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Simon says Ballet HQ is the perfect place for a new dining hot spot

The heritage-listed home of Queensland Ballet has recently received a $100-million makeover – one that not only saw the cultural institution’s world-class facilities improved tremendously, but also laid the groundwork for the hub to flourish into a hospitality destination in its own right.

Oct 07, 2022, updated Oct 07, 2022
Chef Simon Barakat has done a perfect pirouette from a neighbouring building into the newly refurbished Thomas Dixon Centre, the new home of Queensland Ballet.

Chef Simon Barakat has done a perfect pirouette from a neighbouring building into the newly refurbished Thomas Dixon Centre, the new home of Queensland Ballet.

Simon Barakat is taking the reins of the Thomas Dixon Centre’s private event spaces and will also open two new venues at the precinct early next year – an approachable bistro-style eatery and a signature restaurant tucked away amongst the building’s foundations. Here’s what we know …

The Thomas Dixon Centre looks every cent of its multi-million dollar refurbishment – the former boot factory on Montague Road is now a gleaming hub for ballet excellence. But now, in addition to being the headquarters of Queensland Ballet, it will soon double as a multifaceted function and hospitality precinct.

Restaurateur Simon Barakat, known for venues like Gino’s ItalianIl Verde and the recently closed Ehden Bar & Kitchen, is already overseeing the centre’s function spaces. The hub’s two rooftop jewels, the Champagne Terrace and the Kite Terrace, are already being put to use as stellar spots for private events and now both are open to the public for scenic sundowners, too.

When not booked out for an event, the Champagne Terrace opens from Monday to Friday between 3:00–8:00 pm, serving spritzes, French champagne and dishes like buffalo mozzarella with caramelised baby figs, Hiramasa kingfish crudo, local bug roll with capsicum aioli, and freshly shucked oysters.

The Kite Terrace also opens for occasional Friday soirees, with views of the glittering city skyline likely to make it a popular position for post-work or pre-show sips.

Now that the function spaces are operational, Simon is shifting gears and looking towards the next phase of operations. In the coming months he’ll start work on two new hospitality venues that will operate from within the Thomas Dixon Centre. An all-day bistro will be located closer to the building’s main entrance on Drake Street, while Bunker Barre will take its name from the World War II-era bunkers it will inhabit down on the basement level.

The bistro concept will sit inside an airy space featuring arched windows and seating for 40, alongside an umbrella-shaded alfresco courtyard area with room for a further 40 guests. Here, the fare will resemble an approachable, everyday style of offering, with healthy and classic breakfasts available in the morning (including grab-and-go options and coffee), as well as lunch and dinner dishes as the day progresses.

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Conversely, Bunker Barre (the hub’s signature lunch and dinner venue) will offer a distinctly moodier setting for those seeking sustenance after a show. “In relation to after performances, I really want Bunker Barre to be open until late,” says Simon. “From what I’m hearing from patrons, staff and performers, they all want somewhere they can go after the show and get something to eat, have a drink, meet up and catch up.”

Architects Conrad Gargett (the brains behind the centre’s magnificent makeover) will work on Banker Barre’s high-end look, preserving the heritage brickwork and pairing it with a dark colour palette and brass accents. Seating for between 80–100 will be accommodated via a mix of stand-alone tables and booth seating (the latter of which will be set within the bunker alcoves), with a private dining space also expected to feature.

As for the offering itself, we hear that Bunker Barre could potentially offer a refined share-style Mediterranean-inspired menu with a focus on seafood and protein, plus a range of top-shelf vino (including plenty of champagne) also likely to fill out a robust wine list.

Both venues are expected to open in early 2023 – rest assured we’ll have more info on these as they come together.

This article was written by James Frostick from The Weekend Edition. 

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