Sunday, 4 January 2015

The FoodMeUpScotty Top Ten

Top 10 restaurants in Brisbane

I've been writing about food and restaurants in my blog for over two years now and it's been a heck of a ride.  I'm often asked what my favourite restaurants are or for recommendations of places to eat and I always find it difficult to limit my choices, there are just so many great places to eat in our fair city! 

My time as a Brisbane blogger is almost over, I am moving to Hong Kong (I will have already moved if you're reading this after the 10th of January).  I've had quite a bit of time to reflect on Brisbane's restaurants, especially as my time in the city comes to an end and I've decided that I will put together a list of my Top 10 restaurants.  Some you might agree with and others, you probably won't, but it's my list and each of the restaurants on the list is special in its own way.

There are many elements and factors when considering my favourite restaurants, having a top quality chef is part of the story, but equally important are service, diversity of menu and that all important 'X factor'.   A good indicator for me is repeat visits, if I want to go back (and go back often), then all the elements have usually come together and for me, thats what makes a top restaurant.

It's been a painful process and I've had to leave out some amazing restaurants, some that would have easily made a top twenty list, but I have had to limit my choices to ten....   So here it goes, here is my top ten list.  

Number 10 - Rogue Bar and Bistro

Rogue Bar and Bistro sneaks in at #10.  Rogue is possibly in the worst location for a restaurant in Brisbane!  Located in a semi industrial street in Newstead, it's easy to miss and the very first time we went, we drove right by.  While it's hard to find, it's worth the trip.

Owner and head chef Daniel Myers take on food is outstanding with his menu simply listing out the animal being served.  The food is creative and incredibly tasty and his take on desserts has to be seen to be believed.  Best of all, the meals are reasonably priced.  

Hard to find? Sure, but well worth looking.

Number 9 - Alchemy Restaurant and Bar

Whenever anyone asks me where they should go on a date, Alchemy Restaurant and Bar springs to mind.  Not only does owner and head chef Brad Jolly have one of the most extensive menu options available in Brisbane, but has arguably one of the best locations too.  Situated right on the Brisbane river, there are unobstructed views of the river and Story Bridge.

Alchemy has been one of my favourite restaurants for as long as I can remember and I've been countless times.  The cuisine is Modern Australian with French influences and is often sensational. I've always found the entrees and starters to be amongst the best in Brisbane and there is almost always a souffle on the dessert menu.  For a special treat, check out the nitrogen bombs!

Best for romantic dates or business lunches.

Number 8 - Esquire

Esquire is undoubtedly one of the most exciting restaurants to come on the scene for a long, long time.  Executive chef and owner Ryan Squires is part mad hatter and part genius and with his degustation only restaurant Esquire sitting comfortably as Brisbane's only three hatted restaurant, it's easy to see why.  Ryan's unique take on food has been shaped by working in some of the worlds best restaurants.

If you're looking for incredibly complex food that challenges what you know about modern cuisine, then Esquire is a place you need to visit.  While there is complexity in the Esquire menu, there is also complete simplicity as well, with pure and sustainable produce being a highlight of the restaurant. 

If you're not quite down with eating a full degustation, you can always head to Esq, which is right next door for a simpler menu but no less delicious.

Number 7 - Beccofino

With arguably the best pizza in town Beccofino makes my list of top ten restaurants.  Interestingly enough, it's not for the pizza, which is no doubt amazing.  One of my all time favourite dishes in Brisbane is the Pappardelle al Ragu d'Anatra - flat ribbon pasta with a duck and tomato ragu. Quite simply put, it's my favourite pasta dish ever.  The perfectly cooked pasta comes with a generous serving of duck and the most amazing tomato based sauce......  heaven.

Beccofino is an Italian casual diner at Teneriffe that is a family magnet, which for a long time was my regular Sunday dinner dining spot, mainly on the back of that duck ragu.  There is a strict no reservation policy, so you need to get in early or be prepared for a long wait.

Number 6 - Montrachet

For a long time, Montrachet has been Brisbane's finest French restaurant and at one time was rated as Brisbane's top restaurant.  Owner and head chef Thierry Galichet established his quaint Parisian diner in Paddington and has to be one of Brisbane's most successful restaurants.  How else would you explain the fact that Montrachet does not open for dinner on Friday or Saturday nights?

Montrachet is a special occasion restaurant, with the incredibly rich French cuisine coming out of Thierry's kitchen perfect every time.  I've had a lot of birthday and anniversary dinners at Montrachet and it's always delivered on flavour, especially the amazing sauces that come with heaps of baguette for sauce dipping.

I'd probably have rated Montrachet higher in my list except for one minor issue....  I've always found the desserts to be a little of the safe side and not matching the heights of the starters and mains.

Number 5 - Tartufo

I was devastated when I found out that French restaurant Belle Epoque had closed down, almost inconsolable.  That was until I found out that the replacement would be Italian fine diner Tartufo. Tartufo is Italian for truffle and just like the famed delicacy, Tartufo restaurant has quickly become a Brisbane favourite.

Head chef and owner Tony Percuoco is passionate about cooking and with a long history in the industry, knows what it takes to run a magnificent restaurant.  Whether its the chef's tasting menu or the a la carte options, there is something for everyone on the menu, including Tony's famous fondente al cioccolato: soft centred chocolate fondant, infused with fresh espresso with mascarpone cream and shaved Belgian dark chocolate - decadent and delicious.

Oh, Tartufo does some wicked pizza too - the Margherita is to die for.

Number 4 - Ecco Bistro

Arguably Brisbane's most recognised bistro, E'cco has been a mainstay of the Brisbane dining scene for almost twenty years.  Owner Philip Johnson knows what it takes to remain in a cut throat business, it's about consistently great produce and keeping it simple.  The dishes at E'cco aren't overly complex and the flavours speak for themselves.

E'cco is another restaurant I have eaten at many, many times both for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, but also just to have a nice simple dinner with bags of flavour.  At one time, E'cco was rated as the best restaurant in Australia and has been one of Brisbane's most awarded restaurants.

Recently, Philip has created Howzat Burgers, with the original Howzat located underneath E'cco which is also my favourite Burger spot in town.  Check out the Don, is good!

Number 3 - Stokehouse South Bank

One of a handful of two hatted restaurants in Brisbane and ranked in the top 100 restaurants in Australia, my first experience at Stokehouse was poor.  I'm glad that I gave it a second go, because the food is incredible.  Another example of Modern Australian cuisine that is superb both in presentation and flavour.  One of the best risotto's I've had was at the Stokehouse with a mushroom and truffle risotto that is still part of my foodie dreams!  

Located over at South Bank, it's also in a prime position, with incredible views of the city  There are few things better than spending a Sunday afternoon for lunch on a warm summer's day at the Stokehouse.  It's one of the few spots that you'd feel comfortable having a Sunday lunch with friends, a romantic Saturday night meal with a date or for a very special occasion.

You have to try the signature dish of the Bombe, it's been rated as one of Queensland's most iconic dishes!

Number 2 - Urbane Restaurant

Urbane is another of Brisbane's two hatted restaurant and ranked as one of the top 25 restaurants in the country.  It's no fluke, owner Andrew Buchanan has been picking wining chefs to run his kitchen, the list is like a who's who of award winning chefs.  Ryan Squires, Kym Machin and Alejandro Cancino (now part owner) have all won the Good Food Guides young chef of the year.

A degustation only restaurant that puts an equal emphasis on vegetarian and carnivore, Alejandro is probably one of the nicest blokes in town.  The food is intricate, delicate and sometimes confronting, but it's always full of flavour and always pushing the boundaries.  I've been to Urbane many times and each time walked away in wonderment and feeling completely satisfied.

Not satisfied with running just one restaurant, Alejandro also runs The Euro next door, also a hatted restaurant ranked in the top 100 restaurants in Australia.  The guy is doing something right!

Number 1 - 85 Miskin Street

When I think about the top ten dishes I have ever eaten, including those from some of the best restaurants in Europe and America, one restaurant dominates that list.

Brent Farrell used to run Brent's at Toowong, which about a year ago transformed into 85 Miskin Street and he is a genius.  Brent's a great guy and an amazing chef, he is also brave enough to have established a bistro in the suburbs, then even braver to change it up when at the peak of it's popularity.

85 Miskin Street is Modern Australian cuisine and is without doubt my favourite restaurant.  There are heaps of things I like about Brent's cooking, mixing texture and temperatures amongst those, but the most amazing aspect to his cooking is soups and bisques. AMAZING!  There is a scallop broth that I have declared the best thing I have ever eaten, and that's by some margin, but Brent's famous fish dishes with seafood bisques are right up there as well.

I almost forgot, the desserts at 85 Miskin Street are also a bit on the genius side, especially the simply named fresh berries with madagascan vanilla and garden flowers.  The first time I ordered the dessert my jaw literally dropped (I thought that only happened in the movies)

Do yourself a favour, get out to Toowong and try the scallop broth and the seafood bisque.  Tell Brent I sent you :)

Well, there you have it, my top ten restaurants in Brisbane.  It was agonising choosing these restaurants, well, more to the point, it was agonising leaving out some restaurants that I also love and frequent heaps.

Its a testament to the quality of the Brisbane dining scene that so many amazing restaurants didn't quite make my top ten.  But, at the end of the day, if I only had ten restaurants to visit, then these are the ten that I would stop at first.

As always, I'd love to hear your comments on my list and hear if you think I've got it wrong or got it right.


Brent from 85 Miskin Street - tell him I said hi when you visit :)

85 Miskin St on UrbanspoonUrbane on UrbanspoonStokehouse on UrbanspoonE'cco Bistro on UrbanspoonRistorante Tartufo on UrbanspoonBeccofino on UrbanspoonMontrachet on UrbanspoonEsquire on UrbanspoonAlchemy Restaurant and Bar on UrbanspoonRogue Bar + Bistro on Urbanspoon


  1. I Recently visit this blog here you share such a nice information...Thanks for sharing with us....Indian Food Orlndo

  2. I just read this even though you moved ages ago.... Great list - thumbs up!

    - Corrie.

    1. Thanks Corrie :) I'm compiling a great list over here already!!

  3. Thanks for the list. We did try 85 miskin place for brunch but sorry to say it's really mediocre! Maybe we expected too much... I may return for dinner based on what you said but sadly our brunch dining experience was really mediorcre. Coffee pancakes were doughie and had no coffee taste; partner's salmon with poached egg and rosti and bread was like something I could make at home... Dissappointed! But service and decor were nice.

    1. Hey there, sorry to hear that! I can't comment on breakfast or brunch, it's always been a dinner place for me. Hope you give it another go and try it for dinner - cheers


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