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Life

My City Brisbane

A lot has changed in brisbane over the last decade with the food and wine scene taking off to make it one of Australia's most vibrant destinations

The first time I came to Brisbane was in 1994 on a wild road trip from Sydney in a mate’s Bedford van to indulge in the Livid festival at Davies Park (now home to one of the best farmers markets in South East Queensland).

My next foray to Brisvegas was in 2000 when I journeyed here with my good friend Jamie Oliver, promoting The Naked Chef 2 and the accompanying cookbook, both of which featured yours truly...an unremarkable experience I recall!

So, on returning in 2008 from London, Brisbane seemed an unlikely place to move. But I’d been told good things by some close friends and a recent move north by my mother-in-law was enough to tip the scales in Brisbane’s favour.

Brisbane was a city hungry for new things and in the subsequent nine years has matured into a uniquely independent city with some amazing food, beverage and lifestyle opportunities.

On the south side

If you’re after some serious liquor and cocktail therapy, head to The Gresham, an old bank building at the bottom end of Queens Street. These guys know their spirits, reflected in the fact they’ve won Best Bar in Australia.

Once the hunger sets in after a few stiff well mixed old fashioneds stumble next door to Red Hook, a well-executed New York-style burger joint. They knock out a classic cheeseburger and do some damn fine things with ground meat in general.

Now, if you find yourself in South Brisbane's West End I would be remiss not to direct you to my new wine bar, Billykart Bar & Provisions adjacent to my newest restaurant, Billykart West End. The wine focus is on Australian and NZ producers, spirits from boutique Australian and imported distilleries, and Australian craft beers, both on tap and bottled. The food focus is tapas-style dishes with a global influence. It’s a great place to relax and for intimate gatherings and functions. But if you’re after something more substantial, pop next store to Billykart West End.

Still on the south side, venture out to Annerley. There loads of new places popping up around here. This is where you’ll find the original Billykart kitchen. A renovated 1930s Queensland corner store turned café restaurant, it’s open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week and Friday evening for a monthly changing menu with a specific cuisine focus

Still in Annerley, on Dudley Street, is the Dudley Street Café, serving some of the best coffee on the south side and yummy toasted sambos.

Northern Necessity

You might be starting to realise I live south side and in Brisbane there is a bit of north-south rivalry. But when it comes to bread and pastries, you’ve got to head to the Brisbane MarketPlace at Rocklea and visit Lutz and Rebecca from Sprout Artisan bakery. They produce some of the best bread in Australia and the quality of Lutz’s croissants is legendary – we’re talking layers and layers of buttery goodness!

Eat, move, repeat

Now after eating and drinking all this food and booze, you’ll need some park life and Mt Cootha offers great hiking within 5km of the city! There are great views across the Brisbane River Valley from the lookout and you can grab a bite to eat at the cafés. The walks range from easy to mildly difficult and it’s great to go after some rain when the creeks are flowing. Also check out the botanical gardens at the bottom of Mt Cootha.

Recent development in south Brisbane has seen the precinct come to life. The Aria group have made it their mission to revitalise Fish Lane. Running parallel to Melbourne Street in the heart of South Brisbane, the laneway features some great bars and restaurants. They run an awesome street festival in May, where all the local operators put on food with live entertainment.

At the bottom end of Fish Lane on the corner of Grey Street, you’ll find Julius restaurant and pizzeria. It's always buzzing, the pizzas are awesome and the menu is simple and tasty. It’s a great family favourite of ours and my son Herb can smash the nutella calzone by himself! They do a good negroni as well.

Just opened on Melbourne Street is the Sydney icon Messina Gelati. You know what you are getting with Messina – dedication to quality and the most amazing flavours of gelati. They even own their own cow, controlling the product from the bottom up!

For art's sake

If it's arts you want, stay south side where the Goma Gallery is one of the most visited galleries in Australia. There's always something on and during the holidays the kids are well catered for.

For music, one of my fave destinations in Brissy has to be The Triffid – one of, if not the, best live music venue in Australia! Whether it's a gig you're after, or just a good beer and burger in the beer garden, The Triffid is a must when you're hanging in Brisbane for a few days.

If you're self catering and you need some supplies of the continental variety, head to Panisi on Balaclava Street for everything from antipasti to tacos and Italian/Spanish/South American products.

For more up market eating, Gerard's Bistro in Fortitude Valley is my pick, or Esquires for something long and indulgent! For good vino, head to 1889 Enoteca in Woolloongabba is the go. And for a long standing icon, Phillip Johnson at e'cco.

There's so much more to the real Brisvegas and so much on its door step. So, as they say, what are you waiting for? Get amongst it!

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Life
My City - Sydney with Neil Perry
Words by Neil Perry on 6 Dec 2017
Neil Perry, The Rockpool Group ’s Culinary Director and a chef who has helped shape the food scene in Sydney, reveals where he likes to eat & drink in his hometown. Sydney is a very beautiful city with its harbour and gorgeous white beaches, but it’s so much more than just a pretty face. The restaurants and bars are second to none and they give Sydney a beautiful personality. The city has changed so much over the last 10 years and if you add in Chinatown, some amazing places are all within walking distance. I regularly dine at Rockpool Dining Group restaurants so they feature genuinely in my top picks. My favourite bar in Sydney, hands down, is the bar at Rockpool Bar & Grill . My wife, Sam, and I like to go and enjoy a great bottle of wine, or a fantastic cocktail, or both, while we chat with the bar guys and soak up the amazing buzzy atmosphere. We’ll have some beautiful freshly shucked Sydney Rock oysters, all iodine and tasting fresh of the sea, our favourite minute steak with café de Paris butter, the Cape Grim beef full of flavour and perfectly tender, and we always share a number of sides like roast pumpkin, grilled corn, shoe string fries and a salad. It doesn’t get any better. Breakfast and beyond
Room 10 is the best place in Sydney for coffee and breakfast . Andrew Hardjasudarma and his team not only make some of Sydney’s best coffee, but the food out of such a tiny space is nothing short of miraculous. My go-to is the classic soft boiled egg and avocado on toast, or any of the brilliant breakfast sandwiches - the slow cooked brisket with slaw and pickles is probably their signature. I also love the Brekkie Rice, which is perfect for a healthy start: creamed red rice, quinoa, walnuts and pepitas topped with dukkha. Chaco Bar is without doubt the best yakitori place in town, but it also has next level ramen – served Monday nights and Wednesday to Saturday, lunches only. Go for the chilli coriander – it’s spicy and full flavoured with such a fresh delicious cleanness to it. Add an organic egg: they are awesome! The yakitori skin is crunchy, smoky and creamy all at once and the wing and chicken meatball with slow cooked egg are a must. They also serve the best gyozas. Are you getting that I love this place? Wash it down with a beer and sake and say hi to Chef Keita, we’re lucky to have him in Sydney. Azuma is another terrific Japanese restaurant in the city owned by Kimitaka Azuma. Here we go for sushi and sashimi, which is so well made, and the best dish of all is the wagyu sukiyaki for two. We love sitting sipping sake as I cook our beef slice by slice in the boiling soy broth. We add tofu, bok choy, mushroom and spring onions, all the time cooking another strip of beef and dipping it, eating with rice and then at the end adding udon noodles to the broth. Such a great one pot dish.  Masterful Dim Sum Another favourite from our own portfolio is Jade Temple . I love having the dumplings for lunch, made fresh daily by our Dim Sum Master, Dicky. They’re always so perfectly balanced in taste and texture and I can’t get enough of the roast duck either. Golden Century is famous for being a chef haunt and I was one of the first eating there along with Tetsuya way back in 1990. We all loved the place as it was open late and the food was always fabulous. All these years later, nothing much has changed, only I don’t eat late anymore, I’m in bed well before 3am these days! Sam and I love the green lip abalone steam boat. This is another great one pot dish for two people to share. We get noodles and tofu with it to make the perfect meal. The abalone arrives thinly sliced on lettuce and we have soy dipping and a little XO sauce. The slices are dipped for seconds and added to the soy in your bowl, then start with tofu, then noodles and finish with lettuce, just keep adding broth and seasoning to the bowl as you eat, drinking the soup from time to time. This is one of the world’s great meals, you may even see owners Eric and Linda wandering around. Fire in the Heart Mike McEnearney’s No. 1 Bent Street is a treat. It’s everything I love: no fuss, awesome produce, seasonal cooking and loads of love and care. Everything on the menu is great, but you have to try the bread, it’s possibly the best in Sydney, and anything off the grill or out of the wood fired oven, which form the heart of the kitchen. I love Mike’s touch with vegetables, so order a bunch of salad and veg dishes and eat one of the best plant-based meals in town.
Danielle Alverez at Fred’s in Paddington is another chef cooking beautiful, sustainable, seasonal produce with fire at the heart of the kitchen. Try to score a seat at the kitchen bench: a great spot to share a bottle of wine, watch the kitchen in full swing and eat some of the best food in Sydney. With her pedigree of Chez Panisse and The French Laundry, it’s no surprise everything is delicious. Add a wonderful wine list and beautiful, simple decor and you can settle in for long lunches and dinners. Cheap eats and BBQ Burger Project is a weekly stop for me as well. The Cape Grim 36-month beef is ground in store, hand-formed into patties, and cooked medium – they’re unsurpassed in the city. Naruone is great for a cheap Korean bite . My favourite is the spicy pork with rice. It comes on a sizzling platter with pork slices, cabbage, carrots, onions and sesame seeds after being wok fried in gochujang. It’s spicy and delicious and perfect with a beer. The KFC, Korean Fried Chicken, is really very good too. Dan Jee is my favourite Korean BBQ place . They cook it in the kitchen over a big charcoal grill, rather than at table-side grills, so it gets more of a smoky flavour. Short rib, pork belly and bulgogi are my go-to dishes. I can’t eat there without having Yukhoe, the Korean raw beef salad. It’s amazing with julienne frozen beef, Asian pear egg yolk and sweet sesame dressing that’s perfectly balanced. Further reading:  The Best BYO Restaurants in Sydney
Life
My City Melbourne with Adam D'Sylva
Words by Adam D'Sylva on 13 Oct 2017
Chef Adam D’Sylva, who runs the highly acclaimed Coda and Tonka restaurants reveals the places he likes to eat, drink and be merry in his hometown of Melbourne. Melbourne is without doubt the food capital of Australia. It is buzzing 24/7 with phenomenal culinary offerings, great wine bars and wonderful places to meet friends. For me (right now) it is all about Asian, and there are some gems across the city. The best place to start is the renowned ‘Golden Mile of Food’ in and around Flinders Lane in the CBD. It is here you’ll find my two restaurants (my work life pride and joy), Coda and Tonka , as well as a bunch of fantastic eateries serving delicious food from early breakfast to late night feasts. Cumulus Inc/Supernormal
My first port of call most mornings is Cumulus Inc for the breakfast bacon bap roll with relish – my personal heart starter. Chef Andrew McConnell is a genius and you’ll find lots of great dishes across his many restaurants, including Supernormal  or the wine bar-inspired Cumulus Up. The ricotta dumplings are off the charts (when available), while the nudi version of gnocchi are just sweet pillows of love and I just can’t go past the signature lamb shoulder. Madelines baked to order, rum baba with endless rum. What’s not to like? The One and Only Flower Drum
To enjoy upmarket Chinese with great service, perfectly executed food and an awesome dining room, go to Flower Drum . There is generous space between tables that allows you talk freely and not be part of the conversation on the nearby table. The ‘must have’ dishes are the Peking duck, assembled at the table, as well as an appetiser of the dim sum selection followed by pearl meat. The mud crab and seafood dumpling are also amazing. I always feel like a king when dining there, either for a boys’ lunch or a romantic dinner. I recently celebrated my 40th birthday there with a magnificent lunch that somehow (too easily) progressed all the way through to an early dinner. Great times. Trunk call
Trunk restaurant and bar is a funky beer garden, and a great place to catch up with friends, grab a bite to eat or even just take a break for a quick coffee. An oasis amongst the laneways of Melbourne, Trunk’s main dining room serves fresh and fragrant flavours of the Middle East and Mediterranean flavours. The beer garden is great for catching up for drinks after work or dropping past for a bite and the cheeky beer during the day. I like it so much, I got married there. Pacific House - Quick and Easy For a cheap and cheerful Chinese that you can BYO, go to Pacific House , either in Richmond or Toorak. Consistent and affordable food including bullet proof Peking duck, soy chicken, crispy pork belly and whole steamed fish of many varieties from the live tanks. I Love Pho For the cleanest, tastiest pho, I Love Pho is a twice-a-week ritual for breakfast for me. I’m there when it opens at 9am for a hot aromatic broth with Thai basil and heaps of fresh chilli to kick start the day. Groceries at Minh Phat While down Victoria Street Richmond, one of my favourite places to shop for Asian groceries is Minh Phat. It has everything you need. New Bar
Owned and run by the famous Grossi family, Arlechin is a new hot wine bar serving late night supper and snacks. A world class cocktail list is curated by Joe Jones of Romeo Lane and Tonka fame. I like to dine upstairs at Grossi Florentino then pop round the back for an after-dinner drink at Arlechin. Tried and True For a romantic night, enjoy one of the cosiest dining rooms in the city at Il Bacaro in Little Collins Street. An institution for over 20 years, it has service that’s always impeccable and never fails to impress. An old favourite Out St Kilda way, Café Di Stasio is an institution and a place for all occasions. Top service with food to match. Stay and play For an overnight stay when heading to the city or coming from interstate, Crown Towers is the perfect port of call. Luxury at its finest. Fantastic spa treatments and a range of excellent restaurants. Get away and relax
There are lots of parks and great spots by the Yarra to relax, but when I want to get away from it all, I head down the coast to the Mornington Peninsula , which I do on a weekly basis to have a hit a golf. After a quick round, I like to ease all the pain (from slicing all day) with a relaxing dip at Peninsula Hot Springs , natural outdoor thermal springs, before kicking back for the night at Polperro Winery . Their luxurious villas are stunning with open fire places – perfect for sipping winemaker Sam Coverdale’s world class Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. Merchant and Maker in McCrae is the place for breakfast, the donuts are to die for. Their coffee is the best on the Peninsula and their short blacks are accompanied with a shot of sparkling mineral water. Nice touch.
Life
Be still my Indian heart
Words by Kathy Lane on 14 Jan 2016
It was love at first sight, smell and taste. My sensory affair with India began when I visited just over a year ago and I’ve been besotted ever since. I was lucky enough to travel to India for the first time with Melbourne’s Epicurious Travel, experiencing a customised version of their ‘Indian Odyssey’ adventure.   When I headed back six months later, I added a side order of Kolkata and opened my heart even further to the joys of this incredible country. One of the greatest sources of my adoration for India is her food, which is prepared with care and tradition after daily trips to the market. At our first stop, Delhi, breakfast is a revelation. There is the delicious simplicity of the masala omelette, featuring a creamy eggyness that plays with the acidic tang of tomato and the subtle heat of chilli. Then there’s the savoury melange of the breakfast masala dosai, a rice and lentil batter fermented overnight then fried and served as a long, crisp pancake roll stuffed with a spicy potato curry. Black mustard seeds, fenugreek and fresh curry leaves deliver a gentle punch in the potato, while the dosai is served with a colourful array of sambars and chutney that are like nothing I have ever tasted. The crunchy coconut sambar and spicy tomato chutney are unbelievably fresh with a lingering depth of spicy, exotic and addictive flavours. Chandni Chowk bazaar in Old Delhi is a crazy, mysterious labyrinth of narrow laneways that all seem to lead inwards, while its main drag is a frantic explosion of cars, trucks, taxis and trolleys, where vendors sell their wares with vocal abandon and a sea of people crush the pavements. In the depths of the market streets, fruit and vegetable sellers perch on their haunches, or lie resting, their fresh, bright produce by their sides. Young men push flat-bedded trolleys of melons, gourds and greens, looking for the next buyer. Fresh watermelon juice is pressed and loaded with ice, giving some relief from the stifling heat. Pots of oil splatter as they cook delicious jalebi – a saffron-tinted disk of pastry with hints of cardamom and rosewater that play with the lingering sweetness. Vegetable samosas are the ultimate savoury street food. Potato and peas mixed with an array of aromatic spices: cumin, garlic, ginger, chilli and turmeric, their crisp pastry delicious and satisfying. We eat chicken kebabs fresh from the tandoor, strung onto metal skewers with onion and green capsicum, covered in a spice mix of cumin, turmeric and garlic, and served with a pot of bubbling dal. India has a love affair with dal, its shades and flavours unique to each region. In northern India, dal makhani features an array of dark beans and lentils flavoured with chillis, garlic, ginger, onions and unique spice mixes. When ours arrive, a knob of garlic butter has been placed in the bottom of the copper serving pot. The steamy dal is placed on top, its heat melting the butter and creating a lava-like explosion of flavour as its garlicky goodness infuses the beans. Rich, textural and highly complex, its lasting flavours linger in my memory. The bustle to the iconic From Delhi, we travel by bus to Agra, enjoying the countryside, where villagers barter at their local market, tend their land and mend things. Indians can fix anything it seems – including our broken down bus – with garages and workshops in every town, faces and hands stained from the grimy work, the air heavy as the scent of automotive oil mingles with village life. The ultimate monument to love, the Taj Mahal, is a sight to behold. Its majesty at sunrise breathtaking in its beauty, its painstaking construction a work of symmetry and wealth, the ultimate jewel in Agra’s – and India’s - crown.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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