It's hard to believe the opening day for Papa Jack's is just around the corner, with the site still a mass of bobbing yellow hard hats and the walls and floors bare, but opening date is scheduled for the end of this month.
What the New Orleans accented bar and restaurant does have in firmly in place is a crack bar team; what bar manager Perry (Pez) Collier (a key player in Brisbane's thriving bar scene for years) reckons may in fact be the best in the country. Along with Collier, there's Rob Scott, ex-Canvas Bar Woolloongabba, along with former Canvas colleague Andrew Cameron, Krystal Hart formerly of Walrus Bar and Nick Edwards, who has recently returned from two years in Shanghai and previously worked at The Lark.
Papa Jack's owners Emily and Marco Nunes (ex Canvas owners) fell in love with the food, drink and music of New Orleans on a recent trip and decided to regionalise the food and drink offerings at their new venue, originally slated to be more mainstream American.
“In New Orleans, there much more depth of flavour because there's the French influence as well as the southern, African, Caribbean, Italian, Spanish, German, and Portuguese,” Emily Nunes said.
“We're going to do a more contemporary take on the Creole. While American food seems to be incredibly popular right now, there's nothing like this in Brisbane at the moment.”
The menu, under chef Grant Skinner is based on small plates, share plates and platters; from breakfast specialities like bananas Foster with pain perdue to 'Beau Bridges Benedict'- a New Orleans take on the classic Benny but served a on thick baguette with a pork shoulder boudin. Then there'll be the po' boy, pecorino grits, muffuletta bread, gumbo, a daily sweet pie and more. Open until late, they will run a supper menu from 9.30pm until closing.
According to Collier the cocktail list will be a mix of New Orleans classics and modern interpretations. The house cocktail is a Sazerac. Said to be America's first cocktail, it consists of Bulleit rye whiskey, raw gum syrup, and Peychaud's Bitters. It will be available on tap and also made to order using a mixing glass and strained in a steamed whiskey glass rinsed with Old Pernod Absinthe. They'll also be offering the famous New Orleans “milk punch” - mixing bourbon and milk and used most often for hangovers.
Licensed as a small bar, the venue will hold just 60 with some footpath dining and have regular live music including roots, soul, blues and funk. And if you're wondering about the name - it comes from a famous old Jazz musician, 'Papa Jack' Laine, credited with being instrumental in the development of jazz music in America.
Emily Nunes says while they're aiming for a November 22 opening, it could be moved a few days.
Papa Jacks, corner Connor and McLachlan Streets, Fortitude Valley.