Restaurants seem to come and go pretty frequently here. It must be a fairly difficult industry, dealing with health regulations, licensing laws, Occupational Health and Safety concerns - and all of that before a plate is turned out to a customer. For a few years, one of my favourite "special occasion" restaurants was Isis Brasserie, at 446 Brunswick St in the Valley. It helped that we could either walk if we were feeling energetic, or catch a bus if the weather was too hot or wet. During 2009 the restaurant closed unexpectedly (to us anyway). It became a fairly forlorn sight as I travelled past on the bus - the windows were pasted over with newspaper and the building almost looked ready for the wreckers.
After lots of rumours, the place suddenly became alive again and reopened in the new guise of Ortiga; still run by the previous owner Simon Hill. This is the way it looks now.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)
I haven't yet been there - I tried to make a reservation recently but it was totally booked out. And I'm not a food critic anyway, so my opinion would be useless to anyone else. Best leave it to one of the best, John Lethlean from The Australian, whose verdict you can read here. Brisbanites may prefer to hear Tony Harper's viewpoint. Both of those gentlemen have indicated that Ortiga is worth a visit.
The building that houses the restaurant was designed by famous Brisbane architect Robin Dods, and was built in 1908 as a store for brothers Michael and Patrick Corbett, who were grocers and wine merchants. Dods designed the building to take advantage of the slope of the land, so the there is a single story at the front while the rear has a basement level. There is an internal staircase to connect the main level and the basement, and it seems that the restaurateur has been able to make the best of those features.
It's certainly refreshing to see an older building, even a relatively simple one such as this, being "recycled" into a different yet effective life, rather than being knocked into oblivion.
Click here for a Google Map.
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