If you’re looking to dine somewhere in Brisbane with options and atmosphere, somewhere that’s super family-friendly, then Victoria Park Bar & Bistro is worth a look. Firstly, the seating area is spacious and casual, yet pretty. There’s a playground, putt putt course and expansive grassland next door, along with a vast bar area and a wood-fired pizza oven. We’ve been coming here for close to ten years, as it’s such a lovely part of Brisbane.
The bistro is perched on top of a hill, right next to the Herston golf-driving range. The restaurant is like one giant courtyard, as it’s all alfresco, with greenery, umbrellas and wooden tables that fit tropical Brisbane like a tailored suit. There’s almost always a seat waiting for you here, even when it’s busy, and the courtyard offers views over Brisbane City that are some of the best you’ll find anywhere.
This place is particularly casual too, with a hint of tropical style. It’s probably the epitome of ‘smart casual’ dining and even shorts and a T-shirt are common fixtures at this place. This is particularly suited to Brisbane’s climate and given its family-friendly options (which I will discuss later), it’s no wonder Victoria Park Bar & Bistro is one of Brisbane’s most popular dining options.
This place had become a go-to for us, particularly with my in-laws, who love it for all the reasons above and for the food and drinks. We visited just last week and this was our first visit in a couple of years. We wondered if things might have changed since…
The Food – Victoria Park Bar & Bistro
There are some good options on the menu, with sections for shared food, salads, mains, burgers, sides, wood-fired pizza and a kid’s section. There are lots of vegetarian and gluten-free options too, which we love. This time, I spied a chargrilled tuna steak, which I haven’t seen on a menu in ages, so I went with that. It was well presented and was accompanied by a tasty salad, ‘lime burnt’ butter and a capsicum emulsion.
I’ll just say my dish at Victoria Park Bar & Bistro was a little cold, and the tuna, even though it looked nicely cooked (check out my video at the end of this post), was chewy. It wasn’t tender and tuna steak, I was reminded, is not something you should typically order unless it’s from a high-end restaurant. My father-in-law ordered the pumpkin amaretto agnolotti, as he felt like something light. However, he thought this tasted undercooked. ‘Awful’, I think were his words and he said it made him feel sick.
Saying that, I had a taste and it wasn’t bad, I just think he ordered something ill-suited to him. My partner – who’s gluten-free – ordered the crab linguine, which came with gnocchi for the gluten-intolerant. She enjoyed it, saying the gnocchi was nicely cooked. Her only slight criticism was the dish was a little light on crab meat. There were another four people in our party, all who enjoyed their meals. My partner’s auntie said her crab linguine was delicious.
I tried the fried squid share plate and it was tender and appetising. While we experienced a slightly mixed bag with our food at Victoria Park Bar & Bistro this time around, on the whole, everything was well received.
As I’ve mentioned, the bar at Victoria Park Bar & Bistro is large and well-stocked. There’s a good variety of beers on tap -including local and regional varieties – and there’s the Black Hops Hornet on tap too for lovers of IPA (which I am). There are also a few cocktails, cocktail jugs and a decent selection of wine. There’s even a seltzer section, a non-alcoholic section, and coffee, tea and hot chocolate.
A young waiter gave a good first impression when we arrived, as when only half our meals had arrived, he came to check if we were waiting on anything. However, things quickly went downhill from here.
Most places we go to smartly get the kid’s meal out first. As Olin’s pizza still hadn’t arrived, my father-in-law went to investigate. We found it sitting on the pizza bench, after we’d received our orders, and the pizza chef said, ‘you better take that yourself’. We’d ordered it before our meals and it had been sitting there for some time, we found out.
Later I ordered a beer and a good 20 minutes passed and no show. I wasn’t too worried, as I was busy filming and taking pics for this post, but as I was doing this near the bar I thought I’d enquire what was happening. The young guys behind the bar laughed and said, ‘oh yeah, that must have been the beer that got ‘racked’ (thrown out). ‘Some guy came up and just started drinking it’, they said. They decided then and there they should probably attend to that problem and pour me a beer.
I thought this was laughably bad service. I got the impression that no one really gave a shit at Victoria Park Bar & Bistro on this night. Additionally, I mentioned earlier that my tuna was cold. I wonder how long it had been sitting before it got to me?
Interestingly, I’ve read similar reviews on Google when writing this post. I’m not sure if Victoria Park Bar & Bistro has changed hands since we’ve last been, but it appeared there were no managers on the floor on this night, or at least no one too worried about timeliness and courtesy. This is a shame because it’s now been crossed off our go-to list. I don’t think my father-in-law is keen to depart with his money here anytime soon and I can’t say I blame him.
Let’s hope you have a different experience! But be warned…
Entertainment Options – Family Friendly
Victoria Park Bar & Bistro really does have some excellent family-friendly options, which we’ve enjoyed many times before. However, on this night, it was unfortunate the adjacent playground was closed for renovations. The playground was suited to children under 10 (I’m not sure what the renovations will hold), as there was a nice slippery dip, a treehouse-type structure and play area here.
The lawn is an expansive grass area adjacent to Victoria Park Bar & Bistro that kids love to play on. Olin was running around here just the other night, playing games. The area is well lit up at night, but best supervise if your child is under 13. What makes this area particularly good, however, is when there’s a jumping castle and lawn games, which there are on the weekends.
Putt Putt Golf Course
The putt putt course is literally right next door to Victoria Park Bar & Bistro, which is a great option if you want to make a day of it. I’ve been here numerous times and it’s a fun 18-hole course that’s currently sporting a Halloween theme. The course also regularly puts on themes and you can take drinks onto the course.
Driving Range and Old Golf Course
The bistro used to sit right next to an 18-hole golf course. However, now it’s been relegated for public parkland use. It’s also dog-friendly, so it’s a great place to walk the dog. Additionally, the Brisbane City Council regularly puts on Park Vibes here, which is a free event with live bands, kids’ activities and food trucks. Golf enthusiasts need not totally despair, as there’s still a driving range located right next to the bistro, which I’m yet to check out.
Weddings & Functions
As I’ve touched upon, Victoria Park Bar & Bistro has numerous options in terms of entertainment and catering, which is realised in their different function packages. Here you can book a corporate, party, school and charity event. There’s also an events team here that offer wedding and ceremony packages of various description. Check out their website here to find out more.
Our Experience Overall
If you’ve just jumped straight to this part I’ll say we’re considering crossing this place off our list, even though we’ve had many good experiences here in times gone by. The food was pretty decent (but nothing special), the atmosphere was still good, although the service was so bad it’s hard to recommend this place to others. We’ll probably still return for all the other amenities on offer at Victoria Park, but not for a full meal out.
Facts & Summary
- Victoria Park Bar & Bistro is located in Herston, about 10 minute’s walk from Herston Bus Station.
- There’s plenty of parking at the bistro. Just drive into the golf club area and there are several car parks close by.
- Victoria Park Bar & Bistro caters for vegetarians and has gluten-free options.
- The lawn here has a jumping castle and kid’s games on the weekend. However, it can get very busy then so get here early!
- Other entertainment options include an 18-hole putt putt golf course, a golf driving range and expansive parklands to explore.
- Victoria Park Bar & Bistro caters for weddings and functions in various forms.
The vibe: casual, tropical alfresco.
Go for: the views and family-friendly options.