When the Howard Smith Wharves group first revealed details of its headline restaurant arrivals, one of the concepts that immediately piqued our curiosity was Stanley – a 200-seat Hong Kong-inspired eatery helmed at the time of announce by local restaurateur Andrew Baturo. Located in the two-level building once home to Howard Smith Co. Ltd’s shipping offices (and later a water police station), Stanley promised a flavoursome take on Chinese fare – a cuisine which has seen a renaissance in Brisbane following the recent arrivals of Little Valley, Donna Chang and Phoenix. In April this year, Andrew announced he had sold on the concept to a new ownership crew of private investors, who would be retaining the original concept but moving forward with a new culinary team. Soon after, news broke that notable Australian chef Louis Tikaram had been recruited to helm Stanley’s kitchen, fresh off a stint as executive chef at West Hollywood Asian-fusion hotspot E.P. & L.P.. The hiring marked another high-profile chef electing for Brisbane over opportunities interstate, joining Howard Smith Wharves alumna Alanna Sapwell from ARC Dining, Adam Wolfers at Gerard’s Bistro, Roy Ner at ZA ZA TA and Beaux Rumble’s Alan Wise as the latest crop of top culinary talent making waves in the river city.
While Louis started formulating the menu, work was well underway for Stanley’s interior, which was spearheaded by Katie Cameron and Samantha Leigh of Fellow Interiors. The fit-out draws cues from Stanley’s namesake, Hong Kong’s Stanley Bay, which itself boasts a rich history dating back to its days as a British outpost. The two-level restaurant boasts three bars, a private dining space and dedicated Peking duck and dim sum kitchens, with antique pieces from Europe and Hong Kong showcasing the venue’s dichotomous inspirations. The ground floor features a handcrafted rattan ceiling, bamboo fretwork-lined walls and banquettes covered in bespoke fabric – all touches that pay homage to traditional Chinese design. Upstairs, a circular bar acts as a focal point of attention, standing out amidst the space’s moody aesthetic – dark colours, walnut timber and parquetry inlay floors abound. A hidden private-dining room features a hand-painted mural and intricate wall panelling, creating a cloistered oasis for groups looking to dine in style.
The food and drink
Incorporating influences from his own Chinese and Fijian heritage, Louis has created a sizeable menu of traditional Cantonese-style dishes with some tasty tweaks, built using ingredients predominately sourced from suppliers within 100 kilometres of Brisbane. The menu kicks off with a selection of appetisers (think Abrolhos Islands scallop, oysters, and cucumber and snow-pea salad), dim sum platters (steamed and fried), barbecued morsels (Peking duck pancakes, honey-glazed pork char siu, soy-poached corn-fed chicken, Cantonese roast duck), rice and noodle-based options (Stanley’s special fried rice with prawns and barbecue pork), vegetables and meaty dishes (stir-fried wagyu beef, Mongolian lamb ribs, kangaroo fillet with young gai lan). Much of the menu is dominated by seafood, including the likes of salt-and-pepper squid, wok-fried pipis in XO sauce, ‘Fujiam fried rice’ with Fraser Island spanner crab, steamed whole Rocky Point grouper, live tank mud crab wok fried with house-made XO sauce, and lobster ‘lo mein’ with garlic butter and trout roe. Ending proceedings on a sweet note, guests can also sample desserts including local baby pineapple with Heilala vanilla gelato and lime sago, and passionfruit white-chocolate mousse with lychee, longan and calamansi crisp. Stanley’s head sommelier Thibaud Cregut (formerly of Sydney’s nel. Restaurant) has fashioned a wine list that features 400 wines from both Australia and abroad – plenty to pair with whatever dishes you choose.
Stanley is now open to the public. For reservation details and opening hours, head to the Stumble Guide.
Images provided by Stanley.