“It’s been going gangbusters,” says Tze-Huei Choo as he sums up the first few weeks of James & Antler. Dedicated to coffee and croques (French bechamel-slathered toasted sandwiches), Choo opened the tiny kiosk on James Street with his brother Chewie.
The numbers speak for themselves. In the first week-and-a-half, the brothers sold 1300 croques and 1400 canned frappes, largely thanks to a Tiktok video that was posted a few days after James & Antler opened, which currently has close to one million views.
“It went viral on Tuesday night and we didn’t know until Wednesday morning,” Choo tells Broadsheet. “Everyone was queuing up before we opened, and then everyone started showing us their phones. We were like, ‘Where did you get that from?’”
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Things haven’t slowed down since. The kiosk has regularly been selling out of sandwiches before closing time, forcing the brothers to increase production. Still, the Choos encourage you to visit early to ensure you don’t miss out.
The croque offering is small, but the menu will change every six to seven weeks. There’s the OG Croque Madame, an exact replica of the one served at Choo’s all-day cafe in Mitchelton, Mitch & Antler. It consists of off-the-bone ham, Manchego and Egmont cheeses, mustard and leek cream, and is finished with a fried egg. There’s also the Croque Cod Brandade, featuring cod brandade, red cheddar and tartare sauce. The Croque Bolognese is served with Wagyu bolognaise, pecorino Romano and roasted peppers. The kiosk is largely grab-and-go, but there are around 20 outdoor seats for people who simply can’t wait to devour their croques.
The frappes, which are canned-to-order, are proving just as popular as the croques. The Choos imported the canning machine from China. “Canning coffee is relatively new in Australia, but it’s not new in Asia,” Choo says. “It’s something I’ve seen a fair bit during my travels.” To make the frappes, soft-serve ice- cream is topped with milk, then canned and shaken, resulting in a thick, icy frappe in flavours such as chocolate, coffee and chai.
James & Antler
65 James Street, Fortitude Valley