Imagine a chef’s table, but without the surrounding restaurant. That’s Joy: Sarah and Tim Scott’s new 10-seat omakase-inspired restaurant in Fortitude Valley.

The Scotts, though, would prefer you to not think of it as a restaurant at all. “We’re inviting people into our kitchen, which is the restaurant,” Sarah says. “It’s not a restaurant we’re cooking in.” (It probably helps that they live just above the eatery in Bakery Lane).

“We were worried about doing all these fine-dining things,” Tim adds. “But this is a functioning kitchen and there’s nowhere to hide … people feel they’re sitting in our kitchen and we’re cooking them dinner.”

He’s not kidding. Describing Joy is easy. It’s simply a kitchen with a comptoir attached. There’s a compressed-stone counter; an enormous, eye-popping mural on the back wall; and a whole lot of stainless steel. The Scotts designed Joy, and you can tell – the galley-style kitchen has acres of space for them to manoeuvre around each other, covering everything from the cooking to the plating to the pouring of wine and then the washing up. Sarah says there was a lot of negotiating with tradies to get it just how they wanted.

“There were so many things we had to arm wrestle for,” she says. “‘You should put the sinks down there where the plumbing is’. We’re like, ‘We need the sinks down here’. We have to be in this space for eight years.”

There’s another reason for making this a two-hander. Joy is designed to be an intimate experience but also to address the overheads that have put the squeeze on high-end diners in Brisbane. Without any managers or waiters or sommeliers or commissioned chefs to worry about, they cut down on costs while not cutting into the experience.

Joy’s first menu leans on the Scotts’ accumulated experience working at some of Australia’s best restaurants, including Urbane, Gerard’s Bistro, Sepia and Sixpenny. There’s seared scallops with corn milk, sour pumpkin and kaffir lime; and fermented celeriac with venison tartare, roasted sesame and garlic.

For wines, award-winning sommelier Russ Berry has helped put together a list that leans towards low-intervention whites, the better to accompany the Scotts’ lighter style of cooking. A Brash Higgins 2018 cinsault washes down white fish with roasted bones and brassica, while a Heathcote Ephemera negroamaro blanc de noirs is matched to chicken fat cabbage and chicken skin served with pickles.

“It reflects [Berry’s] tastes but that’s fine,” Sarah says. “We collaborate with these people for a reason.”

“A few months ago we sat down with a playlist in the pub and said, ‘This is the vibe’,” Tim adds. “[The vibe] is fun. It’s gotta feel comfortable … If we be ourselves and cook our best food and people like it, they’ll come. If not, they’ll go elsewhere.”

This story was originally published on March 20. Menu items may have changed.

Joy Restaurant
Shop 7 Bakery Lane, 694 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley
No phone

Wed to Sun 6pm–10pm