A top chef and wine expert have created a new CBD restaurant.
Dan Clark, Brisbane’s unofficial wine king, is a wholesaler and co-owner of Woolloongabba’s 1889 Enoteca Italian restaurant. Ben Russell, a former chef at Brisbane’s Aria restaurant and a renowned chef, is Australia’s most respected. His resume includes Michelin-starred establishments. The culinary community was ecstatic when they learned that two of Australia’s most respected hospitality leaders were teaming up for their first joint venture.
Rothwell’s Bar & Grill was the result. It took over the former location of Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian in Brisbane’s CBD. The two men set out to create a place they would like to eat. They combined their favorite restaurants worldwide – such as London’s The Savoy Grill, The Wolseley, and Los Angeles’ Musso & Frank Grill – and translated them into Brisbane. Although it opened in late November, Rothwell’s feels as established as its heritage-listed home.
The restaurant pays homage to its history with sea green leather booths and banquettes, polished timber floorboards, chandeliers, and hints of brass and marble. Modern charcuterie and an oyster bar in the central area give it a modern edge. It’s the small details that diners will love: the brushed brass table lamps and wooden salt and pepper mills at tables, as well as the butter-soft leather menus and jacket with the words “eat well.”
The venue has an “old money” vibe, but the prices are reasonable. Entrees start from $25 for a beetroot, radish, walnut, and goats’ card number. Hearty bowls with pasta range from $29 for mushrooms and aged cheddar and $44 for a luxurious sea urchin-caviar combination. There are also mains, such as duck cassoulet at $44, and a variety of steaks at prices between $48 to $140. The beef Wellington is their signature dish. This is a time- and money-intensive word that takes 45 minutes to make and costs $128.
The starters include classic grill favorites like nicoise, Caesar, steak tartare, and a prawn cocktail. While steamed mud crab ($34) will leave you reaching for the shell to take out every last skerrick of the dish, it comes with just-cooked potatoes and saffron mustard. Beef ragu ($36) is the antithesis of the light crustacean dish. This hearty Italian dish is served with less-than-perfect al dente pasta ribbons made of regenerate.
You will not have enough room for a main course like the roast lamb ($44), arguably a share-sized portion of just-pink Rump served over braised lentils with saltier black olives than the sea. The 250g, grain-fed, 4+ marble score eye fillet steak ($48) is also seasoned with salt. It comes rarer than the medium-rare request but still has plenty of juiciness from the grill. In addition to onion rings stacked high, and celeriac remoulade, the steak also includes potato puree ($12), which is unnecessary for satiety.
The drinks menu includes classic cocktails such as a Tom Collins, a knock-you’re-for-six. But Clark’s wine selection deserves all the attention. Penfolds Grange, a champagne made by all the major houses, was available in 1982. There are also great Italian reds for less than $75 per bottle and Aussie and French whites for as low as $65. You can also find interesting Australian and European winemakers on the by-the-glass listing.
If you don’t have a sweet tooth, skip simple desserts like chocolate trifle and pistachio brute. Instead, enjoy another glass of wine while you indulge in Brisbane’s renowned wines.

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