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Open season: The most anticipated openings in Brisbane this year

While we’re still getting our heads around the fact that it’s 2023 (anyone else have their brains lodged in 2019 still?), Brisbane’s dining scene is moving full-steam ahead. Even though it’s still early days, we’re predicting an avalanche of amazing openings throughout 2023 that will help cement Brisbane as one of the country’s best food cities. We’re looking ahead to some hotly anticipated concepts from interstate hospitality heavyweights, new restaurants from local all-star talent and a whole bunch of projects that are still shrouded in mystery. Want to know what 2023 has in store for us? We’ve collated a list of the openings we’re most looking forward to in 2023 …

Jan 25, 2023, updated Jan 25, 2023

Supernormal, Brisbane City
Recent years have seen a number of openings orchestrated by big-name interstate hospitality figures. In 2022, TV personality Adrian Richardson teamed up with some Brisbane talent to open BŌS, while Melbourne-born Japanese restaurant Komeyui opened a Brisbane expansion in Brisbane in early January. The trend is set to continue well into this year, with a host of top-flight hospitality groups carving up territory across Brisbane. Perhaps one of the biggest names of the bunch is Andrew McConnell, the head honcho of  Trader House (the hospitality group he co-owns with Jo McGann that includes Cutler & Co.Gimlet at Cavendish HouseMarion and Cumulus Inc.). The team will be bringing Trader House’s beloved Asian-inspired concept Supernormal north, snagging a prime location at the base of 443 Queen Street to open a Brisbane iteration. Trader House work with architectural and interior design experts Vince Alafaci and Caroline Choker of Sydney’s ACME to bring Supernormal to life, with a 120-seat layout set to also boast alfresco and private dining spaces. As for the menu, we can expect Supernormal to marry the flavours of Tokyo, Shanghai, Seoul and Hong Kong into one drool-worthy offering. Supernormal is expected to open in Brisbane in late 2023.

Baker D. Chirico, Newstead
Baked-goods lovers have been waiting for more word on the launch of Baker D. Chirico’s Newstead bakery. As one of Melbourne’s most highly regarded bakeries, Baker D. Chirico specialises in loaves and pastries made using traditional bread-making techniques, natural fermentations and biodynamic stone-milled wholegrain flour. The team announced its expansion to Brisbane in late-2020, but with the pandemic still upending plans throughout 2021 and 2022, it seems some delays were inevitable. That said, things are looking hopeful for the bakery’s opening this year. Hoarding can now be spied at the base of Baker D. Chirico’s home at Long Island on Longland Street. Hopefully soon we’ll be able to tuck into the brand’s menu of artisanal products (inspired by French, German and Italian baking cultures) as well as concise bakery-style breakfast menu.

Settimo, Brisbane City
Another hospitality heavyweight making moves in Brisbane is Guy Grossi, the seasoned restauranteur behind Grossi FlorentinoOmbra Salumi Bar and Arlechin. The eminent figure will open Settimo at The Westin Brisbane (in the space formerly home to Eden’s Table) on Mary Street. At Settimo, Guy and his team will celebrate the grandeur of coastal destinations like Positano, Ravello and Amalfi – weaving traces of the famous coastline, its crystal waters and Mediterranean architecture into a venue fashioned by Melbourne’s Mills Gorman Architects. Settimo will boast an estimated 150 seats spread across several zones, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a garden terrace filled with lemon trees. Though menu details are still hush-hush, we’ve been told that Guy and his team will look to showcase the best local and imported produce (expect a rich abundance of seafood) across the menu, while also respecting traditions, culture and provenance to create a near-authentic Amalfi experience. You won’t have to wait long to check this one out – Settimo is expected to open in February.

Bar Rosa, South Brisbane
The closure of Gauge in South Brisbane left a discernible hole in Brisbane’s fine-dining scene. Thankfully, Gauge’s Fish Lane locale is set to be reinvigorated this year thanks to the team behind pizza-throwing neighbour Julius and spirited aperitivo bar Bar Brutus. This year the crew will open Bar Rosa, an Italian wine bar that will be the perfect haunt for pre-theatre drinks, or for punters to settle in and stay a while. Bar Rosa will offer a selection of small Italian-inspired plates alongside a strong-but-concise wine list, with stuzzichini such as charred octopus and succulent meatballs, and rotating plate of pasta and grilled fish paired with a carefully curated selection of complementary drops. Bar Rosa’s opening date is still being kept a secret, but we’ll be sure to update you once we hear more.

Pilloni, West End
Anyone planning an overseas trip to Italy should try to savour the delights of the country’s agritourismo industry. Agriturismo refers to farms that are designed to also receive guests, whether for food, accommodation or a combination of the two. If you can’t make time for an international jaunt, you’ll still be able to get a taste of Sardinian-style agritourismo at Pilloni, the new West End restaurant from La Lupa‘s Valentina Vigni and Andrea Contin. The couple are very close to opening the doors to their new concept, which will dip into Andrea’s Sardinian heritage and showcase the Mediterranean island’s rich culinary diversity. Pilloni’s kitchen will be helmed by chef Mimmo Miceli, who will be overseeing a menu of meat and seafood cooked using a massive fireplace – including whole fish, lobsters, suckling pig and lamb – as well as Sardinian-style pasta made in-house, such as dumpling-like culurgiones, pebble-sized fregula and thin ribbed-shelled malloreddus. Pilloni will also boast a bar with an ivory-coloured Sardinian-marble top, where guests can savour snacks while perusing the beverage list, which showcases European and Australian vino as well as a collection of cocktails. Pilloni will be the first on this list to open, with an early February launch date fast approaching.

The Wright House, Woolloongabba
The Talisman Group has made a mission out of establishing its own dining precinct in the foundations of South City Square. Later this year the hospitality group add The Wright House, a whopping 300-seat brewpub, to its thriving portfolio, which also includes Sasso Italiano, Casa Chow, South City Wine and Purple Palm. This hybrid bar and eatery will mesh mid-century American architecture and Australian pub culture, taking design cues from iconic American architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright. A homely aesthetic of stone, tile and timber will be applied to the spacious interior, itself boasting a hovering cantilevered mezzanine accessed by a floating glass and wood staircase, an open kitchen centred around a 2.5-m Spanish style parrilla with a woodfire hearth, and six custom rose-gold bright tanks above the bar. Executive chef Gabriele Di Landri will craft a menu of pub-style fare melding Australian and American flavours, using the woodfire grill to cook everything from beef burgers to veal schnitzels. The bright tanks will be used to dispense beer crafted by the crew at Aether Brewing, including an American-style ale made exclusively for The Wright House. These beers will be available alongside classic cocktails, a broad array of spirits and a wine list of quaffable Australian vino. That’s not all the Talisman Group has planned for the venue – up on the mezzanine level guests will find The Office, a 30-seat private dining room and old-school American-style steakhouse that is shaping up to be the perfect spot for Mad Men fans to live out their Don Draper fantasies (as long as those fantasies include oysters and steaks at midday). Expect black-leather booths, dark mahogany furnishings, filing cabinets built into the joinery, vintage lamps and shelves displaying decanters, globes and books. The parilla will also be utilised for The Office’s menu of steakhouse fare, with an assortment of salivation-worthy steaks available alongside American-inspired steakhouse sides. The Office will boast a dedicated Manhattan bar and a wine list showcasing big and bold American vino (think shiraz and cabernet, to match the steaks). The Wright House and The Office will open close to the mid-point of 2023. 

Fosh, Hamilton
For most of its existence, the Tassis Group (George’s Paragon, Opa Bar + Mezze and Massimo Restaurant & Bar ) has operated along the Eagle Street-stretch of the Brisbane River. That changed last year with the opening of Yamas Greek + Drink at West Village and in 2023 the team will expand further with the opening of Fosh at Portside Wharf in Hamilton. The established riverside precinct is making some big changes this year, with a $20-million makeover underway that will refresh and activate the riverfront while also reshaping defined dining, retail and entertainment sub-precincts. Fosh, a seafood-centric restaurant boasting a posh Hamptons-inspired setting, will be one of the new concepts looking to energise Portside’s hospitality offering. At Fosh it’ll be all about seafood, with the team showcasing fresh, high-quality and sustainable seafood including fish, lobster, mud crabs, oysters and more. A $3-million fit-out will see the restaurant equipped with a glam island bar, fireplace and sizeable indoor dining area, as well as a casual space fish and chippery for takeaways. Fosh will open at Portside Wharf in March 2023.

Ippin Japanese Dining, West End
West Village’s next stage of hospitality expansion will see the Sydney-based crew behind wildly popular 12-seat omakase restaurant Kuon Omakase head north to open Ippin Japanese Dining. Restaurateur Kenny Lee, alongside Ippin co-owners Helen Lea and Jane Ma, have scored a sweet site on second floor of the precinct’s Garden Pavilion, with the soon-to-open 140-seat restaurant to receive a slick design courtesy of Sydney interiors firm Vie Studio. Japanese-inspired design elements will mesh with timber fixtures, blue booths, sheer curtains and marble to create a modern interior dining area, while a semi-open portion will give guests a vantage point above West Village’s central green space, The Common. In the kitchen, head chef Tatsuya Miwa will work with Queensland seafood and meat to create a menu encompassing seafood-centric starters, flame-licked yakitori skewers, toothfish and top-grade wagyu beef, as well as tempura-fried items such as cuttlefish and lobster popcorn. On the sweeter side, a dedicated pastry chef will be tasked with the preparation of a rotating range of desserts, while Ippin’s beverage program will feature Australian, French and Italian wines, a list of Japanese sake, and a clutch of signature cocktails. Ippin Japanese Dining is slated to open at West Village in April 2023. 

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Evra, Newstead
Newstead continues to gun for the title of Brisbane’s epicurean epicentre, with more and more bars and eateries slotting into vacant spaces around the suburb. Los Angeles-inspired marketplace, wine boutique and restaurant Evra has had a plum site on Longland Street staked out for some time, but now we’re finally getting to learn more about what the multifaceted locale has in store. Offering everything from convenient and nutritious grab-and-go morsels to luxurious lunches and dinners, Evra will cater to most needs across its two distinct halves. The casual marketplace will serve busy locals a range of lifestyle essentials, including fresh, nutritionally dense, easy-to-grab meals, bottled tonics, smoothies, huge salads and coffees. Plus, there will also be a bespoke wine merchant for last-minute vino pickups. Evra’s 120-seat dine-in portion will see head chef Neven Vanderzee put his Michelin-starred experience to the test with breakfast, lunch and dinner menus showcasing coastal and country produce sourced from local growers and producers. These dishes will be complemented by a beverage program curated by head sommelier and venue manager Florian Valieres, featuring classic cocktails as well as a sturdy wine list that is already earning acclaim. Evra is targeting a mid-year opening date.

GPO Hotel, Fortitude Valley
Okay, this one isn’t technically called GPO Hotel, but seeing as it involves the 2000-sqm, multi-building, heritage-listed siteat 740 Ann Street, and the new leaseholders haven’t revealed the names of its new residents, we’re sticking with it for now. Artesian Hospitality – the Gold Coast group behind Cali Beach Club – has taken on the lease of the General Post Office building with plans for a $7-million makeover that will result in the opening of variety of experiential venues. Though details on the concepts are yet to be announced, the Artesian group has secured some big-name talent to oversee some of its aspects. Acclaimed sommelier and former OTTO Brisbane general manager Alan Hunter has been appointed director of restaurant operations for the hub’s as-yet-unnamed contemporary restaurant, while internationally recognised chef Richard Ousby (formerly executive chef of Stokehouse Melbourne and Brisbane) will also be coming onboard as executive chef. Works on the site are well underway, so we should hopefully hear more about this exciting redevelopment soon.

Bunker Barre, West End
The Thomas Dixon Centre, home of the Queensland Ballet, was the recent recipient of a $100-million makeover that transformed the cultural precinct into a full-blown arts and entertainment hub. In addition to improving the world-class facilities, the revitalisation also added two rooftop event spaces, the Champagne Terrace and the Kite Terrace – plus room for some more exciting food-centric additions. Overseeing the Thomas Dixon Centre’s hospitality offering is restaurateur Simon Barakat, who will be adding two dining concepts to the precinct this year. The first is Bunker Barre, a high-end Conrad Gargett-designed 80–100-seater restaurant located down in the World War II-era bunkers that occupy the centre’s basement level. Here, the heritage brickwork will be accented by a dark colour palette and brass touches. Booth seating will be set within the bunker’s alcoves, while a private-dining space is also expected to feature. The offering will reportedly showcase refined, share-style Mediterranean-inspired cuisine with a focus on seafood and protein, joined by a wine list boasting plenty of a range of top-shelf vino. In addition to Bunker Barre, Simon will also open an all-day bistro closer to the building’s main entrance on Drake Street. Positioned more as an approachable, everyday kind of concept, the bistro will hawk healthy and classic breakfasts, as well as lunch and dinner dishes as the day progresses. Both venues are expected to open in early 2023.

Naldham House, Brisbane City
The next few years are going to be big for Brisbane City. A string of high-profile developments will completely reshape the inner-city (and its dining scene), including Queens Wharf, Waterfront Brisbane and the completion of 443 Queen Street, among others. Naldham House, a heritage landmark perched at the junction of Eagle, Mary and Market Streets, is currently undergoing a refurbishment process that will restore it to its former grandeur ahead of its debut as a new dining and entertainment hub. Dexus Property Group has teamed up with DAP & Co. – the Brisbane-based hospitality group behind Walter’s SteakhousePopolo and The Gresham – to bring some to-be-announced concepts to the iconic site. The team is keeping details close to the chest so far, but with a site as stunning as Naldham House to work with, we can assume the DAP & Co. crew has some incredible plans in the works.

Honourable mentions

There will no doubt be an abundance of as-yet-unannounced openings that will blow our socks off throughout this year and we can’t wait. There are some rumoured arrivals that we’re keeping tabs on, including intimate wine bar D.Vino in Woolloongabba, Archer Brewing in Newstead, Hiker Brewing Concern in Salisbury, Spill Wine in Maleny, Rise Bakery in Hamilton, The Bowl in Boonah and Rumba in Fortitude Valley.

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

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