Located on one of Brisbane’s trendiest and busiest streets, Vinyl – the gastronomic counterpart to music venue The Hi-Fi – is surely one of Brisbane’s most original restaurants. Chef Nicholas Stapleton has admitted to having a great affinity for Asian and Mexican cuisines and as such has incorporated complex and often unfamiliar flavour combinations into many classic dishes on Vinyl’s menu.
The menu itself is divided into five sections: snacks, tacos, grazing, greedy and b-sides meaning that no matter your hunger level or intention, you can enjoy a lovely and satisfying feed.
As per our amazingly knowledgeable host’s advice, we started with some drinks while we mulled over the menu. Firstly we had some wine – Squealing Pig Pinot Noir to be exact – that came highly recommended by everyone in our vicinity and was very reasonably priced for its calibre, much like the rest of the drink menu. Vinyl has an extensive list of local and boutique beers as well as well as their rotating wine list. Along with that, is their varied list of cocktails that range from classic combos like gin and tonics and bloody marys to their own creations, one of which – called the Smoky Apple Smash, an amazing combination of apple liqueurs and maple syrup – we sampled with dessert. As with their beers and wines, the cocktails are extremely well priced meaning you wont break the bank if a quiet night turns into a big one.
The first round of food – the tacos, which at $3.50 a pop are are impossible to pass up – came out mere minutes after our order was placed. Firstly was the seven spice chicken taco with kim chi coleslaw – an item on the menu which is very indicative of what Vinyl is all about, classic bar food with an Asian/ Mexican twist. Secondly came the first high point of the meal, the crispy pork belly taco with charred corn salsa and hot sauce. The perfectly cooked pork belly could put most Mexican taqueros to shame and the flavor combination was flawless. A warning though, nothing hyperbolic about the use of the phrase ‘hot sauce’ – when they say hot they mean it.
After devouring the immaculately presented and utterly delicious tacos, we moved on to a crowd favourite, the thrice cooked smashed potatoes. With a choice of six dipping sauces, it’s impossible to imagine anyone being left disappointed by the crispy potato gems. Stand out dipping sauces were the chipotle sour cream, – which was smoky and complimented the saltiness of the potato perfectly. There was also malt vinegar, for those who enjoy customary Brit-Pub fare and for Aussie traditionalists, the house made tomato sauce, which put Heinz to shame. As crispy as gastronomically possible, these potatoes are sure to appease any drunken gig goer’s cravings.
Next came the twice-cooked chicken wings with hoi sin sauce. The astoundingly tender wings were a lovely spin on typical pub food with the sweet hoi sin sauce complimenting the crispy, salty skin of the chicken wings flawlessly.
We finished our meal with dessert – also known as the best apple pie I’ve ever tasted. Vinyl’s dessert menu rotates depending on seasonal ingredients and what the chef is inspired by. Usually changing every 3-5 days, we were told that dessert is always a little bit special. The pan-fried apple pie was served with salted caramel, vanilla mascarpone and was garnished with fresh green apples. A nice spin on a classic.
Brisbane’s Hi-Fi bar has played host to some of the world’s most famous musicians, and while most music-going residents of Brisbane will attest to the kick-ass-ness of the venue itself, not nearly enough is said of Vinyl, the restaurant attached to the venue. Vinyl manages to put up modernised pub food without a hint of pretention – no easy feat. As part of their modern, yet grounded approach, all menu items are extremely well priced with the most expensive item on the menu being only $14. Quite easily Brisbane’s most underrated eatery, Vinyl exceeds all expectations in terms of food quality, presentation, service and ambiance and hits every point dedicated gig-goers deem important.