dedicated cold seafood section to showcase Moreton Bay bugs, spanner crabs, oysters and more.
Located on level three of the hotel, chefs Darren Robertson and Mark LaBrooy will head the kitchen and the venue fit-out will feature earthy tones with VJ wall panels in a cap-tip to Queensland, and pops of greenery.
CHINESE FOOD TO BOOM BOOM
Brisbanites after great Chinese fare will be spoiled for choice next year with no less than four Cantonese-style ventures in the pipeline.
These include Mantle Group's Tai Tai, South Bank; The Fortitude Valley Cantonese project by the team from Burleigh Head's Rick Shores; Neil Perry's Sichuan-Cantonese leaning Spice Temple; and Stanley, a 150-seat Hong Kong Cantonese inspired bar and restaurant by Andrew and Jaimee Baturo to be located at Howard Smith Wharves, Kangaroo Point.
Now, we can add Donna Chang Dining to the list - an upscale, two-level 180-seat modern Chinese restaurant specialising in Cantonese and Sichuan cuisine, replete with three private dining rooms on a mezzanine, with a separate 250-seat basement bar called the Boom Boom Room beneath. Both are the handiwork of the Ghanem Group, the operators behind Eagle St's Blackbird Bar & Grill, and more and are set to fire up in early June.
Both will sit at the base of the new TFE Adina Apartment Hotel set to get under way in heritage digs at 171 George St, Brisbane, in late May. The Ghanems will provide in-house catering including room service and breakfasts.
To head the kitchen, the family-owned group has nabbed Jason Margaritis, former head chef at Neil Perry's Melbourne Spice Temple. He'll work under group executive chef Jake Nicolson.
Shawn Gomes, formerly at Il Centro, Brisbane, will be general manager. Group sommelier Penny Grant will oversee drinks. A dim sum master is coming from Hong Kong and the plan has been in the works for 18 months.
"We're really excited to bring Brisbane a high-end Chinese - the food will be fantastic," says managing director Nehme Ghanem.
Donna Chang's menu will feature local bounty not always showcased in Chinese fare, with live fire cooking also a feature.
Diners may find anything from quandong-glazed Peking-style duck to Mangrove blossom honey char sui pork, live seafood tanks, Kampot pepper Fraser Island spanner crab and more. The bar won't be a high-volume affair like Blackbird. The focus will be on service, with bookable booths, Ghanem says.
BIG PLANS BREWING FOR ROCKPOOL
Rockpool Dining Group is still on the hunt for the right location to house its Brisbane Spice Temple and Rockpool Bar & Grill, says group CEO Thomas Pash, who's been tied-up for months overseeing a breakneck series of openings Australia-wide, with yet more planned, including bringing The Bavarian out west to Toowoomba.
"Opening new restaurants take time, finding the right sites takes time and we won't rush into it," Pash says.
"We've been busy and we're psyched up for 2018, which promises to be one of our biggest years yet."
The group's 900-seat Munich Brauhaus, housed in the former Allgas Building at South Bank, is finally expected to start pouring end of April or in early May; with The Bavarian Beerhaus at the RNA Showgrounds, Bowen Hills, and the 200-seat Toowoomba project scheduled to be open by the end of June. The Bavarian Toowoomba will be located at The Grand Central Shopping Centre.
South Bank's Munich Brauhaus will run across two levels, with a beer garden and 48 beer taps. It will have a similar look and feel to the group's interstate Brauhaus ventures including beer stein chandeliers and Oompah bands, pork knuckles, house-made sausage and more.
ASIAN TWIST FOR NEWSTEAD NEWBIE
Newstead's Biru Shinobi has been replaced by No. 68, a new contemporary licensed cafe with an Asian twist by ex-Sydneysiders chef Patrick Beinke and partner Christine.
Beinke, who recently helped to set up food at the Queensland Museum, says they plan to cater for everybody from diners with dietaries through to early birds and tradies, with a dinner service in the works. The 50-seater will also feature dog parking. Parallel Roasters coffee will be in the grinders.
VENZIN GROUP HITS A SIX
The ever-busy Venzin group (Pawpaw, Woolloongabba, Mons Ban Sabai, Camp Hill, and more) sparked up venue number six yesterday - Sundays Cafe at Rocklea in Brisbane's south. Giorgina Venzin says it will offer all the best of the Pawpaw menu, opening from 5.30am to cater to tradies.
"It's a bit of a hidden gem. You'll need to know where we are to find us," Venzin says of the venue at 59 Brook St.
"It's pet-friendly, kid-friendly and very laid-back."