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 The Recap: The best new Brisbane restaurants this month

By George Hadgelias

It’s been a pretty ordinary month, weather wise. The drizzly doldrums have cast a pall over what was shaping up to be an exciting month of activities and events, but, despite the downpour, there were a few things worth celebrating in March. Brisbane’s dining scene welcomed a host of new bars and restaurants, from history-laden distilleries and subterranean pubs to inner-city whisky bars and jaw-dropping cocktail joints. Oh, and March also saw the opening of a new-age accommodation spot. As we look forward to drier months, let’s quickly reflect on the best openings in Brisbane this March …

Bavay Distillery, Morningside
Ever since Morningside’s Rivermakers precinct first started gaining momentum, we’ve been curious to know what would fill the hub’s heritage listed Commonwealth Acetate of Lime Building. The storied structure was where famed brewer, industrial chemist and bacteriologist Auguste de Bavay furthered his process of distilling molasses for cordite production. Now, more than 100 years on, the building’s original stillhouse is now home to Bavay Distillery – a small-batch distiller that looks to bridge past and present with its range of craft spirits. The production facility and cellar door is where you’ll find Bavay’s gleaming 500-litre copper-pot still and a glamorous Great Gatsby-inspired bar. Shelves of artfully designed bottles contain the core range of spirits, including three kinds of gin, three kinds of cane spirit, one vodka and one espresso liqueur. These drops are funnelled into a range of delectable spirits, including eight Signature Serve cocktails and a clutch of more straightforward concoctions like gin and tonic.

Stratton Bar & Kitchen, Newstead
Mrs Brown’s Bar & Kitchen has been a Newstead mainstay since it opened, so if there’s anyone we’d trust to take over two World War II-era hangers and transform them into an amazing hospitality hub, it’s the team behind it. Ben and Tarryn Brown have doubled their presence in Newstead with Stratton Bar & Kitchen, a multifaceted eatery and drinking spot that boasts one of the most unique settings in the local restaurant scene. The two hangars have been repurposed to house a dining space, greenhouse-style courtyard, function area and sizeable bar, with a moody aesthetic sure to seduce sippers and snackers alike. In the kitchen, chef Andrew Toms is churning out inventive share-style eats such as beef rendang dumplings, Korean pork pull-apart buns, sweet-and-sour broccoli, bolognese burrata pizza, and salmon, turmeric and coconut curry. The bar program is cocktail heavy, with 35 concoctions encompassing smoke-laced libations to fruity and punchy potions. Seeking a new inner-north nightspot? Add this to your list.

Miss Midgley’s, New Farm
We love a hotel room, but sometimes we crave an accommodation spot that has a bit more character. Hotels don’t get more character filled than Miss Midley’s – James Street’s newly open set of apartment-style lodgings. The brainchild of mother-daughter duo Lisa and Izzie White, Miss Midgley’s has restored and converted an old building (which, over the years, has been known by names such as Cairncross House, Villa Romagnoli, St Clair, The Pink Flats and Miss Midgley’s Educational Establishment) into a destination that blends history and heritage with colourful contemporary charm. Five fully-equipped air-conditioned apartments (four of which boast two bedrooms) are available for stays, with tasteful mod-cons and a gorgeous Art Deco aesthetic applied to the interiors. The building’s exterior has been given some love too, with fresh landscaping, a new pool and a corten steel fence helping Miss Midgley’s pop from the street. Want an out-of-the-box accommodation solution for a staycay? We suggest checking out this beauty.

Newstead Social, Newstead
It’s been a big month for Newstead. New-age pub Newstead Social unveiled its subterranean digs on Masters Street in early March, giving locals a glimpse inside its greenery laden garden bar and kitchen. The crew behind Cindy Chows and Soul Pantry Kitchen & Bar are the team behind the venture, which has given a tropical-inspired makeover to the site formerly home to Six Feet Under. Despite the leafy aesthetics, Newstead Social is a public bar at heart, boasting large screen televisions, a pool table den, a stage for live music and regular trivia and bingo nights. From the kitchen comes a broad selection of nosh, from sophisticated nibbles like buttermilk fried chicken and prawn and lobster rolls to pub-style mains like crispy golden schnitzels and slow-cooked pork ribs with pomegranate glaze. To drink, Newstead Social boasts tap and bottled beers, a wine list with more than 20 bottles to choose from, a seven-strong selection of signature cocktails, and seven kinds of spritz (which can be ordered as part of an impressive spritz tree – best shared amongst pals).

Frog’s Hollow Saloon, Brisbane City
One of Brisbane City’s drinking dead zones scored an injection of charming hospitality toward the end of March when Frog’s Hollow Saloon opened on Charlotte Street. The brainchild of three seasoned bar veterans, Frog’s Hollow Saloon draws inspiration from Brisbane City’s seedy past (back when the area near the Botanic Gardens was a hotbed of debauchery) while offering a tasteful and contemporary range of booze to enjoy. The venue is tucked away up a short set of stairs in the John Reid & Nephews building and is kitted out like a modern saloon should be – warm timber furnishings, exposed brick walls and plenty of high-top tables scattered throughout the space. The 12-metre long bar is what will draw most of the attention, however, with bottles and bottles of spirits on hand to gawk at. Whisky is a focus, with more than 300 bottles traversing the world’s best independent labels the Frog’s Hollow team can get their hands on. When it comes to cocktails, Frog’s Hollow takes a ‘less is more’ approach, curating a neat selection of ten concoctions, supplemented by tap beers and a tight wine list favouring Australian producers.

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