Corner Deli, Clarence’s new sandwich shop, now open in Woolloongabba

Venison pastrami Reubens with oozy Russian dressing. Curried-mortadella sandwiches with tangy tomato chutney. Cauliflower jaffles seemingly glued together with aged cheddar. One look at the menu is all it takes to prove that Corner Deli, the new breakfast and lunch concept from the Clarence crew, isn’t your run-of-the-mill sandwich shop. 

Here, classic New York influences are interwoven with the bistro’s sustainability minded and produce-driven philosophies, creating bang-on bites that are more than the sum of their parts. Corner Deli officially opens on Wednesday April 26 – here’s the first look at the range …

When Stanley Street restaurant Clarence hit its one-year milestone, co-owner and head chef Ben McShane started pondering ways he could push the business forward. His bistro was humming, with a steady stream of diners visiting to sample his conscientious cooking every week, so overhauling the menu or extending restaurant trading hours wasn’t the play.

Ben wanted to think bigger. He looked to the local area – particularly the workers that poured into Clarence’s neck of the woods – for inspiration on a new concept that could tap into the undercurrent of desire for simple and satisfying eats that could be obtained in a tight, hour-long lunch break. “There are already 10,000 people working around here and they’ve got an hour out of their day where they can come in and queue up and grab food,” says Ben of his thought process. “So, what’s the most functional thing we can do?”

The answer? Sandwiches. Well, not just sandwiches – a small-yet-satisfying array of grab-and-go options, made with the same level of care as the plates that pour out of Clarence’s kitchen. Around this time, Ben reached out to pal and fellow cuisiner Matt Kuhnemann who was working as head chef of Park Bench Deli in Singapore. Together, they devised a plan for Corner Deli – New York-inspired sandwich shop that is officially opening on Wednesday April 26.

Corner Deli sits in a freshly fitted-out space next door to Clarence, with a new archway connecting both sites. Ben and Matt have taken the opportunity to mash two potatoes with one fork by not only equipping the new site to handle takeaway custom, but also improve the restaurant’s dinnertime functionality and infrastructure. A small kitchen sits behind a curved concrete counter, from which Corner Deli’s menu is dispensed. The rest of the slender space is minimally furnished, with a blue banquette and two window benches offering seating for around ten.

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As for the offering itself, Ben and Matt have honed in on classic, nostalgia-inducing recipes tweaked to match Clarence’s established ethos, which favours local ingredients sourced with a sustainable mindset. “It’s still like what we are doing in the restaurant – just trying to cook good, proper food,” says Ben. “We care about where the producer is coming from and doing things properly.” Corner Deli revs up operations from 7:00 am, when it serves a tight breakfast menu comprised of bacon rolls with green-bean chutney, morcilla rolls with brown sauce and fried egg, sausage muffins, congee with spring-onion pancakes, and bircher muesli – all available alongside coffee from Bancroft Roasters.

The menu shifts at lunch, with a ten-strong selection of sandwiches (five hot and five cold), two soups (lentil and minestrone) and a clutch of sides grabbing the spotlight. Ben and Matt are toying with the familiar, elevating old-school faves to mouth-watering new heights. Take the Reuben, for example, which layers wild-shot venison pastrami from Fair Game on house-made bread with sauerkraut, cheese and lashings of Russian dressing and mustard. The classic deli roll is improved with the inclusion of meat from Saison Smallgoods (which is also supplying the protein for the curried-mortadella sandwich), while options like cauliflower jaffles with aged cheddar, confit-duck sangas with horseradish cream and the roast pumpkin and stracciatella sandwich showcase plenty of creative flair.

Those dining in can pair their pick with Strangelove soda, tumblers of wine from LATTA Vino, Jauma and Delinquente, or beer from Felons and Sea Legs. All told, Corner Deli is a bar-raising addition to Brisbane’s burgeoning sandwich scene – one that’ll quickly become a lunchtime staple for more than just those working in the immediate area.

Corner Deli is open from Monday to Friday – head to the Stumble Guide for operating hours.

This article was written by James Frostick from The Weekend Edition.

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