We’ve got to give our city credit – Brisbane’s got quite a fetching skyline. It’s a constant surprise that there isn’t a rooftop bar crowning the top of every building with a semi-decent view of the inner city, but thankfully the number of sky-high sip spots is increasing. Iris, the Ghanem Group’s hotly anticipated rooftop bar and eatery, is officially opening to the public tonight – Wednesday May 5 – at the top of Hotel X, Brunswick Street’s colourfully illuminated accommodation spot. Iris is the newest addition to the Ghanem portfolio (Donna Chang, Boom Boom Room Izakaya, Blackbird Bar & Grill and Byblos Bar and Restaurant) and sibling to the hospitality crew’s flirtatious French bistro Bisou Bisou, swapping chic Parisian-inspired aesthetics for a no-less-glamorous Mediterranean lean – think touches of coastal European hubs like Barcelona and Beirut. As guests exit the elevator they are greeted by colour-soaked luxury – scarlet-hued marble, exposed stonework, hanging bundles of violet wisteria, leafy olive trees, burgundy-and-grey banquettes, and splashes of gold courtesy of the light fixtures (or, if you’re there at the right time, the dreamy sunset). Design team Space Cubed has taken the Mediterranean-inspired brief and ran with it, weaving aesthetic traces of the storied coastline throughout the rooftop bar (which boasts breathtaking views of The City, Story Bridge and the Brisbane River), 200-seat restaurant area, boutique 14-seat private-dining space and cluster of poolside bungalows (there’s also room for a dance floor, just FYI).
Lloyd Evans is moving from his role as head of Blackbird’s private dining and event space to take over Iris’ stoves as head chef, working alongside executive chef Jake Nicolson to create a menu of share-style plates that transport tastebuds from the Greek Islands to Spain and back again. Guests are encouraged to start with some appetite-whetting bites, including group-friendly tasters like pumpkin guacamole tostadas with tomatillo verde, Cantabrian anchovies on tomato migas bread with creme fraiche, cumin-spiced fried fish soft tacos and Serrano jamon and manchego croquettes. Once the fires of hunger are properly stoked, you’re free to indulge in some bigger servings along the lines of spicy lamb and chorizo albondigas (meatballs), pincho pork ribs glazed in fino and macadamia-nut honey, Ōra King salmon crudo with blood-orange escabeche, Moroccan grilled-chicken pide, and lamb tartare served with a dollop of minted labneh and guindilla peppers. If you can’t say no to dessert, then we suggest digging a spoon into Iris’ Fig-misu (mascarpone mousse, spiced fig, chocolate and Marsala) or the Persian pistachio and olive oil cake with candied orange and ricotta ice-cream. A rooftop bar wouldn’t be much to write home about without a killer drinks list, thankfully Iris’ skilful shakers and stirrers know their way around a cocktail. Iris’ house cocktails include a clutch of ambrosial elixirs, including the Vibe Check (strawberry, pink grapefruit, Aperol, cardamon, pink pepper and tequila), Paradise Daiquiri (passionfruit, vanilla, rum, Campari and lime) and the Dark Desires (blackcurrant, dark chocolate, chilli, vodka, lemon and sparkling). Boozy sodas are also a specialty, with refreshing riffs on margaritas, cosmopolitans and amaretto sours proving to be enticing in their effervescence. Throw in some sangria, an extensive wine list, trusty tap and bottle beers and a range of non-alcoholic beverages and you’ve got all of the fixings for a good time.
Iris officially opens to the public tonight, Wednesday May 5. For operating hours and contact details, step on over to the Stumble Guide.