Discover Brisbane's must-try dinner date venues to spark some romance
We all love a good date. Whether it's with someone you've just met (or “matched” with), or whether you are in a long term relationship, this is the Discover Brisbane list of ideal dinner date venues to ensure a great evening, and spark some romance. From the more casual affair, through to laid-back wine bars, as well as the fancy pants kind of evening, there should be something for everyone on this list to make it a “Valentine's day” any night of the week.
In no particular order:
Restaurant Dan Arnold
When people usually ask us where's the next place they should dine at, our response (more often than not), is Restaurant Dan Arnold. If you want food that is unlike anything you’ve tried, and a feast for the senses, then Restaurant Dan Arnold is a must visit. Named after it's chef, Dan was born in Brisbane, but trained extensively in France for several years, with some of those years under three Michelin star L’Espérance, and two Michelin star Serge Vieira. On top of that, Dan, also represented Australia at the Bocuse d'Or 2017, the “Olympics” for the culinary world, (where Australia finished eighth), and also placed Bronze for 2016 Bocuse d’Or Asia-Pacific competition.
With a young family, a return home was imminent and inspired Dan (with his wife) to open his own Restaurant. Australian flavours are a showcase of the Restaurant's seasonal menu, with dishes prepared in an open kitchen allowing for an enhanced experience and connection between chef and diner. It's all about set degustation menus, with both three courses, and five course options available, and in recent times, a “carte blanche”, where you leave it up to the chef. There is of course optional wine matching and a cheese course on offer adds that French touch towards the end of your meal.
Truly a gem, with exceptional service, and a culinary journey for the senses; Restaurant Dan Arnold is a world class Restaurant that Brisbane should be proud of.
Location: 959 Ann Street Fortitude Valley Qld 4006
One of 2019's superstar openings, Joy (located in Bakery Lane, Fortitude Valley), is a unique experience that Brisbane has been craving. Brought to you by couple Tim and Sarah Scott; two passionate individuals with depths of experience from working in some of Australia's top dining institutions. Sepia, Gerard's Bistro, Urbane and Sixpenny.
The restaurant is a 10 seater space, with a cool mural on the wall, chill-hop music vibes, and feels more like you're at your friends house for dinner, but fancier food. Friends who happen to be top chefs, and cook amazing food.
Tim and Sarah, do everything themselves and you get to see all the action in addition to being able to chat to them.
It's a refreshing way to dine, and something that Brisbane has clearly needed. We loved watching the harmony and energy of the two of them working together where everything flows nicely.
The menu will change on a regular basis, and is best described as Japanese inspired, Tim-and-Sarah style. Wines have been selected by Russ Berry, and we also really love the gorgeous handmade ceramic dinner ware by Yen Ceramics. There's two sittings but we recommend the later option, to enjoy the "long" menu. Of course, you must book!
Everything was excellent, but the stand-out dish (of the opening menu) is the Smoked zucchini with cuttlefish and fragrant herbs (served with home made buckwheat bread). The dessert of soft-cheese matcha mandarin and quinoa is a dessert of your dreams.
Joy is a special place, aptly named for the feeling it evokes once you take a bite of their food, and is one to watch!
Location: Bakery Lane, Fortitude Valley.
If Community and Sustainability were buddies, they'd meet at Grown Cafe for catch-ups over delicious Vegan food and awesome coffee. But if they were dating, it would be dinner over some Swede Pastrami with turnip, fermented chilli dressing and greens, over a glass or two of fine organic vegan wine. This is plant based food at its finest. Great to know, if you ever have a potential date who's vegan. Grown is in leafy Buchanan St in West End, and whilst life began as a cafe, it has evolved into a fairly fine restaurant, doing dinners from Tuesdays through to Saturdays from 5:30pm to 9:pm, as well as their monthly degustation dinners.
Located at the base of an apartment building, it is a welcoming modern space with an open kitchen, and a completely plant-based menu sourcing ingredients from local farmers with as much of it; organic and biodynamic, as possible.
Coffee is also sourced locally, with the house blend supplied by Dramanti but also have a rotation of single origins from Light Coffee, Parallel Roasters and others.
We loved the food offering here so much, we returned twice in two days, and also did a degusation dinner. Our experience was rounded out by excellent friendly service. So whether you're vegan or not, this place is proof that one can have an amazing time over delicious plant-based food perfectly made for sharing with your date.
Location: Shop G03/21 Buchanan St, West End QLD 4101
A caravanserai is a roadside inn where travelers could rest after a day's journey. Similarly, this traditional Turkish restaurant, located in a Queenslander in West End, is a welcoming, relaxed haven, set against the backdrop of West End's diverse street life. Charming, and made for share plates amid colourful authentic Turkish décor. The ambience, of gorgeous lamps and lights sourced from the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, there's outdoor seating, and the mezes, shish kebabs, mussels in wine broth, apple teas, turkish coffees should all be top of your order list. What's great is that its BYO, so you can dash across the road, buy a perfect bottle for your date, and be transported to another land. Finish the evening off with the sticky fig and macadamia pudding to share, and you'll be planning the next date in no time. Caravanserai has been around for years, a Brisbane institution, which is a testament to how good they are. A Turkish delight!
Location: 1 Dornoch Terrace, West End Qld 4101
The first time we ever visited, we had to say, ALLI-YUM!
Allium is a relaxed suburban fine dining restaurant, nestled in leafy New Farm. Chef James Gallagher and team are serving some incredible top quality dishes, without the high price points, and elegance without the pretentiousness. More recently, this venue was awarded three chefs chats from renowned Gault Millau.
Allium the offers the option to do a-la carte through to a full degustation, but also makes “fine dining” a little more accessible with 4 courses on offer on a Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, and Saturday lunch.
Whilst the food and menu continues to evolve, a memorable dish that has become a staple on their menu is their signature Hiramasa Kingfish, Cucumber, Buttermilk, Apple and Dill. You'll understand why this is so special when you take that first bite.
Location: 148 Merthyr Road, New Farm 4005
Doo Bop Jazz Bar
A place we frequent and often recommend to visitors and friends alike, this is a true late night jazz bar in the heart of Brisbane City.
A double storey venue in a beautiful heritage listed building, it combines a street-level piano bar and brasserie, with a traditional basement (70-seat) eatery-bar and live-performance jazz space, that is open until the wee hours serving food and drinks. You'll be drawn by the sounds emanating below street level, and As you walk down to the basement, you'll love all the photos of the jazz legends that adorn the wall. Named after Miles Davis's last studio album, this venue has brought jazz alive in Brisbane, with a buzzing atmosphere for the cool cats.
Whether it's watching a ticketed event special guest performance, or the late night free jam sessions, sit back, relax and enjoy with a glass of bubbles or Shiraz in hand.
Location: 101 Edward St Brisbane City Qld 4000
La Lune Wine Co
Laneways, Wine and Jamón. It's a perfect combination as we've discovered and as a result, have come to frequent this cosy and intimate wine bar. Situated in Fish Lane South Brisbane, La Lune Wine Co is a welcoming, casual, European-inspired wine bar offering an extensive wine list, specialty made-to-share eats, and excellent service from their knowledgeable sommeliers. It's tailor made for that first date, where you want to impress with a nice venue, but keep things easy-going with conversations over a full-bodied red or a crispier fresh white, and a tasty plate to share. Afterwards, it's perfectly situated for a stroll hand-hand through Fish Lane.
Location: Shop 5, 109 Melbourne Street (entry via Fish Lane), South Brisbane
Maeve Wine Bar
Maeve is a simply stunning Wine Bar and Diner found upstairs in a heritage listed art-deco building, that was once a former bank. Conveniently located across QPAC (for those pre or post-show drinks), on the corner of Grey and Melbourne St, South Brisbane.
Discover what lies beyond the copper doors, and take the alluring burgundy stairs (Grey St side), to be transported to a cosy light filled dining area with a distinctly European vibe. Dark wood furniture, pale timber polished floors, with the space arranged to make the most of the views over across the Cultural precinct.
Maeve is all about the wines of course with an impressive curated list of wines from around the world; Spain, Italy, Hungary, Austria, Germany, and France, as well as NZ and all of the best regions within Australia. However, where the experience takes it up a notch is the spectacular food that's designed to be shared and enjoyed with great company.
Find yourself saying Yum multiple times through snacks such as, the oysters with sherry vinaigrette and wild scampi caviar, or saganaki in fermented garlic honey, the flavoursome charred leek, or the more substantial tasty charcoal grilled flank steak.
The open plan kitchen adds to the intimate and special feel, and with their simply outstanding service and affordable price points, it makes for a truly spectacular experience. Maeve has the potential to be a true Brisbane institution for many years to come.
An impressive dinner date venue if there ever was one!
Location: Upstairs, Level 1/39 Melbourne St, South Brisbane QLD 4101
Who needs romance when you can have pizza? Have both we say! La Lupa in West End, is relaxed restaurant on Montague Road within an apartment complex.
The staff are very friendly, personable and all-round fantastic. La Lupa's focus is authentic Roman-style pizzas, with the dough prepared and rested for up to 72 hours which makes the pizzas lighter, and thin.
The ingredients are organic, fresh, and sourced locally, and there's a carefully curated Italian wine-list, sourced especially to suit the Roman (thin and crispy style) of pizza. It's possibly one of the best pizzas we've had in Brisbane!
Perfect amount of sauce and toppings and if you get the chance, try the Pizza Terrona: tomato base, mozzarella, hot salami, gorgonzola, kalamata olives and the pizza Carbonara: with crispy Pancetta.👌Another must-try is the peach salad with prosciutto, & Buffalo mozzarella it's all delicious!
The menu lends itself to sharing, so it's perfect for those romantic dates, and with the atmosphere including the occasional language barrier from staff, you'll feel like you were on a date in Italy.
Which would you choose, Love, or Pizza?
Location: 3/321 Montague Road, West End Qld 4101
It may have “little” in its name but this Fortitude Valley restaurant lives up to its delish reputation in a big way. Situated in the heart of the Valley, on Warner St, this venue is brought to you by the team behind Burleigh Heads eatery Rick Shores. It’s a great spot for a date, because you’re within a short walking distance to many of the Valley’s bars and hotspots, if you’re wanting a change of scenery or to get your groove on.
Inspired by the culinary heritage of China, the menu is a diverse melting pot of flavours; simple traditional dishes with a modern twist. Inside, where new and old meets; the modern aesthetic of stylish lighting fixtures, white, black and gold tones, complements the heritage space of the building.
The menu is ideal for sharing, divided into sections of dim sum / bar snacks, raw bar selection, salads, more substantial “meats”, sides, and of course, dessert.
Your date will be impressed with the fresh, and flavoursome food, such as the truffle spring rolls, chill crab “XLB”, and steamed snapper. Top the night off with a dessert of red bean ice-cream, pumpkin curd, orange and honeycomb, and you may find yourself falling in love… perhaps not with your date! Service is brilliant and there are enough reasonably priced options to suit your budget.
Location: 6 Warner St, Fortitude Valley Qld 4006.
If you had the budget for something special and imagined a place that had it all; atmosphere, setting, trendy design factor, stunning views, simple and delicious food, then you may have been thinking about Arc Dining and Wine Bar at Howard Smith Wharves.
Headed by award-winning chef Alanna Sapwell, Arc’s menu is all about using local suppliers, farmers; a top-to-tail philosophy “supporting pasture-raised, and chemical, hormone, and additive free produce”.
This makes for some fantastic lick-the-plate-clean type of dishes. From small plates to the main affair, the menu makes for an enticing evening, with highlights such as the Spanish mackerel with zucchini, chilli and native ginger, crab pasta with periwinkle and garden gremolata. Arc Dining rounds out their food menu with Australia’s best sommelier Ian Trinkle’s curated list of about 500 wines centred around sustainable and biodynamic producers. Service is excellent and to complete your perfect date, take a stroll along the Howard Smith Wharves precinct, admire the views, or enjoy some cheeky cocktails at Mr Percivals.
Location: 5 Boundary St, Brisbane Qld 4000 (Howard Smith Wharves).
One of Brisbane’s fine dining institutions, Bacchus has always impressed us when we’ve visited. It's fine dining but there's also an understated elegance to the place; perhaps it's because the staff are down-to-earth, brilliant at what they do, and always exceptional with service without any hint of pretentiousness. Jean-Baptiste, restaurant manager, sums it up best when he told us "Service for us, is not just a job. It's a lifestyle".
The venue has got it right with their staff, from top to bottom and with 2 Michelin starred chef Massimo Speroni at the helm, it's clear to see what the fuss is all about.
Bacchus offers A-La Carte or Degustation, so if you can afford the latter, try the experience with your date. A degustation is really all about delighting your senses; and like a great movie, the experience has a story to tell through its protagonists (the food), which you should have you emotionally invested. Each course will take you on a spectacular ride of flavours, textures and visuals (through beautiful plating), and with the exemplary service, will leave you and your date wanting more!
Location: Podium Level, Rydges South Bank, Glenelg Street & Grey Street, South Brisbane QLD 4101
An institution in leafy Bardon, Lutece Bistro & Wine Bar boasts views of Brisbane (through floor-to-ceiling windows) and makes for a romantic date in the ‘burbs in an authentic French setting.
From start to finish, service is seamless with the team of mostly French staff, adding to the “joie de vivre” in the air. It's what you'd imagine a typical French restaurant should be. Respected chef and owner Romain Bapst, is one of only two Maître Canardier in Australia, which means he is qualified to prepare the extravagant French delicacy of pressed duck, sumptuously served at the table. Another signature dish is the sand crab lasagne with creamy crustacean sauce; a dish that Chef Bapst created and perfected during 13 years at Il Centro.
With the delicious food paired with an excellent wine list, one can see why this place is well loved. For a night in France, without the expense of an airfare, Lutece certainly makes for a great date.
Location: 60 MacGregor Terrace, Bardon QLD 4065
Located inside a heritage listed sandstone building in the heart of Brisbane’s CBD, it was previously home to Queensland’s first radio station, and Qld Government Savings bank, amongst many things. Fast forward to now, and it is Donna Chang; a perfect blend of opulent old-world elegance, meets modern Chinese cuisine.
The restaurant is one of ornate high ceilings, glistening chandeliers, marble tables, intricate details, and an eye-catching staircase leading to the 2nd level private dining rooms. This is a perfect date night venue, because the building also houses The Boom Boom Room. Located underground at the far end of the restaurant, the former bank vaults have been converted into a sexy, and dark bar with cosy secret nooks from where to start your date with a cocktail in hand.
Back upstairs, Donna Chang’s menu is divided into raw dishes, starters, dim sum, seafood, poultry, meat, wood-fired dishes, sides, and if you after a feast, the banquet is a great option. Group executive chef Jake Nicholson, head chef Jason Margaritis and head dim sum chef Sam Lie have a focus on Chinese dishes with Sichuan and Cantonese flavours.
Of course, to finish your date on a high, try the dessert of soft serve Taro and smoked white chocolate if still available on the menu.
Location: 3/171 George Street, Brisbane City Qld 4000
Nestled in the antiques district of Woolloongabba inside the heritage listed “Moreton Rubber Works” building (circa 1889), this restaurant is like an Italian classic. Traditional, rustic, honest and elegant all at the same time. It’s old-world charm combining with its friendly Italian accented staff makes it a ready-made venue for romance. Like you’ve taken a trip to Italy for your date.
The restaurant is nicely laid out, with the tables surrounded by shelves of wine. It makes sense, as In Italy, ‘enoteca’ means wine library. You'll soon realise their wine list is an encyclopaedia of artisan producers, where you can sift through with your date regional varietals, to decide on which perfect glass to have. Food-wise, 1889 Enoteca serves up some of the best pasta in Brisbane, paying respect to its Roman traditions. Dishes like cacio e pepe; handmade spaghetti tossed with aged pecorino Romano. Most famous of all though is their soft melt-in-your-mouth heavenly pillows of love, gnocchi, which has remained a fixture for years. For good reason too! Pan-fried in a parmesan cream, with just the right amount of black truffle tapenade combined with the rustic flavours of the pork fennel sausage. If you're date doesn't work out, at least you know you'll always have that connection with gnocchi.
Location: 10-12 Logan Road, Woolloongabba Qld 4101
La Cache a Vin
Tucked away in a restored cellar in Spring Hill is where you'll find La Cache à Vin. Meaning "a stash of wine", this restaurant not only serves up some of the best French food in Brisbane you'll ever taste, but it's also a wine store, so you can pick up a bottle of France's best, on your way out. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. La Cache a Vin is a true hidden gem, and as you enter you'll be immediately taken by its charm, the nooks and crannies that make for romantic moments, and the history of the space, with it's original brickwork, and exposed timber, showing.
As Thierry Galichet's return to the Brisbane dining scene, it's no surprise that this place would impress. Those of you with long memories will remember him as owner of Montrachet in Paddington for many years.
The menu is a brilliant offering of classic Lyonnaise dishes and other regions of France, and we'd recommend the Scallops, the risotto with scampi, soupe du jour, poisson du jour, pretty much everything. Save room for dessert and try the Entremet de Chocolat Truff (classic chocolate cognac ganache with crème Anglaise and strawberry coulis). With excellent service to match the great food, one can easily just relax and be immersed in the ambiance of the restaurant. The wine list is all French and derived from France’s leading wine-making regions so definitely purchase a bottle on the way out to enjoy at home. Or if your super romantic date is a hit, their place.
Locaton: 215 Wharf Street, Spring Hill Qld 4000
Occupying a laneway in trendy James Street, Gerard’s has become one of Brisbane’s most popular venues over the last 6 years since it opened. A jewel in the Moubarak family’s hospitality crown, much of Gerard’s Bistro’s success can be attributed to former head chef Ben Williamson, (who recently departed at the end of 2018). The menu combines tradition, and contemporary flavours, with middle eastern influences to create a mouth-watering dining experience.
Recently though, Gerard’s has embarked on a new chapter with top Sydney chef Adam Wolfers arriving to head up the restaurant. There’s plans to showcase the cuisine of lesser known Middle Eastern regions using Australian native ingredients as well as adding new signature breads to the menu to complement the famous flat-bread. Of course, you can’t go to Gerard’s without trying some of their famous flatbreads, still to this day, handmade by the family matriarch Salwa Moubarak.
Gerard’s has inside and outside dining creating a relaxed ambience that suits the menu’s made-to-share style. With your date, you’ll be tempted by tasty staples such as the fried cauliflower tahini ras-el-hanout, or the moreish Bekaa (chicken) wings, or even the more substantial melt-in-your-mouth beef brisket. Whatever the case, you can rest assured knowing that you’re in for a lovely evening.
Location: 14/15 James Street, Fortitude Valley Qld 4006
Za Za Ta
The newest and highly anticipated Middle Eastern inspired bar and kitchen to hit Fortitude Valley. Perfectly located under the Ovolo Hotels, it's name is a playful homage to the spice blend Za'atar. Much like it's namesake spice, one taste of Za Za Ta will leave you thrilled, and enthralled by it's uniqueness long after you're done.
Chefs Roy Ner and Dario Manca have brought distinctly modern twists to Israeli and Mediterranean cuisine, designed to be savoured amongst friends. The interiors are stunning, taking inspiration from Victorian era and Queensland architecture, combining wooden furniture, persian carpets, timber floors, globe lights to create a warm atmosphere. The design separates the restaurant into distinct sections and just like the Za’atar spice makes for an eclectic experience taking you to delicious directions.
You must try the Yemenite butter bread, goats curd, with zhug chilli; is something we've never had before but incredible. "Last meal on earth" worthy. The Charcoal Rainbow trout, and the Fremantle Octopus, with camel nduja, eggplant, and salted walnut is just as impressive.
Add some Beef cheek and silver beet dumplings, and the slow cooked saffron Maghrebi veg and you have yourself an exotic trip.
If you have room, enjoy a drink or two in the intimate private parlour, to finish off a perfect evening.
Location: 1000 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley Qld 4006