Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team
Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team

Get the first look at Bar Francine – the charming new West End wine bar from the El Planta team

In order to coax us from the cosy confines of our abodes, a neighbourhood wine bar has to not only offer choice eats and super sips, it also needs to match the easy comfort of our living rooms. Bar Francine, West End’s new wine bar, serves genial charm in spades – dishing up solid feeds, good drink and some disarmingly playful banter in a setting that’s built with love. If the sound of wines from small Australian producers, nostalgia-inducing cocktails and a veg- and seafood-centric menu with Euro inspirations sounds like the kind of offering you’d love from your local, head to Vulture Street where Bar Francine awaits.

Rick Gibson and Adrienne Jory love taking big swings. They first hit for six with their South Brisbane bar and restaurant El Planta, wowing diners with a menu of vegetable-driven Mexican eats paired with four-ingredient margaritas and a list of small-producer wines from Australian makers. Bar Francine, the couple’s new 50-seater wine bar that opened on Vulture Street late last week, might sound like a more straightforward endeavour on paper, but in reality it has proven to be just as ambitious a gambit. While the team are once again favouring Australian vino and meat-free morsels, this time around they’ve built their venue from near scratch. A 100-year-old house on Vulture Street, previously home to All the Green Things, Boxvintage and – going way back – an old-school milk bar, has been gutted and reshaped over a whirlwind three-month process – one that included knocking out walls, devising floor plans, revising said floor plans and all of the minor and major hurdles associated with restoring an old structure. “Just opening this up has been the most consuming, stressful and enjoyable thing we’ve ever done,” confesses Adrienne with a smile, a mere 30 minutes before Bar Francine’s launch on Friday December 9. “I think this a much bigger project than what we thought initially. Everything was just Rick and I thinking it and hoping that we weren’t going to really fuck it up.” That said, the weeks of exhausting manual labour and second guessing look to have paid off – Bar Francine is every bit the playfully casual and charmingly convivial haunt that Rick and Adrienne envisioned from the jump.

The elbow grease required to realise the couple’s goal – to create a haunt that felt like your mate’s place (if your friend’s pad also housed a bar) – saw the team pull apart and reassemble the house’s internals, sheet the curved ceiling and restore existing elements like original VJ panelling and previously concealed green floor tiles (a hidden remnant from the 60s). From there, the crew built a new bar with a poured-concrete top, installed a brand-new kitchen at the rear, affixed wine shelves along the wall at the rear and built a dining bench across the roller-door entry along the side. After this, it was simply a matter of furnishing. Everything in bar, aside from the timber banquettes and tables (which were built), is pre-owned. Rick and Adrienne scoured op shops and retirement villages for antique furnituredecorplates and glassware, assembling a trove of pieces that give Bar Francine a sense of lived-in comfort. This is a venue that celebrates every imperfection, with each chipped tile, faded vintage poster and lightly scuffed furnishing adding a cherished piece of character-filled flair. Different details reveal themselves from every vantage point, whether you’re cozied up at the window, perched at the bar, in the thick of it on the main floor or people watching from the bench. “I think [Bar Francine] is everything that was in my head and everything that we wanted – and maybe a little bit more,” says Adrienne. “The people that come in here know that it’s Rick and I that created this space. It’s super homey and it’s very casual but hopefully it makes you sit down and go, ‘Ah, yep – this is exactly where I want to be’.”

With the vibes on point, the last piece of the Bar Francine puzzle to put into place was the offering. Head chef Brad Cooper, who previously helmed the kitchen at Florence in Camp Hill, has taken up the task of shaping the venue’s European-leaning menu, which is constructed from vegetables and seafood. It starts small with Gildas (a pintxos-style morsel with anchovy, green olive and pickled guindilla peppers on a toothpick), mushroom parfait on crostoli and tuna bruschetta with piperade, before moving on to pizza frittamussels in almond rouille with shellfish vinaigrette and onion fritti with creme fraiche and mint jelly. Larger share-style plates, like stracciatella with leeks vinaigrette, creamed corn with swimmer crabkohlrabi ‘minute steak’ with sauce grenobloise and monkfish Véronique with asparagus and orange wine, lead into finishers like cheese with Jatz and jam, and profiterole with vanilla gelato. Chris Bancroft joins the team as chief bar guru after a few years working at Maeve Wine. Here’s he’s been given carte blanche to fashion the beverage list, with the only proviso being it be as local and accessible as possible. “Everything on the drinks list is Australian – wines, beers and cocktails,” says Chris of the drinks selection. “Rick and Adrienne were encouraging me to try and source directly where possible. The one thing we didn’t want to do is have people walk in and read the same wine list they’d seen somewhere else.” The wine list, which boasts 12 by-the-glass options and 50-odd bottles, favours small and independent producers from around the country as well as grapes and styles that may be unfamiliar to some. That said, there’s not a dud drop to be seen – names like Curly FlatCommune of ButtonsBasket RangeAristotelis Ke AnthoulaVignerons Schmölzer & Brown and Little Reddie are just some of the makers that will have eyebrows raised in approval. Flip to the back of the drinks list and you’ll spy cocktails that employ nostalgia as a key ingredients – the Francine Fruit Cup boasts Never Never Fancy Fruit Cup, ginger and an actual Frosty Fruit, while the Bar Francine Refresher is a take on the classic shandy with XXXX Gold and lemonade. There’s also riffs on a spritznegroni and martini – all concocted using Australian-made spirits. Finally, a short tinnie list is comprised of old-school Australian beers like Emu ExportMelbourne Bitter and Coopers Pale Ale.

Bar Francine is now open to the public. Head to the Stumble Guide for operating hours and booking info.

The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.

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