Moving into the old Montrachet site takes guts. The 224 Given Terrace tenancy was home to the Brisbane icon for more than a decade before it migrated to Bowen Hills in late 2017. Its successor, Margo, lasted just six months. The space has been vacant since.
None of that worries Sebastiaan de Kort. When asked if he has any trepidation about leasing the storied site for his new venture Nota, he shoots back a quick “no”. But de Kort and business partner Kevin Docherty are no slouches. They completed their respective apprenticeships under acclaimed Brisbane chefs Javier Codina and Phillip Johnson, and shuffled pans together at Moda (then on Edward Street).
Most recently, de Kort opened CBD deli The Cheese Pleaser with his mum, Sharyn. He’s ready to flip the script on the old Montrachet digs.
“It’s going to be completely different,” he says of their restaurant and bar, due to open in early March. “The space will be modern, new, refreshed … you won’t see Montrachet.”
Since acquiring the keys in December, de Kort and Docherty have been busy stripping back the space to its basics. “We’re respecting the bones of the building,” de Kort says. Honing their vision is designer Scott Wilson, who worked with de Kort on The Cheese Pleaser.
Expect a more muted colour scheme: black and white, exposed brick, tan and brass. The furniture will stay, but it will be re-upholstered. “We’ve got the perfect chairs for the bar,” de Kort says. “They’ll look completely different to what they were – there won’t be any red – but they were just the most comfortable, beautiful chairs we could find.”
The young chefs met at Moda in 2016 and “clicked” immediately. “We have similar visions,” de Kort says. “We’re both young, both family-oriented people – if [Docherty’s] not with us he’s with his family and vice versa. There’s nothing more important than having good company and good people around you. That’s a big thing for us and we’re trying to recreate that.”
The name Nota is Latin for “familiar”, which guides the restaurant’s style from fit-out to food and service. “We want the food to be approachable … like you’re eating with your friends and family and it’s all hands-on,” de Kort says.
He’s keeping schtum on the details of the menu, but says it will lean towards share plates with a broadly “modern European” feel. “There will be really cool little snacks that are full of flavour, then your mains will be nice refined dishes that you don’t see elsewhere,” de Kort says.
Wines will be a tight edit of local and European small-batch producers. There will also be cocktails, a lager and Pacific ale on tap, plus a crop of bottles and cans selected by local beer expert (and regular Broadsheet contributor) Matt Kirkegaard. “We want to get Matt to come in, pour some beers and have a chat to people,” de Kort says. “We’re keen to push the boundaries and have some fun with that.”
“We want to make sure people are comfortable when they’re with us,” he says. “If you just want to have a few snacks and a glass of wine … you can sit at the bar and interact with somebody working at the bar or sitting next to you and not feel out of place.”
Nota will open on March 8 at 224 Given Terrace, Paddington.