Highgate Hill scores a gluten-free oasis in the form of Dovetail Social
The lucky among us that don’t have to deal with food intolerances will never know the struggle of finding quality gluten-free eats, especially when it comes to baked goods. Thankfully for our coeliac pals, there is a cafe committed to ensuring they don’t miss out on the finer things. Dovetail Social, the brand-new cafe from the crew behind Norman Park’s Dovetail on Overend, is expanding upon its sibling’s driving ethos – offering top-notch coffee, inventive gluten-free indulgences and hearty (and worldly) fare – all served with alacrity. The Highgate Hill hideaway is now open – have a peek inside …
With a cosy footprint that only afforded dine-in seating for 18 patrons, it was only a matter of time before Dovetail on Overend owners Rejoice and Adam Thomson’s ideas outgrew the confines of their Norman Park cafe. While a lot of the institution’s initial success can be chalked up to its early adoption of the now-ubiquitous specialty coffee wave, the ensuing years have seen Dovetail on Overend evolve into a haven for coeliac foodies. Although prepped in a small kitchen, Rejoice’s menu earned praise for offering an inclusive range of gluten-free dishes and baked treats (particularly her purple-yam doughnuts and cinnamon scrolls), all served at no extra charge. As the cafe’s following grew, so too did Rejoice’s skillset (in 2016 Rejoice became a certified pastry chef) and desire to explore her Filipino heritage further through a gluten-free lens. So, in 2019 the couple looked afield, seeking a home for what would become Dovetail Social – a place for everyone to commune and engage via an inclusive dining experience.
Adam and Rejoice’s search took them out to the city’s suburban fringe and back to the inner city, where they eventually came across a building congenial to their wants on Laura Street in Highgate Hill. The space, formerly home to Saint Laura, boasted the various amenities that Rejoice and Adam were seeking – a larger kitchen, room for outdoor dining, a private-dining room, a merchandise room, gallery wall and space for a separate baking area. The couple secured the site in early 2020, and while pandemic-induced delays pushed the opening back, it allowed the Dovetail team to tinker with the building’s layout. A coffee window was installed at the venue’s front and a convenient hand-wash basin was built near the dining spaces. The Highgate Hill community contributed to the fit-out, with neighbours and friends assisting Adam and Rejoice in installing a roof over the rear garden, replanting herbs, laying fresh pavers and painting a mural. All the patience and hard work paid off – Dovetail Social offers a comfortable home-style appeal, with plenty of room for latte sipping and a bigger treats cabinet to gawk at.
The food and drink
For Rejoice and Adam, Dovetail Social is much more than an expansion of their Brisbane hospitality footprint – it’s a chance to spread their wings and push the limits of what gluten-free dining can be. That means the food offering has grown! While Dovetail signatures such as the Bangalow Babe toastie, classic Reuben sandwich, baked eggs with beef chilli con carne and the Breakkie Rice Buddha Bowl feature, our eyes are drawn to the newcomers. Rejoice is bolstering the menu with dishes inspired by her upbringing, digging into her memory to recreate her dad and grandmother’s beloved recipes from scratch – often first breaking them down to their core elements before rebuilding them using gluten-free ingredients. Rejoice’s take on the chicken-and-pork adobo bowl (a Filipino staple filled with kale laing coconut curry, oyster mushrooms, devilled eggs with home-made Pinoy chorizo – or longganisa – and garlic fried rice) is a must-try dish, while the bibimbap-style Seoul Bowl and pan-fried buchimgae pancake showcases Rejoice’s desire to extend the same approach to other food cultures. Fans of Dovetail’s phenomenal gluten-free baked treats are advised to pop over to Highgate Hill often, where Rejoice’s dedicated baking room will be pumping out a range of goodies (think salted-caramel creme puffs, raspberry choux creme puffs, “Yamington” doughnuts and ube leche flan cakes) in greater numbers, while larger takeaway cakes will also become available in the near future. Next year Dovetail Social will launch its Filipino degustations and a high-tea service, the latter complete with an assortment of gluten-free delights, familiar and new. Dovetail’s coffee offering is still top notch, with Almanac Coffee Roasters supplying the cafe’s house blend, while a rotating selection of single origins from Australian roasters also feature. Regulars will attest to the invigorating qualities of Dovetail’s freshly brewed Prana Chai (best served on Byron Bay macadamia milk), while the shake selection encompasses flavours including strawberry, vanilla, blueberry, Nutella, Oreo, Violet Crumble and avocado.
Dovetail Social is now open to the public. Click over to the Stumble Guide to find the cafe’s contact details, opening hours and social links.
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