by Jodi Panayotov
When the going gets hot the instinct is to head for the water, especially for dining purposes. Yet where waterfront dining is concerned Brisbane was a chronically late bloomer, despite having a climate that may as well have been designed for the purpose. And even after discovering the great enhancements to dining that a water vista or breeze can bring, it was still slow on the uptake, with only a handful of eating establishments taking up the cause and the majority of them in the CBD's Riverside precinct. Today the numbers have swelled somewhat (although considering the amount of water frontage there's a long way to go) and here's a rough guide as to what's on offer outside of Riverside.
Seafront dining doesn't come much closer than on the terrace of this quaint 1930's café out on Cleveland Point. At high tide the odd whitecap dribbles over the rock wall, wetting the floor and diners' feet as they tuck into the small array of pub type meals from the counter inside.
Buckets of jumbo prawns and a beer make the perfect accompaniment to this spectacular spot which takes in the sand dunes of Moreton Bay Island and the café is attached to a complex that has a restaurant with its own waterfront deck for more substantial eats, a gelati kiosk and a takeaway fish'n'chips option.
In prime position jutting onto the river by the Goodwill Bridge, Stokehouse is Brisbane's new go-to restaurant for the idyllic all round waterfront dining experience.
Flanked by a stunning timber-decked bar to one side, the rest of the architecturally designed boat house style restaurant has a side open to the river so that all tables get up close to the vista. Meanwhile impeccable service and top notch food are a match for the unbeatable setting.
On the water without the front, this is the one place you can watch the sea lapping through the floorboards and where Otis Reading would have been right at home.
The Jetty Kiosk is situated at the start of the William Gunn Jetty and not obvious from the main village yet it is a quintessential bay dining experience, whether it be for an ice-cream, a coffee or an excellent bistro style meal.
Open on three sides (with bi-fold windows to cosy things up if the weather takes a turn for the worst), the interior is a kind of understated chic nautical that perfectly matches the quietly sophisticated menu, which includes everything from organic coffee and home baked brownies to confit of duck.
This gem of a café sits on the river front in a kind of no man's land that is currently earmarked for development on the outskirts of Hamilton.
Follow the potholed roads out past the old abandoned Eagle Farm Station and an oasis of landscaped green emerges, with the Northshore Riverside Café, a copper-backed lowset building in its midst. Here locals in-the-know converge for a delicious breakfast or lunch while enjoying river views from the bi-fold windows. Adding to the ambience outside the café is a ripple lawn, sculpture park and tiny sandy crescent of a beach as well as sandstone paving depicting the working history of the area.
One of the first restaurants to emerge from a revitalised Teneriffe, Eves on the River, with its gazebo style glass dining room to maximize the water views, is still going strong.
A bit of a breakfast hotspot, it also draws a crowd for lunch and to watch the Bulimba lights twinkling across the river in the evening. There's also a lawn out front and gorgeous boardwalk for a post-gastronomic stroll along the river.
Catering to the theatre and show crowd, Bar Alto - an Italian eatery and bar on the upper floor of the Powerhouse - does a thrumming trade in the evenings when its massive breezy deck gets packed to the hilt with drinkers and diners in their respective zones.
By night it's not always possible to get a table outside to enjoy a bar snack or one of their regional Italian dishes but at lunch time when show goers are not being processed through at a rate of knots the chance to gaze across the river to Bulimba is much greater.
At the very tip of Oxford St and adjacent to the heritage listed ferry terminal, locations don't come much better than this. Part café, part bistro and part bar, The Jetty Oxford is a kind of every-man's drop-in spot whatever the time of day and whether thirsty or hungry, dressed up or casual.
As a result patience can be a virtue when ordering – it's not the kind of place to expect a quick bite before the ferry comes but with the stunning location, it really isn't the kind of place to want to leave in a hurry.