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Near Perfect Score For ‘Adorable’ Cafe

Originally written by Anooska Tucker-Evans and published in The Courier Mail
May 31, 2023 – 4:00PM

Hidden in an uber-cool Brisbane laneway, this cosy eatery is a must-visit, demanding we stand up and take notice with a myriad of tasty little morsels.

While the designer boutique-lined, swanky James St may have stolen all the fanfare and attention as a must-visit destination for foodies in Fortitude Valley, just a Mumm champagne spray away there’s another culinary hotspot that is demanding we stand up and take notice.

The clandestine Bakery Lane, off busy Ann St (opposite The Beat nightclub) has become the embodiment of a Chinese Hot Pot – myriad tasty little morsels that come together to form a broth so enticing you’ll be desperate to dip in.

NUG General Store in Bakery Lane, Fortitude Valley. Picture: David Kelly

There’s a gelato shop that does an absolute roaring trade on weekends, a sexy little wine bar so appealing it could even tempt a teetotaller; the award-winning 10-seat fine diner Joy, which books out three months in advance, a trio of Asian restaurants and NUG General Store.

The latter sits proudly at the end of the brick-clad, Melbourne-esque laneway with a nest of Amalfi yellow chairs tucked into petite timber tables acting as its sign post.

Step inside the adorable cafe/grocer and you could be in either London’s Notting Hill or a gorgeous back alley of Paris or Santorini.

Some of the offering on the counter at NUG General Store. Picture: David Kelly

There are stone floors and pale timber shelves lined with gourmet dried goods ready for a throw-together dinner, buckets of fresh tulips, a fridge stocked with gourmet softdrinks, iced teas and kombucha, juices, beer and a handful of small producer wines. Then there’s a glass and tile cabinet brimming with the day’s freshly made fare.

“We’ll take one of everything,” we say to new owners Ben Veldhuijzen and Ruxi Petrisor, who took over the eatery from precinct neighbour and Joy owner Sarah Baldwin and her business partners Shane Phillips and Jarrod Applebee in April.

Organic couscous, pomegranate, cabbage, cherry tomato salad with tahini dressing and fresh herbs. Picture: David Kelly

The hospitality couple previously ran the kitchen at up-market restaurant Songbirds in Mount Tamborine, before taking over a fish and chip shop in Sandgate, where they began serving ready-made-meals during the pandemic that were so popular they attracted queues down the street.

After a break from cooking, Veldhuijzen is back in the kitchen, with NUG his opportunity to have some fun with food.

The menu changes almost daily with soups, pastries and desserts of the day, as well as ever-changing salads, sandwiches and focaccias using organically grown fruit and veg from The Falls Farm on the Sunshine Coast.

When we say we’ll take one of everything, that means a gorgeously soft centred, crisp-edged focaccia ($8) crowned with Sicilian olives and sun-dried tomatoes, an olive and truffle tapenade and mozzarella arancini ($8) so big you could knock someone out with it in a fight provided it wasn’t as deliciously oozy and cheesy; plus a foot-long sausage roll ($8) with pork mince, fennel and mortadella encased in deeply tanned, buttery pastry.

A focaccia sando with mortadella. Picture: David Kelly

We also try one of three salads on offer – a mixed veg number ($16) with roast potato, sweet potato and beetroot that is undressed, letting the Falls Farm produce speak for itself; plus chicken cooked in the smoker outside rendering the skin wafer-thin and crisp and the meat as tender as a black eye.

We finish with an enviably soft poached pear tart ($10) that arrives in a pool of house-made lemon curd loaded with zest for extra oomph. Delicious!

In fact, everything is great – though it could be served just slightly hotter. I’ve always hated the horrendously trite expression particularly favoured on reality cooking shows where hosts claim “you can taste the love in the cooking” but I think it actually might be true at NUG.

Veldhuijzen is evidently passionate about what he does and it shines through in his food, and he and Petrisor make an endearing front-of-house team – genuine, charming and congenial.

The couple wants to launch a mini pasta club-style restaurant at the beginning of June in the cosy indoor dining space once filled with homewares under the previous regimen.

The Italian dinners will seat guests at a communal table just a spaghetti twirl from the kitchen, with Veldhuijzen hoping the experience will feel like you’re eating in their home.

For this hospitality-driven duo it’s bound to be tremendous fun and something I’ll definitely be returning for; as well as more of that pear tart and curd.

NUG General Store

Bakery Lane, 8/694 Ann St, Fortitude Valley


Tue-Sat 11am-4pm

Verdict – Scores out of 5

Food 4

Service 5

Ambience 4

Value 5

Overall 4.5