Join the Chef’s Table: Where Queensland’s best eat
Whether it’s an off-radar cheapie or the full starched linen and candlelight experience you’re looking for, who better to go to for advice than the experts?
To that end, we’ve asked 10 of Queensland’s most highly regarded chefs where they choose to eat when they get a break from their own kitchens so you can truly join the Chef’s Table.
Josue Lopez, Opal, Emporium Hotel, South Brisbane
Eats at: Little Valley, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane
Little Valley serves up contemporary Asian inspired morsels of deliciousness and an on-point wine list in an elegantly styled industrial space. I like to start with a glass of champagne and prawn, and pork siu mai with XO and caviar dim sum. Other favourites are the spicy raw potato salad to accompany the twice cooked duck with fermented plum.
Tip: If you come in a group, try the banquet menu for a next-level culinary experience.
Will Cowper, Otto Ristorante, Brisbane
Eats at: Beccofino, Teneriffe, Brisbane
I live just around the corner, so I eat here at least once a week. The service is always very good and friendly. I have a Negroni on arrival and then follow with a good Chianti or Montepulciano. They definitely have the best pizzas in Brisbane but I generally get the fish of the day.
Tip: Come early. They don’t take bookings and it’s always very busy from 5:30pm onwards every day.
Dominique Rizzo, Putia Pure Food Kitchen, Banyo, Brisbane
Eats at: Koya Japanese Restaurant, New Farm, Brisbane
Koya is my go-to for a quick dinner, with fresh, well-made food, lovely staff and on-site parking which is rare in New Farm. My favourite seat is under the replica cherry tree. I am totally addicted to the agedashi tofu. Other favourites are the tuna tataki, sushi, king prawn and vegetable tempura, seared salmon salad, chicken kaarage, dumplings and the miso soup.
Tip: It opens at 5:30pm – perfect for any early diners like me.
Philip Johnson, e’cco Bistro, Newstead, Brisbane
Eats at: LONgTIME Restaurant and Bar, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane
Restaurants are as much about how you feel as they are about food and service and you tend to feel uplifted at LONgTIME, because it’s always buzzing.
I always order the LONgTIME chicken burger with house Sriracha; papaya salad with mint, coriander and tomatoes, and the red curry of Angus beef, crispy shallots, lime leaf and sweet potato. I often have one of the fantastic Thai cocktails too.
Tip: Get there early because there’s always a queue.
Zeb Gilbert, Wasabi Restaurant and Bar, Noosa
Eats at: Tan Thanh, Inala, Brisbane
Our go-to place in Brisbane for 10 years, this is the most authentic Vietnamese I have had outside Vietnam. With a view of the parole and probation office and orders that often get lost in translation, it’s no fine diner but the food is sensational and cheap.
I always have the fresh noodle soup with crispy chicken and I have it on good authority that the egg noodle soup with wontons is also a winner.
Tip: Go mid-week as they get super busy on the weekend.
Damien Styles, The Fish House, Burleigh, Gold Coast
Eats at: The North Room, Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast
This is the place I send anyone who asks me “Where’s good on the coast?” It seats just 20, with a marble top bar in the centre that makes for a good late-night snack spot (‘late’ being after 9pm on the Gold Coast!)
I basically let chef Tim cook for me and he always delivers, with food that’s visually stunning, clever and really tasty.
Tip: Sit at the bar with a view of the kitchen.
Andrew Gunn, Urbane Brisbane
Eats at: Julius Pizzeria, South Brisbane
I love the loud, casual ambience the place gives off when busy, and it’s always busy! The food is simple and well done, using fresh and excellent produce, and service is attentive but not over the top. I start with an Aperol spritz then have a glass of Chianti with my main. Usually, I order a burrata, then go for a plate of pasta or a wood-fired pizza, depending on the day.
Tip: If you go a lunchtime, bag a table outside in Fish Lane.
Nick Holloway, Nu Nu, Palm Cove
Eats at: Ganbaranba Noodle Colosseum, Cairns
Ganbaranba is a tiny, bustling noodle shop serving up quite possibly the best ramen in North Queensland. Kioto the owner and host is always smiling, offers impeccable service and has watched my kids grow up, as they too now love noodles and hot broth.
My personal favourite is the ‘Ikeman’ is a rich tonkotsu broth which I order with medium chewy noodles and a side of ‘z-don’- tuna, pork, vegetables and egg on rice.
Tip: It’s cash only.
Spencer Patrick, Harrisons by Spencer Patrick, Port Douglas
This is where I indulge in one of my favourite pastimes, ‘barflying’ – sitting at a cool bar and having scattered conversation with a knowledgeable bartender.
Gerard’s bespoke negroni is my tipple and I’ll always have the same three small plates- jamon Iberico, ’njuda salami and a good slice of Comte cheese. These three atop some sourdough is the biz.
Tip: Also try the sobrasada which is flamed at the bar and served with rooftop honey and rye toast.
Shannon Kellam, Montrachet, Bowen Hills, Brisbane
Eats at: Gusto da Gianni, Hamilton, Brisbane
Sundays are when spend time together as a family as it’s the only time for us in a working week to have time off to relax and indulge in a large meal. We like that Gianni’s presence is always felt, through his attentive and welcoming staff.
The food is consistent and based on good produce, with great flavours and generous portions. I usually order some starters like the goats’ cheese stuffed zucchini flowers, crumbled olives, calamari, then normally lasagne or gnocchi and rocket pear salad. They also make a great Negroni.
Tip: It’s easy to score a walk-in table.