As much the closure of The Smug Fig’s East Brisbane home was a kick in the guts to owners Troy and Arron van Stryp, the brothers are all about silver linings. Thankfully the writing was on the wall long enough for the duo to secure a new site before pulling up stumps, allowing for a relatively seamless transition with minimal inactivity between East Brisbane’s shuttering and the launch of The Smug Fig Kitchen & Social in Stones Corner. Now that the doors are open at The Smug Fig’s new home at the base of an eight-story residence on Cleveland Street (a short stroll away from Stones Corner’s Logan Road strip and the newly overhauled Hanley Park), Troy and Arron acknowledge that the transition has given them a chance to shake off the shackles of complacency, reaffirming the concept’s community-oriented identity while also retooling its offering to better cater to the local neighbourhood’s needs. Having already conquered brunch, the van Stryp brothers are now looking to tap into the area’s burgeoning evening trade, transitioning from cafe into social bar once the sun sets by swapping lattes for lagers and sausage and beans for share plates. The biggest hurdle, if you ask Troy and Arron, was how to make The Smug Fig look like both a cafe and casual bar, without unnerving its clientele with a jarring mix of aesthetics. The venue’s look, conceived in collaboration with designer Kate Waymouth and the team at Impact Fitouts, deftly blends approachable cafe touchstones (ample greenery, street-facing counter seating and a takeaway coffee window) with edgier elements including a vivid orange-and-green colour scheme, pops of neon and an eye-catching feature mural by Yannick Blattner. Setting foot inside, it’s easy to see the venue accomodating both animated family breakfasts at daybreak and low-key libation sipping after dark.
Long-time fans of The Smug Fig’s daytime offering will be pleased to know that the crew remains committed to making fast breakers as delicious as they ever were. Chefs Stuart Whitney and Max Slaven blends sweet and savoury, with buckwheat pancakes with honeycomb cream and caramelised banana, millet and linseed porridge with walnut maple milk, fermented potato flatbread tacos with fried haloumi and white cabbage and the aforementioned house-baked borlotti beans with LP’s pecorino-and-pork sausage awarded the title of early favourites. Coffee from Two Seasons is available alongside cold-pressed juices, milkshakes, smoothies and house kombucha. It’s when the sun sets that The Smug Fig showcases some new elements. Evening trade is commencing this week, starting out small with sips and snacks before the proper nighttime offering is gradually introduced. The kitchen will be taking a sustainable top-to-tail approach with its protein, bringing in whole animals and portioning them out into different share-sized cuts served with accompaniments. Expect the likes of pork with apple puree, sauerkraut and fermented garlic honey, market fish with caramelised fennel cream, pickled fennel and fennel pollen, and beef with pickled green tomato, fig leaf, sour cream and red sorghum, as well as Brussels sprouts cooked in duck fat, chickpea felafels, and purple sprouting broccolini with preserved citrus bitter. When it comes to boozy beverages, Troy and Arron are supporting local, leading with an array of local craft beers from Slipstream, Revel, Sea Legs, Black Hops and Ballistic, as well as a short and sweet list of Australian wines. Though cocktails aren’t available yet, the back bar is stocked with Australian spirits, including Seven Seasons bush apple and green ant gin. With the park in close proximity, The Smug Fig is also selling picnic packs to go, with packs of various sizes offering a mix of cold cuts and cheeses, pastries, sandwiches and coffees to enjoy on the grass.
The Smug Fig Kitchen & Social is now open to the public. Head to the Stumble Guide for operating hours and contact details.