“Something old-world San Sebastian [but] in New York in 1992.”
That’s how Jamie Fleming describes Alba Bar and Deli, which opened in Burnett Lane last week. And with the mustard-trim wooden banquettes, dark green tiled bar-front, crisp white walls and classic pintxos style of eating, Fleming’s first venue mixes funky design with a neat dash of culinary authenticity.
A debut venue it may be, but Fleming isn’t new to hospitality. Most recently a Diageo Reserve Brand ambassador, Fleming has worked at Maker in Fish Lane and Sydney’s Lobo Plantation. He even appeared on Masterchef in 2014, eventually finishing fourth. The TV show appearance fed into a stint working pans at Wilhelmina’s Liquid and Larder, also in Sydney.
In short, Fleming has hung around some of the better hospitality businesses on the east coast. With Alba, he’s attempted to distil the best of them into something simple and unpretentious.
Unsurprisingly the cocktail menu is first class – an olive oil washed Martini, anyone? – but the mixed drinks almost play second fiddle to a wine list that tips its hat towards Spanish varieties such as cava, verdejo and mataro – the better to complement the food.
As for eats, everything is simple, unfussy and designed to be consumed with a drink in the other hand. There’s plenty of seafood, such as Movida sardines and Cuca tuna, as well as single oysters and scallops with pork hock quince gel. Fleming is also flipping croquettes, chorizo and three different types of jamon. “It’s based on the classic pintxos style of eating,” he says. “Tapas, if you want to call it that.
“It’s like, ‘Yeah you want a beer? Cool. I’m going to have an oyster with some delicious stuff coming out of the kitchen as well’.”
The full menu will be available from 4pm until close. Before that there are rotating daily sandwich options using hdsomeouse-made sourdough. But the general rule of thumb? If the bar is open, so is the kitchen. “If you want to crush some croquettes or have a little bit of sherry or a couple of cocktails, then we’re open,” Fleming says.
The venue is a neat little 50-seat brick bunker on Burnett Lane – a former storage area for Rebel Sports on Queen Street Mall. Other than the wooden detailing, low lights and bold stabs of colour, a defining feature is the handsome MF Doom print that arrived this week.
Additional reporting by Matt Shea.
Alba Bar and Deli
34 Burnett Lane, Brisbane
Mon to Fri 12pm–12am