Review: Not Tonight Bar & Café

50B Nerang Street, Southport

“Not Tonight.”

There’s a seductive challenge in those words. The saying is steeped in history; a famous dismissal that leaves plenty of room for alternatives. Let’s get creative! If not tonight, when?

“Then how about today?” I throw out the alternative, and we meet for lunch instead.

Location, location, location! It’s often quoted as the key to success, and Not Tonight has the money on the nose. The winter sun gleams off the light rail as it pulls in at Southport Station, our destination just across the street. Just around the corner from the centre of town, it’s opposite the iconic Courthouse Hotel and Old Ambulance buildings.

Not Tonight, today.

Sitting pretty on the top corner of Davenport Street Village, Not Tonight is the only small bar in town.

Yet it’s so much more. It’s a music-pumping, sassy craft beer and cocktail venue at night, a tapas joint with fancy Melbourne laneway-style nosh, a clandestine lunch spot on the weekend or even a catch up café for a quiet Toby’s Estate coffee and cake.

It was a brave move, opening a new bar while the barricades were still up for the light rail construction. But as owners Arran Woollams and Julian Luckhardt know, a lot of the ‘luck’ at the track is gained in the preparation!

They had a vision of a boutique city-style bar serving smart yet affordable gastropub food, great cocktails and local craft beers. With backgrounds in architecture, lighting engineering and hospitality, the guys brought a different take to the venue. Designing and building most of the bar themselves, they have left the finish raw, its casual retro-industrial flexibility intended to meld to the evolving usage of the venue.

“We want to let customers make it their own place,” Arran tells us, as I cast my eyes up the stairs. It’s the sort of comfortable tiered dining and bar space where all sorts of people could meet for different purposes; a place that could fit varied occasions.

Having secured Jonathan McGlynn as Chef, there’s a gastro pub feel to the menu, with some interesting choices. Trained in the UK under Lee Scott (Head Chef for Gordon Ramsay and Raymond Blanc) Jon’s background includes Head Chef in various restaurants and gastropubs in London, large scale catering, as well as Hospitality management and training.

For this one-chef kitchen, the menu comprises clutches of dishes arranged by price point and times available to help you navigate your choices. It’s good, honest food with some fancy touches.

How about a weekend brunch of Eggs Bene, or Zucchini and corn fritters or French toast with honeyed walnuts and crème chantilly ($10 – $14)? Or fancy a BLT Bloody Mary or a Morning Glory Gin Fizz to chase Friday night away? You’re on, because the small bar licence means you don’t have to eat to consume alcohol!

And why not share some platters and drinks after work? The choice of Share Boards ($18) should see you through. Or grab some bar bites such as Aranchini and Slow-cooked pork belly skewers ($8 – $14) or pizzas to keep the crowd happy. Everything is freshly made: your fish will be Tamborine beer battered whiting, the chips hand cut. Best of all the pricing, of both food and drinks, hits the mark for Southport clientele.

Open at present for ‘long weekend’ hours, the guys have plans to host special events such as chef’s long table dinners and beer and food matchings, as well as continuing event catering for 30 or 40 on request.

And if you thought the food was fabulous, take a look at the drinks menu! Boasting beer on tap for $5 a pot and cocktails priced between $10 and $14, the bar menu shows off local, local, local at the best prices in town. Not just any beer, either! It’s small batch run beers, such as Beard and Brau Farmhouse Amber Ale from Mt Tamborine, Stone & Wood from Byron Bay, and our own Dream Date on tap from Burleigh Brewing’s ‘A Bit on the Side’. Besides that, the bar boasts cocktail base labels we’ve never heard of:

  • The international gold medal West Winds The Sabre from the Margaret River region, the gin slightly scented with lemon myrtle and lemon peel
  • Pot distilled 666 Tasmanian vodka brimming with the flavours of Autumn Butter
  • Double Dip, a cold drip extracted coffee liqueur from Little Drippa in Melbourne which makes as good an Espresso Martini as an IV drip!

]There aren’t enough places around for a pure bit of indulgence without a remortgage! But this is one!

So when he says ‘Not tonight’, I say ‘Sure! Let’s meet for a drink this afternoon’.

Catch the tram, meet the man!

Read more of Marj’s reviews on Good Food Gold Coast

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