Whenever I visit a city that I haven’t been to before, I make it my first mission to hunt for the cafes, restaurants and precincts that I feel will give me the best taste of what this inciting, unfamiliar metropolis has to offer. So when I found myself hunting in a very familiar city, one that I lived in during my uni days and felt that I knew well, I was quite excited.
I had heard a little bit about the new laneway precincts popping up around Brisbane City and I was lucky enough to spend some time digging through its best bits during my recent trip back home to Australia. It was quite the thrilling search! It’s so nice when creative projects and initiatives are able to bring a burst of life and character into a once fairly dull area. Back streets that I had never dreamed of going down once were now top of the agenda list.
I first hit up the Burnett lane precinct with some friends and we found Brew, a down the alley way, underground café that just screamed (I hate to say it and compare but here goes…) Melbourne. We had brunch and what a delight it was. I spent a bit of time being mesmerised by the location (I just loved the feeling of being hidden away and going ‘underground’) and the innovative indie feel it gave with its roller doors, synthetic turf, draping red curtains and cozy outdoor couches. We tucked into gluten free brookfarm muesli, avo toast, banana bread with mascarpone and of course tea – lots of tea. I later found out too that Brew has a younger sibling – Little Brew, perched up in the neighboring inner city suburb of picturesque Paddington.
The next stop on our laneway list was the other end of Burnett Lane. It was here that we found some real hidden gems begging to be explored on our Saturday night out on the town. We started at Super Whatnot, a bar featuring gourmet wine, craft beer and even craftier cocktails. I gave the bar tender creative license to come up with a cocktail – and boy did he deliver! Imagine gin, lemon, sugar and shaken egg white infused and garnished with rosemary. A provincial spin on the classic gin fizz and so incredibly delicious.
For dinner we found The Survey Co. We knew it would be a treat from the moment we arrived at the door and realised we had to press a button to be let in. As we began to fear just the slightest touch of pretentiousness, we were stopped by a warming and welcoming space fit with exposed bricks, low lighting and a long kitchen placed where all good kitchens should be – in the heart of the room. We loved that the menu encouraged shared dishes and that our waitress was more than helpful on the wine pairing front. I had the market fish and while I was impatiently waiting for my dinner to arrive, I just loved that I had a front seat view to the kitchen filled with busy, food loving chefs.
On our wander out of the restaurant and down the lane, we passed some edgy commissioned (and not so commissioned) street art – a fresh novelty for Brisbane folk I feel. And then, I found myself back at Brew (the first time for my Saturday night company). Lucky me. This time for the late night edition featuring a Jazz Trio, some toe tapping and a drink or two.
Although there are so many more mentionable places, unfortunately my time to explore them personally was short. I did try to go and check out Bean, a café hidden away behind the George St laneway. Sadly it was closed so I will have to forage there another day.
We did manage to squeeze in one last laneway gem for breakfast before my flight back. It was called The Kitchen Door and was found down an alleyway next to the Embassy Hotel. We sat at doors not tables, enjoyed the fresh industrial open feel and had a very yummy breakfast. One thing in Australia that I believe you can almost always count on, is knowing that even if you are tucked down a little narrow once unused laneway, you can still get a decent espresso coffee and a loose leaf pot of tea.
To the laneways of Brisbane, Australia… until we meet again and I can continue to explore your budding hidden dwellings, I will miss you.