From the first solo venture for an ex-Public star chef, to the import of a cherished Noosa favourite, these are the restaurant openings everyone’s talking about at the halfway point of 2017.

Detour
After numerous setbacks, including a collapsed ceiling, it was easy to wonder whether Detour would ever happen at all. But in January, Damon Amos finally opened this slick Woolloongabba eatery. Detour’s menu is split into two parts: omnivore and herbivore. The former features dishes such as gunpowder-seasoned salmon with green curry and black ants, and the crowd-pleasing Kentucky Fried Duck (a dish Amos developed during his time at Public). Vegetarians and vegans can dine on fossilised (slowly dried over a number of days) carrots with smoked almonds and chia, and Hawaiian curry with sweet potatoes, coconut and lychees. The striking copper and timber fit-out, an open kitchen and a small but interesting drinks list complete the package.

Neighbourhood
Neighbourhood has recently joined Kenmore favourites The Single Guys, Sichuan Bang Bang and Pizzeria Violetta in proving restaurateurs see the benefits of heading west out of town. Owner Jordan Lomas and architect Kirsty Hetherington have created a comfortable space by pairing woodgrain with white walls and moody lighting. The menu is just a few favourites done very well (think a traditional margherita, or prosciutto, red onion and artichoke). A highlight of the drinks menu is the Neighbourhood Pale Ale, brewed in-house to complement the pizza.

Port Office Hotel
New owners Nick and Meagan Gregorski are no strangers to reopening pubs. They worked their magic on the Alliance Hotel in 2012, turning it into an award-winning gastropub, and earlier this year, returned the Port Office Hotel to its former glory. The most notable change is the disappearance of Fix Restaurant, replaced by the Port Office Dining Room, a chic, European-inspired bistro with a gastropub menu. Executive chef Graham Waddell serves a spanner-crab souffle, spicy grass-fed steak tartare and an Espresso Martini bombe, along with a few “nose-to-tail” dishes. The pub’s 42 taps have shifted to a craft-beer focus, and there’s a finely tuned vino selection from resident wine guy Chris Barlow.

Chu the Phat
With a huge glass frontage on Melbourne Street and bold, illuminated signage, the two-level, 300-seat Chu the Phat is hard to miss. Executive chef Brendon Barker’s Asian street food menu ranges from snacks of crispy red, fried pig’s tails and Chicko spring rolls (an Asian take on the classic junk-food), to mains that include smoked and fried half duck, and chicken fried in buttermilk. Vegetarians are well catered for and there’s an entire gluten-free menu. The wine list heroes a healthy variety of Australian growers.

Martha Street Kitchen
Within days of Camp Hill’s Restaurant Rapide going on the market, Patrick Laws and partner Jennie Byrnes snapped it up. Martha Street Kitchen is the result: a slick, modern space with wooden floorboards, black-and-white walls and a brick bar area (good friend Josh Russell of King Arthur Cafe helped out on the design). The menu deals in small plates, pizza and pasta, but don’t expect anything too traditional. For example, there’s a beef-brisket pizza with smoked tomato, chorizo, corn and roasted onion; or linguini with mussels, sobrassada, garlic confit cream and chilli. The wine list is all-Australian bar one and is no more than $12 a glass. Breakfast is offered on the weekends.

King Tea
Don’t be confused by the name. There’s no tea here, just tapas and booze. Named after the original snack bar that occupied the building when Paddington Central was still a tram depot, King Tea is an open space with exposed wooden rafters and pared-back finishings that highlight its original brickwork. The Spanish menu is best suited for sharing and includes patatas bravas, crispy pork belly, grilled octopus, croquettes and cured meats. There’s a Spanish-heavy wine list and a selection of beers and cocktails. On Friday afternoons the venue provides free simple snacks for “tapas hour” from 4pm to 6pm.

Betty's Burgers
Betty’s Burgers opened in Chermside last week, the Noosa-born burger chain finally finding its way to Brisbane. The menu is based around four proteins – the classic beef patty, fried chicken, mushroom and crispy pork belly. House-made frozen-custard ice-cream, or “concretes”, is Betty’s other specialty: pick basic chocolate or vanilla, add custom mix-ins, or order pre-designed flavours such as hot-fudge doughnut and passionfruit-ginger crumble. Local craft beers are served along with wine, cider and soft drinks. The large 100-seat store features orange and white wire chairs, plants hanging in macramé holsters and pink Italian tiles.

Honourable Mentions:

Burger Project Southpoint & Burger Project Edward Street
Neil Perry’s famous burgers finally arrived in Brisbane, in two different locations.

Super Combo
A Street Fighter-themed burger joint in Bowen Hills.

Suki
South Brisbane gets a 60-seat poke bowl and sushi burrito store.

Banoi
Super Combo’s Michael Nham joins with cousin, Viet Nguyen, to open a Vietnamese joint inspired by their late grandmother.

Il Molo
The Jetty Oxford gets an impressive Italian makeover.