Brisbane’s vibrant food scene has no shortage of treats that won’t bust your weekly budget. That goes for fancy places as well as cafés, pubs and cheap eats. All these venues take American Express.
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The name says it all. Fit for a man-sized hunger, the Resolution Breaker is huge with a capital H, breaking every resolution you ever made and then some. She's loaded with all the doubles: two hefty beef patties, a double dose of cheese, twice the bacon, tomato ketchup and, just to keep your nutritionist happy, a scant serve of saladry. The pickle speared through its lid is McClures, so you know you're getting the good gear at the Hook.
When we've only got a lowly budget for the snacks, it's to the Fox we head. For under a tenner the sly old Fox gives up 12 hickory and salt-punched chicken wings slathered with a good helping of creamy jalapeño mayo, leaving a buzzy little zing on the lips. Served heaped in a Rudolph-red plastic bowl lined with paper, this dish of crisp wings is a drinking snack necessity.
It sounds like a mouthful and it is: a triple treat of three tartlets make the dish perfect to share with you and two while imbibing cocktails, bubbles and beer. Under a sprightly thatch of pea tendrils you'll find tartlets filled with rich goat cheese and perfectly salty feta, encased in multi-leaved, golden pastry topped with a tangle of onion jam proving a sweet foil to the tart's richness.
Can we have a hallelujah? If you're a mac'n'cheese aficionado you'll be delighted at Char's soupy and saucy version of this comforting classic. Today's version is a four-cheese pleasure bowl of béchamel laced with Gruyère, aged cheddar, Parmesan and pecorino with a faint note of aromatic black truffle. The mac's golden-crumbed pangrattato topping gives the mac a beautiful textural crunch.
This compilation of salty, smoky and sweet belongs on everyone's bucket list. Chef Ben Williamson begins with a silken and smoky almond tarator (puree), the anchor for the greatness that follows. The smoky pool rafts a cluster of ruby-red, ripened-to-perfection tomato wedges. Then there's barberry and riberry, dehydrated and ground giving the dish a salty, bacon-like note to compliment. Strategically placed pickled garlic and sprigs of sea blight complete Williamson's stunning canvas.
Any dish that offers a few doorstop-sized chunks of bread to mop up its juice is fine by us. In this case, mushroom juice, poured straight from the pan, mingles with a rich porcini cream – it's pretty darn good. The pool of sauce lies beneath a sautée of mushrooms crowned with an uber-soft poached egg, a shower of young Manchego and finely sliced, fried-to-crisp potato with a sprinkling of salt.
We've unearthed lunchtime perfection. There's so much good stuff going on in the one dish, it's hard to know where to begin. Tightly wound, ribboned zucchini surrounds a lovely mix of hand-picked seasonal greens: tender broad beans, fine shreds of house-pickled cabbage brightened with a turmeric hue, nutty grains of farro, and camel milk feta standing in superbly for the usual buffalo, finished with a fennel-charged, roasted pumpkin seed oil dressing.
Pulled from the floor of the roaring beech oven, Coppa's eight-slice pizzetta with football-shaped crust arrives at our table beautifully charred. Chef's housemade tomato sugo is the platform for a generous pool of bubbling cheese, scattered with just-plucked basil leaves. That's it! There's other, more fancy versions, but we live by the belief that less is more and this uncomplicated pizzetta backs our belief with certainty.
The menu is cooked, plated and served with TLC courtesy of Kin's multi-generational family, who tend one of Newstead's finest. Pyramids of black salt are seasoning for a coarsely grated and golden potato rosti served with a braise of mushrooms, spears of asparagus and a rustic quenelle of crème fraîche. A perfect soft-poached egg is along for the ride to make the dish complete.
With a sumo-sized vinegar punch, the soft shell crab from Sono's is a delightful dish from beginning to end. Spindly, pull-apart crab legs come tempura battered and ready to plunge into a clear, lip puckering rice vinegar and shiso soup jewelled with tomato and cucumber, presented perfectly diced.
Ya gotta love a burger that drips rivers of cheese onto the plate below as you tuck in. The pickle-speared sesame bun comes charred on the cut side, smeared with tomato and mayo-based house sauce. The sweet bun sucks up the sauce like a trouper. The burger is double stacked with Wagyu beef patties, double American-style melty cheese, and beyond-crisp bacon that is 'stout smoked'.
As night comes, the Story Bridge shines its brightest with her lights reflecting in the river, making the view from Riverbar just as sweet as the venue's dessert of peach pavlova. Sugary meringue and a nutty sprinkle give crunch to the dish's soft mascarpone heart. Slices of fresh peach anchored on top and prettied with micro herbs do a great job of showing off their smooth curves and mimic the arched spans of another great Aussie landmark, Sydney's Opera House.
Chef Americo Fernandes is to be celebrated for his culinary ability and his passion. When dining at Fernandes' Paddington restaurant Margo, settle in for dessert. You'll be glad you did. Shatteringly crisp, caramelised puff pastry sandwiches a liquorice-like fennel and vanilla syrup purée; beside lies a perfect quenelle of house-churned Granny Smith sorbet and vertical rods of compressed apple with basil oil, whose tartness balances the sweetness to perfection.
Ben O'Donoghue's spin on the 'corn dog' is a flavour-filled punch in the gob, in a good way. Spicy, paprika-laced, Spanish-style sobrassada comes battered and fried deep golden to emulate the fairground favourite. Spicy chipotle salsa takes another swing in the flavour stakes along with Baja-inspired sour cream with poached egg and avocado. Put it all together and you've got another winning Billykart combo.
Beginning the day at Pourboy's new Southbank digs makes all in the world seem right. Breakfast starts with a slab of seedy sourdough stacked with wilted baby spinach and whole, slow-roasted field mushrooms crowned with a teardrop-shaped poached egg and micro herbs. Beside lies a warm cluster of blistered cherry tomatoes and a creamy slick of whipped goat cheese sprinkled with a nutty, sumac-laced dukkah.
The rotisserie can be seen through the windows of the Little Big House kiosk. Its bounty is fodder for rotisserie rolls listed on the menu in two versions: roast chook and pork belly. We opt for the latter, with three strips of moist pork belly on a fluffy white bun. It's dressed up a little with red cabbage and apple ’slaw with dill pickle to complete.
Served hot from the kitchen, buttery and golden with crunch to the tooth, the Cheese Pleaser's mushroom toastie oozes with hot Taleggio cheese. It's our favourite CBD lunchtime treat. The Taleggio releases delicately musty aromas mingled with rosemary and thyme from the housemade mushroom duxelles, sandwiched between slabs of hand-cut white bread. This beauty is assembled and toasted to order and makes sure the Cheese Pleaser lives up to its name in spades.
We defy any funghiphile to resist Curryville's Amazing Mushrooms (aka ‘Magic Mushrooms’ by Time Out's food-loving friends). Button mushrooms are sautéed in garlicky butter, crumbed and fried golden till they’re crunchy to the tooth. They’re served with Curryville's version of sweet and creamy tartar sauce in which to dip. Don't visit without tucking into a helping.
Wining and dining is always a pleasure at La Lune. Chef Peter Moon's affinity with food and flavour combinations is immersive from beginning to end. Take 18-month aged Spanish Serrano ham, finely sliced and paired with roasted bunya nuts (the match is inspired by acorn-fed pigs, here the indigenous bunya stands in). A knot of cress dressed with lemon myrtle adds another native dimension and completes another Moon triumph.
You don't have to go the full monty at Stokehouse – in fact, we suggest that on occasion you don't. A snack from Stokie's inventive bar menu is just the thing when all one needs is a nibble. Something sure to delight is the simple dish of sand crab on toast. Triangles of de-crusted white bread are spread with sweet crab garnished with a piped mound of avocado and pearls of trout roe scattered with dill and cress greenery.