When sunset tosses a pink glow over the grey eminence of the Story Bridge, dozens of bars and restaurants around Eagle Street Pier, Brisbane fill with noisy, casual urban bonhomie.
This is nosh nirvanna; an assemblage of some of Brisbane's finest restaurants and the newest is Pony Lounge and Dining, a dazzling symphony of timber, brick and metal bling overlooking the Story Bridge commanded by Brisbane born chef, Damian Heads. Heads' impressive CV includes stints at Sydney Opera House's Bennelong, Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck in Berkshire and the swish Hotel le Meurice in Paris before rediscovering his home town. "Brisbane's a fantastic city and people are now a lot more knowledgeable and more interested in food", he says. "It's almost a social revolution the way they just prefer going out to restaurants and catching up with friends. The day of the dinner party and barbecue are left behind".
Pony's head-turner is the bustling open-plan kitchen where native ironbank crackles in a large open pit and a robust rotisserie turns out fire-grilled meats and eight-hour smoky coal-pit roasts of pork or lamb. Heads bristles when people suggest Brisbane's restaurant scene is catching up with the bigger cities. "Brisbane has always had its own agenda," he says.
The Manor Apartment Hotel offers the perfect inner city accommodation option, and is within close walking distance of everything, including the excitments of Eagle Street Pier.