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West End’s New Deli and Wine Bar Cordeaux Social Club is Nailing the Simple Things

By George Hadgelias
When the chapter on 2022 is written into the history books, we’ll note that this was the year Brisbane experienced a surge in two things – wine bars and sandwich spots. West End’s Cordeaux Social Club is a hybrid of both, nailing the essentials we seek from morning to evening. The newly open brainchild of two brothers looks to celebrate the simple things in life, chiefly food, drink and community vibes. In the kitchen, an Agnes Restaurant alum is turning out sensational deli-style sandwiches and lunch plates during the day, while conjuring imaginative small plates and snacks at night to go with a keenly curated wine list. Take a look inside … 
When he was living in New York City, Michael Jokovich relished the chance to immerse himself in the metropolis’ culinary abundance. Exploring this epicurean melting pot was no doubt inspiring, but what resonated with Michael enough to leave a particularly indelible impression was the city’s knack for nailing the simple things. Every neighbourhood boasted its own corner deli, sandwich spot or bodega – most of which were open all hours of the day. “I always love that no-frills simple food,” says Michael, reflecting on his time in New York. “Over there everything is so authentic an unapologetically simple.” The concept underpinning Cordeaux Social Club – the new cafe, sandwich deli and wine bar hybrid Michael recently opened in West End alongside his brother Alex and Alex’s partner Hannah – is couched in the same sweet simplicity. It’s best described as two separate venues in one. During the day Cordeaux is a cafe and deli, serving sandwiches, lunch plates and coffee, while at night the mood softens as the venue subtly adopts its wine bar persona and small snacks and vino become the main attraction. The spot is located in a quiet corner of West End, down by the river at the end of Montague Road near Orleigh Park. Housed in the homely site where Alberto’s Shot Espresso Bar used to operate, the team has knocked down a few walls and expanded the interior footprint – installing a new open-plan kitchen and retooling the coffee counter to house a bar as well. Aesthetically the space is classic yet minimal, with bi-fold doors and dark timber wainscoting offset by crisp white walls and black leather banquettes. It feels timeless and approachable, imbued with the kind of charm one would seek from a neighbourhood local. “We wanted to strip it back and serve the food that we want to serve in an environment that was relaxing,” says Michael. “If we weren’t working here, this is the place we’d want to frequent.”Cordeaux Social Club’s kitchen is helmed by Ben Chow, a talented chef whose resume includes postings at high-end eateries like Gerard’s Bistro and Agnes Restaurant, the latter of which he worked as sous chef under Ben Williamson. Enticed by the prospect of swapping the high-pressure environment of fine dining for something more pared back and humble, Ben signed on to bring his considerable culinary talent to Cordeaux’s day and evening menu. Cordeaux’ s offering is heavily dependent on the availability of ingredients, with Ben quickly amassing a killer roster of suppliers – including the likes of Agnes BakeryMeat at Billy’sThai Hoa GrocerProvidore PrincessSaison Small Goods and Fino Foods – to provide everything from bread and meat to fruit and veg. “Whatever is good, I buy it and cook it,” says Ben of his culinary ethos. This understated approach is already paying dividends. Though served simply, there’s a depth to each dish on Cordeaux’s menu courtesy of Ben’s exacting, high-end hospitality experience. The daytime menu is broken into two sections – sandwiches and plates. The former features the likes of spiced pork sausage, fried egg and red cheddar on a Parker bun, mushroom cutlet with hazelnut butter and mozzarella on seeded sourdough, a fried-chicken sandwich with iceberg lettuce, and a smoked beef sandwich with gruyere, pickles and gravy. As for plates, expect to spy ox-heart tomatoes with smoked ricotta and mustard leaf XO, potato salad with egg, capers, pickles and mustard, a fried-chicken caesar, and a Continental-style assemblage of capocollo, pickles, soft-boiled egg, cheese and a baguette. Coffee from The Black Lab is also on deck for the caffeine seekers. The evening wine bar menu is snack-heavy, with tight list chopping and changing frequently. “It’s all based around wine, that’s what the menu will always be,” says Ben. “It won’t be a certain style of food, it’ll be based on what wines we have and what I have lying around.” For launch, that translates to whipped bottarga with rustic, hand-cut friesbeef tartare with white anchovy and saltbush nori, burnt sobrasada with quince and aged cheese, and sour cucumber with ‘nduja and pomelo. Cordeaux’s tight wine list (which spotlights small producers) has been shaped with guidance from the crew at Half Moon Wine Store. It features a mix of wines by the glass (including a Hughes and Hughes riesling, Mac Forbes pinot noir, Eclectic Violet granache and Sven Josche rosé) as well as a by-the-bottle selection encompassing a La Violetta pet nat, Gentle Folk Vin de Sofa, Future Perfect chardonnay and a Ministry of Clouds mataro. Cocktails extend to easy-mix concoctions like negronismargaritas and Aperol spritz, with a short selection of beers mixing mainstream and craft options.

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