Tassis Group’s luxe steakhouse Fatcow unveils its sleek new James Street location

If you’ve noticed the aroma of woodsmoke floating down James Street recently, you probably caught a whiff of Fatcow on James St – the brand-new steakhouse and seafood restaurant from Tassis Group. The super-busy restaurant crew has brought Fatcow back to life in luxe digs on James Street’s northern end, pulling back the curtains on a sleek monochromatic space and debuting a spruced-up menu filled with live seafood and sublime steaks sourced from Australia’s best producers. Part rebirth, part sophisticated glow-up, Fatcow on James St is now primed and ready to gun for a spot amongst Brisbane’s best protein palaces. Take a look inside …
May 17, 2024, updated May 17, 2024

When Fatcow closed its doors at Eagle Street Pier back in July 2022, owner Michael Tassis was confident it would be back. The only sticking point was where.

Ideally, Michael wanted to keep it in The City – as close to the Golden Triangle (that’s the area bordered by Eagle Street, Queen Street and Edward Street) as he could, but few vacant spots fit the bill. While he waited for the right space to appear, Michael decided to turn his attention toward opening a string of other celebrated venues, including Fosh, Rich & Rare and Longwang, as well as securing sites for more eateries to come.

And then, a year on from Fatcow’s closure, Michael was presented with a space on James Street. The glitzy strip – regarded as Brisbane’s preeminent dining precinct – is a covetable piece of real estate. With vacancies few and far between (and in high demand) James Street is a tough neighbourhood to break into. As you’d expect, it was an opportunity Michael couldn’t refuse.

“I love what they’re doing in James Street – the restauranteurs there are very passionate and they’re all high-calibre operators,” says Michael. “I wanted to join that street and have a footprint there and give it my all. So when I got offered the spot I just decided to grab it with two hands and run with it.”

Michael and his team knew that Fatcow needed to level up in order to match the pedigree of the street. That’s not to say that original Fatcow was bland, by any means – the steakhouse earned a rep for being one of Brisbane’s best places to devour top-tier protein. But having inherited its Eagle Street Pier home from Cha Cha Char (and knowing the building would soon be cleared to make way for Dexus’ $2.5-billion Waterfront Place development), the Tassis Group wasn’t able match the high-end concept with a fit-out it deserved. But now, with a hot piece of property in hand, the team had the chance to establish Fatcow as a fully realised concept – a premium dining destination worthy of being the group’s crown jewel.

“Each location I go into, I believe that you’ve got to always tweak it to the setting,” says Michael. “When you talk about James Street, there’s a little bit of a step up. I wanted to push it a little bit higher and refine things a bit more.”

Once again, Michael has teamed up with Callum Lui from Clui Design to shape Fatcow 2.0’s interior aesthetic. The restaurant space, an empty shell with a glass facade that has previously housed a pop-up Ferrari showroom, a boutique David Jones outlet and, most recently, Space Furniture, was as close to a blank canvas as one could get.

As an inspirational starting point, the team looked to classic mid-century steakhouses as an aesthetic template, then giving it a contemporary interpretation. Fatcow boasts a largely monochromatic colour scheme, with dark parquet floors, textured wall panels, black leather seats and black timber furnishings offset by white tablecloths, white marble and sheer grey curtains – with some greenery and artworks adding colourful accents.

Guests enter and walk past Fatcow’s dry-ageing fridges, live lobster tanks and live oyster tanks (the latter a Brisbane first), before making their way past the solid-marble bar to the main dining room. Seating is divided between standalone tables, circular curtain-ensconced booth seats (with mirrored ceilings above) and longer setups for groups.

Toward the rear of the space, a glass-encased wine store (housing the restaurant’s 300-strong selection of vino) sits next to one of two private-dining rooms, while a bank of windows peer into the kitchen, where Fatcow’s twin grills cast licks of firelight across the space.

“I’d say it’s a little bit sophisticated – a bit more premium, but welcoming,” says Michael of Fatcow on James St’s interior. “We always want our guests to feel welcomed and I always try and create venues where the doors are open for everyone, but still give that premium feel. I think that we’ve accomplished that.”

After implementing a striking aesthetic befitting the restaurant’s location, the next step in Fatcow’s resurrection was ensuring its offering was still up to snuff. Helming Fatcow’s kitchen is head chef Garry Newton, a seasoned veteran with experience at Tassis Group’s other steak-centric restaurant, Rich & Rare. Alongside restaurant manager Caio Rossetto – another familiar face from his time overseeing the first iteration of Fatcow, as well as Yamas Greek & Drink – Fatcow’s senior leadership ensures the concept’s service-oriented and quality-focused DNA has been maintained from before.

So, how has Fatcow levelled up its menu? It’s all in the details. For one, the live oyster tank (filled with Pacific and Sydney Rock oysters from Tweed Heads) is shucking and serving molluscs at their freshest, while Fatcow’s seafood is sent straight from trawler to plate within 24 hours. The wood for the grill is specially chosen to add the perfect level of smokiness and an in-house basting method keeps the steaks juicy and flavoursome.

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And then there’s the presentation, which goes above and beyond. Fatcow’s raw beef tenderloin tartare comes sprinkled with cured egg and crowned with translucent potato crisps, and the char-grilled prawns are served swimming in creamy bisque with piment d’espelette and finger lime. Meanwhile, mains like Patagonian toothfish with parsley puree, char-grilled Brisbane Valley quail and braised lamb shoulder with Israeli cous cous are joined by char-grilled lobsters doused in garlic butter.

But the centrepiece of Fatcow’s menu is, undoubtedly, the steaks. The team has cast a wide net, with sixteen steaks available on the menu. Each choice comes with a brief description giving info on the breed, the region, whether the cow was grass or grain fed, and the producer.

“Many steakhouses only use one brand of steak, but we don’t – we use whatever is the best from each brand.” says Caio. “We try each breed and we get a different cut from different brands, so we know exactly what’s better and that’s what makes the difference on our steak menu.”

Black Angus cuts include a 400-g rib fillet (MB4) from Riverina and a dry-aged 800-g T-bone (MB3+) from Black Onyx Rangers Valley. On the wagyu front, you’ll spy a 200-g flat iron steak (MB9+) from 2GR and a dry-aged rib on the bone (MB9+) from Mayura Station. Those keen to sample more than one cut can order the wagyu tasting experience, which serves a 250-g sirloin (MB7+) a 200-g flat iron (MB9+) and a 150-g Japanese sirloin (MB12+). For an ultra-premium experience, there’s the Golden Fatcow – a 400-g fullblood Black Angus rib fillet covered in gold leaf.

As for the wines, Fatcow’s cellar is filled to the brim with options chosen to complement the steak and seafood.

“Our direction for wines starts with Australian shiraz,” says Caio. “We’ve got a quite large selection of Australian shiraz and Bordeaux – that’s cabernet sauvignon – from Australia or France.”

Fatcow’s cocktail list also features a dedicated old fashioned menu, with six riffs on the staple leading the rest of the selection, which is filled with playful and unexpected concoctions topped with an array of decadent garnishes.

Long-time fans and regulars have wasted no time giving Fatcow a warm welcome. According to Michael, it feels like no time has passed since its closure on Eagle Street and its reopening on James Street.

“A lot of our regulars from the old Fatcow, all the same faces are coming through,” says Michael. “It was feeling like you’re back at home.”

Fatcow on James St is now open to the public seven days a week. Head to the Stumble Guide for operating hours, menu details and booking info.

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