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NOT: Fifth Element Bar and Cellar, 1b/188 Grey St, South Brisbane

Fifth Element South Brisbane

I’ve bragged before about the beauty of my expense account, sale but whether it’s my money or someone else’s, I know when I’m getting ripped off.  Fifth Element brings an air of arrogance to Southbank (not that it’s too out of place) and it’s wound to 11, as are the prices.

I’d wanted to sample the cocktails at Fifth Element since it first opened – the bar and lounge areas are really funky, with cool waterfalls and oil burners scattered throughout and an ambience that always looks inviting as a passerby.

I arrived with a large group of colleagues and customers and threw the card behind the bar.  This usually arouses the interest of bar staff, but in this case I got nothing.  I tried some small talk with the bartender and even suggested he exercise his creative style by surprising me with my first cocktail.  Still nothing.

In the end I selected the Blood Orange cocktail which came presented in a stylish, tall glass.  It looked impressive but lacked that zing you expect from a fruity summer cocktail.  I suspect it wasn’t made with much love.  Fortunately my guests were all happy with beers in hands and we were lucky to have a long dry bar to sit at, which adequately catered for everyone’s tired legs.  Finally the wait staff caught on to the fact I was running a bar tab for this group and decided to provide us table service for drinks, which was a nice touch.

Fifth Element South  Brisbane

My temporary pleasure was dampened, however, when I requested a glass of Voyager Estate Sav Blanc and was promptly informed by the wine promoter that they had run out. Instead, I should try the wine he conveniently happened to be carrying around the establishment.  I sampled his sell, wasn’t particularly impressed, but agreed to buy a glass.  It was too tart and I couldn’t finish it so took to the bar in search of the extensive wine list. Scanning the room as I waited to be served, I noticed a shelf full of the Voyager Estate Sav Blanc I had originally requested!  Not impressed by the wine promoter’s dishonesty, I notified the bartender of what had happened, but again…nothing.

As an hour or two passed the group was getting peckish so I suggested we order some tapas.  I left one of my customers in charge of selecting the nibbles and some 30 minutes later I asked him what he had ordered.  His response shocked me.  He refused to order any food due to the prices and the lack of ‘simple’ food.  There were no chips/wedges or basic breads to share and the tapas were over priced for what was being offered.  I appreciated his sentiments to not abuse my credit card, but I was hungry too so against better judgment I ordered four plates of chicken skewers and four plates of calamari.  They were close to $15 per plate, each plate lucky to cater for two people’s appetite.  I must admit though, they were very tasty dishes.

Overall I had a pleasant night, but I can’t say I’d recommend Fifth Element to others.  The drinks were only slightly above average, but I would expect better service from an establishment that obviously prides itself on image and fancy cuisine (the a la cart menu is very posh).  I think the owners have forgotten that us Brisbanites are pretty casual, simple creatures and if they’re to be successful in bringing a bit of Melbourne to our town, they need to tone down the arrogance and wind up the love.

  • Fifth Element Bar and Cellar, 1b/188 Grey St, South Brisbane +61 7 3846 5584

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  1. Aww that’s a shame you had a less than stellar experience! I went there for dessert recently and I was seriously blown away-delicious and unique!

    Posted by Ally (EatDrinkBrisbane) | January 6, 2010, 11:03 am
  2. Hi Ally

    What did you have for dessert? How would you rate the rest of your meal?

    Jetsetting Joyce

    Posted by Jetsetting Joyce | January 8, 2010, 12:06 pm
  3. Oh I’ve been to this bar. Me and my girlfriend went there once when we were at Australia last year. I really loved the place. It has such an awesome atmosphere. Even though the prices are a bit too high I really enjoyed my hangout.

    Posted by Chrome Bar Stool | January 27, 2010, 3:14 pm
  4. Hi Chrome Bar Stool

    Thanks for your comment – it must be doing something right as it’s very popular. Unfortunately we just didn’t have a great experience there.

    Jetsetting Joyce

    Posted by Jetsetting Joyce | February 8, 2010, 6:54 am
  5. I went here about 2 months ago with my partner, his best mate and his girlfriend after dinner at Ginga.

    In our mid to late 20s and myself not quite dressed for the occassion (casual), we experienced exceptional service. I went to sample a French white (sav blanc?) but the self dispensing machine wasn’t working so the bar manager gave me a full glass for free. Very nice drop even if it was free.

    The bar manager entertained the boys about the merits of each of reds, even allowing a free taste of the Penfolds Grange.

    The staff were bubbly and friendly and they were even dancing along to the background music! I’m pleasantly surprised seeing the bar staff enjoying their job, it’s so rare these days to see that.

    About six wines later, we left very happy customers.

    I love that venues are upping the ante in Brisbane, I hate having to handover my hard earned cash for a mediocre bar or dining experience!

    If your clients wanted simple grazing fare, maybe one of the others like the Ship Inn or Fox Hotel would have been a better bet?

    Posted by JH | August 4, 2010, 12:17 pm
  6. Hi JH, Glad to hear you had a really good time there. I suspect I got them on a bad day and to be honest, 5th element has a whole lot of appeal and a generally good vibe. I have been back a couple of times since my review and I have to say they were good times 🙂

    Posted by CazM | August 5, 2010, 6:44 pm
  7. I am absolutely shocked by your review! I go to 5th Element once a month and receive nothing but the best service. I dont think the food is over priced for an establisment like that, for its location and for the excellent service provided by the bar and wait staff. It is unfortunate that you had a bad experience but perhaps JH is right, maybe the ship Inn or Fox hotel would have been better suited for you and your colleagues. It is just such a shame to see that 5th Element is up here as “not hot”. Quite the contrary actually and I highly reccomend it!

    Posted by Sally | December 13, 2011, 10:51 pm
  8. Hi Sally,
    Thanks for your comments. The reviews we post on bnehotornot are a reflection of the experience we have at a specific point in time and our account of 5th Element reflects an honest opinion that was unfortunately less positive than your own. But we don’t expect our readers to treat our opinion as gospel or as the final word! So thanks very much for letting us know about your posgood time at 5th Element, this will help our readers make a well informed decision!

    Posted by CazM | December 14, 2011, 10:47 am
  9. Im sorry you had a less than wonderful time at 5th .. I found them while studying at tafe 5 years ago , thank goodness and have frequented the establishment ever since ..(Im now studying for my cert IV in patisserie and Diploma of Hospitality ) I have always been waited on beautifully , have been given wonderful advice on wine and beer choices to match my food and if I buy a bottle or two of wine to take home I feel confident that ‘my’ sommelier knows my palate and has never recommended a bad wine … Im lucky but I’m also from the hospitality industry so understand when people run out of things or new staff make mistakes .. its life !! People have become so over the top in their judgements thanks to reality tv and have no idea what goes on behind the scenes … I know every restaurant ( including michelin starred ones ) can run a bad service depending on whats happening for all their staff , produce fluctuations , orders not turning up , the temperature , how busy /no days off in 2 weeks theyve had etc etc etc and I know that 5th try very hard to make a consistent product that suits their market .. and they do it well backing it up with great service .. and some “in training service ” which is still acceptable . comparing them to melbourne’s arrogance is just wrong .. If ive ever had a problem there, someone has FIXED IT WITH A SMILE 😉 try the new menu … yum yum yum

    Posted by jesscresswell
    Twitter: jesskitchen
    | February 2, 2012, 10:05 pm
  10. Hmm, sounds like you were disappointed that the bartender didn’t kiss your feet when you threw your credit card at him. And you think that $15 is expensive for a plate that two people can share? Sorry, but I don’t think you’re a reliable person to get restaurant advice from.

    Posted by foodie | April 22, 2012, 9:10 pm
  11. Mate, I’m with you. Won’t be going back… ever. Got served raw food with a garnishing of douchebaggery.

    I’ve eaten in the top restaurants in the world in Dubai, London, New York, Los Angeles.. I am no stranger to arrogance or expensive meals… but this place is nothing but pretence.

    And to the douchebag that whips up drinks behind the bar, not everyone that walks in through your door is simple Queenslandfolk (even though I guess I am since I was born here a long time ago) and thanks for asking if I have ever been in a wine bar before (when I asked for a Shiraz), I can assure you I have been in more than you.

    Posted by Doctor D | June 3, 2012, 12:33 am

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