What do Qld’s pollies eat in Parliament House? Taste the food in the Strangers’ Dining Room at Sometimes Strangers’, and you’ll know they are dining on some of the state’s best. You can also enjoy a Queensland Parliament House high tea in the dining room with their High Tea for Me.
Sometimes Strangers’ in the Queensland Parliament Strangers’ Dining Room
With an exquisite Queensland-themed menu prepared by skilled chefs in a historic dining room available, Queensland’s politicians are tasting the state on a plate when they dine in the Queensland Parliament House Strangers’ Dining Room between sittings.
Despite the name, the Strangers’ Dining Room not really strange at all. This is a dining room where Members of Parliament can take their guests. The term “stranger” refers to any person in the parliamentary precinct who is not a Member of the Legislative Assembly.
The general public (that’s you and me) also can dine at Brisbane’s oldest restaurant for lunch or dinner on Friday, a day that Parliament rarely sits, at Sometimes Strangers lunches and dinners.
There is also a Parliament House high tea option known as High Tea for Me.
What’s on the menu
With one of the most Queensland focused menu I have seen and a wine list to match, this is genuinely a unique Queensland dining experience.
The wine list includes selections from Queensland’s best wineries including Ballandean Estate, Symphony Hill, Golden Grove, Robert Channon, Ravens Croft and Clovely. There’s also a good selection of local craft beer.
The three-course set a la carte menu includes regionally-sourced ingredients such as Toowoomba wagyu, lilly pilly berries, Lockyer Valley beetroot, Torres Strait painted crayfish, Gatton potatoes, duck from the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and Towri Farm sheep’s milk.
Sunshine Coast Hinterland raised duck at Sometimes Strangers’
What I ate at Sometimes Strangers’
It started with homemade bread and butter and butter along with chef’s snacks, which included large Moreton Bay oysters. I was impressed to discover they are specially farmed for Parliament House, which is why they are much larger than the local oysters you will typically find in local restaurants.
Moreton Bay oysters on the menu at Sometimes Strangers.
The chance to try Torres Strait painted crayfish, which had a smooth texture and delicate crayfish flavour, was an entree highlight and the just-cooked Sunshine Coast Hinterland raised duck had a crisp, fatty skin covering the tender pink meat.
Putting aside my sweet inclinations, I finished with a delicious and diverse selection from the Queensland cheese trolley, jealously watching my companions breaking open their golden raspberry meringues with white chocolate parfait and regretting my no-carbs choice.
Steeped in Queensland’s history
You will think you are walking into a time capsule when you step onto the intricate parquetry floor under the high ceilings of the late-19th-century dining room which is one of the largest rooms in Parliament House.
It’s very posh! The gleaming silver is hallmarked and stamped with Queensland Parliament crest as are the gold-trimmed plates. Combined with crystal glassware and starched white tablecloths and napkins, the effect is awe-inspiring, but not stuffy or intimidating.
Early Australian cedar yoke back chairs, probably used in the early refreshment room, make for firmly comfortable seating. They say some of these chairs were used in the original legislative building in the old convict barracks in Queen Street. If you suddenly feel the need to take the floor and speak out, you may be channelling an earlier chair occupant!
Located at the river end of the corridor on the first floor of the 150-year-old Alice Street wing, the Strangers’ Dining Room was formerly known as the Members’ Dining Room.
How to dine at Sometimes Strangers’
Sometimes Strangers’ lunch starts at 12 noon with entry via the Parliamentary Annexe Building on Alice Street, Brisbane City. Since you will be entering Parliament House, you have to go through security and show Government-issued photo ID upon entry. It costs $60 per person for three courses, not including beverages, plus a booking fee.
Queensland Parliament House dining in the Strangers’ Dining room at night on Fridays starts at 6 pm.
The dress code here is business attire, which is quite varied on a Friday, but I guess it’s not the dress down Friday style jeans look that they are expecting.
No wandering around or taking photos either! You will be guided straight to the Strangers’ Dining Room by a Parliamentary Attendant although tours of the building are available.
To book a Sometimes Strangers’ lunch or dinner, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 3553 6377.
The room also is available for event hire.
Parliament House high tea
There is also a high tea option, High Tea for Me, at Queensland’s Parliament House. The menu includes pumpkin scones, smoke chicken at Mt Tamborine truffle brie pinwheels and Caboolture berry custard tarts.