Vicky Moore – Our Brisbane

Close your eyes, click your heels three times and say “there’s no place like Sydney.” Or just take the CityCat to New Farm Park, because in a town where a good water view is generally accompanied by a surf ‘n’ turf smorgasbord, and where dining at a performing arts venue is something you previously only did after a matinee with Nanna, Bar Alto is dramatically removed from your Brisbane preconceptions. On the first floor of the Powerhouse Live Arts Centre, with the precinct’s trademark graffitied brick and concrete walls, it’s also about as unpretentiously chic as it gets (on a council budget, anyway). The spectacularly open kitchen means there’s as much theatre in the galley as there is on the stage outside, but the real star here is the top Italian cuisine.

Why not raise a glass of Valpolicella to the folks aboard the Kookaburra Queen, exorcise your demons by devouring a voodoo-doll-like quail saltimbocca, or test your powers of strategy as you mobilise cutlery forces towards your partner’s perfect goat ragu?