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The Independent, Brisbane Airport’s new elevated eatery and bar, launches with an offering shaped by Luke Mangan The Independent, Brisbane Airport’s new elevated eatery and bar, launches with an offering shaped by Luke Mangan The Independent, Brisbane Airport’s new elevated eatery and bar, launches with an offering shaped by Luke Mangan The Independent, Brisbane Airport’s new elevated eatery and bar, launches with an offering shaped by Luke Mangan The Independent, Brisbane Airport’s new elevated eatery and bar, launches with an offering shaped by Luke Mangan The Independent, Brisbane Airport’s new elevated eatery and bar, launches with an offering shaped by Luke Mangan The Independent, Brisbane Airport’s new elevated eatery and bar, launches with an offering shaped by Luke Mangan The Independent, Brisbane Airport’s new elevated eatery and bar, launches with an offering shaped by Luke Mangan The Independent, Brisbane Airport’s new elevated eatery and bar, launches with an offering shaped by Luke Mangan The Independent, Brisbane Airport’s new elevated eatery and bar, launches with an offering shaped by Luke Mangan

The Independent, Brisbane Airport’s new elevated eatery and bar, launches with an offering shaped by Luke Mangan

Brisbane's hottest new dining destination isn't located in The City or Fortitude Valley – it can be found right near the Virgin terminals at Brisbane Domestic Airport. The Independent is a brand-new nosh spot where travellers departing from or visiting our fine city can enjoy fare from a rotating roster of some of Australia's finest chefs. The venue's first chef in residence is none other than Luke Mangan, who is putting his acclaimed talents towards a menu showcasing Queensland's finest produce. Got a flight coming up? Head to the airport a little bit earlier for seafood towers, Mooloolaba prawn rolls and tuna sashimi tacos.


Dining at the airport isn’t like it used to be. If you head to Brisbane Airport’s domestic terminal these days, not only will you see cafes pouring brews on par with any inner-city juggernaut, but you’ll also find cocktail bars and craft-beer joints. It’s the kind of offering tempting enough to make one miss their flight.

This week, just near gate 40, Brisbane Domestic Terminal launched, perhaps, its most impressive new culinary concept to date – The Independent, a restaurant and bar that is calling on some of Australia’s finest culinary talent to showcase Queensland’s best produce across a number of seasonal residencies. The venue is starting with a bang, recruiting lauded Australian chef Luke Mangan (of Luke’s KitchenLuc-Sanglass brasserie and Bistrot Bisou fame) as The Independent’s first guest head chef.

As far as big-name targets go, Luke’s participation is a huge get. But, as it turns out, revolutionising airport dining is an established area of interest for the acclaimed restaurateur, who believes that traveller’s tastes are changing – no longer is a simple brekkie roll, ham-and-cheese croissant or toasted sandwich going to cut it for our jet-setting populace.

“It’s certainly evolved,” says Luke of airport dining in general. “If you look what is happening in Europe and the U.S., everyone’s lifting their game because they realise they need to. And Australians have a very discerning palate – they know quality and what’s on offer here with everything we’ve got.”

Last year, Luke opened Luke’s Bistro & Bar at Sydney Domestic Airport in partnership with Airport Retail Enterprises, where the chef’s French-meets-Asian brasserie-style fare – including his famous lobster rolls, tuna sashimi tacos and seafood towers – is available alongside cocktails, champagne and coffee. It’s Luke’s affinity for elevated airport fare that made him a logical candidate as The Independent’s inaugural chef in residence, with a similarly elevated offering helping redefine terminal nosh.

 “Our philosophy is all about creating an experience – we wanted that restaurant experience in Sydney and exactly the same here as well,” says Luke. “Food, for me, doesn’t have to be stuffy or formal and heavy. [The Independent] is not a formal restaurant, but it’s serving restaurant quality food in a great space – it just happens to be in an airport.”

The Independent’s sleek design, envisioned by Cottee Parker, blurs the line between eatery and bar. Shaped with nods to the Brisbane River, The Independent’s predominantly blue colour scheme – think aqua-hued textured walls, tiles, cushioned furnishings and vivid neon signage accented by gold touches and earthy tones – sets the venue apart visually from its neighbouring dining destinations, while achieving a level of opulence usually only found inside airport lounges.

Being in an airport, consideration has been paid towards the various demographics that stream through Brisbane Domestic Airport on a daily basis. Luke’s debut menu has been shaped accordingly, with Queensland produce used as a foundational building block upon which the team has built an offering comprised of classics and dishes with Luke’s signature touch.

“We’ve done the menu so it suits everyone and that’s important because we don’t want to alienate people,” says Luke. “You can bring your kids and they can have a burger, while parents can have steak and chips, and a glass of red. But also, everything’s local – we wanted to make sure that we could use everything in Queensland.”

The Independent’s menu starts with breakfast, with bagel towers for two, scrambled eggs on sourdough and brioche French toast with citrus curd and rum berries (plus a clutch of breakfast cocktails – pre-flight mimosas, anyone?) enticing early flyers. The kitchen pivots later in the day, offering a smorgasbord of seafood-centric dishes like Mooloolaba prawn rolls with pickled daikon, scallop crudo with togarashi, Queensland spanner-crab dip and seafood towers loaded with Sydney rock oysters, tuna sashimi tacos and smoked salmon. Guests can also snack on share plates of Luke’s garlic bread (with gruyere cheese, caramelised onion and curry butter), Gangnam fried popcorn chicken and creamy corn and bacon dip. After something bigger? Blockbuster bites like the panko-crumbed katsu fish burger, Jack’s Creek 250-g rump with frites, grilled market fish and a whopper of a burger can beat down any belly grumbles.

On the beverage front, The Independent’s drink offering is substantial. It starts with a number of margaritas infused with agave spirit from Far North Queensland distillery Mt. Uncle, before continuing with a range of classic cocktails made with Kangaroo Island Spirits and spritzes using Wolf Lane Gin and an abundance of tropical fruit. There’s also vino from City Winery, tap and bottled beers, and a tight zero-alcohol section. A separate bespoke spirits menu showcases a broad range of sips from local and independent makers.

“If you look at the last five to ten years, local breweries and local distillers have been going gangbusters,” says Corey Law, head of central operations for SSP Australia & New Zealand. “Playing on that from a beverage standpoint, that’s easy – there’s so much happening in that space and I think there’s more than 50 different distillers all across this beverage venue here.”

Though Luke Mangan’s tenure as The Independent’s culinary guide is a temporary affair, having a chef with his international pedigree and reputation is likely to do wonders for shifting mindsets when it comes to airport dining.

“It’s almost like creating a new venue every three-to-six months, depending the chef we have in,” says Corey. “Having a schedule in place for people to say, ‘Oh, I’m travelling in six months, who’s going to be at that venue?’ automatically starts to drive footfall.”

“To get this high-end experience in the past, you might have needed to be a member of an exclusive club,” adds Peter Doherty, a spokesperson for Brisbane Airport Corporation. “Anyone can walk in here and access this venue.”

The Independent is now open to the public – head to the Stumble Guide for more information.

The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.



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