Brisbane is slowly coming of age in terms of the laneway eateries which are the norm in cities like Melbourne.
With its sub-tropical climate and open-plan living, the thought of being tucked away in a cosy bolthole eating and drinking till the wee hours hasn’t seemed like an attractive prospect for this northern city – until now.
Brisbanites have realised that sometimes, consuming innovative food and leading wines in heritage buildings, can be an enjoyable prospect on a rare cold and wet evening, or even as something a bit different from the usual pavement or rooftop casual dining.
Hence the likes of The Apo are drawing a loyal crowd. Housed in an original Apothecary in Brisbane’s inner city Fortitude Valley, this tiny bar-cum-restaurant is perched on the edge of the trendy Bakery Lane, serving up Australian cuisine with a Mediterranean twist of shared plates, top notch wines and a cool vibe for discerning diners. With the pedigree of the Moubarak family, who also own and operate Hatch & Co, Gerard’s Bistro and Bar, Lychee Lounge, the Defiant Duck and Laruche behind it, the Apo was bound to be a winner, and it doesn’t disappoint. They have lured former Ricky’s chef, Braden White, to the fold, and his edgy offerings are tasty, if on the more expensive side.
The night we dined there, we shared a number of small but satisfying dishes, starting with the sand crab, finger lime, nasturtium, herbs and flowers ensemble which was light, zesty and fresh. Next up was the cured fish, salted cucumber, curd and charred pickled lettuce, which featured tiny amounts of succulent fish, complemented by the zest of the cucumber, creaminess of the curd and smoky flavour of the lettuce. The coal grilled octopus, pig cheek and chickpea puree was a taste sensation with the salty, smoky pig nicely offsetting the subtlety of the octopus and chickpea. The lamb ribs, fermented harissa, pickled onion and soured cream was a divine combination of flavours, and the baby carrot, bee pollen, honeycomb, yoghurt and brown butter was simply delicious!
We started the evening with an NV Perrier Jouet Brut ($20 a glass) and then paired the food with a 2013 Man O’ War Valhalla Chardonnay from Wiheke, New Zealand ($16 a glass), which was superb with the fish dishes, and a 2013 Mahi Pinot Noir from Marlborough, New Zealand ($16 a glass), which perfectly complemented the lamb. There are also some edgy-sounding cocktails on offer, including a Cookies and Cream Grasshopper, featuring glacial mint, white chocolate, cookie cream and branca menta; and a Velvet Underground, consisting of vanilla and chamomile tea gin, dry curacao, rock candy, lemon, aperol and whites.
The dessert offering is small but tempting, consisting of some sweet offerings such as coffee brulee custard with cinnamon doughnuts and a few cheeses.
The evening was pleasant, if a little expensive – almost $200 for two people, which seemed a bit rich for what was essentially a casual dining experience, albeit with delicious food and wine. The atmosphere is cosy and accessible and our waitress was friendly and knowledgeable, although, despite the restaurant being virtually empty, we were given a table which was so dark we had to use our mobile phone light to read the menus. The upstairs bar, which includes some interior nooks as well as a balcony overlooking Bakery Lane, has potential, but seemed a bit sterile the night we visited.
The Apo is on the right path and maybe with a bit of tweaking, perhaps adding some less expensive food and wine offerings, it will become a hot favourite for the discerning, casual dining crowd looking for that southern-city experience in sub-tropical Queensland.
If you enjoyed this article please feel free to like, comment and share on social media. If you would like more of the same, contact us at email@example.com for help with organising a bespoke itinerary, special event or travel/food article, or sign up for our newsletter from the Evvoke home page. To read more Evvoke blogs, go to our blog page.