Turning a pig’s ear into a silk purse? Brisbane nails that with style! If you like food in the slightest, and happen to visit Brisbane, get down to the Gasworks Newstead. You’ll be glad you did.
Most Brisbanites will acknowledge that it was Expo 88 that threw this quiet country town onto the world stage. And that in the aftermath, the city’s clever use of the suddenly empty spaces, made the town sing and hum.
Now almost 30 years later, the Southbank area is still a natural hub for locals and tourists alike. But first we visit Newstead to see the roaring development that has shot this area to becoming a foodie haven.
So what did the city fathers do with the ugly red gas tank and supports that dominated the streetscape down in Newstead? Hide it? No…. they removed the tank, painted the supports silver with bright violet lighting at night, and made the floor area – post tank – a skating rink. Clever.
The Standard Market Company is where we begin – from a dazzling array of fresh fruit to vegetables that look like they’ve just been dug from fertile soil, washed, polished and proudly puff out their chests screaming “pick me! Pick me!”
Olives? Countless deep bowls of fruit that would rival anything in Europe wait, expectantly. And so it goes on – a cornucopia of cheeses, produce and comestibles that overwhelm with choice. And then there’s the dry aged beef in its own hallowed hall and we must wait – yes wait – until it’s ready. It says so on the signs!
Darren Frame and Mitch Love are two clever foodies, starting with a fine fruit concept, and evolving over the last 10 or so years until they’ve reached this zenith of food retailing.
This precinct has been named the Gasworks Plaza and dominating the restaurant tenants is Reef – that’s busy day and night with cool décor, smart staff, and whip fresh seafood that demands one goes with an empty – and I mean empty – tummy. The seafood platter – at $100 and recommended for two, would feed two truckies or 3 or 4 normal people.
Next door is Hatch & Co that serves ‘nourishing and rustic home-style dishes’, with the emphasis on share plates and communal dining. We pegged the Hatch for another visit.
Where does Marion, our local host finish the night? Max Brenner. Where the devotion to, and imagination with, all things chocolate is a must to be seen and experienced. Her fave, the “Exploding chocolate shot” which contains Gummi Bears and popping candy will soothe the most frazzled hipster’s nerves. No problem.
We watch the families play, kids skating, or eating, or… ordering with aplomb at the counters… and wander home. We’re replete, happy and feeling at one with the world.
Gasworks Newstead works for us. So good to see the inspired use of land and light in what was once a tired and run-down blot on the landscape. Let’s hope the city rulers keep that bar high, and support the traders – who pay the rent and make the wheels turn.