New bull on the block
The wonderfully eccentric Deer Duck Bistro in Auchenflower has given birth to a bull. Toro opened quietly last week, just a few doors down from its parent on Milton Road. So stealthy has its opening been in fact, there's not even any signage yet. A cocktail/wine bar with food, it's inherited Deer Duck's eclectic taste, furnished, as owner Nicholas Cooper says, "like a rich man's library" with moody colours and high, wing-backed chairs. The space seats just 34 and will offer dishes like pulled venison or confit duck leg matched with a glass of pinot, but Cooper says future plans include food that will "push the envelope". There is regular live music and Cooper says he hopes to attract artists who might fancy the idea of a very intimate Brisbane venue.
Toro, 415 Milton Rd, Toowong, 38708482
Fine dining for everyone
First Class Lounge and Dining also opened without a hint of fanfare last week. Occupying the Valley corner that once housed the well-regarded Buffalo Club, owners Jacob Butler and Emma Tilden are touting it as fine dining sans snobbery. "We wanted to offer something that was between the casual Asian places in the Valley but not as expensive as the more upmarket restaurants," Butler says.
The menu, under former Libertine and Sardine Tin chef Brad Hassed is designed to share. Short and sharp it includes light options such as grilled ox tongue with fennel and horseradish cream or herb-rolled charred beef with pickled onion and Pommery mustard, as well as more substantial dishes such as cottechino sausage, duck egg and parsley puree or Jerusalem artichoke risotto with truffled pecorino. There's also a comprehensive drinks list.
It might be a big change from the Buffalo Club days (although we do recognise those leather club chairs) but that wonderful floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the slightly seedy world of Fortitude Valley is still a feature.
First Class Lounge and Dining, Level 1, 234 Wickham St, Fortitude Valley, 3852 6337.