Another week, another sneaky getaway.
This time I boarded my Qantas flight to Brisbane to check out this modern capital.
Brisbane has undergone a huge transformation in the last few years, boasting a variety of new precincts, restaurants and bars. I spent most of my time in Southbank, a cultural and emerging suburb overlooking the Brisbane river. The development of the area since I last visited was mind blowing; there has been a lot of money put into infrastructure, and it shows. The streetscape is lined with trees, the buildings are a delightful mix of modern and classic that have clearly gone through a reverberation but still manage to encapsulate the beauty that once was.
I’m sure you’ve visited QLD before — perhaps holidayed at Surfers Paradise, or dipped your toes in the ocean at The Whitsundays — but Brisbane is an overlooked little treasure. It’s becoming quite the epicentre for all things cool in the northern state, and there’s no doubt that the best part is the weather — sun shining and 27 degrees in April!
Come on a journey with me and see what I go up to in this awesome city!
A charming heritage listed façade welcomed me, rich in history and culture — I couldn’t wait to get inside! The light bounced through the hotel restaurant from the gorgeous arch windows; I knew I was in for a treat. The hotel’s 1920’s styling gives you the feeling of going back to a time when fashion entered a more modern era, and that encapsulated the feel of this gorgeous boutique hotel perfectly.
I decided to stay at The New Incholm hotel, one of Sofitel’s latest offerings through the Gallery series. I personally prefer boutique hotels — the quirkiness and details are always on point and the New Incholm did not disappoint. Located just a 3-minute walk from Central station and with a $15 UBER to pretty much everywhere I needed to go, it was a no brainer to rest my head here.
Set in an art deco building which dates back to the 1920s, the hotel has just undergone a huge transformation. Upon arriving I was warmly greeted by the reception staff who informed me I had been upgraded (always a great start to a mini break). I headed up to the second floor to put down my bags and get ready for the day ahead.
My room was plush and elegant, and with inclusions like free wi-fi, flat-screen TVs, iPad Minis and iPod docks, I immediately felt at home. The bed was huge and so super comfortable; there was a sitting area where I could bathe in the sun while reading a few chapters of my favourite book, and the bathroom had my favourite thing ever: a rain shower!
The fine dining restaurant downstairs, Thompson’s Reserve, was always bustling, open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu is progressive and the chef Michael Crosbie has focused on simple, clean flavours. You can choose from the al a carte menu or, if you’re really hungry, settle in for the evening or afternoon and enjoy and a five to eight course tasting menu. Also worth a mention is the hotel’s awesome whisky bar The Socialite — I’m a fan, I love a whisky sour and the one the bartender made me was divine.
Perched on the hill at Southbank, picnic basket and blanket in hand I was in a state of romance. Live music filled the air while I sat down to enjoy the culinary delights that was offered from the gorgeous Popolo Italian Kitchen and Bar, who have thought up the dreamiest idea of offering a picnic lunch option to those notebook loving, complete romantic tragedies, just like myself…
Lunch was such a treat. We made our way through the gorgeous botanic gardens and along the river to The Popolo Italian Kitchen and Bar. It was a buzzing scene with indoor/ outdoor tables, a large bar area with stools and the option to picnic at your leisure.
The restaurant is bright and modern with floor to wall glass panels, leaving the light to stream in while you enjoy your lunch. The menu is Italian inspired, with all produce sourced locally (I am all about this) and the cocktails were delicious! We decided on a rum and ginger beer carafe, which was muddled with lime and garnished with basil. It was so refreshing on what was becoming a very hot day.
After finishing our drinks we were provided with our picnic basket of goodies, which included a delicious selection of cheeses, flat breads and antipasto. Pizza was also included — we went with the Parma ham, which was cheesy and delicious. The restaurant isn’t licensed to provide takeaway wine so make sure you come prepared with your favourite bottle of something before you go. We laid in the sun, ate, drank and chatted about life. When the live music stopped and our bellies were full we headed back to the restaurant to enjoy another carafe of the rum and ginger beer and people-watched as the fit and families took over the board walk. I highly recommend while you’re in Brisbane you go and check out Popolo, the food and energy were sublime.
I am all about alfresco dining, fabulous food, great service and home-made pasta. It seems the Spaghetti House really was the right place to be!
Set in the new restaurant precinct in Southbank, the Spaghetti House Trattoria gives you the feel of a cosy, family run trattoria. The interiors boast ornate mirrors and wood panelled spaces, but perhaps the highlight for me (apart from the food) was the alfresco dining terrace. Sitting out in the evening breeze with a vino really was a truly enjoyable end to what was a magical day.
The menu offering is rustic and traditional with a choice if pizza, pasta, gnocchi, ravioli and risotto, all made by hand at the restaurant and with plenty of Gluten free options should that be your kryptonite. The meal portions were large, but not overly huge so you could easily pick a few of the above for an evening graze. I went with the calamari fritti, salamano pizza (Salami) and the octopus squid pasta (which came highly recommended).
I stumbled across this gem in the city’s CBD — it was like I had gone back in time. The building in which The Gresham lays claim was initially designed for the Queensland National Bank in 1881. It had a Palladian feel to it with a mix of cedar, sandstone and limestone adorning its floors and walls. There is a working fireplace and the back-lit bar displays the bottles like a staircase to heaven — well, whiskey heaven anyway.
The bartenders were very knowledgeable, which makes sense, considering they’re currently the title holders of Australia’s best bar by gourmet traveller. They don’t serve food but they have an amazing array of spirits, interesting beers and a cocktail list that will blow your mind. Definitely worth a look next time you are taking in the sites at Bris-Vegas
For a change of scenery we ventured into the ever popular Fortitude Valley. This area is for those young at heart who don’t mind a few drinks and perhaps a 3am kebab. Heya Bar is a cool, dark little bar with plenty of shadowy secrets and dimly lit corners. You can test your skills over a game of pool, but if pinball is more your thing, they also have you covered.
With the amazing Asian-style street food served up here you could be forgiven for thinking you’d ended up in South East Asia. Heya bar cater to everyone, and they also have a tucked away dining area which seats about 40 people. We settled into one of the cozy booths and tried a selection of cocktails and specialty curated spirits.
Bondi-based Lisa Clark has an acute appreciation for food, travel, events and photography and through this lifestyle she creates beautiful and inspiring content on her blog and Instagram @iamlisaclark.