The development of Howard Smith Wharves has taken grip of Brisbane like nothing before it, launching a raft of celebrated venues that are redefining that city’s dining and drinking scene. Arc Dining & Wine Bar is no small player in this revolution, with the 100-seat restaurant and 140-seat wine bar opening in early 2019 to much acclaim.
The two spaces are actually distinct with the wine bar and dining room essentially twin pavilions separated by a plant-filled courtyard. The wine bar is an indoor/outdoor affair, spilling onto the wharves, with corrugated cladding and retractable awnings, while the dining room is a solid-roofed glass ‘shed’, filled with wicker furniture, sunny fabrics, the odd tree and plentiful light.
Alanna Sapwell took on the role of founding chef fresh from a stint at Josh Niland’s game-changing Paddington seafood restaurant, Saint Peter. Prior to that, Sapwell had cooked at Brisbane’s highly acclaimed Urbane under Alejandro Cancino, then at Aquitaine Brasserie, with working trips to both Italy and Japan filling out her experience after apprenticing at Noosa’s River House.
Sapwell’s menu makes the most of her Saint Peter experience, with a carte strong on seafood, though it is by no means a fish restaurant. The proteins that she uses are diverse, but they are underpinned by a low-waste philosophy, with whole carcases bought in and everything used from unfamiliar cuts and offal to making all manner of charcuterie, including house-made goose prosciutto – something of a signature.
The wine program is run by ex-Aria Brisbane sommelier Ian Trinkle, with a focus “on natural, biodynamic wine, with a spotlight on artisanal producers who embrace sustainability and organically-driven practices with minimal intervention.” The list stretches across a dizzying 500 listings, with 30 available by the glass. Both of which are featured in the wine bar and dining room.
With a slight rejig, the wine bar side of Arc has taken a step away from snacking, pitching itself into the casual dining space. With a name change to Ciao Papi, Sapwell now presides over a menu that’s close to her heart, turning out her take on classic Italian dishes. And while the wine bar tag may have been dropped, the wine selection remains in all its glory.