It’s a family affair at the Gabba as Pablo’s Pantry fires up

As much as we love pushing the boat out on a fine-dining feast, we’ll always have a soft spot for mum’s (or our grandmother’s) cooking. A sense of familial warmth sits at the heart of Pablo’s Pantry, a shiny new 20-seat brunch and drinks spot from a mother-daughter duo seeking to share a bit of homely hospitality with residents of Woolloongabba.

Today marks the official launch of Pablo’s Pantry, which means that right now you can saunter in for Greek deli specialties (from baklava to spanakorizo), all-day breakfast dishes (including chai and nut-ricotta hotcakes with ice-cream and orange-and-cinnamon syrup) and even small-batch vino from emerging Australian wineries. Take a peek inside …

Greek food in Brisbane comes in many forms. You have your upscale restaurants (some of the city’s best), a handful of taverna-style institutions and a rising number of grab-and-go yiros slingers. Pablo’s Pantry boasts plenty of Greek DNA courtesy of its owners, mother-daughter combo Helen and Marissa Kentrotis, but their brand new cafe, deli and wine bar occupies a niche of its own somewhere along the Greek eats spectrum thanks to its triple-threat versatility. Though boasting some contemporarily chic aesthetics, Pablo’s Pantry gives off an air of familiarity and warmth. You know, that sensation of comfort one gets from a nurturing relative or caregiver. That’s intentional, according to Helen and Marissa – two hospitality newcomers that are making a pivot into the cafe scene as a way to share their family’s affinity for nourishment. The impetus that propelled the duo to change professions came from a visit to Melbourne, where Helen marvelled at the breadth of the local Greek food scene and the stead homestyle fare is held by the community. “They had these wonderful stuffed capsicums – the yemista,” recalls Helen, who spent much of her time in Melbourne frequenting local markets. “I said to [my husband] ‘Oh, I’d drive anywhere in Brisbane if I could get something like that.’” Upon her return to Brisbane, Helen decided to delay retirement a little longer and, filled with yemista-fuelled zeal, convinced her daughter Marissa to join her in opening a deli and cafe where that exact style of homely and honest grub could be found daily. As the location-scouting process progressed, the concept expanded. By the time they secured ownership of a light-filled 74-sqm space on Trafalgar Street in Woolloongabba (a concrete shell at the base of the Silk One apartment building), the concept of Pablo’s Pantry had expanded to include a wine-bar component.

“We’ve wanted to stick to our roots and create a really homely experience for people, where it’s casual,” says Marissa of Pablo’s Pantry’s ethos. “They can come have some really good home cooking like they’d get at any yiayias house or like their mum’s place.” The Kentrotis’ have sought to pull this off in two ways. One – the venue’s Collectivus-envisioned interior design, which boasts a peaches-and-cream colour scheme, pairs the site’s windowed frontage and high ceilings with a curvy venue-spanning banquette clad in blush-hued cushions, blonde-timber shelving, white cabinetry, pendant lights and a white-stone coffee counter. It’s elegant and modern, but approachable and comfortable. With space for 20 guests spread across a string of two-seaters and one large communal table, vibes are kept intimate. Two – the menu, which includes deli-style morsels and grab-and-go items, plus a sit-down all-day menu. “We’re not a restaurant,” stresses Marissa, when discussing the menu. “The two of us are home cooks. The recipes have been passed down through the generations.” Despite this, Pablo’s Pantry’s sit-down menu is imaginative and playful, with the likes of blueberry compote, honey mascarpone and bee pollen on baguettes, shakshuka with roast capsicum and sourdough, toasted granola with caramelised pear, Greek yoghurt and honey, and herby avocado with fetta, mint, dill, parsley and pepita seeds. Folks seeking a smaller bite or something to take away can devour freshly made sandwiches, pastitsio, kefthedes, lemon potatoes and spanakopita. Helen, an avid baker, is also relishing having a big kitchen to play in – expect to find house-made cakes, cookies, muffins and baklava alongside croissants from Doughcraft in Albion. Coffee is supplied by Sunshine Coast roaster Good Bean, while Melbourne’s Love Tea is also on offer. Later in the day (and into the evenings), Pablo’s Pantry starts pouring Balter beers and all-Australian wines from small producers. Drops from the likes of Ministry of CloudsClandestine Vineyards and Allevare can be enjoyed on site (perhaps with a serve of freshly sliced Italian prosciutto?), while bottles are available retail. Speaking of retail, a selection of artisanal pantry fillers can be found on shelves at the rear of the space. An assortment of products, from pastas and sauces to salt, chilli oil and pickled goodies can be spied here. By the looks of things, Pablo’s Pantry is well equipped to make good on Helen and Marissa’s mission objective: to take people home through food. “We want everyone who walks through our doors to feel like they’re part of our family,” says Marissa. “It’s not pretentious. It’s just food that we eat and we’ve grown up with.”

Pablo’s Pantry officially opens today, Thursday June 29. For operating hours and other important details, click over to the Stumble Guide.

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

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