It's been the best of years and the worst of years for hospitality; an annus horribilis for some, the start of exciting new ventures for others. We've seen more openings, closures and changes than in any other year and witnessed trends like the domination of lower-priced eateries and bars, the formal diner reinventing itself and American food continuing its ascension. With more newbies to come (Jamie's Italian, Blackbird and another offering from Gerard's Bistro to name a few) and competition for the diner's dollar evermore fierce, it looks like more of the same for 2014.
Most anticipated opening
Newstead Brewing, Newstead
Newstead Brewing's Facebook page is a testament to the intense interest in craft brewing in Brisbane. For almost a year, it teased us with hints, pictures and updates, but what everyone wanted to know (with increasing impatience), was "when are you opening?" Finally this converted warehouse has welcomed beer lovers who can slake their thirst with a range of in-house brewed craft beer and a compact but appealing menu.
Details: 85 Doggett St, Newstead, 07 3172 2488, newsteadbrewing.com.au
Most shocking closure
Ortiga, Fortitude Valley
Simon Hill decided that he'd had enough and pulled the plug on much-lauded Ortiga in October. Hill said at the time that while the restaurant had been the right type of venue five years ago, it no longer worked. Other venues who shut up shop and sent a wave of trepidation through the industry include the short-lived Bistro One Eleven as well as South Bank duo Piaf and Sardine Tin and The Lark in Paddington.
Best new on-trend restaurant
Mighty Mighty, Fortitude Valley
Have we finally renounced tacos and tequila and started to look north of the border? American food is definitely on-trend and Mighty Mighty not only focuses its lens on southern US food with an emphasis on generous portions of smoked, grilled and barbecued meats, but on the complementary trend for craft beer with a list of American and Australian offerings.
Details: Shop 6/7, 100 McLachlan Street, Fortitude Valley, 07 3666 0184, mightymighty.net.au
Best new bar
Lefty's Old Time Music Hall
We'd defy anyone not to enjoy themselves at Lefty's. It's rollicking good fun - from the decor, (much of it left over from its days as a former "gentlemen's club") to the the live country music. There are no ridiculous dress codes, bookings or guest lists; just friendly staff and a well stocked bar. And Lefty's provides sustenance for the peckish into the small hours.
Details: 15 Caxton Street, Brisbane, leftysmusichall.com
Best new food innovation
Wandering Cooks, South Brisbane
Angela Hirst had a mission - to start a multi-kitchen space for food businesses who were suffering from Brisbane's shortage of commercial kitchens. Wandering Cooks is the result. Not only can food entrepreneurs from jam makers to cake bakers rent commercial kitchens and prep space but Hirst has created a community with an ethos of sharing and mutual support.
Details: 1 Fish Lane (Cnr Fish Lane & Cordelia Street), South Brisbane, 07 3844 600, wanderingcooks.com.au
Best new deli
Standard Market Co., Newstead
From chocolate to chorizo and one of the city's best range of cheese, the new Standard Market Company, which also runs the more established markets at James Street, opened a second venue at Gasworks that's a one-stop shop, with everything you could ever need for planning a dinner party, or for those who just like to eat well.
Details: Gasworks Plaza, Skyring Terrace, Newstead, 07 3606 3319, thestandardmarketco.com.au
Best new cafe
While there's a plethora of franchises in the city and lots of good coffee in the 'burbs, there's a strange dearth of quality coffee-focused cafes in the CBD. Until Strauss. With the same owners as Cup Roastery and Merriweather Cafe, you can expect expertly made coffee, whether long black or single origin cold drip. With a license just granted, a carefully chosen craft beer and boutique wine list with a small grazing menu for evenings is on the cards too.
Details: 189 Elizabeth Street, CBD
Best new under $30
Rogue Rennard, Paddington
This charming little cafe has it all - expertly made coffee, imaginative breakfasts, a lovely little outdoor terrace. It recently started opening on Friday evenings with a convivial menu of charcuterie and cheese plates and well priced grazing plates like smoked eggplant, duck egg, spanner crab and puffed rice or wagyu brisket, pomme puree, fried shallot, mustard and watercress. The most expensive dish is around $20.
Details: 106 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington, theroguerennard.com
Best food precinct
It's got a few contenders breathing down its neck (Logan Road, the 'Gabba for a start) but from nose to tail, James Street is packed with restaurants, bars, bakeries, markets, grazing spots and top notch coffee houses. Soothe the pain of how long it took to find a car park with a spot of people-spotting streetside at Cru Bar, a long share-plate lunch at Gerard's or grab a tart to go from Jocelyn's Provisions.