We were off to Fortitude Valley, or just ‘The Valley’. Hence the reference above to the 1979 punk classic from The Skids. Go on have a listen, you know you want to. For fans of Moulin Rouge, The Valley has a reputation similar to that of Montmartre in Paris, a town within the city where the creatures of the night come out to play. In reality it’s cleaned up its act a lot in recent years and a visible police presence means its very safe. It is still, however, one of the main nightlife areas of Brisbane and we were here to see a gig.
First off, food beckoned, so a late lunch at one of our favourite restaurants, Gerard’s Bistro was in order. Located on James Street, a bit of a foody haven, Chef Ben Williamson delivers shared plates with a Middle Eastern slant. We were glad to see that our top choice, fried cauliflower with pomegranate was still on the menu, and we accompanied it with; Tartare of marlin with watermelon and tomato water, Lebanese harissa chicken wings and sweet and sour lentils. Washed down with Camden lager, all the way from Blighty and a cheeky NZ Sauv Blanc – what could be better.
Then to check in at The Emporium, a boutique hotel in a complex of eateries and specialist shops. It was very funky, all red and black, and the service was great (more of that later). We had a standard room but it had all the facilities of a studio apartment including; dishwasher, washing machine, capsule coffee machine, and most importantly, lots of charging and USB sockets. We couldn’t resist a quick nap on the comfy bed before heading out again (well we are nearly 50 and we’d just drunk at lunchtime, a rare treat these days).
We were off to see The Preatures, an indie pop band at The Met, one of many live music venues within walking distance of our hotel. We’d seen the band before and were really looking forward to it as the lead singer, Isabella Manfredi is mesmerising. She didn’t disappoint and we had a great time – starting off watching from the balcony and then getting down and dirty with the action on the stage level. The set list even included a cover of the Aussie classic, ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again?’. In case you’re not aware, the correct response to this question is, ‘No way, get fxxked, fxxk off’. The warm-up band, a bunch of lads called The Creases were also energetic and worth seeing, although, as ever, the levels are really set for the main act so the support suffers a bit.
After the gig we had a wander through the main drag, Brunswick Street Mall, and the taming of the Valley was very evident as every other group seemed to be a hen party and brides-to-be, complete with veils were on every corner. What is the collective noun for a group of brides? A virgin of brides perhaps?
We stopped for a drink in Cloudland which is an impressive multi level watering hole complete with indoor tropical vegetation and its own waterfall. Here too though it seemed that things had swerved very clearly towards the middle of the road, and so we had one drink and headed back to the hotel for a couple of pleasant surprises.
Firstly, the DJ in the hotel cocktail bar was really good. Much better than the bland fare on offer in Cloudland. Secondly, and here’s the service recommendation. Despite it being 11 p.m. – the staff managed to rustle us up a little tapas of Chorizo and Kransky sausage, and fries with aioli to go with our nightcaps. A great way to finish off a fun day in The Valley.