South Brisbane's new British-style gastropub The Rose & Crown is now serving cask beer and Sunday roasts
South Brisbane's new British-style gastropub The Rose & Crown is now serving cask beer and Sunday roasts
South Brisbane's new British-style gastropub The Rose & Crown is now serving cask beer and Sunday roasts
South Brisbane's new British-style gastropub The Rose & Crown is now serving cask beer and Sunday roasts
South Brisbane's new British-style gastropub The Rose & Crown is now serving cask beer and Sunday roasts
South Brisbane's new British-style gastropub The Rose & Crown is now serving cask beer and Sunday roasts
South Brisbane's new British-style gastropub The Rose & Crown is now serving cask beer and Sunday roasts
South Brisbane's new British-style gastropub The Rose & Crown is now serving cask beer and Sunday roasts
South Brisbane's new British-style gastropub The Rose & Crown is now serving cask beer and Sunday roasts
South Brisbane's new British-style gastropub The Rose & Crown is now serving cask beer and Sunday roasts
South Brisbane's new British-style gastropub The Rose & Crown is now serving cask beer and Sunday roasts
South Brisbane's new British-style gastropub The Rose & Crown is now serving cask beer and Sunday roasts

South Brisbane’s new British-style gastropub The Rose & Crown is now serving cask beer and Sunday roasts

Brisbane’s pub scene is evolving to start 2024, with a number of independent operators looking to inject a bit of energy into The City’s schooner-sloshing sphere. A seasoned publican has just tapped the kegs at The Rose & Crown in South Brisbane, a two-level British-inspired gastropub that’s serving traditional cask beers (alongside pints of the best Guinness you’ll taste outside of Ireland), as well as a taste of London via pub staples like beer-battered fish and chips, Scotch eggs and, of course, a classic Sunday roast.

When Alexander Derrick moved back to Brisbane after nearly two decades living in the UK, he struggled to find a pub that catered to his tastes. So, he opened his own.

The seasoned publican lives and breathes pubs. The Brisbane-born entrepreneur moved to London in the early 2000s with a plan of spending two years abroad before returning home to commence medical school. Not long after arriving, he scored a job as a dishie at a Battersea alehouse and soon after he graduated to pulling pints. From there, pubs became Alex’s passion and profession. He stayed in the UK, going on to help a number of hospitality groups build and manage sizeable award-winning pub portfolios across London, the south of England, and Wales. Before he left his role as managing director of The City Pub Group in 2021 to return to Australia, Alex was overseeing more than 50 sites.

“We had gastropubs, we had proper student boozers, we had high-end restaurants and we had bars that stayed open until three in the morning,” recalls Alex. “Our mantra over there was whatever the pub is, make it the best pub in its area.”

So, it’s safe to say Alex knows a thing or two about running a good drinking establishment. Which is great news for South Brisbane sippers – Alex’s new British-inspired tavern, The Rose & Crown, is looking to inject a little bit of London’s sterling gastropub culture into the Brisbane scene.

The Rose & Crown’s origins can be traced back almost a year ago, to when Alex and his family officially returned to Brisbane. Alighting from the plane with his business cap firmly affixed to his noggin, Alex spent most of 2023 reacquainting himself with the city’s boozers while also searching for the right location to establish his own British-style gastropub.

He found a corker of a space in South Brisbane – the Collins Place building, nestled in the Southpoint precinct next to the Emporium Hotel. Previously home to Little Big House, the two-storey heritage-listed Queenslander boasts loads of old-school charm and plenty of elbow room for knocking back a jar or two.

With keys in hand, Alex and his wife Bella (an experienced interior stylist who helped shape the aesthetic of many of Alex’s pubs) set about transforming the site into the kind of haunt that would feel comfortable to Brits and locals alike. Internally, The Rose & Crown has been cleverly accoutred to feel homely – mismatched furniture can be found in both downstairs and upstairs dining rooms, while an assortment of bric-a-brac on the walls offer nods to Britain without feeling tacky.

The main bar downstairs has been given a cosmetic sprucing, with freshly sanded floorboards and chalkboard menus adding an extra hit of worn-in charm. One of the best features of the venue is its umbrella-shaded beer garden and wrap-around deck, which is perfect for sinking a few sun-dappled suds. Though the upper level is geared more toward functions, if you can, snagging a seat on the second-level verandah for an elevated vantage point over Grey Street is a must.

All told, The Rose & Crown is a venue oozing character, which is something Alex was eager to establish from the outset. “I think a lot of Brisbane pubs blend into one another,” says Alex. “You could be in one and if you’re not really thinking about it, you’re not really sure which one you’re in. There’s massive gap for us do something fairly different, and I’m hoping people recognise that and it makes them think, well, should I go tonight?”

Drawing from his 20-plus years of experience, Alex knows what beats to hit when it comes to a killer bar offering. “What I’ve done here, I’ve done to some extent probably about 70 or 80 times in the past,” says Alex. “I try and think about what can we do that’s either different or that we can do better than someone else and just go hard at it. There’s no point of dipping your toe in – you’ve got to really commit.”

With this in mind, Alex has attempted to create an offering that is close to what he’d be serving in his pubs back in London. On the drinks front, The Rose & Crown is serving traditional cask beer alongside a number of draught drops, including The Rose & Crown’s own house lager (made by Scottish craft-beer giant, BrewDog), XXXX Gold, Magners Irish Cider and more. Pub purists will be pleased to know that Guinness is on tap – Alex has employed a few of his trade secrets, tweaking the install to make the iconic dry stout a little bit creamier. “I’ve spoken to a few hardcore Guinness drinkers who tell me it’s as good as they’ve had in Brissy, which is what I’m aiming for,” says Alex.

As for the wine list, Alex has opted to showcase a range of European wines – think drops from Spain, Italy and France – as well as a few trusty Australian options. A cocktail list features ten classics, from gimlets and margaritas to spritzes and a Pimm’s cup.

For Alex, who witnessed and participated in London’s gastropub boom, food is a foundational pillar of any pub’s offering. Alongside head chef Kevin Honeywood (an experienced chef who has worked in many top UK kitchens), Alex has curated a menu that hews close to British gastropub classicism (no parmies, sorry folks), with a few unconventional options thrown into the mix.

“We wanted to be quite upfront about what we are, so there are a lot of classic British dishes on the menu, but they’re done amazingly well,” says Alex. “The menu is deliberately small – we’ve got six or seven starters, and seven or eight mains. We’ll stick with them for a while, but one or two will come off and on and it’ll just change to keep everyone interested.”

Right now, guests can tuck into all-day snacks like pork scratchings, Scotch eggs with mustard mayo and pork sausage rolls. A suite of starters – including grilled sardine and tomato tarts, potted crab with lemon butter and brioche, and chicken-liver parfait with apple chutney and toast – lead into a sturdy selection of mains. This is where you’ll find quintessential pub feeds like beer-battered snapper with mushy peas, chips and tartare sauce, braised steak-and-Guinness pies with mash and roasted veg, dry-aged Brooklyn Valley hangar steak with cafe de Paris butter, and Cumberland sausages with leeks, mash and onion gravy. Fans of a classic roast are catered for too – The Rose & Crown hosts a Sunday roast every week, offering slabs of beef, chicken and a vegetarian nut roast (cuts of pork and lamb will also pop in from time to time) alongside big Yorkshire puddings, roast veggies and lots and lots of gravy.

Looking back on his life in London, Alex chalks his success, in part, to crafting hospitality concepts that resonate with the people they look to draw in. “Everything was uniquely tailored to its locality,” recalls Alex. “There’s nothing more powerful – in terms of generating customer loyalty – than when guests can see that you’ve done something literally for them. People just keep coming back and back and back.”

By recruiting staff based on personality and subverting the homogenised, gaming-centric models commonly employed in many Brisbane pubs, Alex reckons The Rose & Crown will quickly find its community – be it British expats or locals that appreciate more of a personal touch.

“You can tell when you walk in a pub within a minute or two, you just feel the atmosphere that comes from the staff and the customers,” says Alex. “When the pub’s humming, it just feels great and everyone wants to be a part of it.”

The Rose & Crown is now open to the public, with plans to launch Sunday afternoon live-music sessions and weekly pub quiz nights. Head to the Stumble Guide for more information.

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

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