Forget schnitzels and bangers and mash. Brisbane’s bistros and taverns are raising the bar on pub food.
The Alliance Hotel
Squint and you could be in a quaint old English pub. Okay, the fireplaces may rarely be lit but there’s warmth aplenty in the cosy bistro-style dining room, with its original red-brick walls, timber-lined bar and moody lighting. Friendly staff complete the picture. In the five years since it was transformed from tatty to tasteful, the Alliance – one of Brisbane’s original watering holes – has become popular for its food. The menu includes sophisticated versions of pub fare, including parmesan-and-herb-crumbed veal cutlets with roast beef-fat potatoes and hearty beef-cheek pie with smoky mashed potato. Steaks are a cut above, including a nicely charred Darling Downs rib fillet and a thick Clare Valley eye fillet served with blue-cheese soufflé. The haggis Scotch eggs are a tasty twist on the English staple, reflecting executive chef Graham Waddell’s Scottish origins.
The Alliance Hotel; 320 Boundary Street, Spring Hill; (07) 3839 0169
Port Office Hotel
￼This grand heritage-listed dame has recently been restored to her former glory. Gone are the sticky carpets and beer-swilling blokes. The pokies are out of sight. In their place, leather banquettes and black timber floors set a stylish scene in the expansive, light-filled dining room. It takes one look at the open kitchen to figure out that food is serious business here. The French rotisserie does its mesmerising duty, transforming chickens, ducks and the odd suckling pig to golden, juicy perfection. Drag your gaze away for a moment and focus on the menu’s nose-to-tail section. Order the pork scratchings with burnt apple purée, tamarind-glazed pork jowl or the wood-roasted bone marrow tortillas with shaved mushrooms and romesco. Beyond the rotisserie, the grass-fed Cape Grim rib fillet is also a winner. Pair it with a bottle of Grange for the fanciest pub meal in town.
Port Office Hotel; 40 Edward Street, Brisbane; (07) 3003 4700