For any new hospitality venue, the first year is the trickiest to navigate. Sure, you’ve got the initial honeymoon period as folks flock to check out the hot new thing, but amassing a loyal following of regulars is the key to ensuring longevity once the initial buzz dies down. For Michael Jokovich, the first 365-plus days of trade at his West End cafe and bar Cordeaux Social Club have been a real learning experience. But thanks to the support of the local sipping set and a rock-solid food and drink offering, Cordeaux has blossomed into one of the suburb’s most-beloved hangouts. “I think as time has moved forward we’ve been really receptive to the local feedback,” says Michael, reflecting on the past year. “We’ve been lucky to be embraced by the community, so we’re really happy to be down in this part of West End – we’re really starting to find our feet down here.” That said, Cordeaux’s early days haven’t been without hiccups. Plans to transform a courtyard to the side of the charming weatherboard-clad haunt into a casual alfresco space encountered some red tape-draped obstacles, while a protracted wait for licensing approvals meant that Cordeaux had to close up shop at 8:00 pm, even on peak nights.
But that’s all in the past now – Cordeaux Social Club has entered its second year with some flash new bells and whistles. Head there these days and you’ll spy the completed outdoor extension, which boasts a couple of picnic tables shaded by yellow umbrellas, a raised deck with its own outdoor bar and a strip of high-top perches. It couldn’t have come at a better time, with summer around around the bend. “I think having an open space and being able to utilise the climate that we have here in Queensland was important to us,” says Michael. “We get really great weather pretty much all year round, so we wanted somewhere where you could sit out in the sun and have a wine or a coffee and just enjoy yourself.” In addition to adding a further 55 seats to Cordeaux’s overall capacity (bringing the total to more than 100), the extension gives the crew the flexibility to comfortably seat large groups, cater to private functions and add live music to its weekend offering.
Speaking of weekends, Cordeaux Social Club’s Friday and Saturday operating hours have been boosted to 10:00 pm, which means dinner guests can linger longer and savour more of the new menu crafted by head chef Elia Cerrelli. Like always, Cordeaux’s menu leans more towards snacks and small plates, featuring the likes of seared Hokkaido scallops, beef tartare with shallot, cornichon and soy egg yolk, fish fritters with nori and sesame, and heirloom tomatoes with stracciatella, ‘nduja and basil. There’s still more substantial options, though – larger plates of pork collar with cos salad and cauliflower rice, house-made ravioli with peas, almond and balsamic, and herb-crumbed snapper show off Elia’s culinary inspirations. “He’s Italian, so his menu is very obviously inspired by his homeland and that European influence can be felt throughout the day and night,” says Michael. “We’ve changed the daytime menu to play more to his strengths.” While Cordeaux’s daytime menu is still big on sandwiches (don’t worry, its sausage and egg roll and tuna melt are still available), tweaks such as the addition of house-made focaccia is taking the offering to another level. On the drinks front, a killer wine list assembled in consultation with the crew at Half Moon Wine Store remains flush with fun wines, but it has been bolstered with the inclusion of some more old-word European drops. Likewise, Cordeaux complement of cocktails has been tinkered with – you’ll find more seasonal concoctions on the many, including some made with fresh juices. There’s more to come for Cordeaux (including murmurs of a new woodfired spit for the courtyard), but if you visit these days you’ll find a venue hitting its stride. “The menus have evolved and we’ve changed our approach with the food here and there, but we’ve always kept that same sort of approach to hospitality,” says Michael. “Whether it’s morning or night – we’re here and welcoming people in with open arms.”