If you’re a 4101 local, then you don’t need me to tell you that there is a plethora of places to choose from for a mid-week drink, dinner or pow-wow with friends. And with the mercury steadily dropping, I think it’s fair to suggest those of us feeling the chill might just be craving a place we can settle into to generate a little inner heat … And I think I may have found a place perfect for doing just that.
The Gunshop Café is more than a restaurant; it’s a West End institution.
Joined by my lovely friend Megan tonight, we choose (we think) the best spot in the house to get ensconced; right in the back of the restaurant in what feels like the cosiest of corners.
We’re greeted by the lovely Sean, Manager, who wastes no time recommending a beautiful white wine for us to begin our evening: a ‘hybrid’ of Pinot Gris and Riesling.
We begin with a little Gnocchi appetiser, which is followed by a little chorizo with scallops, then a little bit of duck and finally we taste some venison. Everything is so tasty – the duck especially, is outstanding.
Megan and I chat and giggle and gossip away and barely realise we’ve switched to a red wine in the most beautiful fishbowl-like glasses I’ve seen in while – this Pinot Noir makes me weak at the knees – it is heavenly.
By the end of our dinner, we’ve been completely spoilt: the wine, the food, the service (our waiter Jordan is just a darling, there is no other way to describe her) and the ambiance tops it all off.
Sean takes a seat at our table as we’re wrapping up and I seize the opportunity to burrow into his Gunshop world a little.
Sean has flitted in and out of Gunshop for years, always returning after spells overseas. I want to know what kept him coming back.
“I love it here. The team is great and I’m also really proud of what we’re doing and also what we have in the works. We are putting up really honest food, it’s not pretentious, it fits the rest of the brief here … it’s rustic and delicious. We’re not trying to make this place something it’s not: I hate foams and all that El Bulli pretence – we’re a café and a really good one, and I think we do a really good job of being upfront about that and exceeding expectations at the same time,” Sean tells me.
Sean’s passion for hospitality and for The Gunshop Cafe is undeniable. His passion for the West End area is also something of note.
“I’ve lived in West End for years. If I didn’t live in West End, I wouldn’t live in Brisbane. I just love it, it’s home.
“It’s starting to come into its own now, it has a real identity, the arts culture is only getting stronger with productions like Bolshoi Ballet choosing to come to Brisbane and not Sydney or Melbourne. I think that says a lot about where West End is heading,’ Sean says.
On the subject of Ballet, Sean also mentions to me that Li Cunxin, Queensland Ballet’s Artistic Director is a regular at Gunshop for lunch.
The Gunshop Cafe is branching out into other events too; hosting wine nights and also committing to do more within the community – partnering with local Urban Beekeepers Bee One Third to host hives is just one such initiative.
And for me, this all begs the question… what can’t Gunshop do?
The Gunshop Cafe is honest, rustic, produces beautiful produce and is community minded…. And I really feel the combination of all of these elements make it completely loveable.