November. The relative calm before the Christmas storm. Not that it’s particularly quiet around Brisbane right now. We still have a heap of restaurant and bar openings to navigate before the end of the year, and some major cultural events that will see us through the summer. Here’s what to look forward to in the month ahead.
A few operators have tried to make a go of the smaller East Street tenancy next to Cameron and Jordan Votan’s enormously popular Happy Boy restaurant. All have failed, so there was only one thing left for the Votan brothers to do – open something there themselves. Late November will see the unveiling of Snack Man, a 120-seat bar and eatery dedicated to cocktails and small, regional plates from China.
Happy Boy already leans towards authenticity, but Cameron Votan reckons the new venue’s menu will take it to another level. “We’re not going to gentrify the food,” he told Broadsheet in October. “It’s going to be just like how you get it in China. We’re talking dumplings, buns and [grilled] sticks.”
The focus on drinks is underlined by the recruitment of Jack Lio, who many readers will recognise from his years behind the bar at The Bowery, as well as various other venues around Brisbane. “We want to keep it really simple with both the cocktails and wine,” Votan said. “Give people a curated sense of what we think is great at the moment.”
La Scala Ballet performs Don Quixote and Giselle
In an Australian first, Italy’s renowned Teatro alla Scala Ballet Company (La Scala Ballet) will perform exclusively in Brisbane in November. The 110-strong company includes more than 75 international principal and guest dancers who will showcase two productions from its classical repertoire: Rudolf Nureyev’s Don Quixote and Giselle. La Scala, one of the most acclaimed ballet companies in the world, has a 240-year history, dating back to the 1778 inauguration of the opera house of the same name in Milan, Italy.
Queensland Ballet: Bespoke
Not to be outdone, Queensland Ballet continues a killer year with a second season of its Bespoke concept, interpretive, collaborative dance performances the company likes to describe as “a creative intersection of art forms”. In 2018, it’s collaborating with artists from Expressions Dance Company; independent dance director and performer, Gabrielle Nankivell; and QB’s very own (and very young, and very talented) Jack Lister. Staged at the Powerhouse, Bespoke will begin outside the theatre with photography and sculpture added to enhance the dance experience.
Book a room at the brand new Westin Hotel
There’s no shortage of fancy new inns in Brisbane. In the past two years the Johnson, Peppers FV, Ovolo Inchcolm, W Brisbane and Emporium South Point have all come on stream. Last month saw the opening of the long-awaited The Calile Hotel on James Street. Now it’s The Westin Brisbane’s turn. This $200 million hotel from the Marriott Group is the linchpin in a new mixed-used development called Mary Lane, which will include a bunch of new eateries and bars. The hotel itself will have 299 rooms and suites with “sweeping views of the city skyline”. Wellness is a big focus here; there’s a fitness studio, a spa and regular yoga and Pilates classes. There’s even a “run concierge” – basically someone who acts as your resident run bud. Sure, why not. The hotel opens November 8.
Finders Keepers Markets returns
One of Australia’s best travelling markets returns for spring, helping you to knock off your Christmas shopping early. Expect more than 100 stalls of art, craft and design, as well as food and drinks, all packed into the RNA Showgrounds for three almighty days of shopping.
9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art
Queensland’s foremost cultural institution returns with its signature show. For more than 30 years QAGOMA has been building a collection of art from Asia and the Pacific that’s now the envy of the world. Every three years it all gets rolled out at GOMA’s APT shows, with some of the gallery’s classics joined by new acquisitions and bigger pieces produced especially for the show. If GOMA is Brisbane’s foremost cultural weapon in its claim for being Australia’s new world city, the Triennial is the shining tip of the spear. Don’t miss it.
Check out the best new restaurants, bars and cafes
Brisbane’s food and drink scene continues to multiply itself at an unnerving clip. The city will always punch above its weight with the breakfast cafes – Florence, Huskk, Gramps and the revised and rebooted Nodo are all worth checking out – while Only. has added a slick new specialty coffee option to the CBD.
For night owls the choice is almost overwhelming: Heritij, Honto, Donna Chang, and Hellenika and Lobby Bar at the Calile have all joined the city’s already-packed restaurant scene in recent months. For drinks, Finney Isles, Boom Boom Room and Mongrel are new go-tos.