One of Brisbane's greatest restaurants is closing after 17 years

Restaurant Two owner David Pugh. Source: supplied

In a tough year for fine dining, Brisbane will lose CBD institution Restaurant Two at the end of the year.

Chef and owner David Pugh announced “the difficult decision” this week saying he’ll hang up the pans on Christmas eve after 17 years. He’s not retiring, but after a career spanning nearly five decades, Pugh, who turns 60 next year, says it’s time to slow down.

“There’s no one reason for this decision, part of it is my kids worrying about me working 18 hour days, part is missing out on seeing my children grow up and not wanting to miss my grandkids growing up too,” he said in a statement.

“Part of it is the gruelling nature of running a fine dining restaurant and recognising that at almost 60, I need to step back and ease up a little.

“It has been 17 years of pure love, and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it. My children have been married here and stepping away is bittersweet, but it’s the right decision, and it’s the right time.”

Pugh was at the forefront of establishing Brisbane’s culinary reputation, first at Two Small Rooms in suburban Toowong, before opening Restaurant Two in Edward Street, opposite the city’s Botanic Gardens, in 1999, with Michael Conrad. The pair were a highly successful professional duo for 16 years, dating back to Two Small Rooms, before parting ways in 2009 and Pugh became sole proprietor.

A champion of local produce, Pugh brought Queensland flavours to the fore, combining classical French and Asian flavours as one of the pioneers of modern Australian cuisine, giving the city one of its first destination restaurants, earning countless awards along the way.

The closure of Restaurant Two adds to the list of high profile fine dining closures in 2016, with Mark Best closing Marque after 17 years, Guillaume Brahimi calling last orders on his eponymous Sydney restaurant after less than 3 years, Andrew McConnell shutting down Moon under Water in Melbourne, and Neil Perry, who also turns 60 next year, ending Rockpool, the restaurant he opened in 1989, before selling most of his hospitality business to the private equity-backed Urban Purveyor Group.

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