Brisbanites are discovering what Melbourne has known all along: that hidden laneways are extremely accommodating breeding ground for successful cafés, restaurants and bars. Cue Corbett and Claude, tucked behind and below the heritage-listed Corbett Chambers (also known as Telecommunications House).
Elegant keystone arches offer voyeuristic views into the basement level bar and eatery. Polished concrete flooring, simplistic timber seating and a convivial bar stool arrangement is filled with post-work drinkers and pit-stopping bar-hoppers. It’s a humming crowd kept hydrated by young, enthusiastic leather apron clad staff. Nab a stool or pull up to a communal table, and take your pick of what’s on tap: there’s wine being pulled here (Skuttlebutt’s Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Shiraz) as well as beer (Stone & Wood, Green Beacon, Newstead); and then there’s local bottled draught, or Corbett and Claude’s own house lager. Champagne, sparkling and a modest range of boutique spirits line up against a tight wine list, and trademark cocktails arrive in retro style enamel cups.
The kitchen churns out signature pizzas at an eyebrow-raising pace. They’re worth investigation. Thin, crisp bases are light and hold just the right amount of chew, and come capped with non-traditional toppings – crisped chicken bites, grilled prawns or sliced potato, to name a few. Puritans might prefer the super soft meatballs (as good as any Nonna’s) and for grazers, the design-your-own platter does the job nicely – for five bucks an element, it doesn’t break the bank.
Early Brisbane architect William Claude Chambers designed this building back in 1906 as home to the Commercial Travellers Association, a central point for travellers to meet and share food, drink and companionship before continuing their journey. Let the tradition continue.