Considering its previous anonymity, Fish Lane has emerged as an exceptional destination for food and drink, without the need to wander more than a couple of hundred metres. Located across Grey Street from the Queensland Museum, Cultural Centre and Performing Arts Centre at South Brisbane, Fish Lane is one of Brisbane City Council’s Vibrant Laneway Projects.
At one end is The Fox Hotel, which has seen considerable change over the years but remained a key venue in the precinct since its World Expo 88 popularity. The Fox combines exceptional spaces, hosts a Soho Sunday Session, and boasts the self-proclaimed ‘adult playground’ that is Dandy’s Rooftop. Nearby is Fish Lane Creative Studios, an art space available for experts and novices.
The newest kid on the block at Fish Lane is Saccharomyces Beer Café. With no shortage of breakfast bars, coffee houses, lunch spots and boutique beer cafes around town, why not put all things into the same box? Saccharomyces does it exceptionally well. Whether combining a crispy chorizo and roasted garlic beef burger with a cooling Brewcult American IPA, or starting the day with Red Velvet Hotcakes, this is a venue for all times of the day.
The best way to describe nearby Maker is compact. But, as Yoda would say, “Judge me by my size, do you?” A finalist for Best New Bar in 2015, this is one seriously fun location for dedicated cocktail enthusiasts. Whilst prices are on the high side, the team at work behind the bar ensures good value, priding themselves on explaining the necessary chemistry behind some of the best drinks in Brisbane.
For most casual passers-by, Julius Pizzeria is the gatekeeper of Fish Lane. Its location means it gets the attention of passing traffic on Grey Street. A good clue to its popularity is that it always seems to be full. My favourite pizza is the Tartufo: mozzarella with smoked bacon, portobello mushrooms, stracchino and truffle paste, however the menu’s exceptional choice is one of its charms.
The Fish Lane Bistro showcases the location’s desire to push quality to the fore. Taking the initiative of catering to pre-show meals for theatregoers, it provides eclectic menu choices at reasonable prices. A particular taste sensation is the crispy skinned twice-cooked duck, but others at my table seemed more than satisfied with the Kinkawooka mussels, apple glazed pork belly, and lamb shank pie.
The Five Sisters Art House Café recently received high recognition for its top quality omelettes. It is one of the original venues on the lane, having just celebrated its fifth birthday. Its heritage-listed location provides a platform for Greek-style breakfast and lunch, both of which offer great value and choice – especially the delicious tapas platter
It’s hard to pick a favourite on Fish Lane, but restaurant Gauge might just be it. In researching the reviews of others, it was impossible to find any unused superlatives. Gauge clearly takes itself seriously, but not at the expense of creating something engaging and inventive. Every food combination is considered and elegant, and the new menu includes white chocolate creme, apricot and bay leaf sherbet … I’m going to leave it there for that concept to sink in a bit.
Words by Colin Bushell
Images supplied by respective businesses