To get a sense of Foresters Restaurant and Bar’s provenance, one must first take a little trip back in time to the early days of Fortitude Valley. First built as Foresters’ Hall in 1889, the building has taken on numerous guises – from home of Fortitude Valley members of the Foresters’ society to its evolution into one of Brisbane’s first movie theatres Cook’s Picture Palace in 1910. More than a century on and the building had become little more than a pretty portion of The Valley’s oft-forgotten north end (in recent years it housed an appliance store). That’s all changing though – numerous high-profile developments have started to crest Fortitude Valley’s skyline, while down on terra firma several heralded venues (Netherworld, The Valley Wine Bar, Soapbox Beer ), have cemented a huge shift in patronage to The Valley’s burgeoning outskirts. Foresters Restaurant and Bar is the latest landmark hospitality hotspot looking to revitalise the area with a combination of modern fare and Foresters’ Hall’s heritage architectural charm. The venue is the result of a partnership between Signature Hospitality Group (The Sporting Globe) and luxury development specialists GURNER, who have teamed up to regenerate the northern end of Brunswick Street with a hospitality hub located at the base of GURNER’s FV development. The new strip will offer 1000-sqm of rejuvenated street frontage, with Foresters Restaurant and Bar’s retained heritage facade standing proudly at its fulcrum on the corner of Brunswick and Alfred Streets.
The venue’s exterior is a gleaming white beacon of old-world architecture, which has been lovingly restored and maintained as per its heritage status. Beyond the threshold, the GURNER crew and engaged designers for the project Hot Black have interwoven these same heritage elements (such as brickwork more than a century old) with a comfortable and modern aesthetic. Foresters’ interior is divided into two distinct spaces – a main dining room with seating for 150 patrons, and a moody cocktail bar with space for another 60. The dining area is luxurious without being intimidating, with plush leather banquette booths for group dining interspersed amongst intimate table arrangements. Impressive light fixtures illuminate the furnishings, which boast race-car green chairs, marble table tops with gold trim and leather finishes. The bar lures the eye with its impressive display of bottles, while diners can also catch glimpses at the kitchen frenzy through the sizeable pass. An elevator on one side of the room will soon carry diners six floors above to Altitude at Foresters, a forthcoming 250-sqm rooftop bar offering views of the Story Bridge and beyond, boasting a retractable roof to ensure an all-weather appeal.
The food and drink
Peter Popow (formerly of The Meat & Wine Co. and XCARGO) has been recruited to oversee the nosh on offer at Foresters Restaurant and Bar. With the reins firmly in hand, Peter is steering the culinary direction towards familiarity – distilling influences and produce into a menu of elevated gastropub fare made using fine-dining techniques, but without the fine-dining artifice. Although it’s a menu that doesn’t take itself seriously, Peter is still doing justice to the produce at hand – liaising with local farmers and producers to source ingredients with which to build Foresters’ expansive breakfast, lunch and dinner lists. Peter has realised his vision of plating up pure Australiana by incorporating elements of nativity, exemplified by damper made with local ale and sage butter, pepper-seared wallaby carpaccio with brioche crumb, chicken parmigiana with San Marzano sauce, prosciutto and mozzarella, and pavlova with wattleseed, riberries and passionfruit. The rest of the menu features grilled steaks, stone-baked pizzas, and a menu of bar eats for those more interested in grazing. The bar offering also follows the example set by Peter’s menu, showcasing 18 cocktails imbued with Australian ingredients (the Bushfire negroni with paperbark smoke and Mt Uncle Rushfire smoked gin is a highlight) paired alongside a wine list dominated by Australian labels and a beer selection that includes local craft and mainstream brews. The kitchen at Foresters Restaurant and Bar will also offer room service to FV’s three towers, while Altitude at Foresters will offer a bar menu in addition to a full cocktail and drinks list when it opens in early August.
Foresters Restaurant and Bar is open from today, Thursday July 4. For opening hours and contact details, head to the Stumble Guide.