Given Kitchen and Bar is one of the new eateries to open in Brisbane in 2021. Despite the turbulence of 2020 and the ongoing uncertainty, the team behind Paddington’s Ngon went ahead with this venture. Their Instagram page had hinted that it would be Asian street food with a modern twist, and we kept our eyes open for when it was up and running.
Given Kitchen and Bar is located on Given Terrace in Paddington, next to old art deco bank building that previously housed Le Bon Choix. We discovered that the restaurant doesn’t actually have signage yet, but we managed to find it with the listed address. The bank building will be the most recognisable landmark for those trying to figure out where it is.
We wandered through the entrance and were looking for clues to confirm that we were at the right place. We were still unsure when looking at a menu at the counter, until we recognised a couple of dish descriptions on the menu that matched what we had seen on their social media. (The name of the eatery wasn’t printed anywhere on the menu either.) Staff greeted us, and showed us to a table when we confirmed that we did want to dine there.
The seating space is quite long, with bench seating running along one wall, and tables arranged against it. The high brick-red padded backing of the seats was a decorative element, and, as we found, also served to absorb noise. Despite it being a compact space, it was not noisy, unlike what we have found in other places. Small framed photographs arranged along the tops of the seats added interest. We recognised scenes from Hoi An, and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.
White walls provided brighter contrast to the earthy tones of the seats, tables, and floors. It had a classic, comfortable feel. Air-conditioning cooled the space to a pleasant temperature. Instrumental chillout music played over the speakers. Despite the busy traffic flow outside, it felt like a calm retreat.
Menus and a bottle were brought to the table as we were seated. The menu was a single sheet of A4 size paper, with food items printed on one side, and drinks on the other. We had been warned earlier as we were checking the menu at the entrance that they were out of karaage chicken and had only one serve of the banh mi left. Staff considerately factored in that some people go to eateries for specific items, and told us before we had to commit. Taking that into account, we weighed up our other options.
The menu is definitely weighted to fusion Asian flavours, with sweet items like Ube Mochi Waffles and Bubble Tea Panna Cotta, and savoury items like Hangover Fried Rice and the previously mentioned Banh Mi Burger. Admittedly, we already had designs on the Karaage Chicken Benny when we decided to visit Given Kitchen and Bar, and were a little dismayed to learn that they had run out. We picked the Tea Smoked Salmon, and considered the fried rice, but decided to ask if we could still have the rest of the Benny dish, but have pork belly in place of the karaage chicken. To our delight, we were told that it could be done.
Our drinks arrived first, of course. The long black was steaming hot. It was smooth, with no bitterness.
The other drink ordered was a pink dragonfruit smoothie (it had a name in the menu, but unfortunately we didn’t take it down). This was beautifully presented, and very photogenic. It was served in a glass shaped like a can, which showed off the striking fuchsia of the drink. Besides dragonfruit, the smoothie also contained strawberry, coconut, and acai. It was garnished with chia seeds, shredded coconut, flower petals, and a sliced strawberry on a skewer. We couldn’t get enough pictures of it. The smoothie didn’t just look good, but had a good balance of fruity flavours. It was refreshing, but not sour, and not too sweet.
The Tea Smoked Salmon was listed in the menu as coming with miso butter, greens, korokke, and kewpie mayo. As the dish was placed on the table, a richly smoky aroma wafted up from it. It was simply plated, but clearly had been thought about. The curled cucumber ribbons and bright pink raddish slices added visual interest to a dish that might otherwise be quite bland-looking. Cutting into the salmon, we found it perfectly cooked, with the flesh just set. It was moist and tender, with smoky grill flavour. The korroke, or croquette, had soft, fluffy mashed potato on the inside, and was coated with crunchy panko crumbs. It delivered the distinct contrast in texture that makes a good croquette. The lightly sweet kewpie mayo helped to tie components together.
The menu listed the Benny with two poached eggs, sriracha hollandaise, sauteed kale, and a croffle (now you see why we really wanted the dish). Instead of Karaage chicken, we had it with pork belly, presumably the braised pork belly that would have gone in the Banh Mi Burger as well. This was served as an enticing stack, the croffle making the base, and the greens, pork belly, and poached eggs layered on it just about hidden from view by a generous blanket of hollandaise. The croffle was tall, with deep grids, and was buttery and flaky. You could definitely discern the croissant pastry nature of it. (Dare we say, it was even better than Plentiful?) The slab of pork belly had tender meat. The braise imparted sweet, savoury, umami flavour to it, and the outside of the fat layer had a caramelised stickiness. The poached eggs had runny yolks, of course. The sriracha hollandaise was creamy and buttery, but also carried a heat that cut through the richness of all the components of the dish, so that it did not become cloying.
We definitely enjoyed our meal at Given Kitchen and Bar. They can certainly put flavours together well, and clearly took care with each component. The thoughtfulness extended to service and how the space was set up. We would recommend this as an eatery to visit, and would suggest that the pork belly benedict be a regular combination on the menu.
Price point: $15 to $22 for items more substantial than eggs on toast. Our dishes $22 and $20 respectively.
Value: Good, for what we got. There were good portions of the proteins in the dishes.
Address: 257A Given Terrace, Paddington
Website: Given Kitchen and Bar