Now’s the time of year when so many food blogs turn to two topics to fill their pages: Christmas and ‘Best Bar/Cafe/Restaurant of the Year’ lists. Since you have the rest of the month to read where people have voted as the best place for Christmas drinks, I’d thought I’d reflect on the best things which have happened to Brisbane’s food scene over the past 12 months.
More cocktails, more beer
This year has been a good one for those who like their drinks experimental. New craft beer bars have popped up so frequently, even the devoted XXXX fans you charitably call friends have taken notice. Beyond all the new launches, 2015 has seen more places focus on selling good beer (craft or otherwise) alongside other drinks. Thanks to venues like Fitz + Potts, beer lovers no longer have to bully their sceptical friends into a dedicated beer bar just to be sure of getting a good porter.
Meanwhile, cocktails have cemented their resurgence by being offered at just about every bar, restaurant, and cafe in town. And rightly so – why should beer and wine take up such a large proportion of restaurant drinks lists? Not to be outdone, novel cocktails have been appearing at old and new venues with increased frequency. There’s been a lot more experimentation with drinks this year, and some of the most interesting concoctions have come out of Maker. On the strength of their highly original, Australian-flavoured cocktails alone, Maker has become one of my favourite Brisbane bars.
The city gets a nightlife
The last few years have seen the CBD become a much more interesting place for a night out, with bars and casual food venues filling the gap between the high-end restaurants and hotel-pubs. Some CBD hangouts are even open on Sundays now – truly, this is a brave new world. Almost 12 months ago, city revellers were given even more choice, with live music venues Brooklyn Standard and Sonny’s House of Blues opening in the same month. For those after a low-key lunch or dinner option, Mr Edward’s Alehouse & Kitchen and Corbett & Claude are just a few of the new options.
The Valley grows up
Late night in the Valley used to mean the only things open were clubs, peep shows, and McDonald’s. Now you can get a good drink and some great food well into the wee hours. At Bao Down Now, the menu may be short, but the sight and smell of the steamed buns being prepared is irresistible. Larger late night supper bars, like Farrier and Heya, are great places to chill out at any point in the evening, but the later it gets, the harder it is to resist the pull of Heya’s outstanding cheeseburger spring rolls. Late night dining is something Brisbane has been missing for a long time, so let’s hope this is only the beginning.
More hidden gems
This year was full of good news for the Hole in the Wall team. So many surprising small venues opened quietly in suburbs all around Brisbane. These are the kind of places HITW exists to showcase. If I were to pick just a few of my favourites, they’d be Holloway at West End (their pizza offshoot opened in April), Wooden Horse at Clayfield, and The Jam Pantry at Greenslopes. More and more Brisbanites are taking the risk of opening a new venue, and more and more diners are showing they’re willing to try those new places. All in all, that’s one of the best things which could have happened to Brisbane this year.