Stanley - as authentic as it gets
Full disclosure. We have a Louis Tikaram fan in the Scoffer team and so Stanley was always going to be on our list of Brisbane's best openings. Part of the behemoth that is Howard Smith Wharves, Stanley is housed in a Heritage listed building which once housed the water police and Howard Smith Co. Ltd shipping offices. It draws inspiration from Hong Kong's Stanley Bay, with a stunning mural providing the nod to the Cantonese inspired menu.
Is Stanley 100% pure Cantonese, probably not but it has an extraordinary team of committed staff willing to get you as close to a good experience as you will find in Brisbane. Spread across two stories and with a suite of options as far as the experience goes, Stanley is 100% a bloody good time, 100% flavour and a 100% must visit.
Tikaram has a heritage which includes Fijian Chinese and grew up in northern NSW on a100 acre farm. He worked with the inimitable Tetsuya Wakada and in his words, "learned the passion of Japanese chefs, who taught me discipline and consistency." Louis went on to head up DJ and restaurateur Grant Smillie's E.P. & L.P. in West Hollywood before bringing his family back to Australia to open Stanley.
To the food. Dim Sum is a must to start so we did. A platter of signature steamed goodies was quick to arrive, some of which we watched being prepared in the glass walled dumpling kitchen which faces into the terrace. Soon to follow were duck san choi bao, a heady spiced mix of duck with cos and noodles which was never level good. We asked for a platter of mixed raw scallops and kingfish which the team obliged us with. Both were excellent. The odd standout of our choice starters was a simple cucumber and snow pea salad with enoki and a pungent umami filled sesame dressing. It delicately nuanced mix of flavour and texture was sublime.
On our first few visits, a superbly spicy and authentic kung pao chicken with its several tyoes of chilli and lip numbing heat was a must do and it was suggested this was the best we had found in Australia. A big call but there was general agreement among the three of us. On
this visit, I was disappointed to find it gone, replaced with a kung pao cauliflower which I simply couldn't bring myself to order. We opted instead for a beef hor fun, stir fried green beans and pork with fermented chili and a buddhist mapo tofu of zucchini with more fermented chilli. Also missing was the Stanley Special fried rice with spanner crab, however the replacement prawn, cantonese pork and sweet corn was almost as good.
Things are not what they were when the venue opened. Service levels have dipped somewhat and attention to detail on the floor was not what we had been used to before. Tikaram's deft hand in the kitchen remains evident. The wine list has shrunken a little but there are still great choices to be found. The French influence from the opening team remains, with a super heavy focus on choices from Europe. We kept it local with a 2020 Sigurd Chenin Blanc from the Clare Valley, a 2020 Mada Pinot Gris from the ACT region and a Koerner Pigato Vermentino
All in all, it was a pleasant experience, just not the wow I was hoping for on my return to this space after a few months away.
Stanley Restaurant. Howard Smith Wharves. Boundary Road, Brisbane.
Mon - Weds 5pm -10pm. Thurs - Sat 12noon - 3pm, then 5pm - 10pm.
Sunday Yum Cha 11.30am - 3pm. Dinner 5pm - 10pm
Bar menu operates between lunch and dinner services.