French cuisine heats up in Brisbane

Author: FIONA DONNELLY

Three very different interpretations of French cooking have landed in quick succession. A fourth is due for touchdown in March.

Harry's Steak Bistro & Bar (1744 Gold Coast Hwy, Burleigh Heads) was first to market from Justin Lane Establishment founder Adam Haralampou, offering Gold Coast diners at Burleigh Heads a fresh and breezy take on steak frites.

Harry's Steak Bistro & Bar's steak frites.

The décor at the new venture shuns Parisian pastiche in favour of more coastally apt digs - all clean lines, classic bentwood chairs with a mix of smart green leather banquettes and booth seating. Just four cuts are on the block. These range from a $29.95 Silver Fern Farms' grass-fed Scotch fillet to John Dee's 60-day dry-aged rib-eye for $59.95. All come with bottomless fries, bread and salad.

La Lune Wine Co (The Melbourne Residences, 109 Melbourne St, South Brisbane), a petite wine bar from Francophile Paul McGivern, chef-owner at The Wolfe, East Brisbane, is slated to start pouring mid-March.

The 36-seater will face onto Fish Lane at the base of a new apartment block, which will also be home to Gelato Messina's new Brisbane flagship.

La Lune Wine Co.

McGivern says La Lune's French-themed food will be a mix of raw dishes, charcuterie and cheese plus six or seven experimental share plates. The wine list will be written by McGivern's mate and acclaimed winemaker Gary Farr, with pinot noir and chardonnay front and centre. McGivern says the interiors will evoke an atmosphere of faded French luxe.

Meanwhile, in a slightly daggy corner of Brisbane's CBD, the Votan brothers behind Fortitude Valley Chinese eatery Happy Boy have kicked off Greenglass (336 George St, Brisbane), a project designed to showcase Australian small-producer wine in conjunction with simple French-accented fare.

The first-floor dining room is lovely - austere and mod-French, with black painted anterooms opening out into a glorious sun-filled space and timber flooring, distressed brick walls, and a long comptoir bar topped with fresh lilies. It's a five-minute walk from Brisbane City Hall, but would sit as easily in Paris as the Queensland capital. Greenglass is accessed via a slim doorway wedged between a topless bar and a discount pharmacy. The only signage is a name hand-drawn in chalk and an arrow pointing upwards.

Greenglass.

The project kicked off in November, opening as a long-breakfast joint, serving an egg-based carte featuring the likes of Gruyère omelette with king oyster mushrooms, and creamy scrambled eggs topped with roe and petals. On January 9, a daily-changing lunch service came on stream, a simple blackboard menu presenting Gallic classics such as tarte Tatin, confit duck and fried crumbed camembert. All dishes sit under $20 and dinner is now in the works.

Madame Rouge Bar & Bistro.

At Madame Rouge Bar & Bistro (100 McLachlan St, Brisbane) in Fortitude Valley the vibe is a little darker - think silver candelabra, charcoal walls and heavy blood-red drapes to block out the Queensland sun. But owner Mary Randles' take on a 1950s Breton bistro is certainly a fresh alternative to all those white Scandi-chic venues that keep popping up.

Housed in the space formerly occupied by Spanish-leaning Gordita, its theatrical fit-out suits the post-war good-time feels, complete with a come-hither horseshoe-shaped bar.
Randles' husband, Philip Johnson, chef-owner at E'cco Bistro, has drawn up the menu and Matthew Short, whose résumé includes stints at Sydney's Tabou, is opening chef. Expect a nostalgic trawl of classic French hits, with a wine list skewed in favour of reds.

Entrées include the likes of pissaladière, duck liver parfait and boudin noir, while crisp-skinned poulet rôti with jus gras, steak frites with peppercorn sauce, and New Zealand monkfish with fennel and tapenade feature among the main courses. Extra booth seating has been added to the room's perimeter and framed vintage posters dot the back wall, replacing the signature Gordita mural.







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