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Clover, a new neighbourhood bar from The Woods and Oxford Tap House crew, has opened in Holland Park

In the final days of June, the team behind some of Brisbane’s best beer-centric bars turned on the taps at its brand-new neighbourhood suds slinger, Clover. Taking over the former Suburban Social space on Holland Road, Clover is looking to settle in as a new go-to spot for pints of creamy Guinness and crisp craft beers, classic cocktails and low-ABV spritzes, cracking pub-style fare, and out-of-the-box snacks. Pop in and pull up a stool!

Jul 05, 2024, updated Jul 05, 2024

Gillian Letham is as surprised as anyone to be opening a new bar this year. As the hospitality industry at large continues to reckon with the aftershocks of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis that has ensued, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the safest play for Gill was to sit tight and wait for conditions to improve. Well, that’s not really how Gill tends to operate. Just ask her yourself.

“My friends call me a chaos junkie,” says Gill with a laugh. “At one point, I was meant to be selling bars, not buying them. But my nose gets the better of me – I’m always looking.”

Gill’s habit of keeping one eye on the real estate market has paid off with Clover, the brand-new Holland Park haunt Gill and partner Gerard Hartnett quietly opened on Friday June 21. Nestled in the space previously occupied by Suburban Social, Clover is a bright and airy bar and casual eatery boasting a shade under 100 seats.

Before you assume that Clover is a hastily calculated product of impulse, it’s necessary to understand that when it comes to running successful watering holes, Gill and Gerard know their stuff – like, really know their stuff. The hospitality veterans operate The Oxford Tap House in Bulimba and The Woods in Mitchelton, both beloved and long-running suburban boozers. Previously, the duo also helped fan the flames of Brisbane’s early craft-beer obsession with fondly remembered Fortitude Valley bar The Mill on Constance. All this is to say that if there’s one crew that you can trust to deliver an approachable haunt with strong local appeal, it’s this one.

“We saw this site and thought it could have a tap house vibe – a little neighbourhood bar that’s within walking distance, which is definitely more the groove these days,” Gill tells us. “We thought that if we could do something like [The Oxford Tap House] here, that’s what people would want.”

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Though the Suburban Social space was already a convenient plug-and-play fit in terms of amenities, the Clover team has still spent a bit of time and effort giving the space a cosmetic touch-up, emphasising colour, brightness and character in order to make the joint feel like an approachable all-day venue. A fresh colour palette comprised of muted orange and green hues contrasts with the sturdy timber bar and leather banquettes of the street-front dining space, while newly installed acoustic panelling, new tiles on the floor around the bar, and a range of hand-picked decorative pieces enhance the venue’s pub-like qualities. Loads of natural light also pours through the windows and skylights, a far cry from the moodier aesthetic of Clover’s siblings.

The Mill was a dark building and when we moved out, we craved it – so we went quite dark on the inside of The Woods,” recalls Gill. “Here, it still feels cosy at night, but we wanted [Clover] to feel nice and warm during the day, rather than dark.”

Where The Woods and The Oxford Tap House boast a rep for ever-changing respective beer offerings, Gill, Gerard and venue manager Aaron O’Sullivan (a trusted and longstanding member of the crew that is now running point on Clover’s day-to-day operations) have elected to temper this ephemeral approach somewhat, adding a few evergreen fixtures into the mix.

“At The Mill that [rotating tap list] was great – that was its thing,” says Gill. “People can be a little bit nervous if they come in and don’t recognise the beers. Here we can say to them, ‘Taste these ones – you’ll always be able to get this’.”

Of Clover’s eight beer taps, four showcase rotating brews while the others are dedicated to mainstays like Guinness, Young Henrys Natural Lager and Philter’s XPA. Four extra taps have also been added, dispensing a low-ABV spritz, a Moscow Mule and two wines (a one-page wine list is also available). On the cocktail front, Clover serves a clutch of shaken, lowball and highball concoctions. The classic Clover Club is a house signature, boasting an ambrosial mix of Noosa strawberry gin, lemon, raspberry syrup, aquafaba and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Clover’s tight food menu walks a line between familiar fare and creative morsels. Classic favourites like chicken schnitzels, rib fillets and fried-chicken burgers are available alongside an evolving selection of specials and out-of-the-box snacks – think teriyaki-glazed split tiger prawns, fried zucchini flowers with vegan dill mayo, and Szechuan calamari with nam jim dipping sauce.

“A lesson learned from like The Woods is that it’s better for the menu to be short and rotated,” says Gill. “Clover has those two or three mains that you always have. You can come and get a steak and you can come and get a fish, but we’ll also have a curry and a pad Thai and something that just sort of rotates around, so that next time there is something different to try.”

Though it’s only a little over a week into its life, Clover already has the makings of a cherished community meeting point. Slickly stylish enough to work as a date-night dinner destination, but also casual and charming enough to suit easygoing afternoon catch-ups, Clover is as versatile as it is convenient.

“We’re trying to make it comfortable on either end,” says Gill. “You can come in and be a little bit fancier and have a cocktail, or you can have a schnitty and a Guinness and sit in the back and have a yatter.” 

Clover Neighbourhood Bar is now open to the public. Head to the Stumble Guide for operating hours and menu details.

 

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