Pub of the Week: The Regatta Hotel, Brisbane

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Arguably one of Australia’s greatest pubs, the Regatta Hotel holds a special place in the hearts of Brisbanites.

Born in 1874, The Grand Lady is Queensland Royalty, located on Coronation Drive in Toowong overlooking the Brisbane River.

Like many locals, I share a love affair with the “Gatts”, the host to milestone birthdays, exam celebrations and commiserations, engagement parties and general family folklore.

More than a dash of passion has been poured into the pub during its rich 140-year history and today the much-loved watering hole officially reopens after an 18 month and $10 million restoration following the 2011 floods. Fittingly, by one of its most famous patrons, Regatta royalty Merle Thornton (who famously caused a ruckus in 1965 by chaining herself to the bar and ordering a beer in an act of feminist insurgency).

It’s a favourite haunt for my rugby-obsessed family and last night we snuck over for a steak and sat amongst the sand-blasted brickwork to soak up the warm hospitality and spectacular views.

Last January we waded through the Sylvan Road sludge deposited by the Brisbane River to offer a helping hand to this seasoned entertainer, so we were particularly excited to sneak a peek at the Grand Lady’s new attire.

Entering through the historic Regatta Lane is a walk through its history books. The Brisbane River has crossed her doorstep on more than one occasion as the flood markers indicate, evoking a mixture of emotions. The last flood compromised the building’s structural integrity, submerging its timber floors under a few feet of water.

The hotel’s fighting spirit seeps through the remaining woodwork, 140-year-old brick walls and its famed heritage cast-iron laced verandahs which rest as the hotel’s crown.

Queensland’s enviable laid-back lifestyle is alive and well here tonight. The mood however has matured, there’s no obvious dance floor and the décor strikes a balance between old-world charm and modern chic. It’s intriguing, eclectic, like ‘Cloudland without the fuss’ as my companion comments.

The new courtyard, or trendy outdoor deck, is equipped with spacious built-in sun lounges, perfect for a Sunday session of live music and a coldie. It gets our tick of approval as does the mouth-watering menu. In addition to the steaks I recommend the trio of chips (french fries and truffle salt, hand-cut wedges with sweet chilli mayo and sweet potato chips with lemon aioli). YUM!

The Boatshed Restaurant, just next door has a rustic feel complete with rowboat which watches over patrons and has a more affordable and varied meal options than before.

As always, liquid gold flows freely from the XXXX taps and the bar has swelled to include an extensive range of fine wines and even finer spirits.

A visit to the heritage-listed Regatta is a must do Brisbane experience, it’s served cold beers to generations of Queenslanders, housed masses of maroons and reds, and celebrated the achievements of academic and sporting greats alike.

The Regatta’s reopening signals a new chapter in Queensland history and is cause for celebration – which is exactly what locals will do this weekend to welcome the Grand Lady back.