Tucked away in the quiet eastern end of South Bank, suspended on the river’s edge, there is a restaurant taking Brisbane foodies by storm. Once you have dined there, it’s easy to see why.
Hidden at the very edge of the South Bank Parklands, adjacent to the Goodwill Bridge, Stokehouse cuts an unassuming figure from the top of Sidon Street. The bold, contemporary building is just visible from there, but as you head down the small street, it begins to emerge. Like a delightful secret, it appears in full. And upon entry, it becomes very clear that Stokehouse is not a secret at all. In the short time since it opened in November last year, it has established a strong name for itself, and even at lunchtime on a Wednesday, the restaurant is animated with the sort of crowd that is usually expected on a weekend.
Seated at a white-clothed table in the narrow dining room, the atmosphere is instantly relaxing and the feeling is alike to the weekend. Filled with small groups of friends, couples and corporate types, the space is buzzing but not overrun. One side of the restaurant is completely open to the river and from its vantage point, Stokehouse boasts what is arguably one of the best views in the city. The building is on the literal edge of the Brisbane River, which is spread out in a perfect panorama before the restaurant, from the CBD and the Botanic Gardens to the sweeping curve past the sheer cliffs at Kangaroo Point.
On the other side of the dining room, you can peek inside the kitchen as the chefs churn out dishes to die for. Stokehouse has the sort of menu that triggers dilemma as you decide between the delicious-sounding morsels. Executive Chef Tony Kelly serves up modern Mediterranean-inspired dishes that are intriguingly unique; my entree consisted of a harmonious mix of quail, Jamón Serrano, salted grapes and caramelised pear. For the main event, I decided on the roasted spatchcock with marinated kipfler potatoes and a delicious salmoriglio sauce. Anyone with a tendency towards life’s guiltier pleasures will find dessert to be the greatest predicament of all —and dessert really is a necessity at Stokehouse. Following much indecision, I settled on the Valrhona chocolate soufflé with salted caramel, which was turned out to saccharine perfection.
Normally, I am not physically inclined to three-course lunches (however willing the tastebuds), but it’s necessary in order to fully appreciate this restaurant’s charms. Stokehouse calls itself “the home of the long lunch” and it is not wrong; we spent a full three hours there, languidly sipping a sensational wine and watching the ferries drift by on the river.
Stokehouse has the sort of atmosphere that assures you there is nowhere else you need to be and nothing more important to be done. Add to that the satisfaction of truly amazing food and scenery straight from a postcard, and there is really no reason not to stay.
Words by Megan Greaney | Images supplied by Stokehouse