Many of Brisbane's music lovers were devastated when the popular and much loved Troubadour closed it's doors in November last year. Viewed as the heart and soul of the Brisbane live music scene by many, it's closing marked the end of a era for Brisbane music venues.
With this in mind, I was understandably excited when I heard through the grapevine that the owners of the Troubadour were opening a new venue in June. Named the 'Junk Bar', this establishment can easily be found in Ashgrove, would you believe, and is the brainchild of former Troubadour owner Jamie, who has decided to bring some culture to the suburbs. Being a fan of escaping the crowds in the Valley and City on a weekend, I wasn't put off at all by the choice of location. In fact, heading out with friends from our base in Paddington, it was an easy and painless cab ride to the venue, located on the corner of Ashgrove Avenue and Waterworks Road.
On first inspection, the Junk Bar is easy to miss. It's a 'hole in the wall' type of place, nestled in-between a Chinese takeaway and a Photo shop. I must admit, I did upon arrival wonder whether Jamie has pushed the envelope a little far with his choice of location.
When we stepped inside the doorway, however, all my reservations disappeared. A relatively small space, it is lit pleasantly with a dim amber glow, and one is immediately entranced by the design of the place. Incredible forest wallpaper is mellowed by the mood lighting, and an assortment of low lounges, chairs and seats form well defined sitting areas. Tasselled lamps, carved wooden tables and animal trophies on the wall transports you back in time to a 1970's circa feel, but it's not garish. It's bold and retro and a bit daggy, but the combination of the ambient lighting, the dim buzz of conversation and the comfortable seating give the space a personal and relaxed feel, as if you were in your friends living room. Vinyl tracks play local artists in the background, and will please the music lovers.
Taking seats in a booth formed by two couches and low table, situated under an impressively large deer head, we were quickly welcomed by Jamie and his partner Mia, both of whom were attentive, friendly and prompt in service for the rest of the night. We were quickly presented with the menu, which consists of four pages filled with a small but tantalizing range of drinks. Your basic beer and spirits can be found, along with a great selection of 'Junk Wines'. A list of cocktails and ciders is present, and really, I can't say enough good things about them. Every drink we ordered was delicious, and I particularly favoured both the apple and pear cider, which was refreshing, sweet and incredibly tasty. The drinks at the Junk Bar will certainly not disappoint, and the table service and use of tabs make the night smooth and easy one everyone.
Food is available, and is provided in part by the eateries surrounding the bar, endorsing a sense of community and strengthening the relaxed feel of the place. You can't help but feel at home when sipping on a cider and eating chips and aoli from the local fish and chip shop.
The atmosphere was great all night, although it was not quite as busy as I expected. Obviously word of the Junk Bar hasn't spread far and wide yet, or it's location in Ashgrove is proving a detriment to some. The crowd that was there tended to be a mixed sort, from your very alternative to your regular metro. Be warned though, if you've never been the the Troubadour, and are new to the small bar scene, the Junk Bar may be a little relaxed or too 'different' for you. Keep an open mind and give it a go, but have a back up option if it doesn't prove to your liking.
To conclude, the Junk Bar represents a great addition to the Brisbane small bar scene, and an important diversification from the central hub that is the Valley and City. Imaginative decoration, relaxed atmosphere and fantastic drinks make for a great night with friends, and I would highly recommend it to those seeking a drink and some music without the crowds and hassle.
Hey Nathan. My partner took me here last week. It was such a great bar with the perfect atmosphere that suits me to a T. Loved it and can't wait to get back there. A huge thanks to you- we wouldn't know it existed if it wasn't for your review. Cheers :)