12 Queensland restaurants that will blow your mind
There are good restaurants, and then there are the restaurants worth flying for.
Ones that make you dream of certain dishes for years to come. Ones with a three-month waiting list for a Saturday night booking. And the ones under the helm of Australia’s most exciting and innovate chefs.
If you’re a bona fide foodie on a mission to try all of the best restaurants in Queensland and all they have to offer, this list is for you.
The Fish House, Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast
There’s a good reason why we’ve espoused the virtues of The Fish House before. And the twice-daily delivery of fresh fish, enviable Burleigh Heads location, and sophisticated wine list are just a few of the reasons why it was again awarded a chefs hat in the 2019 Australian Good Food Guide.
For the best chance of menu sampling, order the Chef’s Selection ($110 per person), which may see you slurping live dry opened Sydney Rock Oysters, supping simple lemony fish soup, spooning prawn bisque risotto and signing off with Patagonian Toothfish.
Rick Shores, Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast
Named as one of the best dining experiences in the country by The Australian Financial Review‘s 2018 Top 100 Restaurant awards, Rick Shores is so close to the water it’s literally lapped by the waves.
But with a culinary team drawn from the kitchens of some of Australia’s top South-East Asian restaurants (Spirit House, LONgTIME, Longrain), the food here almost outshines the view.
Take your time with the menu and enjoy inventive bar snacks like ‘Ricks’ fried bug roll, with gem lettuce and sriracha, through to fried shrimp wonton with smoked ham broth and pork floss.
Crowned as one of the Top 100 restaurants in Australia by both Gourmet Traveller and Gault&Millau’s 2018 awards, chic dining darling Urbane has long been one of Brisbane‘s best-kept secrets.
It’s an interesting formula for success: open only three nights per week, a vegan chef, and degustation-only menu. But, oh how it works.
The five or seven-course omnivore or herbivore menus take diners on a journey from the interesting (yellow peach and lobster consommé) to the intriguing (poached fennel on brioche with nori and miso butter) with ingredients changing depending on seasonal availability.
Gauge, South Brisbane
Well before the accolades – including this year’s chefs hat in the Australian Good Food Guide – we knew Gauge was something special.
Though it looks more cafe than fine dining establishment, the food being lovingly plated up at the sister venue of Teneriffe’s hip Sourced Grocer and South Brisbane bar Maker is nothing but five star.
Ordering off the dinner menu will have you sampling the daring raw lamb with shiitake and flying fish roe, or keeping things amusingly sweet with cherry sorbet, caramelised cream, nutmeg, and artichoke.
Otto Ristorante, Brisbane
Awarded two chefs hats and Wine List of the Year in the 2019 Australian Good Food Guide, Otto Ristorante is the first Queensland locale for the company behind Sydney’s renowned Quay and Bennelong restaurants. Which means to say that it’s good. Very good.
Overlooking Brisbane‘s Story Bridge, the Southern Italian menu has been designed with the Queensland climate in mind and executes all your favourites: oysters with lemon and black pepper granita, Villani Culatello with balsamic watermelon, and house-made pasta with finesse.
Gerard’s Bistro, Brisbane
Tucked in a lane off Fortitude Valley’s James Street, Gerard’s Bistro has all the right ingredients for a memorable night out.
Named the Top Restaurant in Queensland in The Australian Financial Review‘s 2018 Top 100 Restaurant awards, you’ll find yourself on a culinary journey through the Maghreb and Middle East, with perfectly paired wines taking flavours to the next level.
The generous menu stretches from confit southern squid with roasted bone sauce, hazelnut tarator and grilled enoki mushroom; through to nitro sahlab with carob ice cream, blackberries, blood plum and pistachio.
Stokehouse Q, South Bank, Brisbane
Taking home two chefs hats in the 2019 Australian Good Food Guide, Stokehouse Q is another southerner migrated north, perched pretty on the banks of the Brisbane River at South Bank‘s River Quay precinct.
Inspired by the Mediterranean, the menu here showcases the best in local produce – with miso-glazed barramundi belly, seaweed dashi and Davidson’s plum oil.
Drink in the view and a long, lazy afternoon over the likes of market fish, white soy cucumber, fermented macadamia cream; saltbush & labne dumplings, silken tofu, dried lime XO; leaving room for vanilla semifreddo, rosella sorbet and dark chocolate mousse
The Long Apron, Montville, Sunshine Coast
Hotel restaurants don’t always hit the mark, but The Long Apron at Spicers Clovelly Estate is not your average hotel restaurant.
When the hotel is actually a boutique homestead in the gorgeous Sunshine Coast Hinterland, and the restaurant is the type of place you’d book months in advance for that special occasion lunch or dinner, when the two combine, it’s magical.
Head chef Chris Hagan takes his inspiration from around the world, and being classically trained, he has a skill for clean precise dishes with an excellent balance of flavour and elegant presentation.
Wasabi, Noosa, Sunshine Coast
When you feel like taking a trip to Japan for the evening, but want to feel the tatami under your feet with views of the Noosa River at the same time, Wasabi knows how to deliver on all accounts.
Awarded two chefs hats in the 2019 Australian Good Food Guide, the most outstanding achievement here, however, is the hyper-local sourcing of ingredients. Namely from the restaurant’s own farm where rare Japanese ingredients are grown and composted, and the highlighting of lesser-known local seafood takes place.
Trust us and hand over the reins for the omakase seven or nine-course menu – aka let the chef decide.
Sum Yung Guys, Sunshine Beach, Sunshine Coast
The name sums it up: four mates, a passion for pan-Asian cuisine, all just a stone’s throw from one of the most beautiful beaches on the Sunshine Coast.
The heat since opening Sum Yung Guys in 2017 by local resident (and Masterchef fave) Matt Sinclair and friends doesn’t appear to be slowing down, either: it was named one of the 50 hottest restaurants by The Australian and top 100 restaurants in the country by The Australian Financial Review in 2018.
Here, nothing has been left untouched by creativity, from their funky neon signage and street murals adorning the walls, to their share-style menu featuring zesty delights like Hiramasa kingfish, green scud and laksa; and wok-tossed mussels with lemongrass, ginger and coconut water.
Indulge Cafe, Bundaberg
There’s a simple ethos at Indulge Cafe in Bundaberg: “We know where it came from and how it was made”.
True to form, their undeniably outstanding use of fresh, local produce and giving the growers the kudos they deserve, has won not only our bellies over but a number of well-deserved accolades.
Open for breakfast and lunch, every dish has a story here and the owners of Indulge are more than happy to share.
Nu Nu, Palm Cove, Tropical North Queensland
If you want to know what Tropical North Queensland tastes like on a plate, make a beeline for chef Nick Holloway’s Nu Nu (you may have seen him on MasterChef in 2015).
Nestled nicely on the paperbark tree-lined esplanade of Palm Cove, with cracking views out over the Coral Sea and Double Island, this is fine dining with its tie not only loosened, but left at the back of the wardrobe.
A four or seven-course tasting menu is available and is perfect for those who can’t possibly choose between cinnamon roast Victorian lamb with caramelised Mungalli yoghurt and pumpkin custard; and wok-fried north Queensland mud crab with chilli tamarind, sweet pork, market greens, jasmine rice and ginger broth. (You understand the dilemma, no?)