Wining and Dining
A taste of Ipswich’s exploding food scene
Queensland’s fastest-growing metropolitan city is whistling like a kettle for you to come and explore these days. Grab your girl-gang and make that trip to Ipswich. We’ve rounded up some of the region’s best restaurants and cafes.
For breakfast: Rafter & Rose
Nestled in a laneway of exposed brick, Rafter & Rose earns the title of ‘best breakfast in Ipswich’ for simple dishes like avocado on toast transformed with flowers, radish slivers and rocket leaves sprinkled like confetti across artisan pottery plates.
You’ll find breakfast at Rafter & Rose can draw even the most hesitant food-photographer out of their shell and the photo ops don’t stop here. There are succulents growing out of saucepans, vintage chairs, and terrariums on tables too.
To drink, you’ll find hot and cold-pressed coffee, fresh juices and a cabinet of boutique drinks that also ‘gram up a treat.
Tip: Get in early on the weekends to beat the crowd who line up for the two tables on Ellenborough Street, which catch the early morning sun.
For something naughty: 116 Laneway
We’re talking freaky temptation as they take normal milkshakes to new levels with five ‘freakshakes’ on the menu.
Our pick is the salted caramel – a mason jar filled with a caramel milkshake, lined with fresh salted caramel, topped with a donut, dusted with salted caramel popcorn and supported by a structure of fresh cream. Oh, and did we mention it’s also served on a bed of jersey caramels?
There are five freakshake flavours to choose from, each with its own kooky, crazy and colourful ingredients that are one part Nutty Professor and one part Willy Wonka.
Tip: If you’re more of a savoury tooth, 116 Laneway has all-day favourites like zucchini fritters, croque madam and Spanish beans.
For finger lickin’ good: Pumpyard
Order a beer-tasting paddle ($15) which covers the ground between summer ale to stout within six beers.
On the food menu, there’s everything from bar bites like onion rings, salt and pepper squid and frickles (deep fried pickles) to more substantial meals like burgers and pizzas, which come in handy when “one drink” turns into “let’s get an uber home.”
Tip: The chicken wings are not to be missed along with the ‘loaded fries’ – sweet potato fries topped with chilli con carne, cheese, ranch mayo, bacon crumbs and green onion.
For dinner: Dovetails
The new kid on the foodie block, Dovetails Restaurant combines cool industrial interior design with a modern Australian menu and cracking wine list.
Dovetails trades out of former the woodworking room in the Old Technical College and features wooden tables, machinery and obligatory dovetail joinery.
The menu tightropes modern Australian cuisine with a distinctly French-schooled chef who heroes local produce through the crisp-skin confit pork belly, slow-cooked shoulder of lamb and black truffle bean ragout.
Save room for the likes of vanilla panna cotta and sticky toffee ginger pudding, that is, if you didn’t fill up on bar snacks next door at Pumpyard pre-dinner.
Tip: Dovetails is also open for breakfast (Mon-Sun) if you’re scratching your head for somewhere new to try.
For fine dining: Spicers Hidden Vale
On the outskirts of Ipswich sits a restaurant that pays Homage to its local environment.
On the menu you’ll find fruit and vegetables from the market garden, meat from its own property and preserves and smoked goods cured on site. The team at Homage now balance a Good Food Guide Chef’s Hat on top of the ever-changing menu that might feature wild shot venison with turnip and fermented garlic or pasture-raised hen, cauliflower and smoked cheddar.
Tip: You’ll want to book for this one! Lunch is served from noon every day and dinner from 6pm. If your budget stretches, stay overnight to make the most of this stunning scenic setting.
For Organic: Beans & Greens
Four years ago, Beans & Greens in Limestone Street might have been the first and only organic cafe in Ipswich.
Even though it’s got company now in the health-food stakes, we think Beans & Greens is still the best organic option in the historic city.
For breakfast, tuck into a triple-choc acai bowl which blends acai, banana, cacao and coconut yoghurt. Or, for something more solid, their green bean special which stars corn and zucchini fritters and leafy greens.
Tip: Beans & Green serves Toby’s Estate coffee, making it one of the best spots for a coffee in town too.
For the best Shiraz: Ironbark Ridge Winery
Everyone knows the secret ingredient to any girls’ trip is wine. Luckily for anyone heading west, Ipswich has five wineries on its doorstep: Ironbark Ridge Vineyard, Paradine Estate Wines, Bunjurgen Estate Vineyard, Kooroomba Vineyard and Flinders Peak Winery.
If you don’t have time to explore them all, set your sights on Ironbark Ridge Winery for the $5 tasting tour. Take a stroll or a ride through the six acres of chardonnay, shiraz and grenache vines.
On the verandah of this 100-year-old property, you can try them all with a cheese platter that miraculously pairs with every drop, especially the port.
What they won’t tell you on the website is that Ironbark Ridge is seriously close to RAAF Base Amberley, guaranteeing box-office seats for their aerial shows. Aerial acrobatics, plus cheese and wine – now what other vineyard can say that?
Tip: There’s no need to draw short straws on designated drivers in this neck of the woods. Pterodactyl Helicopters run a helicopter wine tour where you can heli to and from your tasting. Rock star treatment, guaranteed.