PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
What used to be a chicken shop is now the intimate and atmospheric Corner Bar. Trendy brunch café by day and community drinking den by night, Corner Bar is the masterwork of two young Brisbane brothers – Ryan and Daniel Singer (of Two Brothers Hospitality) — and local Balmain boy, Lindsay Egan.
Corner Bar embraces a quirky, community-focused vibe. Water arrives in old rum bottles, an original 8-metre long hand painted vintage bus scroll lines the roof, a silent film plays on the brick wall behind the bar and a sortie of pop-funk music hums overhead (Kool & the Gang's ‘Celebration' anyone?) There is a bar to one side that transitions into a lilliputian kitchen, its exterior flanked by original timber planks from the old Double Bay jetty. Across from the bar, diners can sit on tall red and silver stools at the window bench and embrace the Darling Street fishbowl effect.
The boys are not fond of fine dining, and accordingly, the menu is a reflection of their culinary tastes, spanning from street sambos and pizza slabs to tapas bites and a generous antipasti share board. We begin with the antipasti of chilli salami, pan fried chorizo, warm haloumi, mixed olives, arancini, hummus, aioli and toasted bread. The chorizo is juicy and drizzled with melted cheese and the arancini are refreshingly light and herby.
A large vat of wine sits impressively on the bar counter, which reads ‘Blind Corner Winery, Margret River'. Made by vintner Ben Gould (recently named one of Gourmet Travellers 10 most exciting new producers), this biodynamic Shiraz is made via traditional hand (and foot) techniques with the aim of best reflecting the vine and soil origins in the wine. It's definitely a winner. But a glass of 2011 Jed Wines Malbec from the Uco Valley, Mendoza steals my heart and the Eldferflower Martini gets a big thumbs up.
For a largely boyish menu, it is interesting that about 70% of the clientele are women. Looking around, the narrow passage is bursting with groups of girls chatting away and the bar is "couple's territory". Lindsay informs us the crowd ascends towards the weekend, especially on Sundays when a DJ is set up behind the coffee counter and the bar transforms into street party mode.
With its reliable, good-natured staff and friendly atmosphere, it seems Corner Bar is solidifying its place as a cool community hang out, and with a chalkboard inside the lavatory that reads "this is the bathroom chalkboard, now get back out there and have fun", it's easy to see why.