Stanley is a sizeable restaurant – 220 seats across two levels and three distinct sections, with a casual bar area attached to the side.
The star dish here is the Cantonese-style roasted duck. It’s a four-day process, which involves lengthy brining, drying and roasting. It’s this kind of precision that defines Stanley. From the careful preparation of local produce to the multiple, specific kitchen spaces to the interior design by Fellow Interiors, which has decked out the heritage-listed former water police headquarters in parquetry, luscious fabrics, water-colour murals and lanterns. It’s a venue-wide exercise in mise en place.
At the centre of it all is head chef Louis Tikaram, who returned to Australia for the gig after five years heading up EP & LP in West Hollywood. Tikaram helped open that buzzy eatery at a time when Los Angeles’s food scene was hitting high gear. There’s an element of history repeating itself with Stanley and Brisbane.
Tikaram and Howard Smith Wharves executive chef Patrick Friesen wrote Stanley’s menu around showcasing local produce. There’s steamed Hervey Bay scallops with vermicelli and XO sauce, wok-fried Glacier 51 toothfish with Chinese celery, cloud fungi and supreme sauce. Or Tikaram’s favourites: a painted tropical crayfish lo mein, and line-caught red emperor (when it’s available) steamed with ginger, shallot and white soy. Beyond the duck there’s a generous selection of barbequed meat and bird alongside dim sum, a stack of noodle dishes, and mud crab or Moreton Bay bug live from the tank.
It’s impressive stuff, backed by an enormous 400-bottle wine list courtesy of head sommelier Thibaud Cregut, previously of Nel in Sydney.