Pneuma, a term referring to the creative spirit of a person, is the name of a song by Tool. It’s also the name of a new restaurant by two of Brisbane’s best chefs: Dan Arnold (Restaurant Dan Arnold and La Cache a Vin) and Matt Blackwell (ex-Goma Restaurant). Pneuma, which opened last Wednesday, has taken over the George Street space previously home to Greenglass.
“In Greek tragedy, [pneuma] is referred to as the ‘breath of life’, so our creative spirit is breathing new life into the space,” Arnold tells Broadsheet. “We both really like Tool as well.”
Initially, Pneuma will run as a pop-up. The duo plan to undertake a more substantial renovation in the new year but, given the quick transition, the team could only give Greenglass a minor facelift with bespoke flower arrangements by Lyndall Bass and handmade ceramics from Tracy Murray.
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The unique entrance has remained the same. Enter through a nondescript door on George Street and ascend a flight of blacker-than-black stairs. At the top, turn right and walk past the kitchen and private area until you hit the main dining space, reminiscent of a New York loft with high ceilings, open glass windows and timber floorboards.
“When I first came in to have a look [at the space], I was a bit apprehensive walking up the stairs,” Arnold admits. “Then I walked into the dining room space and was like, ‘Wow!’”
While Greenglass had a devoted following for its classic French cuisine, particularly among the legal community thanks to the nearby courts, Arnold and Blackwell are confident about Pneuma making its own mark. “We don’t need to play into [the existing] customer base or expectations,” Arnold says. “We’re going to do what’s true to us and what we believe.”
Arnold will continue to run his other two restaurants and cast a close eye over Pneuma, while Blackwell is running the pass. The menu includes snacks and small plates, such as smoked eel cream with black apple and crispy potato; malt tart with cheddar custard and Jerusalem artichoke; and corned ox tongue with tomato kasundi, plus mains like roasted monkfish tail with smoked onion and mussel beurre blanc. There are also two set menus priced at $85 and $115 respectively.
For drinks, Australian and French wines feature heavily. For those who want to splurge, there’s a reserve list with rare drops from producers like Rockford, Joh Jos Prüm and Jules Desjourneys.