Gunshop Cafe Brisbane: Hip industrial vibe…

What happens when the piglet and the elephant end up in a Gunshop!

best espresso brisbaneThe Gunshop is located in the cultural precinct of West End Brisbane.  It is around a ten minute walk from the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), the Queensland Performing Arts Centre and the State Library all of which are located on the South bank of the Brisbane River.  Opposite the Brisbane CBD, Southbank is known for its restaurant diversity as well as representing a vibrant part of Brisbane’s cultural scene.

Although QAGOMA is a prerequisite for the piglet, the first stop whenever we return to Brisbane is the Gunshop Cafe.  As we get nearer I am trying to decide if I will have the “catalunya chips & eggs with manchego and chorizo” orpotato and fetta hash cakes, sour cream and tomato” both of which are hearty and delicious.  It is too difficult and besides they might have something new on the menu I have yet to try.  If not I’ll get the elephant to have one of them and I’ll have the other.

Bells of excitement for the piglet! Getting closer bells of excitement begin coursing through my blood stream, “Hurry up!” I urge the elephant.  “Park here!”

“Yeah, nah!”

Why would you? When you can park two blocks away and walk all the way back in the searing heat?  Finally arriving, it is wonderful to see nothing has changed substantially, and a few things, good things have been added to the menu in the interim.

The historic building! As the name suggests The Gunshop Café has an interesting history; the beautiful old heritage building has a disheveled interior due to the many adjustments across the decades which adds character to the dynamic day-to-day operation of this popular Brisbane icon.

Apart from the hip industrial vibe, the café incorporates three elements which contribute to a first class aesthetic experience: excellent coffee, inventive food options and friendly staff.

Many original features of the building are extant, such as the mini bay window facing the footpath, little side and sash windows; original wooden floors and brick walls.  These details combined with all of the above contribute to a sense of authenticity and goodness, of dedicated purpose and of a worthy working existence.

coffee and artArt at the Gunshop! Although the back garden has open sides, it is mostly covered (a must in Brisbane’s summer heat) allowing cool breezes to flow through what is a uniquely defined, no fuss, but tranquil area.

In part this is due to the greenery and the iconic mural by David Bromley, a six times finalist in the Archibald Prize, Australia’s pre-eminent art award for portraiture: what a bonus!

Moreover, on the site next door, Bromley has colonised an entire high rise wall with his iconic and ironic characters, the presence of the larger mural is another good reason to visit the Gunshop if you are into all things cultural, for a history nut like me, the surroundings are almost reason enough.

Mao’s last dancer! Last time I visited I learned the Gunshop is a supporter of QLD Ballet; lovely to hear as we need more support at a community level for cultural institutions of this kind, especially because Queensland Ballet has been reinvigorated under the direction of the amazing Li Cunxin, known internationally as Mao’s last dancer.

Having visited the Gunshop many times, it has never been found wanting because the positive experience is always greater than the sum of its parts.

Bees on the roof! It is clear that the staff are passionate about quality and creative food offerings; the cafe is now producing their own honey after installing two bee hives on the roof in collaboration with Bee One Third Neighbourhood Honey, another great initiative.

Working with elephants takes patience piglets! While the lather of sweat courtesy of the long walk from the car begins to abate; I tap my foot impatiently, the elephant takes a long time to decide, I have chosen to have something different, “pork apple and sage sausage with a potato hash cake”…Yummm!

The elephant proclaims triumphantly, “I’m having the granola”

“What?  Are you serious? We just walked two blocks in the sun after waiting three months to come back and you want museli?”  You can have museli anytime; you need to have the “smashed avo” or the “catalunya chips & eggs with manchego and chorizo” so we can share?

“It’s not museli, it’s granola!”

“OK, all good, you have the museli!” the piglet concedes, wisely thinking don’t push your luck; it’s a whole day experience with the elephant!  Speaking of elephants!

A word of caution! Don’t arrive at 9am on any Saturday, always a queue – make the effort to get there earlier or leave it until later for lunch; irrespective you must visit and then take in GOMA where there is always a great exhibition on; currently it is one of my favourite artist’s from University days, Gerhard Richter, The Life of Images, until Feb 2018.

As usual, our food and coffees are wonderful!  We smile smugly in the aftermath of having high expectations realised  – so good!

“After this we’ll go to QAGOMA

“Yeah, nah!  I’d rather cut my arm off”


“Born in 1960 in Sheffield, England, David Bromley immigrated to Australia with his family in 1964 and emerged as a painter in the mid-1980s. Since then, he has become one of the most recognisable and innovative artists in Australia.
In his practice, David has developed distinct themes and unique styles of painting; his best known are the nude female portraits and children’s series, but he often explores with various mediums and imagery that portray a certain whimsy. However diverse in his subject matter, David’s work is enduringly figurative, daringly coloured and executed with a graphic intention that is striking and memorable.”

Bromley has exhibited his work in exhibitions all over the world.

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