Katsu, congee and coffee – West End nook The Garner covers all the bases
Ethan Dou has already made his mark on Brisbane’s coffee scene with his respected boutique brew nook Street Lab Specialty Coffee, but the avowed foodie craved the chance to try his hand at a cafe-style concept. After linking up with friend and chef Jerry Huang, the tandem snagged an ideal spot on the leafy West End strip of Browning Street. The duo’s new cafe The Garner pairs Ethan’s coffee nous with Jerry’s menu of nourishing nosh, serving up delectable brew and brunch fare imbued with Asian-inspired quirks.
When searching for the perfect spot for his new brunch spot The Garner, Ethan Dou decided to look south of the river. With Street Lab Specialty Coffee already doing a cracking trade in The City, the prospect of taking his brand of hospitality to a new corner of Brisbane made the most sense. West End proved to be a logical fit for Ethan and co-owner Jerry Huang’s idea of an Asian-inspired brunch spot – being a multicultural hub in need of more reliable specialty coffee options, a receptive clientele was already in place. The Garner occupies part of an old Queenslander on Browning Street – a space familiar to some as the former home of Duo Bar & Restaurant. After the team gave the venue a significant aesthetic overhaul (The Garner boasts a breezy courtyard, street-facing coffee window and a mellow interior space) the crew had the perfect venue for their offbeat and low-key local – the perfect place to hide out away from the pandemonium of the inner-city.
Being a coffee head through and through, Ethan first of all ensured that The Garner’s caffeine service is top-notch, no matter if folks are only seeking a grab-and-go pick-me-up or are keen to linger over a couple of cups of batch brew. Ethan has selected Therefore Coffee Roasters from Tweed Heads as The Garner’s main supplier, with a special blend made specifically for the cafe boasting a balanced 50-50 split of Colombian and Brazilian beans. Other local roasters and single origins will be showcased on a rotating basis, while tea from Somage Fine Foods, HRVST St juices, Somersault’s organic sodas and house-made smoothies are available for non-coffee drinkers. Jerry’s food menu showcases an Asian-style interpretation of brunch, highlighting grains and rice as key ingredients (garner is an archaic term for a granary). Half of the dishes available are based around rice, from the seafood-flavoured congee served with chicken yakitori and the deep-fried panko-crumbed chicken katsu sando (served with miso-glazed rice patties instead of bread) to the black-rice pudding with banana and mango and cha-sum pork with shisho leaf, seaweed rice and crispy lotus. The rest of the menu offers up the likes of charcoal toasted bread with add-ons, baked miso eggs with butternut pumpkin, soy-braised mushrooms with onsen eggs and soba-noodle salad with deep-fried five-spice tofu. Expect the menu to shift seasonally, with signature dishes getting updates to incorporate of-the-moment ingredients. Once the cafe settles into its groove, Ethan plans to potentially open The Garner for night trading and coffee events.
The Garner is now open to the public. For opening hours and contact details, click on over to the Stumble Guide.
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