Doughcraft’s inner-city expansion is a bakery, deli and aperitivo bar all in one

With its brand-new inner-city location on Mary Street, pastry-making powerhouse Doughcraft has not only expanded, but evolved. The Albion-born concept is still pumping out baked goods that fuse French and Italian inspirations, but now the crew is branching into aperitivo hour – serving primo paninis, stacked meat and cheese boards, rosemary-infused negronis and Corsican wines on Thursday and Friday evenings.

Feb 23, 2024, updated Feb 29, 2024

“We always had this in mind.”

When we sit down with Salvatore Compagnone inside Doughcraft’s brand-new bakery-meets-aperitivo-and-wine-bar on Mary Street, it’s hard to fathom that this kind of evolutionary step was on the cards from day dot. But, then again, the Doughcraft team has always taken pride in doing things a little bit differently.

When Doughcraft’s European-inspired bakery and deli concept launched at Craft’d Grounds in Albion back in June 2022, it titillated Brisbane carb connoisseurs with its harmonisation of French baking and Italian cooking techniques. Items like ‘nduja-infused focaccia buns, ficelle sticks coated in melted cheese, fruit-and-cream-filled pavlova doughnuts, and loaves of kamut bread got tongues wagging, while the crew’s wholesale arm – Farine & Co – wasted little time becoming a go-t0 supplier for many local cafes.

But that was never where the team intended on stopping. Salvatore, alongside co-owners Steven Chevalier and Simone Presta, always envisioned broadening Doughcraft and Farine & Co’s scope beyond viennoiseries. You could see hints of the direction at the beginning, when we reported that the team were considering offering the likes of gooey raclette, cheese and charcuterie boards and Sardinian lasagna in the evenings. However, in order to cater to the surging demand for pastries while the team dipped a toe into aperitivo-style hospitality, Doughcraft needed more space.

“We were looking for a bigger kitchen, a bigger place to grow and increase our range of products,” says Salvatore, who mentions that the crew embarked on a fruitless search for a site with enough room to boost production. And then, last November, opportunity came knocking. A storied restaurant space on Mary Street in The City (previously home to Leonard’s Bar & Bistro and, before that, hatted restaurant Urbane) became available. Not only did it boast a sizeable kitchen space, but it also housed a dining space, a bar and several function spaces. It was big – perhaps bigger than the team was expecting. But venues like this don’t come around often.

“This opportunity – just as things do – it just happened,” Salvatore recalls. “When we saw the bigger kitchen and the space for retail as well, that is when we started thinking we could finally do what we were always after, which is have people have aperitivo after 3:00 pm and slowly evolve into concept that we originally wanted to go for. It was like, ‘this is here, you take it or leave it’. So we just went for it.”

With keys in hand, the crew set about giving the venue’s main bar and curtained bistro-style dining space a facelift. “We thought that it had a very attractive interior design, but we needed to give it our little spin,” says Salvatore. “We did what we could to turn it into a bakery and an aperitivo wine bar for now, and then we just wanted to give it a bit of an arty vibe as well.”

Existing elements like the exposed-brick walls, subway-tiled floors and leather banquettes remain, but the back bar has been converted to house a bread and pastry display. Local artists were recruited to apply Keith Haring-inspired murals to the walls in the main dining area, while framed works from up-and-coming Brisbane creatives add a gallery element to the venue. A window display will also showcase small, installation-like works on a rotating basis.

Doughcraft City’s offering starts with pastries. Fusing French and Italian inspirations, Doughcraft’s baking team is continuing to use traditional methods and imported ingredients (including high-quality butter imported from Normandy) to craft a range of drool-worthy viennoiseries and breads. The selection ranges from classic and almond croissants to cinnamon scrolls, decadent tiramisu croissant tarts, raspberry danishes with whipped cream and custard, and truffle danishes with ricotta and pecorino cheese. While the current offering closely mirrors the range at Doughcraft Albion, expect some location-specific exclusives (and perhaps the return of Doughcraft’s famed gelato croissant) to pop up soon.

The daytime menu also includes a brand-new selection of paninis, with options like the Daniela (porchetta, ‘nduja, capsicum and straciatella), the Veronica (mortadella, straciatella and pistachio crumble) and the Viviana (eggplant, artichoke, capsicum, fetta cheese and sunflower seeds) sure to become favourites amongst The City’s sandwich-loving set.

Salvatore, Steven and Simone are dipping their toes into apertitivo trade to start, with the venue open from 3:00 pm on Thursday and Fridays for sips and snacks. Guests can saunter in and graze on meat and cheese boards piled high with the likes of prosciutto, mortadella, spicy salami, truffle manchego, gorgonzola, olives, truffle honey and fig jam, all while browsing a tight beverage list.

The cocktail menu features three variations of a negroni (including the sbagliato and an option made using rosemary-infused gin), three kinds of spritz, a cosmopolitan, a margarita and a mojito. “We wanted to make the cocktails very simple, very Italian,” says Simone. “The wine list is the French side – we have some very beautiful Australian wine, but we’ve also got some amazing Corsican wine.”

This is just the beginning for Doughcraft in The City. Expect the pastry selection and aperitivo menu to expand further as the weeks and months progress, with dishes like bruschetta, burrata bowls and raclette on the cards. As for the rest of the venue, the team has big plans to make the most of its new home – so watch this space. Catering and functions are also looking to play a big role in the business moving forward, but for now the crew is simply eager to inject more of an aperitivo culture into the inner-city scene.

“We want to introduce people to that sort of [aperitivo] vibe,” says Simone. “This location is made for a drinking a nice glass of wine, with some olives on the table or a charcuterie board.”

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