The village feel is back in ‘Old’ Kingston! The beautiful suburb with its luscious treescapes and green spaces has been very quiet for the past few years as it has been overshadowed by all the restaurant and café openings on the Kingston Foreshore. But some new additions are set to liven things up again and see Old Kingston step back into the limelight.
The fresh new Eyre Street Market overlooking Green Square has just opened housing a huge Supabarn with impressive offerings of fresh gelato and a drool-inducing cheese cabinet. The new strip also houses the second outlet for popular Fyshwick café Wildflour. It will soon be joined by a range of other specialty stores and eateries all set to breathe new life to the area.
Down the road, with a commanding presence on the corner of Giles and Kennedy Streets, Queenies has also quietly been opened by the Meem Collective team of Ben Johnston, Nick Diver, and Kalina Koloff. The new watering hole joins the Durham Castle Arms Pub, Caribou and the Kingston Hotel giving a chic feminine alternative for after-work drinks and general good times.
Meem Collective has been in business together for over 10 years. In that time they have built small bars, run a pop-up juke joint as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival, and since 2015 have owned and operated the Old Canberra Inn, undertaking an extensive refurbishment and reinvigorating this much loved Canberra icon.
“We are passionate about all things local: people, food, wine, beer, spirits, artists, makers and musicians. Our approach is to seek out creatives of all kinds who share our approach and want to join us in making merry,” said Ben Johnson.
“We have been looking for a Southside venue for some time and were instantly drawn to this wonderful old building and corner position. The village feel and community suited our desire for creating a local bar and we were happy to be in a neighbourhood that is growing and expanding, as well as being located close to a couple of other great local bars so there is a real precinct feel. It’s very exciting to be part of the rejuvenation of Old Kingston.”
Walking into Queenies for the first time is a treat. There is nothing minimal about the décor. It is sumptuous and lush from the bar to the dining area. I am sure it will take many visits to notice all the nuances and decorating flourishes. The most striking is the bar with a dramatic moonlight hand-painted mural befitting of the beautiful 1920s building. It is complete with Bogong moths to give it a true Australian flair.
“We have taken inspiration from art deco influences featuring a rich palette of heritage textures and bold geometric silhouettes. From the restored turn-of-the-century train carriage seating to the period lighting and velvet-lined lounges, this is a place of relaxation, opulence, and playful escape,” Ben explains.
“The building itself dates back to 1928 and harks to a time of social change and the emergence of Canberra as a city. Bold, influential and unconventional women arrived on the social scene challenging norms, meeting and drinking in clubs, and changing the way we celebrated together. We want to continue this tradition by creating a venue that is inclusive, irreverent and most of all encourages people to meet, enjoy each other’s company and have a good time.”
There is plenty to chose from the bar to enjoy in the surroundings. The tap beer range features independently owned Australian breweries and apart from a few champagnes, the wine list is exclusively Australian with a predominance of Canberra region wines, while the inventive cocktail menu reinvents classic concoctions with native ingredients.
Two standouts include the Native Manhattan with Kakadu Plum Vermouth, cacao and coco rye, whiskey and bitters, and the Native Old Fashioned with Paperbark Smoked, Brookies Macadamia, wattleseed bourbon, and bitters.
The Australian flavour also continues in the food menu which has been designed to share, says Ben.
“We want people to be able to drop by any time and find something to suit. You can choose from a wide variety of small dishes to snack on or make a night of it and join friends for a more substantial meal. We offer an additional lunchtime menu of sandwiches as well as suppers of cheese, charcuterie and dessert.”
If you are planning a visit, our pick for the best spot in the house for a night out for two is right up at the bar. Sink into the palatial velvet stools watching the action of the night unfold. You will have front row seats to the gorgeous fresco while cocktails are being deftly mixed right in front of you. While your glass of wine gets poured, you’ll also have the ear and banter of the bartender and a peek into the dishes coming out of the kitchen.
Queenies Bar and Good Times is located at 24 Giles Street, Kingston. It’s open Sunday to Thursday from 12:00 pm to 11:00 pm, and Friday to Saturday from 12:00 pm to 12:00 am.