Clarence, a 35-seat modern-Australian eatery, slotted in the former home of Vespa Pizza on Stanley Street in January 2022, delivering on its promise of an experience that draws inspiration from the ne0-bistro scenes of Europe and America. The concept is the brainchild of chef Ben McShane and front-of-house wizard Franklin Heaney – two experienced hospitality veterans that formed a bond while working together at Gold Coast restaurant Nineteen at The Star. Clarence is born from the duo’s desire to open an intimate bistro-style venue where they were wholly in control of every element – something that was casual, accessible and was a genuine expression of their tastes and personalities. Much like the humble neighbourhood bistros of Paris, Clarence looks to service the Woolloongabba community with an offering comprised of ingredients harvested at their peak, implementing an operational model that will be malleable and reactive to seasonal shifts. Ben’s menu boasts a selection of mostly vegetable-focused starters and cold meat plates, a range of a la carte mains and a clutch of sides – think pig-head terrine with peas, grapefruit and ginger, asparagus with clams, bourride and ginger, chicken with Jerusalem artichoke and sunflower-seed gravy, and giant grouper with sweet corn, black olive and black butter. Though the menu will sit within a modern-Australian paradigm, expect Ben to weave in European and Japanese cooking techniques from time to time. The drinks list boasts the same ever-evolving versatility as the food, with a tight range of beverages including three sparkling wines, six whites and six reds (all interesting local labels), as well as a clutch of Australian spirits.


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