Brisbane’s become cooler than me


Everyone always digs on Brisbane. Even when I first moved to Australia it was all “it’s too small; everything closes early; there’s nowhere good to eat.” Compare it to likes of Sydney or Melbourne, and yeah, I get it. But guess what haters, at some point since moving away a year and a half ago, Brisbane’s upped its ante.

I always said if I could have the culture of Melbourne coupled with the weather of Brisbane I would be set for life. Now, I’m not going to go as far and say it’s been accomplished but seriously Brisbane, you’re picking up your weight.

On my most recent visit I was blown away at the duck liver parfait served at James Street’s trendy Gerard’s Bar. In fact, I added it on my “best thing ever” list and that was even after devouring truffle salami and mackerel tartare. Could the Brisbane dining scene be creeping in Melbourne’s wake?

And as for Fortitude Valley, the once seedy and still may be but only if you don’t know where to go now that Brisbane is cool, nightlife neighborhood, I didn’t go out ‘in’ the Valley but rather ‘under’ the Valley. Greaser, an American themed bar is housed in the cellar of a 130-year-old heritage building offering craft beers, American imports and a stellar whiskey list on the side of classic hot dogs.

Sure, I was still living in town when the hippest thing was old Queensland cottages being converted into uber-chic bars like Alfred & Constance, Kettle & Tin and Sixes & Sevens – as they all have uber-cool names too, but I hear even ‘hippie-haven’ West End has transformed itself upmarket with some new additions in its pocket.

I think it goes without saying another area where Brisbane hasn’t failed us is the craft beer front. From my old hang The Scratch to Tenerife’s Tippler’s Tap and their recent Southbank prodigy Tomohawk Bar and let’s not forget the micro-brewers Green Beacon and classic Bacchus Brewing, Brisbane is where its at.

What’s still not cool is having to leave an establishment to go find a bathroom somewhere down the street rather then in the bar/restaurant/café, but over time you may just get that right too, Brisbane.

In the meantime, I recognize there’s all the extra stuff that even made Brisbane cool back when I was living there. An awesome music scene, a laid back life style and pristine beaches in an arm’s reach, so yeah Brisbane, maybe you were cool all along.

Read more about my adventures in Brisbane here.

Could this be beer heaven?


We crawl through Hells Kitchen and down restaurant row. Although its cold outside, it’s not cold enough for us to see our breath. The glow of Christmas lights outside the boutique restaurants gives a sense of comfort, despite the holiday having gone. Onward, march.

Approaching 10th avenue there isn’t too much around except a vast Hess Station on the corner of 45th street. Taking up nearly a whole block, this immeasurable vicinity sticks out as awkwardly as your grandmother at a gay cabaret. But there is another defining characteristic to this street corner, The Pony Bar.

Stouts, hefeweizen, IPA…hops upon hops upon hops! Glorious days, I think to myself, this has to be the best place on earth. What makes this place so unique is that it serves only craft brews from across the US. That means you may try a Belgian ale or a delicious German wheat but its going to be grown domestically.

I feel like I’m on Family Feud when I scan the large board taking up the back wall behind the bar. Each listing depicts the brewery, beer, and alcohol content (ABV). No need to mention price because they’re all only $5. Try and find another steel like that in Manhattan. I dare ya.

I’m intrigued by the breweries and curious to learn more. Where is Goose Island and what’s their speciality? How about Sly Fox? I’m seeing a theme here that many brewers choose names from animals, uhum, Dog Fish Head.

I take notice of the clock on the wall. It’s permanently stalled at 4:20. I find it no coincidence then that their happy hour which earns patrons $1 off all drafts runs from 4:20-5:20 daily. I approach the bartender and ask for one of their large score sheets. This allows me to keep track of each beer I drink and give it a rating. Once I hit 100 I get a free t-shirt. Clearly obtaining this goal is my latest priority.

I now spend my days daydreaming about the next time I will be able to stop in the Pony Bar, grab a seat at one of their large picnic tables, and dabble with the thought of which beer will catch my fancy. For starters, I cannot get that Cappuccino Stout out of my mind!

http://www.theponybar.com