Best debuts in ’22 – the 10 new restaurants you must visit this year
Before we put 2022 to rest for good, we’ve decided to take a look back at the year that was and celebrate Brisbane’s continued growth as a dining destination. The city’s restaurant scene continued to flourish with a string of exciting, ambitious and considered eateries joining the fold, including a sensational sushi restaurant, a suburban Italian trattoria and a slick inner-city steakhouse. Here’s what our partners from The Weekend Edition loved in 2022 …
Exhibition, Brisbane City: When Tim Scott envisioned his next project after leaving Joy., he didn’t want it to be just a restaurant – he wanted to deliver an experience. Food would be key, of course, but so too would be art, music and atmosphere. Every aspect of Tim’s new semi-subterranean venue Exhibition – from the ceramic plates and hand-forged cutlery to the architectural murals and custom hibachi charcoal grill – has been carefully considered and thoughtfully selected. The resulting venue is a marvel of tactile textures and intangible but invigorating vibes, with something to enlighten every sense. Tim is in the kitchen overseeing a multi-course experience inspired by Japanese-style kaiseki, heroing uncommon ingredients and delivering them in such a way that each edible item seems more like a crafted piece of art. Dishes like churros with sturgeon caviar, roasted duck crown with beetroot in a duck dashi masterstock, and wagyu yakiniku with sweet and sour cherry, sugarloaf and black truffle are joined by wines from small ethically minded producers, as well as spirits, sake and creative cocktails.
Sushi Room, Fortitude Valley: Simon Gloftis and the STK Group know how to make a restaurant. Sushi Room, the group’s fourth James Street-based concept (and third inside The Calile Hotel alongside Hellenika and SK Steak & Oyster), sees the hospo heavyweights apply its signature elevated sensibilities to Japanese cuisine, teaming up with leading architecture firm Richards & Spence to carve a monochromatic 1960s neo-futurist sushi and sashimi restaurant into the foundations of the hotel. Ex-Kiyomi sous chef Shimpei Raikuni displays his mastery from behind a 9.3-m solid Japanese Hinoki timber sushi bar, delicately portioning Hiramasa kingfish, Tasmanian uni and New Zealand alfonsino, available alongside more substantial plates of caviar toro toro sushi, tempura lobster and Kagoshima sirloin yakimono. The jewel in Sushi Room’s crown is the 18-course two-hour omakase, which is the pinnacle experience for anyone looking to try some of the best sushi, sashimi and nigiri in town.
Ramona Trattoria, Coorparoo: If the success of a restaurant depends on how busy it gets on a Monday night, then Coorparoo’s widely adored Ramona Trattoria might be the most successful new opening of 2022 on that basis alone. But there’s a good reason behind the eatery’s early week (let’s be honest, whole week) popularity. Chef-owner Ashley-Maree Kent’s traditional approach to Italian cuisine, which is all kneaded, rolled and shaped by hand, is as close to the proper trattoria style as you’re likely to find in Brisbane. On most nights, you’ll spy guests pulling apart cheesy Campanian fried mozzarella sandwiches with wide-eyed wonder, twirling forks through hand-cut pappardelle doused with ragu di cinghiale (wild boar ragu), or smashing slice after slice of woodfired pizzas – all while quaffing Averna and grapefruit highballs. This is the kind of suburban eatery you wish you had at the end of your street.
BŌS, Brisbane City: Brisbane’s not short on superb steak restaurants, so it takes a considerable chunk of confidence to outwardly target the top spot from the jump. The BŌS crew isn’t being impulsively braggadocios – it’s got plenty of game, as evidenced by its ownership pedigree and bounty of high-end of beef. After all, how many steakhouses have three kinds of porterhouse on the menu? More importantly, how many give you a chance to savour all three via a tasting platter? That’s not all of the cuts that BŌS plates up – Five Founders rib eye, 2GR wagyu rump, a bistecca T-bone and a wagyu tomahawk feature alongside chargrilled Fremantle octopus, Sturia Oscietra caviar with buckwheat blinis, sand-crab lasagne and roasted Kinross lamb Barnsley chops. Oh, and did we mention the wine list has a selection of back-vintage drops from Penfolds Grange, Henschke Hill of Grace, Torbreck and Petrus? Serve all that in a New York-meets-Milan-inspired setting with views of the Brisbane River and Story Bridge and it’s not a stretch of the imagination to see BŌS claim the title of Brisbane’s most beloved steak restaurant before long.
Allonda, Newstead: When a band makes it big with their first album, there’s always a lot of pressure to deliver on the follow-up record, usually on a bigger and better scale. The same could be said for hospitality groups – make a splash with your first restaurant and people will expect you to do the same with your second. Well, if NOTA Restaurant & Wine Bar was Sebastiaan de Kort, Kevin Docherty and Yanika Sittisuntorn’s 19, their Newstead restaurant Allonda is their 21. Allonda hits some of the same broadly European-inspired beats as its Paddington-based sibling, but elevates the delivery through some finer flourishes. Dishes like confit and fresh tomatoes with stracciatella and salsa verde, sweetcorn ravioli with tomato butter and Margra lamb rump with smoked yoghurt could go down as greatest hits, with a burrata bar, chic contemporary interior and discerning wine list ensuring Allonda is all killer and no filler.
Hervé’s Restaurant & Bar, Albion: Craft’d Grounds in Albion was a landmark arrival in 2021, but the most exciting aspect of the development was the promise of more high-end culinary concepts slated to arrive at the development in 2022. Hervé’s Restaurant and Bar delivered on that promise in spades. Front-of-house wizard Hervé Dudognon has teamed up with superstar chefs Chris and Alex Norman to open an artisanal French-inspired restaurant on the top level of the 100-year-old former timber mill, taking superb Australian ingredients serving them via a back-to-basics approach that lets the produce sing. Coal-grilled Moreton Bay bugs, Mooloolaba tuna loin with tomato consomme and pate en croute boasting Ayeslbury duck and fois gras imported from Dordogne are standouts, while sommelier Thibaud Cregut’s 150-strong wine list is a great resource for finding environmentally conscious winemakers and vineyards from Australia and abroad.
Etna, Fortitude Valley: Lauren Smith and Andrea Gatti’s sophisticated Fortitude Valley-based Italian ristorante Rosmarino was widely praised immediately after its July 2021 opening – and for good reason. Its off-piste handmade pasta varieties and elevated (and slightly experimental) eats won a lot of foodies over. Now, the team is taking the same approach with its pizzeria Etna, a cosier and slightly more informal sibling to Rosmarino located on the other side of the Stewart & Hemmant building. Here, executive chef Dario Manca and pizzaiolo Marco Piceni use a Moretti Forni electric oven to cook delightfully crispy Napoli-style pizzas topped with a range of premium ingredients – think duck salami, truffle pecorino and speck, and yolk cream and guanciale. The wine list here leans towards natural wines, with a 140-strong list featuring plenty of skin-contact wines, pet nats and even vino from the pizzeria’s namesake region.
Clarence, Woolloongabba: The year started with a bang when Ben McShane and Franklin Heaney teamed up to open Clarence in the old Vespa Pizza space on Stanley Street back in January. Inspired by the humble neighbourhood bistros of Paris, the duo elected to serve modern-Australian fare wrought entirely from sustainable produce sourced from local suppliers that employ circular food systems and ethically sound practices. This proved to be a great foundation to build upon, with the ever-changing, produce-driven menu wowing diners with dishes like wild-shot venison with beetroot and cumquat mustard, coral trout with borlotti beans and cherry tomato, and veal terrine with blood orange and daikon. Clarence’s all-Australian wine list mixes vino from established wineries with sips from cutting-edge and up-and-coming makers, which ensures any dining experience at Clarence is well-rounded and crisply executed from the jump.
Tillerman, Brisbane City: The closure of Eagle Street Pier in anticipation for its redevelopment into the Waterfront Brisbane precinct, though exciting for the future of Brisbane City’s riverfront strip, unfortunately meant the closure of several beloved eateries. Perhaps the most cherished of the bunch was Andrew Baturo’s dynamic Thai restaurant Naga. Although originally a pop-up of sorts, diners were still crestfallen when the eatery closed. However, as soon as Naga shuttered in June, the team revealed plans for Tillerman – a sophisticated fine-diner that opened in August around the river bend at Riparan Plaza. Here Andrew and Naga head chef Suwisa Phoonsang are celebrating and showcasing top-grade seafood from around Australia, sprinkling in global influenced and flavour-driven quirks to bring out the best of the oceanic bounty (think hiramasa kingfish crepes with citrus beurre blanc, dusky flathead with burnt-orange ghee and fried capers). The Hogg & Lamb-designed space offers a sense of sunny escapism, with spotted gum timber furnishings and floral-patterned textiles imbuing the venue with a coastal, nautical and resort-style aesthetic.
YAMAS Greek + Drink, West End: If there’s one cuisine the Tassis Group knows how to deliver, it’s Greek cuisine. Following the success of its riverside eatery Opa Bar + Mezze, the restaurant crew expanded to West End, opening sibling venue YAMAS in the heart of heaving lifestyle precinct West Village. Swapping Santorini-inspired styling for an earthy terracotta and terrazzo-based aesthetic, YAMAS’ neoclassical design cuts a striking figure amongst West Village’s greenery laden courtyard, but it’s the food that will really stick on people’s memories. An imported Cypriot-style rotisserie is used to slow cook lamb and chicken for its mouth-watering souvla, which is available alongside Paros-style ocean trout, chilled seafood platters, wagyu beef moussaka and mounds of mezze – not to mention and ocean’s worth of ouzo to wash it all down.
Honourable mentions: This list was incredibly hard to whittle down, with fierce debate raging on who should make the cut. It’s a testament to the strength of the dining scene that there were so many restaurants worthy of consideration. Other candidates included Casa Chow, The Lodge Bar & Dining, Mina Italian, JuJu Bar & Dining, Cartel Del Taco, Mr. Vain Bar & Dining, Lina Rooftop, Maggie May and Soko Rooftop.
This article was written by James Frostick from The Weekend Edition.