Pavement Whispers: get the scoop on Petite, the forthcoming French-inspired wine bar from the Happy Boy team

Pavement Whispers: get the scoop on Petite, the forthcoming French-inspired wine bar from the Happy Boy team

News is coming in thick and fast from East Street, where the crew behind Happy Boy is in the midst of some exciting manoeuvres. This month the team launched Mini, a pop-up bistro serving French-inspired fare. While Mini is an exciting standalone eatery in its own right, the temporary concept is doubling as an incubator and pilot program for the team’s next venue – wine bar and small plates specialist Petite. Here’s what we know …

When Happy Boy made its exodus from Spring Hill to Fortitude Valley in 2017, owners Cameron and Jordan Votan had an inkling they were moving to particularly fertile ground. They were right. Over the years the duo’s hospo group has gradually gained ground along East Street, expanding along the strip with the openings of Snack Man in 2018 and Kid Curry in 2021. Each move has been calculated. Sleek wine bar Snack Man was born as a complementary counterpoint to Happy Boy’s rumbling Hong Kong-style dining hall, while Kid Curry was a bricks-and-mortar evocation of the team’s primo South Asian-inspired pandemic pivot. These days, the Kid Curry space is being used to indulge the group’s more experimental ideas through short-term pop-up concepts, the latest of which – French bistro-inspired Mini – is doubling as a testing ground, of sorts, for the Votan’s next big project, Petite.

Last year Cameron and Jordan snagged the final tenancy along their East Street axis – a striking spot perched at the intersection of East Street, Ann Street and James Street. The space, which is actually an amalgam of three smaller spaces (one of which previously housed Blended Health Bar), gives the group the opportunity to cap off their precinct with a venue that hones in on one of Cameron’s most cherished culinary loves – French food. “We definitely knew we wanted it to be a different interpretation of the French experience,” says Cam of Petite’s conceptual crux. “It’s still being tweaked, but it will be much more based on the success of the experience at Snack Man than at, say, a traditional French restaurant.” A fit-out is currently underway, and while the team is once again employing an economical array of materials, Petite’s minimal and utilitarian aesthetic will boast a heightened sense of luxury courtesy of the use of leather and stone. Once complete, Petite will feature a wrap-around glass facade, an open-plan kitchen, a mezzanine level for overflow dining and an alfresco area for aperitifs. There will be room for 80 guests downstairs across the main dining floor, booth-style banquettes and seats at a lengthy bar. “It’ll just feel a little bit more spacious,” says Cam, who estimates Petite will be slightly larger than Snack Man. “This will be a chance for us to take up that level of service a little bit more.” The opening of Petite will come after the completion of the group’s alfresco dining extension, which will overhaul the streetscape and enhance the group’s seating options across all four venues.

Mini’s head chef Aubrey Courtel will man the pans at Petite once it opens in January. Though boasting similar DNA courtesy of their shared French inspirations, Petite and the Mini pop-up are distinctly different concepts. Here, French cuisine will score a different treatment than the usual entree, plat principal and dessert procession. The free-wheeling ethos that powers Happy Boy and Snack Man’s menu composition and service model will also be key at Petite, which will specialise in small plates and French wines – an offering that leaves the experience almost entirely up to the diner. “I think that’s what resonates a lot with Happy Boy and Snack Man,” Cam says. “The experience is more about you being with your friends and being social, rather than having to put up with the structure imposed upon you by the restaurateur.” As with all of Cameron and Jordan’s venues, Petite’s wine list will be considered. Expect French wines to star, with Snack Man’s 600-strong reserve list also at guests’ fingertips, should they be after something particular.

Petite is targeting a January 2024 opening date – stay tuned for progress updates in the coming months!

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

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