It was a serious hand injury and some subsequent time off travelling that led Jimmy Williams to give up a career cooking in Melbourne fine diners, pack his bags and head for Brisbane and a fresh start. “I just didn’t have that fire and that passion for cooking high-level of food anymore,” Williams says. “I just saw how fun, how fresh, how vibrant it was being in a cafe.”
The result is The Brunswick Project, which opened in New Farm on Thursday. Moving into an old Queenslander cottage on Brunswick Street previously occupied by The Long Road, Williams has lightened the interiors with a crisp, white paint job, wooden highlights and hanging planters. It’s created a bright, airy and inviting venue. “Everyone is welcome here,” he says. “I want everyone to receive the same fun, friendly service.”
Williams is most pleased with the cafe’s enormous front deck. “I just had to fill it with as many seats as I could,” he says, laughing. “Who doesn’t want to sit out on the deck and watch the world go by.”
The focus on keeping things personable and approachable is captured in a refreshingly simple menu revolving around the humble bacon and eggs. “I don’t want the customers to look at the menu and have to ask the waitstaff what every second item is,” he says. Special mention goes to a childhood classic – soft-boiled eggs with Vegemite soldiers, which Williams says will never leave the menu. “It’s not a glamorous dish. It's not an Instagram-friendly dish. But it’s a great breakfast.”
Coffee is by Melbourne’s Rosso Roasting Co, with which Williams has a previous relationship. Cold drip will be going year round, set out on the big communal table in the middle of the space.
The Brunswick Project is licensed, meaning it can handle boozy brunches and lengthy afternoon sit-ins. A selection of wine on tap is offered, along with beers by Stone & Wood. Williams is in talks about developing a rosé keg with his supplier, which if successful he reckons would be a first in Australia.