Note: 22 Agnes is now slated to open in early 2020.
Remember earlier this year when we hinted at a new venture for renowned chef Ben Williamson? We can finally reveal what that venture is! Its name is 22 Agnes and it’s due to open in 2020. Ben has teamed up with Tyrone Simon and Frank Li (of LONGgTIME and Honto fame) for the project, which takes its name from the address of its character-filled brick warehouse-style building in Fortitude Valley. The site has been vacant for more than ten years and the trio will be drawing on its industrial charm and pleasing flaws to shape the space. Spread over three levels, 22 Agnes will be split into three distinct areas – the main dining room, a wine bar and a rooftop bar. On the higher side of the building, the dining area will centre around a completely open rustic-style kitchen, where Ben is looking to move away from focusing on a specific cuisine (as he did at Gerard’s Bistro) but instead build the kitchen exclusively around woodfired cooking. The chef is currently experimenting with a variety of woods and flora, such as peach wood, coffee wood and banksia cones, discovering how they bring out and affect the flavours of each ingredient he is working with. One side of the kitchen will be dedicated to vegetables, featuring an impressive caged chimney in the centre, while the other side will produce meat, seafood and bread prepared in woodfired ovens and over an asado grill. Produce will be sourced directly from local farmers, and Ben’s aim is for the kitchen to be as close to zero waste as possible – beneath the restaurant will be a large aging cool room, allowing the team to buy whole carcasses and butcher them on site. The building’s lower side will feature an intimate wine bar overlooking a glassed-off gin distillery, which will start producing six months after 22 Agnes’ opening, and will eventually move into whisky production, infusing golden drops with smoking techniques similar to that of the food. Finally, the centre of 22 Agnes will feature a New York-style caged elevator, which will take patrons up to an impressive rooftop bar overlooking Fortitude Valley. There’s certainly a lot to look forward to – we’ll keep you posted closer to opening.