South Bank’s dining scene used to be a bit of non-starter, but these days the precinct has some of Brisbane’s best restaurants at River Quay in the Parklands, Little Stanley Street and on Grey Street.

“In the early days, South Bank Corporation sometimes struggled to attract quality new restaurant operators,” says Clayton Burns, who is manager of retail and property. However, he says a well-planned vision, hard work and gutsy tenants have led to an exciting and varied mix of dining options these days. He says they have “really pushed to ensure that the food offering sits across the full spectrum of experiences”. With a new generation of diners attracted to South Bank, Clayton says operators no longer need to be convinced to take a tenancy.

South Bank is constantly evolving with Stanley Street’s most recent newcomers adding to its multi-cultural feel. Spanish restaurant, Olé, has opened, offering tapas, paella, sangria and Summer fun, whilst French Martini has a Paris-inspired setting and the baked camembert is to die for. Little Stanley Street also has Turkish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian and modern Australian, with stayers such as Ahmet’s Turkish Restaurant, Poppy’s Basket, Denim Co. and Gandhi Curry House. The owners of Ahmet’s are set to open a laid back wine bar and restaurant, Next Door, in November and also coming is Chocolate Pavilion, offering all kinds of chocolate creations. Expo ‘88 pubs, The Plough Inn and The Ship Inn, live on in South Bank Parklands, continuing to offer cheap and cheerful meals. Another casual eating experience worth mentioning is Kapsali Mediterranean Restaurant, with its Greek share plates. Renowned restaurateurs and celebrity chefs are calling South Bank home; Champ Kitchen and Bar at the new ABC headquarters has Justine Whelan of Anouk Paddington fame and South Bank Surf Club has TV chef Ben O’Donohue. Well-known chocolatier Max Brenner is icing on the cake for South Bank.

Down by the water, River Quay has emerged with a collection of sophisticated dining establishments, run by already successful restaurant operators. Home to Queensland’s own Stokehouse — sister to Melbourne’s Stokehouse St Kilda — other names at River Quay include Popolo Italian Kitchen and Bar, The Jetty South Bank, and Cove Bar + Dining. Completing the River Quay set, Aquitaine Brasserie will open late 2012, serving classic, fresh French food. Lovers of authentic Lebanese fare can head to Saj & Grill on Grey Street, which is also home to Piaf Bistro, with its French-inspired modern Australian.

The Spanish San Churro Chocolateria is a hole-in-the-wall heaven rounding out the chocolate connoisseurs’ experience of the South Bank precinct. Nearby, Olio, on the ground floor of the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, is a contemporary Mediterranean-style café and bar. BCEC will have a new “cultural emporium”, TITLE, specialising in books, music and films which is set to open late 2012, and a dessert and cocktail bar (early 2013). Also opening on Grey Street later this year is Guzman y Gomez. South Bank’s new direction is establishing the precinct as a force to be reckoned with in Brisbane’s dining landscape. Download the South Bank Application from iTunes and Android stores to keep abreast of all that is happening in South Bank’s eating scene.

Images supplied by South Bank Corporation