This is a topic I'm passionate about.
If you like to drink wine, eat dinner AND have a roof over your head, life can get expensive.
I do recognise that hospitality is an extremely tough industry with low profit margins, and that alcohol is pretty much where most of the profit is made. I also think that for a birthday or a special occasion there's nothing nicer than to go out to a fine-dining restaurant and harass the sommelier about $25-a-glass wine matches for your seafoam and chocolate dirt amouse bouche. It's a fun experience and I often try new varietals of wines from different regions and learn something in the process. On the other hand, sometimes I don't want to spend $150 a head for dinner. Sue me.
This is where BYO comes in.
What could be nicer than plucking a bottle of your favourite red, or that special champagne you got for Christmas, popping it under your arm and going out to dinner? Very little, I would argue.
Confusingly, many restaurants in Brisbane have a BYO policy for only one or two nights in a week. So, although I've never had it happen to me, in theory you might mistakenly rock up to a restaurant on a Tuesday with a bottle of bubbles under your arm and they might reply: 'NOPE. We're only BYO on Pancake Tuesday, on leap years.' It's confusing.
So, here are three of my absolute favourite BYO restaurants in Brisbane that are BYO EVERY NIGHT OF THE WEEK.
Vine Restaurant, New Farm.
Vine is one of Brisbane’s best kept secrets. It’s a modern Italian bistro that serves stunning antipasto, skilful entrees (anything to do with pork belly or scallops usually has me) and beautiful meat and pasta main courses. The seafood tagliatelle is a mainstay on their menu and is my favourite seafood pasta dish in Brisbane (besides Il Centro’s spectacular and ubiquitous sand crab lasagne.) It’s a huge portion though, so go hungry.
They also excel at crispy skinned duck with interesting accompaniments and chicken breast, skin on, bone-in type plates.
I have, hand on heart, never had a bad plate of food there and have been at least a dozen times over the years. Great for a romantic dinner for two and for groups up to ten people. They are BYO for wine up to four bottles per table and charge $12.50 corkage per bottle. I’m so nostalgic writing about this place that I’ve decided we will have to make a booking for Valentine’s Day. Shit, we might even go tonight; it is our 8 month wedding anniversary after all! (gross).
Note: Vine is closed for dinner on Sunday nights and doesn't open on Monday. Always book to avoid disappointment.
Viale Canova, Clayfield
Continuing the Italian theme, Viale Canova is one of our favourite haunts on the northside. Chef Lorenzo and his gorgeous partner Massimo run a fabulous restaurant where the risotto, gnocchi and pasta dishes are the stars. To be fair we haven’t had a helluva lot of meat dishes there, but there are plenty on offer. You can read my original review from 2014 here. VC charges a meagure $5 corkage per bottle and no set limits that we’re aware of.
A gorgeous friend and I had a ladies’ lunch there on Friday and she proclaimed her mushroom and truffle oil risotto to be ‘the best she’d ever had’. So there you go. This place is not like Vine in that ‘there’s never a bad dish’, though. Avoid dessert except for the tiramisu (very good) and the coffee is worth a miss. We consider it all part of the quaint quirks of a suburban restaurant. Beautiful linen tablecloths and napkins, paper doilies and random crostini snacks. Go here for a boozy, carby date night.
Viale Canova is closed Mondays. Book to ensure you get a well-positioned table.
Cinco, Camp Hill
Cinco is one of the unsung heroes of the surburban dining scene. The perfect date night bistro, this place is BYO for wine and corkage is set at $8.50 per person. I really appreciate the way they decant wine in a lovely carafe and place it on a stand next to your table. Nice touch.
I adore the meat dishes and desserts at Cinco. This is where I head when I want a bistro style steak and a panna cotta to die for. In saying that, the share-style starters are awesome too. For years they’ve been doing grilled Kefalograviera with lemon and olive oil – something you don’t see everywhere. Kefalograviera is a greek cheese that’s make from sheep and goat milk. When grilled in the way Cinco do it, it has the vibe of a parmesan-crusted haloumi. So obviously you need to go there immediately and eat this.
Sometimes the service can be a little slow, but we only go here when we want a nice, relaxed and drawn out meal. Certainly not somewhere you can expect to be rushed through your meal. Lovely atmospheric restaurant and perfect for date night or dinner with the girls. Get dessert. Seriously.
Cinco is closed Sunday and Monday. Opening days and hours with restaurants do change so always book!
So there you have it. My top three BYO restaurants in Brisbane. What are your faves? Post to comments!