Following on from the arrival of Belle Epoque, The Terrace and the Piano Bar, Emporium Hotel South Bank’s showpiece restaurant is finally here. Signature is the crown jewel of the hotel’s dining offering, setting itself as the culinary pinnacle and hospitality benchmark of what the hotel has unveiled so far. The Anthony John Group has taken an unhurried approach to Signature’s reveal, letting the concept form and grow gradually. While Emporium South Bank developed and debuted its three other venues, pieces were being put into place for a showcase restaurant that could encapsulate the brand’s studied elegance and Queensland’s abundance of world-class fare. As with any marquee venue, Signature boasts some lofty goals. The group is looking to not only make a considerable mark on the local dining scene, but also hopes to draw attention to Brisbane on a national scale, and is choosing to do it by heroing phenomenal produce, culinary innovation, old-world elegance and a collection of top-notch vino accumulated over more than two decades.
Signature is perched above the Piano Bar, boasting a vantage point of the hotel lobby and Grey Street outside. The restaurant’s visual identity – designed by Anthony and Francine John – blends understated luxury with a splash of fun, as well as key decorative elements found across all the hotel’s venues. Ascend the stairs from the lobby and you’ll be greeted by Signature’s bar – a bespoke backlit white-onyx slab surrounded by plush pink stools. The 60-seater dining room itself features an eye-catching burnt orange and blush pink colour scheme, boosted by cream-coloured banquette seating, polished gold detailing and high ceilings. Like the rest of the hotel’s venues, Signature’s aesthetic also features some fine details, such as 1000 hand-blown glass baubles resting in the coffered ceiling, a 150-year-old stained-glass window salvaged from a Paris shopfront and exquisitely textured menus. Behind the shopfront glass sits the private dining room, where 12 guests are treated to a curated wine display and a hidden door to the display kitchen, where the culinary magic will be on show. Finally, a custom-built display cellar stands as the backdrop to Signature’s main dining area, showcasing feature wines (including 200 magnums) from the hotel’s 6000-strong main cellar along floating racks.
The food and drink
Emporium Hotel’s culinary curators – executive chef Chris Norman and executive sous chef Alex Liddle – have been gathering ideas and preparing for Signature’s arrival since coming on board last year. At the bar, guests can enjoy signature cocktails and a special caviar and oyster menu before taking their seat for the main event. The dinner-centric offering is described as high end, but not fine dining. The kitchen eschews pretension and elitism – instead foregrounding exciting innovation and approachable creativity conveyed through the lens of modern Australian cuisine. The fulcrum of Signature’s offering is locally sourced produce, with an ever-changing a la carte and tasting menu showcasing the best of what’s available in the moment. Hero produce often includes the likes of Abrolhos Island scallops, Eugowra quail, Murray River cod and Flinders Island lamb, but both Chris and Alex are looking to keep things fluid and adaptable across Signature’s main menu and dedicated vegan menu. Those with a sweet tooth should take note – dessert is far from an afterthought and is a key component to Signature’s overall dining experience. Dedicated pastry chefs are upping the standard of sweets in Brisbane, so definitely save room. The wine list is perhaps one of the key defining qualities of Signature’s appeal, with an eye-popping array featuring everything from Australian favourites to exquisite French Bordeaux. This impressive collection encompasses economical and ultra high-end bottles – all available from the hotel’s secure cellar, nicknamed The Library.
Signature opens to the public on Tuesday May 21. For booking details and more information, head to the Stumble Guide.