Following multi-million dollar refurbishments, Brisbane's heritage-listed Port Office Hotel has officially reopened after fire gutted the building earlier in the year. Publican Meagan Gregorski, who owns the Port Office Hotel with husband Nick, said flames leaping from a piece of barbecued beef brisket started a fire in the kitchen in January. That fire was fast extinguished, so staff and customers standing on the street post-evacuation fully expected to go back in once firefighters gave the all-clear.
The Port Office Hotel's sun-drenched dining room. Author image.
Then Nick got a call from a friend working in a high rise tower over at Waterfront Place. 'You on fire, mate?' His friend could see what those on the ground could not: flames billowing from the roof, which had ignited after searing heat from the original fire penetrated the ceiling cavities. Determining that this was a 'sleeper', the firefighters donned their high-risk gear and headed into the 155-year old pub. The damage was extensive. The dining room had to be gutted and rebuilt, while the front and upstairs bars also needed work due to smoke and water damage.
From the spacious verandah, you can watch the world go by. Author image.
It was devastating. But the Gregorskis refused to crumble in the face of circumstance. Instead, they rolled up their sleeves and went back to work, breathing new life into their dream. The result is today's solid, stylish and spacious Port Office Hotel which is part sports bar, part gastropub, part function space, part wine cellar and part gambling den. The couple's eye for design is evident in every touch - from the botanical prints on the walls in the upstairs Colonial Bar to the tobacco leather couches of the Dining Room (informally known as The Office) and the substantial wooden tables of the Front Bar.
There's no problem in the world a smooth pour can't solve. Author image.
The Port Office Hotel's new era has been matched by a new menu developed by executive chef Graham Waddell, featuring mouth-watering entrees such as Moreton Bay bugs with sesame slaw with chilli mayo on fried wontons, and Wagyu beef shin croquetas with bone marrow, treacle and horseradish. Mains run the gamut of the rotisserie-cooked Glasshouse Mountains half chicken, Game Farm duck breast, or Parmesan and Herb Crumbed Veal Cutlets. (The latter is back by popular demand.)
Wagyu beef shin croquetas with bone marrow, treacle and horseradish. Author image.
It's all just another chapter in this Grande Dame's colourful history. Originally dubbed the Shamrock Hotel, the pub opened its doors in 1864, but suffered its first major disaster with the 1893 floods. It wasn't until 1909 that the pub changed its name to the Port Office Hotel . It traded successfully and underwent several renovations until it was inundated by the 1974 Brisbane floods. It narrowly escaped the 2011 floods after community members banded together to sandbag the street. Fortunately, owners of the Port Office Hotel weren't about to let a little fire spoil the party - or quell the spirit of this larger-than-life Brisbane establishment.
Hands-on publicans hit the wine room. Author image.