Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published December 12th 2011
There's nothing quite like eating out at a good restaurant. The food arrives as if by magic, is delicious, and then is taken away again. The other patrons are smiling and laughing, creating a sense of celebration and wellbeing. It's almost like a show – but a show centred around serving you and giving you the best dinner possible. Unfortunately, just as a show can be ruined by a single out-of-place detail, eating out at a restaurant can be ruined by anything that breaks the spell. Overcooked food, rude waiters, or an inconvenient earthquake can turn a magical evening into a night to forget. You might not be able to avoid earthquakes, but you can avoid places with average cooks and surly staff: just stick to restaurants with a reputation, like these:
Alchemy Restaurant and Bar
The ancient discipline of alchemy attempted to create value from the value-less: through a series of arcane steps, turning lead into gold or refuse into the secret of eternal life.
Better than gold.
Alchemy Restaurant and Bar, on 175 Eagle St, is the creation of Brad Jolly and Angelina Jolly, and in the kitchen Brad Jolly attempts to turn regular ingredients – and some not-so regular ingredients - into something truly special. The decor is amazing, too, all wood-and-glass with a great view of the Brisbane River and Story Bridge. It's not as expensive as you might think, but it's certainly fine dining. If you've got room after the main course, definitely go for one of the liquid nitrogen desserts: visually impressive and something you won't find anywhere else.
Montrachet, on 224 Given Terrace, Paddington, is very French. The name 'montrachet' itself refers to a kind of French wine, and snails with garlic butter – escargots en cocotte – feature prominently on the entree menu. Service is very friendly (friendlier than many classy restaurants in France) and the wine list is impressive enough to be considered one of the best in Brisbane. Whether you'll like the decor depends in large part upon your personality. If you're in a good mood, you'll find it cosy and authentic; if you're in a bad mood, you might find it too small and cramped. Try the seven-course degustation menu – unlike many restaurants, it actually gives you enough food to feel full afterwards. There are few things worse than going home after an expensive meal and being hungry enough to eat a bowl of cereal.
Is your mouth watering yet?
We move from the French Montrachet to the Italian E'cco – and while Montrachet focuses on delighting the tastebuds, E'cco offers a more wholesome, hearty experience. The menu strives to appear uncomplicated and fresh, and the decor follows suit. There are no tablecloths or riverside views; instead, E'cco is on 100 Boundary St in a comfortably normal building. In Italian, E'cco means something like "look at this" or "here it is", and the chef doesn't want you looking anywhere but at the food. A huge plate of warm bread will follow you to your table, and while the food may sound fancy – veal carpaccio, serrano ham – it's somehow familiar and reliable (although by no means boring). If you want complicated decadence, try one of the desserts.
This doesn't scratch the surface of Brisbane's restaurant culture. Anise, for instance, has gone unmentioned, as has Ortiga. If you know a restaurant that deserves to be on this list, share it in the comments – we'd love to hear from you And if you're interested in other amazing Brisbane restaurants, check the comments as well, since there are bound to be plenty of interesting suggestions there.