Nicola Stone’s return to hospitality eventuated under curious circumstances. Feeling unfulfilled and seeking inspiration, Nicola embarked on a soul-searching journey across Japan, hiking her way across the country and absorbing everything she could about the vibrant culture. It was 300-kilometres into her journey – somewhere near Kyoto – that the idea to open a vegan tapas bar first struck Nicola, who was becoming increasingly impressed with Japan’s multitude of eating options. Nicola first dismissed the idea as unrealistic, having worked in hospitality years prior and understanding the pitfalls inherent in the rapidly changing industry. Upon her return to Brisbane, however, Nicola’s mindset changed and she became enamoured with the idea of a nightspot that favoured good times, health, approachability, wine and honest customer-oriented hospitality. To hell with the risks – Nicola started searching for a spot to implement her ideas, soon coming across a charming West End space (next to Alphabet Cafe and Flora by Greenhouse Canteen) that was perfect for her purposes. Thus You Came Again Vegan Tapas Bar was born.
Although charming, the venue Nicola secured was in desperate need of some TLC. The former Tibetan restaurant had been flipped so many times that it had lost its identity, so Nicola set about giving the space a new feel and look. Walls were knocked out, a new bar was assembled from recycled timber, crowded storage spaces were converted into more seating areas and the back yard was transformed from an overgrown weed fest into a tranquil grassy oasis. Local street artist Moist contributed a striking mural for a feature wall, and soon the venue was ready. Diners are spoiled for choice when it comes to seating, with three distinct dining areas available (You Came Again seats 80) in addition to a picnic area in the yard (rugs are provided).
The food and drink
A committed vegan, Nicola had a rough idea of what would work for You Came Again’s menu. That being said, Nicola knew that an experienced chef was needed to push the ideas above and beyond. Certified raw food chef Ashleigh Lezenic was recruited to oversee the menu, which favours creativity and simplicity with some sprinkles of Japanese influences. The menus themselves are pasted inside various books on topics such as spirituality, sex, health and fantasy – a concerted effort to remove taboos around such subjects and providing food for thought, as well as your stomach. Dishes include delightful bites such as beetroot carpaccio with dill and capers with vegan cream cheese, vegan pesto-stuffed mushrooms, miso-glazed eggplant, lemon popcorn cauliflower bites, vegan meatballs with crispy garlic chips, and barbecue pulled jackfruit sliders. Over at the bar, Nicola as assembled a drinks list that favours Australian-made beverages, with the exception of one French champagne and one Spanish wine. The craft beer selection features brews from Slipstream Brewing, Sunshine Coast’s Brouhaha, Melbourne’s 3 Ravens, while patrons can also sip on Hillbilly cider or a non-alcoholic beer from Sobah. The all Australian spirits list features some top drops, including Settlers Gin, an earthy aperitif from White Possum, Mount Compass agave spirit and more, many of which filter into a concise cocktail list.
For opening hours and contact details, jump over to the Stumble Guide.