Waterfront stunner Riva Kitchen is Hamilton’s new brunch-slinging hidden gem

Looking for a new brunch spot to try this weekend? Hop on the ferry and take it all the way to Northshore Hamilton – that’s where you’ll find Riva Kitchen & Events. The riverside dining spot and functions hub has just been given a sensational overhaul, with a brand-new look and a killer menu to match. 
May 10, 2024, updated May 10, 2024

Visit in the morning for pork and fennel sausages with roasted vine tomatoes and fried free-range eggs, or come back in the arvo for chicken schnitzels and char-grilled ribeyes. Either way, with near-unbeatable river views, Riva is definitely a spot you’ll want to try.

For many Brisbane locals, Hamilton ends at Portside Wharf. While others may extend the boundary to the far side of Eat Street Northshore, very few folks think to look further. They’re missing out – especially now that Riva Kitchen & Events has opened a quick trot further along the waterfront.

If Riva looks somewhat familiar to you, that’s because, until recently, the venue went by The River Room Cafe – a long-running dining space and functions hub. When Nick Abbink, Josie Garbutt and Simon Garbutt (the talented trio behind inner-city favourite, The Garden Room) took over the space as temporary operators in August 2022, they knew that the site boasted plenty of untapped potential.

But it was only until the group was awarded the tender as long-term custodians that plans to revitalise the venue could be put into action.

“We always knew that this was a bit of a hidden gem – it’s a spot that we’d been keeping our eye on for a really long time,” says Josie. “The Garden Room is great because we have Roma Street Parkland attached to us and there’s not a lot of those spots around – so it’s kind of a bit of a unicorn. We wanted to make sure that the other spaces that we go into have a similar uniqueness to them.”

When it came to overhauling The River Room Cafe’s near-absolute waterfront abode, the team have sought to make Riva a destination worth travelling the extra distance for.

“We’re finding that this is a destination – people have to make the effort to come to us,” explains Josie. “So we wanted to make sure that when they got here, they had an aesthetically lovely spot to sit or bring mum and dad for lunch. There’s a playground right next to us and a beach for the kids to play. We have young children so we know that if you have somewhere that you can have a drink while you’re watching the kids play, it’s a winning formula.”

To help give the building a makeover, the Riva team enlisted the help of design firm Studio A-N and construction specialists Lowry Group. An eye-catching contemporary fit-out has been implemented, with the group crafting a contemporary open-air design scheme that maximises the site’s proximity to the shimmering waters of the Brisbane River and creates a greater connection between the cafe space and its lush parkland surrounds.

“We wanted to make it a really workable space,” says Josie, who mentions versatility was a key point of focus for the venue’s overhaul. “For us, it was just about making it all bright and open and a lot more function friendly. We decided to keep a very earthy palette so that it can be complemented by anything that people might want to do to it.”

Roughly 110 seats are spread between Riva’s light-filled interior and outdoor area, the latter of which boasts umbrellaed tables for folks looking to soak up the serenity. Inside, moveable bench seats and tables can be reconfigured as necessary, while a side room next to the curved coffee bar and service counter can be curtained off into its own secluded area.

In the kitchen, chef Simon has crafted a menu that caters to everything from lazy weekend brunches to business lunches. He’s dishing up the likes of baked Spanish eggs with chorizo, roasted capsicum and butterbeans, Sunshine Coast pork and fennel sausage with roasted vine tomatoes, fried free-range eggs and salsa verde, house-cured hot-smoked salmon with dill creme fraiche, crispy potato cake and soft-boiled free-range egg, and free-range chicken schnitzel with eschalot and celeriac puree, garlic and sage butter and kohlrabi and cabbage slaw.

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“The flavours are very modern Australian – there’s lots of seafood in there, steaks and schnitzels and things like that,” says Josie, who mentions that Simon is funnelling 20 years worth of cooking experience from here and abroad into the offering. “He’ll slowly add in weekend specials and daily specials as we go, as well.”

On the coffee front, Riva Kitchen & Events has coffee from Bear Bones on deck, while those after a boozier tipple later in the day can sip on a range of Australian wines and spritz-style drinks.

With an extensive background in the catering space, the Riva crew is committed to ensuring the venue’s function packages are top notch. Able to cater to a broad spectrum of events – be it birthday celebrations, corporate gatherings, standing canape functions and weddings – Josie believes that Riva has the potential to be one of Brisbane’s best function hubs.

“We’re really excited about being able to offer a unique riverside location that doesn’t have the inner-city price tag,” Josie explains. “We pride ourselves on the fact that our prices are all-inclusive for any events that we have. You get access to everything that’s in the building – there are no hidden costs.”

Bespoke catering menus and drinks packages can be tailored to your event, with a maximum capacity of 300 standing guests meaning that big events are more than welcome.

With development in the area set to increase and the immersive Bluey World experience taking shape right next door, Riva Kitchen & Events is well poised to capitalise on Hamilton’s continued growth. Pretty soon, the venue could evolve from a hidden gem into the linchpin of the suburb’s boom, alongside fellow newcomers like Ach Wine Bar nearby.

“We’re certainly here for the long haul and looking to really make it one of the iconic locations in Brisbane,” says Joise. “We think we have the right formula with everything that’s around and we’re certainly pleased with the quality that’s coming through.”

Riva Kitchen & Events is now open to the public. Head to the Stumble Guide for more information.

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