New Brisbane restaurant dining gem Opal, which was due to be revealed in September, has shattered with the departure of Executive Chef Josue Lopez.

Located in the new Emporium Hotel South Bank (due for completion by mid-September 2018), the restaurant was planned as a platform to showcase the very best of Queensland.

The planned menu was described by Lopez as modern Australian, celebrating native ingredients through innovative cooking using the same artistic approach that saw him take GOMA Restaurant to a prestigious two-hat award-winner.

Lopez’s departure, described as amicable by the Emporium Hotel Group, was followed by other members of his recruited team.  Another chef has been appointed for a renamed signature restaurant and both the name and the chef are set to be revealed in coming weeks. The hotel’s other food venues include Belle Epoque, a little bit of Paris in South Bank which has already opened, and the Piano Bar and The Terrace which are due to open in September when the hotel is fully operational.

It is a blow to Brisbane’s dining community who were looking forward to having another top-level restaurant in the city.

Read more about what was planned for Opal

  • What’s on the menu
  • Pushing food boundaries
  • Opal’s design

What’s on the menu

“Minnjeribah” is a dish that focusses on Moreton Bay’s ecology, specifically North Stradbroke island, the jewel of the region. This seafood-centric dish is plated on a hand-made ceramic inspired by the shoreline with corrugations fashioned by the waves.



“Father and Son” brings together two unique elements of age, plated in two different styles to enhance each other creating a story around the beef dish.


“Fire of the desert” is a physical interpretation of opal with bespoke flatware to capture the multifaceted gemstones’ radiance and beauty. This dish sets the tone for what diners should expect when dining at Opal.

Opal dining will push food boundaries

“I have watched Brisbane, it’s dining scene and food culture grow and develop significantly over the years, and I am really excited to be opening this style of restaurant now,” says Josh.

“Australian chefs are cementing an internationally recognised identity for exciting culinary creations using native ingredients, and I think a lot of people want our chefs to continue pushing the boundaries and offer something that has never been done before and is truly delicious.”


Opal’s design

Expect business and leisure style lunches with an express degustation option or a full dining experience. The restaurant will also open for dinner on selected week nights.

Opal will have a full-size wine cellar, a recessed ceiling with feature lighting, and a luxurious blend of stone, fabric and metal finishes. The intimate private dining room will have views of the kitchen views. A spectacular antique stained-glass Parisian shop-front, a showpiece in the former Emporium Hotel Fortitude Valley’s famed Cocktail Bar, also takes pride of place.

Lopez said deciding on the restaurant name was a collaborative process with Emporium Hotel founders and owners Tony and Francine John. “We really wanted a name that portrays the beauty and richness of our country and, after many ideas were tabled, we decided the name of our national gemstone offered the preciousness and uniqueness we were searching for,” he said.  “Opals are important to Indigenous Australian culture, being known as ‘fire of the desert’, which we also felt was very fitting because fire is a critical component to cooking as well as in the ecology of Australia where many seeds lay dormant in the soil sometimes for years until fire bursts them open for new growth.”

“I am very proud of my achievements from my time with QAGOMA and see this next chapter as an opportunity to keep developing and creating a world-class venue with outstanding wines, excellent service, beautiful table touches and artisan plates – a platform to showcase the very best of Queensland.”


More about Josh Lopez.