As cool autumn saunters into our lives once again, local chefs have a new harvest to play with and just as the leaves are changing it up outside, so too are restaurant menus. Here’s a little look at what’s fresh and fabulous on the Ipswich food scene right now…
Ipswich is lucky to have acclaimed chef Mark Naoum on the local dining scene. He’s a chef with a long career behind him in some top fine dining establishments and he has an eye for quality Queensland produce – including the Brisbane Valley quail he sources from a farm at Coominya. On his latest menu he teams the quail with Serrano ham, baby gem puree and shaved parmesan, finished with bacon powder and a rich savoury jus. “It’s basically a Caesar salad,” he says with a grin. But not as you know it, perhaps he should add. There’s another knockout on this autumn menu – the pecan pie, loaded with a gooey caramel and textural pecans with a hint of spice in the crust. The restaurant is set in historic Darver Cottage.
Rafter and Rose
Does any food say autumn quite like these two simple words: pumpkin pie. Candy here at the botanical wonderland and coffee den known as Rafter & Rose makes her pumpkin pie with local pumpkins grown chemical-free. She piles it high with a glorious creamy topping and it’s gluten free. At least one diner has a ritual, Pie with Pierce, that relates to the huge picture of Pierce Brosnan that has graced the cinema wall opposite the café on Ellenborough St forever. There’s a reason why this café has been listed among Queensland’s very best and it has a lot to do with the winning trifecta, brilliant food, brilliant service, brilliant ambience. You’ll find Rafter & Rose at 17 Ellenborough St, Ipswich.
Tap’d at the PA Hotel
One is a French-leaning seafood feast the other is an oozy gooey deep-fried mess made famous by Elvis but you’ll find them both – the red claw with garlic butter and the deep fried Mars bar, at Ipswich’s PA Hotel. The hotel is home to the largest craft beer bar in the southern hemisphere – Tap’d – where you’ll find a burger-y menu to go with the 72 beers and ciders on tap. One offering is a fresh take on the classic steak sandwich, using 7+ score Wagyu finely cut and sizzled and put on a ciabatta roll. Next to Tap’d, in the Char’d dining area, the red claw has proven so popular it’s now on the menu to stay. The crustaceans are brought in fresh from Gympie and served with roasted root vegetables and lashings of garlic butter. And for those with a sweet tooth or those who love loading their Instagram accounts with the latest culinary showstoppers, the Deep Fried Mars Bar seems to be hitting the mark – and it’s also on the menu for the new season. It’s served on a Belgian-style waffle with cookie dough ice cream and salted caramel drizzle. Gosh. Book a table on 3282 1577.
This landmark café in the heart of the city ticks a lot of boxes as a café, restaurant, bar and coffee shop. It is a popular option in the Top of Town and generous with its hours – open daily for breakfast and lunch, and for dinner Tuesday to Saturday. Owners Ross Williams and his wife, chef Christine, ensure there is always an eye-popping array of options on their menu and in the cabinet. New on the latest menu is a chicken dish with prawn and scallop mousse; a pumpkin and passionfruit soup, and baked snapper with ginger, coriander and lime; and a classic seafood chowder. Fourthchild is also known and loved for its smashing cheesecakes such as the caramel-y Oreo-encrusted number. You’ll often find live music setting the pace and this landmark historic building provides the perfect ambience – along with a large-scale painting that dominates one of the old brick walls. Book on 3281 9934.
One of the newer restaurants in the heritage city, Bakehouse Steakhouse continues to add new offerings, the latest a smashing bar menu designed to make beautiful music with the already popular cocktails list. Both can be enjoyed in the large outdoor courtyard or as a pre-dinner option. The restaurant, with chef Josh Lawson at the helm, specialises in quality steaks – it helps that the family behind this venture has long-term experience in the beef industry, and a couple of specials are taking the concept to new legions of fans. T-Bone Tuesday offers up a 700g T-Bone with a side for $45 while on Wednesday’s there’s a Wagyu & Wine deal. The new bar menu features tasty bites such as char grilled chorizo, hand rolled spring rolls and panko crumbed chicken. Book on 3281 8132.
Half an hour from Ipswich near the historic village of Grandchester, and an hour’s drive from Brisbane, you’ll find Spicers Hidden Vale – home to the hatted restaurant Homage where executive chef Ash Martin heads up a stellar team of chefs who do a lot of their cooking by fire. Diners can soak up the ambience of a century-old barn or take an outdoor table where the pageantry of the chefs can be enjoyed as they bring delectable things from the open-air barbecue pits and a wood-fired oven. Over yonder you’ll see the tops of the corn swaying in the breeze in the kitchen garden where fruits and flowers and vegetables are harvested daily. That fresh corn side that you enjoy with your steak or fish dishes is impossibly fresh. There’s a custom-built smoke house too wafting tantalising aromas, and preserving shed. So nice when you can literally see where your food was grown, and freshly harvested, as you enjoy it. Homage is a hatted restaurant that offers a truly progressive approach to its ever-changing menus. Book on 1300 179 340.
While you’re in town…
Also in Ipswich, be sure to check out German restaurant Heisenberg Haus at 164 Brisbane St, and also the coffee roastery and cafe Dancing Bean down the laneway behind it, in the Top of Town. Also check out the city’s newest café, Oikos, at 61 Limestone St, Ipswich.
And if your dessert tummy is still peckish – head to Ungermann Brothers for an eye-popping array of ice cream flavours.