Behind the main streets, tall buildings and typical shopfronts lies a hidden land of laneways. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds, but packed full of promise, Brisbane’s laneways are ready to be discovered.
Each week we’ll explore a new laneway to see what’s on offer and why it’s worthy of a visit.
This week we headed into the CBD to amble up Burnett Lane which is constantly evolving and changing, undergoing redevelopment and upgrades. So even though parts of its façade are under renovation, the laneway itself still has oodles of charm and quirky appeal.
Officially Brisbane’s oldest laneway, this thin long lane is split in two by the mall, with one half being home to myriad stores and little eating establishments and the other half home to Brew Cafe Wine Bar.
Named after colonial surveyor James Burnett, this laneway started life as a prison exercise yard but after the penal colony closed and buildings replaced the gaol, the laneway started to change shape and be used for different things.
In recent years it has experienced a council makeover with all sorts of interesting historical facts scrawled on its walls, luminous artworks on the ground and a tiny smattering of uber cool restaurants, cafes and bars: Super Whatnot, Survey Co, German Sausage Hut Imbuss, Felix Espresso, and across the Albert St Mall, the basement Brew Café Wine Bar. It is also the rear entrance to the southern hemisphere’s biggest second-hand vinyl store the Record Exchange and Burnett Lane’s resident Galleria. The only downside is that by day there’s an ongoing battle between pedestrians and delivery trucks (which will sadly continue as long as there are no set restricted delivery hours outside of which pedestrians can enjoy free range access.)
Kicking off at the lower (geographically speaking) end of Burnett Lane is Brew Cafe Wine Bar – one of the first of a new wave of cafe bars that over the past few years have grown to dominate Brisbane. Tucked away beneath the inner CBD buildings at the bottom of the alley behind the 7-11, Brew offers an interesting, bunker-like atmosphere that has a unique Brisbane underground vibe. It offers great coffee and food by day and brews of a different kind by night – wine, beer and cocktails, with delicious tapas. Open from 7am weekdays / 8am weekends until late and 8am to 4pm Sundays.
For a different kind of fare, hunt down the German Sausage Hut Imbuss, who a while back shifted from their beginnings at the Farmers Markets to a permanent position in Burnett Lane. The usual suspects you’d expect at a German sausage hut are all here (minus the lederhosen) – bratwurst, frankfurters, and oh-my-goodness cheese kransky – fastidiously served directly from the grill with some of the best sauerkraut you’ll ever taste. Ample German beer on tap and fresh-baked Pretzels help to round out the German experience.
Next on the list is Survey Co at 32 Burnett Lane. A terrific place for a quick drink before dinner elsewhere – or hey, why not start with a drink and stay for a while? From Pork Belly Tacos to Roquefort Ravioli, the menu at Survey Co will delight you with a sophisticated blend of international dishes with a twist in a unique urban space decorated with glass walls and wine bottles.
Looking for a more tucked-away vibe? Super Whatnot has got you covered. This unique hole-in-the-wall bar which arguably kicked off Brisbane’s laneway renaissance boasts a gorgeous dark wood decor, craft beers, cocktails, and a seriously delicious selection of food that Super Whatnot themselves describe as being inspired by “The Americas” – which translates to you chowing down on Nachos, Chilli Dogs, and Prawn Skewers in the relative privacy afforded by this inconspicuous Burnett Lane treasure.
Last but not least, we have Felix Espresso and Winebar, owned and operated Monday to Friday by husband-and-wife team Peter Kuhnell and Gretta Bottomley. The decor has a unique modern European twist and the vibe is extremely cosy, so expect to want to stay as long as possible. You can do so while working your way through a sumptuous breakfast & lunch menu that caters to everyone – Vegan friendly, with a tremendous amount of vegetarian options, yet we recently spotted a pretty impressive looking Sopressa & Gruyere Salami sandwich there.