Pavement Whispers: Gum Bistro, a neighbourhood eatery from a talented somm-chef tandem, is coming to West End
West End’s evolution into Brisbane’s go-to hub for casual dining continues to start 2024, with the news that the recently closed Pasta Club space will soon be home to new neighbourhood nosh spot, Gum Bistro. Here, Queensland produce will shine alongside a wine list stocked from top to bottom with absolute belters. Read on to find out what we know …
Last week, the team behind West End eatery Pasta Club announced it was calling time on its masterful three-year innings at its Boundary Street home, encouraging long-time fans to pop in for a final plate of pici cacio e pepe over the weekend. Lost in the mix of the closure-announcement frenzy was the news that the site would endure as a neighbourhood eatery, reopening soon as Gum Bistro.
The venue is the brainchild of a pair of pals, sommelier Phil Poussart and chef Lachlan Matheson. The duo is pooling their considerable talents together after a few years honing their respective crafts – Phil spent four years in Hobart working at the likes of Fico before coming back to Brisbane to oversee the opening wine program at ESSA and Pilloni, while Lachlan started his culinary career under Ben Williamson at Gerard’s Bistro before embarking on a stint overseas working for the P Franco crew. Soon after his return to Brisbane, Lachlan found himself overseeing the kitchen at Pasta Club.
“I came back and Lachie came back [to Brisbane], and we’ve just been chatting about it for a while to be honest,” says Phil. “When Lachie heard that [Pasta Club’s owners] were wanting to close the place, they offered him the chance to take over the lease afterwards, so that’s when we sort of put two and two together.”
With Gum Bistro, Phil and Lachie are looking to maintain the approachable charm that made Pasta Club popular, contouring the European neighbourhood bistro model with distinct Australian-inspired touches.
“It’s an Australian bistro,” says Phil, when prompted to encapsulate Gum Bistro’s style in a nutshell. “It’s not going to focus too heavily on the very Frenchy side of things – we’re just keeping it very light, doing simple cooking while also trying to showcase a lot of what makes Queensland produce special. The aim is to keep some of what people liked about Pasta Club in that it will be casual, fun and super approachable, but able to offer a little bit more.”
While Gum Bistro’s culinary offering is still very much under construction, Phil confirms that the duo are currently in the process of getting into the ears of local suppliers, laying the groundwork for what will be a malleable, seasonally shifting menu that will swing from snacks to substantials.
“We’re aiming to be casual enough that people can just use [Gum Bistro] how they want,” reveals Phil. “The plan is to open it up for a few more services – so weekends and Fridays, getting that sort 10:00 am to to 10:00 pm timeframe. I worked at a joint when I was 19 that was open from 7:00 am until midnight. You’d see the same faces coming in for a coffee in the morning and a negroni at 11:00 pm.”
As for the wine, Phil is relishing the chance to curate a diverse wine list for Gum Bistro guests to enjoy. “The last few lists I worked on have been very pinpointed in their focus,” says Phil. “It has been exciting to just go through and take a little bit more of a fuzzy-eyed approach to wines and trying to just have a broad picture. Anything that tastes good goes on, basically.”
At this stage, expect Gum Bistro to feature a short list starting around 60 wines, that could gradually grow to nudge 120. Phil is plucking bottles from Australia, France, Hungary, Austria, Germany and Slovenia for the main offering (alongside a small list of classic cocktails), while also building a second list of vintage drops housed in temperature-controlled storage. “Finding stuff that’s got some vintage and some age from reputable sellers is a sommelier skill that doesn’t really have a lot of focus on it sometimes,” Phil tells us. “But it’s something that I like doing so we’ll try and get a little bit of that stuff in there where we can.”
For now, Phil and Lachie are rolling up their sleeves for a cosmetic refresh of the Boundary Street space. They’re starting by removing the matte-black chalkboard walls, exchanging the moody aesthetic for one that is open, airy and light. Expect a green and white colour scheme, with artwork from up-and-coming artists on the walls alongside plenty of greenery. The duo will also be reworking the kitchen, tweaking the layout and expanding the amount of tools available.
Gum Bistro is a targeting a mid-to-late March opening date – stay tuned for more info!
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