Get a look inside Newstead’s Commercial Road Public Bar ahead of its forthcoming opening
Peter Gabriel’s 1986 smash-hit single ‘Sledgehammer’ is a quintessential example of the quirky, maximalist fun that was commonplace in the late 1980s. More than 30 years on from its release, the song’s influence is still manifesting in unexpected ways. Commercial Road Public Bar is a soon-to-open drinkery shaped and inspired by the bold aesthetic of the decade’s music, art and fashion scenes – think New York Fashion Week circa 1989, SMPTE colour bars and tasteful splashes on neon. Combine that with a contemporaneous selection of natural wines and a menu of Italian-inspired bar food and you’ve got a singularly stylish spot for serendipitous sipping. We were lucky enough to get a sneak peek inside CRPB ahead of its official opening on Wednesday September 9 – here’s what you can expect …
If you ask Kyle Weir what lies at the root of his healthy appreciation for Peter Gabriel hits and the vivid aesthetic of the 80s, he’d probably attribute it to an affinity for things that are loud, fun and unafraid to take risks. It’s those three characteristics that sit at the heart of Kyle’s new neighbourhood watering hole Commercial Road Public Bar – an idiosyncratic concept steeped in the technicolour majesty of the late 20th century. After cutting his teeth working in Sydney and Brisbane with the Solotel Group (including a stint as general manager of South Bank’s Little Big House), Kyle stepped away from conventional hospitality, linking up with some like-minded pals in early 2019 and hitting the road as part of travelling music and cocktail pop-up concept Lucky Duck Club. Late last year Kyle shifted gears, pivoting from Lucky Duck’s cross-country cavorting in favour of something he could call his own – a welcoming bar that catered to Brisbane’s varied demographic, where the only mandate was to avoid sameness or predictability. After securing a spot off Commercial Road and mapping out a build schedule that’d culminate in an early 2020 opening, delays in the fit-out over the Christmas period inevitably pushed completion closer to March. When the pandemic began to loom large on the horizon Kyle elected to press pause on opening, putting the concept on ice until the city’s hospitality scene revved up into action once more. This allowed time for refinement across aesthetic and offering, ensuring that when doors officially opened on Commercial Road Public Bar (which is happening this week) it was as sharp and realised as possible.
Commercial Road Public Bar’s inconspicuous entrance is located on Wyandra Street, marked by a sign boasting a vivid rainbow-like spectrum of colour reminiscent of the SMPTE bars – a test pattern commonly used to measure luminance in CRT television screens. Once you head inside and up a flight of newly installed stairs, you’ll emerge into CRPB’s spacious first-floor space (formerly the home of an office suite). Much like in the bar’s branding, colour is key to CRPB’s interior palette. Kyle’s aesthetic influences have delicately administered, with distillation of late-80s chic represented across the space sparingly. Neon light fixtures bathe separate corners of the space in lush hues, while plops of spray paint help break up black-and-white posters that have been pasted to the walls. A timber dining bench lines the windowed side of the bar, while a smattering of two- and four-seater tables (high and low) are spread throughout the rest of the room. The bar itself is sturdy and understated (aside from the bright-pink beer taps), with attention angled primarily to the shelves of wine, beer and spirits on hand. The resulting combination makes for a suitably lively hub for relaxed daytime dining or nighttime revelry, with a tasteful playlist blending 80s hits and current jams maintaining the vibes well after sunset.
Speaking of which, CRPB’s food and beverage offering is similarly curated and considered. From the outset Kyle has been determined to make natural, biodynamic and organic wines a key focus of the venue’s offering. While initially only planning to serve a rotating selection of 12 to 16 wines, the list was expanded upon significantly during the recent downtime (the unexpected benefit of extra taste testing). Now CRPB’s selection of juice boasts close to 44 options (encompassing seasonal and year-round drops from Australia and abroad), ranging from the bar’s own house cleanskins to more adventurous varieties. Familiar faces such as La Violetta, LATTA, Brave New Wine, Aphelion, Unico Zelo and Architects of Wine are featured alongside party-friendly plonk such as canned red and whites from Garage Project’s Fairy Bread range, and 375-ml bottles of funky wines from Tasmanian outfit Brian. Cocktails are also a prominent fixture, with classic selections on offer as well as light and low-calorie house signatures imbued with batch-made and self-carbonated syrups (some made using artfully distilled spirits from Copenhagen’s Empirical). Beer lovers can quaff mainstream brews like XXXX and Peroni or opt for something from the crafty end of the spectrum. Jackson Mackie (formerly of Little Truffle in Mermaid Beach) is chiefly responsible for executing CRPB’s menu, which draws influences from 1990’s Italian bar food – flavoursome morsels that pair well with bold wines. Starters include house-baked bread with cultured butter, warm Ligurian olives, Vanella hand-tied burrata with dill oil, wagyu bresaola and white anchovies with gremolata are joined by a five-strong list of classic pizzas – think the likes of four-cheese pizza (ricotta, fior di latte, gorgonzola and fontina), classic margherita, pork and fennel sausage, mushroom and thyme, and pizzas topped with wagyu bresaola and burrata.
Commercial Road Public Bar will open to the public on Wednesday September 9. For operating hours and contact details, be sure to check out the Stumble Guide before visiting.
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