Stylish yet offbeat, Fortitude Valley is Brisbane’s rock’n’roll epicentre and home to an eclectic mix of craft beer bars, boutique fashion retailers and laneway café culture. It’s a hotbed of activity after dark. Nonetheless, it’s in the early hours of the morning some of the city’s best bakers and pastry chefs get cracking. From sourdough to sfogliatelle, doughnuts to danishes; The Valley’s got it all.
1. I Heart Brownies
There’s a lot of love going around this tiny brownie boutique. Nestled in Bakery Lane –The Fortitude Valley’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it hub of indie food and retail businesses – the girls hand make brownies by the hundreds every day.
With a vintage vibe (think Palm Springs inthe 1960s), the shop is bright and fun – and a perfect fit for Bakery Lane’s family of small producersand artisans.
“There are studio apartments above the shops where artists live and work. We are like a big extended family. Brisbanites are loving the laneway vibe, where you can get away from the noise and crowds, and kick back in a mini neighbourhood,”owner Lulu Purnell says.
Sticklers for the best ingredients, everybrownie is gluten-free and contains Belgianblack cocoa, coverture chocolate, localcane sugar and artisan butter.
Scented with oils and packed with real fruit, 12 takes on the classic recipe are literally oozing with flavour, and the aroma is so rich it waft sout the door and onto the street.
“Hands down, our salted caramel brownie is our golden child. We can’t bake them quickly enough,” Lulu adds.
“At tea time in the bakery, we take a brownie still warm from the oven, break it into share pieces and smoother it in salted caramel sauce!”
Our pick: Cherry coconut brownie
2. Chester Street Bakery & Bar
A little off the main drag, but a neighbour hoodstaple nonetheless, this charming little spacecentres around its hand-built wood-fired oven, with fresh sourdough stacked on the shelves throughout the day.
Head baker Giacomo Petrini and baker Isacc Green turn out rustic, traditional loaves such as fruit and walnut sourdough, pecan scrolls, savoury quiches and baguettes popular with the breakfast crowd.
Night owls haven’t been forgotten, however. After all, the Fortitude Valley is Brisbane’s main party destination. After flicking on the fairy lights, Chester Street Bakery & Bar stays open late, inviting guests to pop in for a chocolate and almond cake with espresso crème fraiche.
Our pick: Twix cake (caramel mousse, salted caramel, chocolate rice crisps & sea salt crisps)
3. Doughnut Time
Brought to Brisbane by the Chester Street Kitchen team, Doughnut Time is the city’s bourgeoning purveyor of wacky treats.
“We’d been making doughnuts at Chester Street Bakery for about a year and the yalways sold well. I’d often thought that little nook at the front of Alfredo’s Pizzeria would be great for something like this, soit all fell into place,” owner and hospitality entrepreneur Damien Griffiths’ said.
Handmade and hand-dipped, the constantly changing menu has feature deverything from marshmallow fluff-filled with cream with choc glaze and Oreo through to caramel and pink salt glaze with salted pretzels.
Our pick: The Elvis (raspberry jam-filled with banana and peanut glaze with pancetta)
4. Jocelyn ’s Provisions
No summary of Fortitude Valley’s food scene could be complete without mentioning Jocelyn’s Provisions, one of Brisbane’s most celebrated artisan patisseries.
With a selection of crafted breads, home-made cakes, pastries and both sweet and savoury delicacies, Jocelyn’s has become a cult favourite – particularly with gluten-free customers.
In the lead up to the festive season, the team is also busy preparing a selection of Christmas desserts and gifts including chocolate roulades, fruit mince pies, plump uddings, iced Christmas cakes, gingerbread Christmas trees and stars, and bountiful hampers.
Our pick: Olive and rosemary boule
5. Brunswick Central Bakery
The genius thing about a good Vietnamese bakery is it has a captive audience sevendays a week. With fresh bread lining the walls, a cabinet full of pies and tempting ready made sandwiches and wraps, it’s a staple lunch destination with Valley workers. Come theweekend, however, it’s banh mi rolls are the cure for sorry souls who partied too hard.
The clever cookies behind Central Brunswick Bakery have also added a range of Southeast Asian street food staples to the menu, including vermicelli noodle salads and rice paper rolls, quickly making this as much of a food destination as the Mexican eateries, fast food joints and pubs surrounding it.
Our pick: Three pork Banh mi
6. Danny’s Bread
Danny Mikus has spent the last decade geeking out about the science behind great bread – and it shows. His honest, traditional techniques produce a deep rustic and slightly sour bread, with each loaf crafted by hand.
A true supporter of local produce, the organic flour comes from Gunnedah and salt from the Murray River Basin. But bread’s not his only talent. Divinely decadent brownies, sourdough izzas and sweet sticky buns are firm favourites with locals.
And if you need additional convincing, get a load of his CV: Danny trained under Myriam Cordellier at Victoire Boulangerie and Igor Ivanovic at Iggys Down Under in Sydney, and was further trained in pastry by Adriano Zumbo and Jessica Pedemont. Ticks all around!
Our pick: Brioche made with Pepe Sayer Butter