When I first visited Brisbane almost 15 years ago, there weren’t really any good places to go for a drink. But now, with the small bar culture sinking its claws into the flanks of Brissie’s hospitality industry, things are a-changing.
A few weeks ago Mrs Romance and I went to visit the effervescently awesome Nikki from Styling You, and we got to hang out together in a few of Brissie’s top spots.
Fortitude Valley is Brisbane’s most exciting suburb for entertainment and partying. And it all seems to culminate on the corner of two streets in the heart of the suburb: on Alfred and Constance streets.
This is an enormous venue that owner Damien Griffiths has cleverly separated into very different experiences. It’s created three or four very distinctive areas for people to eat, drink and make whatever they want of their night without having to leave the premises… which is a very nifty trick, isn’t it?
Originally two great big queenslander houses, Griffiths has had them joined together into one big house party.
The Vanguard Beer Garden Bar
This is the mainstay of A & C. Taking up the entire ground floor, this is where the eating happens. Oh, the food! Unbelievable. We all tucked into some of the tapas style snacks like soft shell crab rolls, lamb ribs and slow roast pork belly.
Then shit got real when Mr Styling You and I delved into our respective burgers. The Chicken Schnitzel Burger was good, but the A&C Burger was extreme. Best thing on the menu – but go with an empty stomach.
The desserts are also intense!
Open: Lunch & Dinner 12pm till late Wed to Sun (kitchen open till close)
White Lightning Tiki Bar
Upstairs to the Vanguard the funky straw-topped tiki bar and tropo-loco cocktail menu of White Lightning beckons you like a Hawaiian princess. The loungy rooftop garden and kitsch décor are set to make good any promises of a great night out with friends.
Open: Wed & Thurs 5pm – 12am, Fri & Sat 5pm – 3am and Sun 2pm till late
I should also mention there are a few more mini-venues at A&C:
– Alfred’s Café, serving café-type things, open Mon to Fri 7am – 3pm, Sat & Sun brunch & coffee from 8am.
– Tunes Bar, offering DJ’d music and drinks: open Wed & Thurs 5pm – 12am and on Fri, Sat & Sun 5pm – 1am.
– Late Night Dessert Cafe & Alcoholic Juice Bar, whose title I think speaks for itself! Open Wed-Sun 11am – 12am.
(Sadly no longer open)
This is a bit of a startling little place. “Inspired by the hawker markets of Singapore, the night markets of Hong Kong, the izakayas of Tokyo and the street carts of Bangkok,” Kwan Bros is like a strange, dark little bar in some Asian city backstreet.
The menus – both food and drink – are as fun, funky and f… messed up as the place itself. The cocktails look amazing, and I honestly want to sink my teeth into the bao they do here.
Kwan Brothers is gritty, lived in and has a great sense of humour.
Open: Kitchen: Mon-Thurs 12pm-3pm then 5pm-11pm, Fri-Sun 12pm-11pm. Bar: 12pm till late 7 days a week.
(Sadly no longer open)
Done up like the type of little Italian pizza shack you’d find down a Brooklyn alley, Alfredo’s offers – other than a killer pizza menu of course – a nice selection of snacks and a pretty good bar menu too. Best of all, they deliver. Drinks as well as food! Genius.
Open: Sun-Thurs 12pm-1am, Fri-Sat 12pm-3am
A little way down the Constance Street is another of Damien Griffiths’ masterpieces. On top of the Limes Hotel is a bar with great views out over the city. The bar’s not badly stocked, though I’d like to see a few more craft beers on tap, and the feel of the place is suitably slick.
Incredibly, out the back is an outdoor cinema where they screen movies on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and – if you feel like a dip – a couple of hot tubs!
Open: Wed-Thur 5pm-12am, Fri-Sat 3pm-3am, Sun 3pm-12am.
Designed to look like a speak-easy but with a bit more glamour, the Dutch Courage OM specialises in spirits. It has a good beer and wine selection, but it’s gin that this place is known for. With over 150 different types on the shelf, you will find something here for you – even if you’re not really into gin!
Food here is excellent. The chicken skewers, the cheese platter and the cheese and saffron arancini balls certainly caught my attention!
This would be a great date night venue or a pre-dinner drinks spot.
Open: Tues-Thurs 4pm till late, Fri-Sat 4pm-3am, Sun 4pm till late.
Brisbane’s night scene has certainly changed for the better – offering so much to punters out for a good night. This spot is the best answer to the tough question: “where are we going?”
I’ve been in the situation so many times where my mates have all sat on the fence as to where to go. Drives me bonkers. But this little area of the Valley answers all questions. It’s the perfect cure-all for an apathetic group or the easily distracted!
What’s your favourite bar in Brisbane?