A little bit of European elegance comes to the Queensland capital.

As you head upstairs to Pneuma it might feel like you’re in the wrong place. “You walk up these rickety black stairs and you’re probably thinking, ‘Where are we going?’” says chef Matt Blackwell (ex-Goma), who opened the Brisbane CBD restaurant with chef Dan Arnold. Then the dining room unfolds before you, all exposed brick and an elegant wall of windows. “It almost doesn’t feel like you’re in Brisbane,” says Blackwell. “It could be Europe.”

Chef Matt Blackwell (ex-Goma), who opened the Brisbane CBD restaurant with chef Dan Arnold

The pair settled on the name – “pneuma”, a Greek word meaning “breath” – in part inspired by the song by 1990s prog-rockers Tool but also because it communicated what they were trying to achieve. “It’s about breathing life into this space and about the creative energy of the two of us,” says Arnold.

And there’s plenty of creative energy coming out of the kitchen. Diners can order à la carte but Blackwell says he’s been pleasantly surprised that most guests are choosing the tasting menu, which gives the cooking team more scope to show off their skills. A vegetarian dish of heirloom beetroots with garlic and almond cream has been a big winner. “It’s cool that a vegetarian dish is doing so well,” says Blackwell. “I think it’s because it has so much flavour and texture.” The corned ox tongue is also a hit. Ox tongue can be polarising but this soft, flavoursome version served with tomato kasundi is entirely approachable.

Pneuma, Qld

It’s all paired with an unstuffy French- and Australian-leaning wine list, an easygoing attitude and a seamless day to night transition (bright and buzzy in daylight, sultry after dark). In short, Pneuma is a breath of fresh air.

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SEE ALSO: The 15 Brisbane Restaurants You Need to Try

Image credit: Cieran Murphy

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