Owner operators of the newly opened Side Piece Coffee in Varsity, Miles Gaebel, Dylan Jamsa and Lee King, had long histories in hospitality before joining their skills to open their own cafe overlooking Varsity.
When we popped in for a visit in their first week, the trio was so full of enthusiasm for their new venture that their energy was palpable.
“We had a baby and that baby is teething,” former Tarte Bakery manager Miles tells us, despite everything running like clockwork (at least to our eyes). With each of the guys taking over a different part of the operations, when we visit they are all on board, eager to launch off the starting blocks.
It took several years for the crew to find the right location, the ground floor of a new high rise built on a hill. With floor to ceiling glass looking out over a terrace to Varsity, there’s a huge range of possibilities for the site. It’s a great addition to Varsity, given its lack of diverse offerings for the density of population, let alone a venue like this with such potential.
Like any great café, coffee is their centrepiece. They are brewing Brisbane-based The Black Lab Coffee Co, with rotating single origins and blends such as Black Mass for their filter and pour over coffee.
It’s in their food that we see the main point of difference, the guys turning the idea of ‘menu’ on its head.
The first page of the menu is a concise list of seven items; house favourites with the double entendre title ‘All the Best’.
“’Small, simple, delicious.’ That’s our core philosophy,” Miles tells us.
We try three of their dishes, The Sub, a crispy French roll loaded with Italian meatballs, mozzarella, basil, parmesan and herb oil, a pimped Egg Sando with the addition of relish and salted tomato, and the umami laden Mushroom Toastie with mixed mushrooms, goat’s feta and chimichurri, each of us ending up with a different favourite. The perennial but hard to find Salad Sando and luxe Winter Porridge (berries, pistachio brittle, vanilla mascarpone and maple) are on the list for future visits.
Then the menu enters different territory.
On the second page, ‘Build Your Own’, we are invited to build our own breakfast or lunch from a one-page ingredient list, leaving it up to the diner to choose their own combination.
‘How’s the freedom!’ to misquote The Castle.
“It’s usual for people to want changes on their meals, and lots of places don’t allow changes to menu items. So, we’ve decided to do the opposite and give diners the freedom to choose the combination of ingredients they may want as building blocks, sides and add-ons,” Miles says.
Mixed mushies, mortadella, smoked trout, halloumi and house pickles with chimichurri or chilli oil might not be your combo, but I’m sure there is some deliciousness in the list waiting to be discovered. We don’t know where to begin!
The cabinet full of freshly baked treats adds even more choice.
“Apart from a few basic items that we wanted, we have given both our pastry chef Brooke and Chef Adam Neo the freedom to create whatever delicious food they want. Already Brooke’s biscuits are going off,” Miles says, adding that the Choc-chip, miso and brown butter cookie is a signature. We try the deliciously tempting Corn Flake crunch cookie and are already won over.
More than anything, though, it’s the vibrant energy of the owners that makes a difference – the willing smiles, welcome and jokes. It all goes a long way towards brightening up a chilly morning.
Side Piece Coffee, 2 Capital Ct, Varsity Lakes QLD, Open 7 days 7am – 3.30pm (Kitchen closes at 2pm)
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast visited as a guest of Side Piece Coffee.