From an enormously popular Noosa import, to version two of a recent Brisbane superstar, these are the restaurant openings you need to know about.
Chu the Phat
Chu the Phat is hard to miss. Walking past its huge glass frontage on Melbourne Street, the bold, illuminated signage and colourful fit-out pretty much scream that something is happening here. That something is a two-level, 300-seat Asian street food venue from the owners of Madame Wu on Eagle Street. Chu the Phat gives the same team a chance to spread its wings into something more spontaneous; executive chef Brendon Barker is mixing Asian flavours with abandon. Mains such as smoked and fried half duck and chicken fried in buttermilk encourage serious finger-licking. Vegetarians are well looked after (mung-bean pancakes with kimchi caramel, anyone?) and there’s an entire gluten-free menu. The wine list samples a healthy variety of Australian growers.
You no longer need to crawl up and down the Bruce Highway for Betty’s Burgers. Hospitality guru David Hales has brought his enormously popular burger joint to you – it opened at Westfield Chermside at the end of June. The Betty’s menu is based around four proteins: the classic beef patty, fried chicken, mushroom and crispy pork belly. You can swap in a gluten-free bun or order it bare (no bun, just a lettuce wrap). There’s also onion rings and fries. Elsewhere Betty’s Burgers peddles house-made frozen-custard ice-cream, or “concretes”. The 100-seat store features the brand’s signature pastel colours and weathered beach look. Orange and white wire chairs, plants hanging in macrame holsters and pink Italian tiles fill the retro interior and sunny outdoor patio.
Martha Street Kitchen
Within days of Restaurant Rapide going on the market, Patrick Laws and partner Jennie Byrnes snapped up the Camp Hill premises to open Martha Street Kitchen. The menu deals in small plates, pizza and pasta, but there’s a reason the word “Italian” isn’t anywhere near Martha Street’s name. It serves what people are familiar with, but done differently – based on what Laws and Byrnes love to eat. There’s a beef-brisket pizza with smoked tomato, chorizo, corn and roasted onion; and linguini with mussels, sobrassada, garlic confit cream and chilli. A small breakfast menu is offered on the weekends, matched with coffee from Sunday’s Coffee Co, Josh Russell’s Sunshine Coast roastery and cafe. Russell also had a hand in the design; he helped to create a simple, slick, modern space with wooden floorboards; black and white walls; and a brick bar area. It’s unassuming but comes alive when the restaurant fills up and the music starts pumping.
It’s Italian for “the jetty”. And that’s exactly what Katie and Jason Coats’s new restaurant Il Molo is – an Italian take on the now defunct The Jetty Oxford. This is no half-hearted touch-up. The venue has taken on a handsome black-and-white colour scheme, with marble bench tops, oak tables, dark-brown booth seating and stone-brick walls. It’s a welcoming, unfussy space, and speaks to the couple’s typical strategy of creating venues with broad appeal. The Italian lunch and dinner menu begins with classic antipasto dishes before moving onto pizzas, pastas and larger dishes. The signature Il Molo pizza makes good use of the newly installed pizza oven, combining pork sausage, mushroom, tomato, mozzarella and truffle paste. The lamb shanks with cavolo nero, parmesan polenta and green-olive tapenade is a perfect option for the cooler months. There’s a concise dessert menu to finish, as well as a “Bambini” menu for the littlies.
Inside the kitchen of the new Happy Boy on East Street is a wok burner imported from Hong Kong. It’s the only one of its kind on the east coast, Cameron Votan reckons, and is ceramic-lined to hold the heat it generates. Being able to use this kind of equipment is one of the reasons why, in August, Cameron and Jordan Votan closed the Spring Hill edition of Happy Boy, their enormously popular Chinese eatery, to open a new restaurant of the same name in a much larger space on Fortitude Valley’s East Street. The new venue retains most of the old menu – red braised pork belly, say, and emperor's breakfast prawn omelette. There are also new dishes such as slow-braised pork knuckle and whole crispy snapper being brought in slowly. Booze gets an upgrade, too, with a stronger focus on craft beers and a longer wine list. Minimal fit-outs are by this stage a Votan signature, and the brothers have tried to do as little as possible with the East Street building; it has a clean, white subterranean dining space and a raised front deck.