Esteemed chef Josue Lopez's latest project is the ambitious Opal – a modern Australian restaurant which will be housed in the soon-to-open Emporium Hotel South Bank.
Still an empty shell, the restaurant’s 40-seat main floor will be rendered in stone, fabric and metal. A recessed ceiling with feature lighting will star, as will Emporium’s signature stained-glass Parisian shopfront, taken from the Fortitude Valley hotel and installed in a private dining room with views of the kitchen. Almost a requirement for any restaurant these days is a walk-in cellar; Opal’s will be a six-and-a-half-metre number that stretches along one whole side of the restaurant.
The menu will lean towards a degustation offering and feature dishes such as Minjerribah (the Indigenous name for North Stradbroke Island), with baked prawns and knobby snapper arranged to reflect the coast of North Stradbroke Island (“it gives you a sense of the blue waves hitting the shore,” Lopez says) and Father and Son, which pairs local beef and veal with saltbush and adult and baby beetroot.
Backing up Lopez in the kitchen will be Englishman Matthew Blackwood, long-time Lopez right-hander Connie Jeoun (recently returned from her own stint at Noma) and Callum Grey, just arrived in Brisbane after working at London’s acclaimed The Clove Club.