Eclectic fun inside two old Queenslanders
Alfred and Constance is set to make its much-anticipated opening in Fortitude Valley tomorrow. Photo: Natascha Mirosch
Alfred & Constance
Grab your purse and strap on your dancing shoes — it's finally opening. After much anticipation and lots of date shifts, Alfred & Constance will be in full swing by lunch time tomorrow. Already, when we had a sneak peak this morning, there were curious crowds walking in off the street, looking around and exclaiming bemusedly.
There's certainly lots to look at. Local designer Alexander Lotersztain has spent more than a year sourcing ephemera with which to furnish the two 19th-century Queenslanders at the more polite end of Fortitude Valley.
Alfred and Constance opens in Brisbane
Alfred & Constance is set to open in Brisbane, in all its retro glory. Photo: Natascha Mirosch
"I think people are going to be able to enjoy different aspects of the experience every time they join us," says owner Damien Griffith, who also owns Limes Hotel next door and Chester Street Kitchen, also in Fortitude Valley.
In a stroke of one-size-fits-all brilliance, there's a heap of different dining options. In the café, you can eat in a room that looks like a share-house living room, while in the "Vanguard" beer garden (named after the ship on which the original owner of the houses migrated) the staff were busy firing up chef David Lindsey's pride and joy, a shiny black Josper oven that burns Brazilian charcoal designed to give steak a particular charred smokiness. (We pity the poor mug who has to keep it stoked though; we're told the hungry beast inhales 10 kilograms of charcoal a day.) There's also a wood-fired oven that will be used to cook whole roast yearling pigs, standing rib racks, organic chickens and more.
Then there's a moody dining room with a chandelier, a skeleton and a French cabinet of chemist gear, creating a glam-meets-gothic ambience.
You'll probably need your sunglasses even at night in the upstairs Tiki bar. There's acid yellow. There's astro turf. There are surfboards, swizzle sticks and a drinkers' wheel of fortune behind the bar for those who can't decide between a piña colada or a zombie.
Or perhaps grab a rum punch and settle in to listen to some grooves in the Hemingway Bar next door. Throughout all this eclectic retro madness that borrows widely from other cultures, there's still something essentially Queensland about it — yet at the same time, it's totally unique.
"This is hugely exciting for me and my team and we're really looking forward to showing the public what it is that we've created," Griffith says.
Alfred & Constance, Corner of Alfred and Constance streets, Fortitude Valley. Phone 3257 7410
West End's newest bar
The West End has always been known for its cool but rather grungy venues, but more sophisticated diners and drinkers will find succour in Boundary Street's newest bar, The Loft.
It was organised chaos when I looked in yesterday as they prepared to open to the public last night, but even through the workmen and ladders, the place looked good, with not a whiff of its former incarnation as Uber Bar. The refit has resulted in a smarter, more luxe interior with rough brick walls, highly polished concrete floors, high ceilings with fab mood lighting and an inside/outside blurring of the boundaries with hanging baskets of greenery and wrought-iron furniture leading to a cool wide deck.
Comfortable couches, Turkish carpets and shelves of interesting bits and pieces make it feel homely inside. Designed to stand apart from its big brother, the more ebullient Archive Beer Boutique downstairs, the focus is on cocktails and a small but changing wine list.
Archive chef Tim Wrigley, who was looking surprisingly calm amongst the chaos, is taking on the menu too, which will consist of drink-friendly, share-plate bar food such sliders, king prawns with garlic confit and cheese plates.
The Loft West
100 Boundary Street, West End
Phone 3846 6680
The former owners of the perennially popular Trang in West End have opened a new eatery, Mrs Luu's, in Milton's Railway Terrace. The venue has been humming with grateful local office workers, and co-owner John Nguyen says he's been surprised how big the past three weeks have been.
"By 2.30 we've pretty much sold out of everything," he says. Named after Nguyen's matriarch, the place is sparkling clean, modern and fresh with sunny yellow walls featuring a trio of hand-drawn portraits.
The menu, Nguyen says, is pretty basic at the moment, but they hope to introduce more rotating specials. On my visit they had caramelised pork belly and green apple goi con (rice paper rolls), as well as sliced sugarcane pork patties on a bun salad. Almost everything is made on-site, from the pate in the ridiculously popular ban mi to the Vietnamese mayo.
What's not made in-house is kept very local, Nguyen says. Tofu is made by a family friend and the baguettes, baked every morning at 5.30, come from another friend's bakery. Freshness is guaranteed with the greenery and herbs too — they're picked up, dirt and all, from farms a couple of kilometres from the city. Within months they'll be introducing more Vietnamese breakfast specials, including pho and Vietnamese coffee.
25 Railway Terrace, Milton
Phone 3369 5760