Snug, Brisbane’s best (and busiest) new cafe, has launched its Korean-inspired brunch menu

If you’ve cruised down Chatsworth Road in Coorparoo at some point in the past seven weeks, you’ve likely seen crowds clustered around an olive-hued shopfront. That’s Snug, the new smash-hit cafe from rising-star chefs Leaham Claydon and Jianne Jeoung. The cosy venue has been consistently packed since it opened over Easter, with throngs gathering for cups of ST ALi coffee and silky hojicha lattes. The crowds are set to congregate again with the launch of Snug’s Korean-inspired brunch offering, which boasts the likes of soft pretzels, scrambled egg-drop sandwiches and omurice with prawns.
May 17, 2024, updated May 17, 2024

When chefs Leaham Claydon (previously head chef of Yoko) and Jianne Jeoung (whose resume includes senior roles at Greca and Clarence) decided to step away from the high-octane action of restaurant kitchens to open Snug – their appropriately titled Coorparoo-based cafe (and soon-to-be wine bar) – they probably envisioned operating at a slower speed, at least to start.

But any expectations of a gentle introduction were promptly dashed when Snug opened to the public on Thursday March 28 for coffee and pastries. Over its soft-launch weekend, the cafe served more than 1300 patrons – a colossal total, considering that the duo only announced Snug’s opening a day prior.

“We were like, ‘Nah, it’s going to be fine’,” recalls Jianne, with a laugh.

Guests crowded into Snug’s slender and stylishly minimal space (a former trophy shop), either staking out a perch at the timber counter (which triples as coffee bar, service area and kitchen pass), snagging one of the few tables out front, or claiming a stool at the bench top that wraps around the cosy interior. From open to close, the couple pulled double duty at the gleaming La Marzocco coffee machine, slinging ST ALi brew and hojicha lattes, as well as almond croissants, and rhubarb and pistachio danishes.

“I was thinking the other day, when there was a line-up and all of the seats were full, that it reminded me of squishing through hectic Asian markets,” says Leaham. “I think people actually really enjoy the vibe.”

“The name is Snug, so luckily people expect it to be tight,” adds Jianne.

One might assume this was just a simple case of opening-weekend frenzy, but in the seven weeks since the cafe opened, it would be easier to count the days that Snug wasn’t busy than to tally the alternative. And of those seven weeks, Snug has only been serving food for only one of them.

Snug officially launched its brunch menu in early May, introducing locals to a tight menu of dishes inspired by the duo’s recent three-week holiday to South Korea. The whole idea of Snug was born on this trip, with Leaham and Jianne taking cues from Korea’s hyper-diverse hospitality scene – particularly its cafe and wine-bar culture, which is flush with small-scale owner-operated venues that favoured personable service and unique offerings.

“Each place [we visited] had its own identity and there’s not a lot of big companies with four, five or six restaurants there,” says Leaham. “It’s just a lot of people doing their own thing.”

While not explicitly Korean, Snug’s menu features a number of inflections of the country’s popular food trends – concise, but cooked and presented with care. Scrambled egg drop sandwiches on toasted milk bread, a rotating soup of the day served with soft pretzels (rolled and baked daily), glossy omurice topped with prawns and lemon tsuyu, and chicken salad with coriander kimchi and pine nuts lead the debut offering alongside pastries and olive sourdough with caramelised nuruk, tomato and caper butter.

The food and drink is served on bespoke ceramic plates, bowls and coffee cups (made by Jianne’s aunties in Daejong), adding an extra personal touch to the dining experience.

“It was more based off what we ate in Korea, but nothing is specifically Korean,” says Leaham of the menu. “Like the pretzels, they’re super trendy in Korea right now. The egg drop sandwich, I smashed one while waiting for the KTX (Korea’s high-speed train) and it was unreal. To get something that is of such good quality while waiting for a train is incredible.”

“It’s based on the experience that we had while we were on holiday, but also it’s just the reality of working in this tiny space,” adds Jianne, who previously oversaw the kitchen at Newstead’s pocket-sized wine bar, NIKY. “We can’t cook any protein, because there’s no grease trap – so the chicken in the salad we have, that’s poached.”

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Despite the limitations of the kitchen, Snug’s early supporters have responded with the same level of eagerness as they did when the cafe first opened.

“It’s way more than we ever expected,” says Leaham of the community response. “We thought this menu might scare a lot of people off, but people in this area are super keen to try new things.”

While Leaham and Jianne have plenty on their plate right now, the duo is eager to build up to the next phase of Snug’s evolution. Later this year, the couple plans to launch an evening service at Snug, which will see the team apply their inventive approach to an after-dark offering consisting of small share plates and snacks with a Korean touch.

“We would love to open up the wine bar as soon as possible, because the wine-bar food is what we are really excited to cook,” says Jianne. “It will be something a bit more unusual – anything that we are interested to show people.”

The chefs will be sourcing produce from small suppliers and farmers capable of supplying different (and sometimes unconventional) ingredients, while also employing waste-minimising practices across both day and night services. The duo also plan to convert an external garage space into a wine store, offering space for functions, events and extra dining room during busy nights.

As the overwhelming level of early interest attests, Leaham and Jianne have hit the mark with Snug. Here, foodies have an abode imbued with personality, offering a striking menu that goes beyond typical boundaries. Much like the joints Leaham and Jianne discovered in Korea, Snug is reliable, welcoming and, most importantly, unapologetically theirs. But it’s also for everyone – be it coffee seekers, brunch hunters or, eventually, oenophiles.

“It can be for everyone – if you just want a coffee, you can sit on your laptop and have a coffee. If you want a full meal, you can have a full meal,” says Leham. “People get to use this space how they want.”

Snug is now open to the public – head to the Stumble Guide for more info. 

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