Queens Bar and Kitchen breathes new life into a Highton institution

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Queens Bar and Kitchen breathes new life into a Highton institution

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Highton just got a new restaurant from the beloved Bean & Base team.

Anyone who has been to Bean & Base in Rippleside will remember it as a charming brunch spot on one of the less-populated stretches of Melbourne Road, speckled with greenery and full of cracking wine, delicious coffee and spot on housemade eats. 

But now Bean & Base owners, Lucky and Sheena Thapliyal, have headed to the banks of the Barwon River and across the rolling Barrabool Hills to open a brand-new venue in Highton. 

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around the region here

After being approached by members of the Queens Park Golf Club with the offer – also devoted Bean & Base customers – Lucky jumped at the opportunity to bring his hospitality expertise and flavoursome dishes to a new area and a new pool of patrons with a secondary venue. 

 “They had been coming to Bean & Base for a while for the coffee and the food, so they’ve known me a long time and decided to give me this opportunity; they thought I’d be the right person for that place,” Lucky explains. 

“So, I went for a meeting with lovely Queens park Golf Members and we worked out what would work and what I could do best there and it all fell into place.”

Taking over the café, diner and bar space at Queens Park Golf Course, Lucky – a chef by trade -opened Queens Bar and Kitchen, breathing new life into the vacant space. 

Nestled in a valley bordered by the Barwon River and a walking track to Buckley Falls, this is the kind of restaurant where you could pick over one or two dishes, and a couple of glasses of wine either for breaky and lunch from Tuesday to Sunday, or dinner from Thursday through to Saturday. 

With a low-key gastropub vibe, the restaurant is now a space to connect with the bustling hub of Highton, Fyansford and Herne Hill, quashing any exclusivity and anonymity that a golf club might emit. Here, everyone is welcome. You don’t need to play golf or be a member to indulge in a quality feed. 

With a beautiful exposed brick bar, timber tables, comfy seats and lashes of greenery, this place is a comfortable and friendly watering hole with an old-school kind of warmth and kitsch. As for the menu, here Lucky takes a contemporary look at Modern Aussie pub fare, changing it up from what Bean & Base offers – and it is spot on. 

“It’s totally different food on offer here. Bean & Base is more a café style with breakfast, lunch and tapas and wood-fired pizza and while this is a café too, it’s definitely more pub meals with burgers, steaks, and parmas, all that kind of food.” 

To start, you’ll find all the classics like garlic bread, wedges, onion rings, and buffalo wings, alongside morish Jalapeno poppers, prawn and ginger dumplings, and crispy cauliflower bites. 

For something with a little more heart, punters will be pleased to find a menu filled with well-executed pub classics. There’s a mouth-watering King Burger (with a beef patty, double bacon, cheddar cheese, Spanish onions, tomato, lettuce, pickles, sauce and chips), lemon pepper calamari, pulled pork tacos, fish and chips, and a royal steak sanga made with a delicious Scotch fillet and served on a Turkish roll. 

You can also get a Porterhouse Steak with chips, salad and sauce while the parma comes either as a classic version with shaved ham, Napoli and mozzarella; a Hawaiian version with pineapple added on; or as the spicy Mexican chicken parmigiana with jalapenos, guacamole, Napoli, ham and corn chips. Of course, you can go al natural and just get a chicken schnitzel with gravy. 

Rounding out the mains is a chicken, mushroom and spinach penne pasta, and the pie of the day, alongside three delicious vegan options. Think eggplant parma, vegie bean out burger and a roast pumpkin pasta topped with pine nuts, parmesan cheese and olives. Tiramisu also makes a welcome appearance for dessert. 

Kids are taken care of too, and the best part is – besides being made from 90% local ingredients – that it’s entirely affordable. Entrees don’t exceed $14, a classic parma is less than $20 (every day!) and a steak will just set you back $23.50. 

You can enjoy beers, wine, soft drinks and the same Genovese blend of coffee in the breezy courtyard, or come in a little earlier for the iconic Bean & Base Egg and Bacon Roll. 

With great dining, a strong sense of place and a love of community, Lucky has created the ideal place for a good feed or a knock-off pint in the sun, whether you’re tucking into a parmi in the bistro, or soaking in rays outside in the beer garden. 

Despite the size of the new space, Lucky is intent on bringing across the cosy, welcoming feel of Bean & Base, the café that has become a well-loved brunch institution in the Geelong region. Building on years of experience, he can now focus on a new, more casual, era at Queens Bar and Kitchen, an opportunity which Lucky credits to his brilliant team at Bean & Base.  

“The people who help carry this business – the staff – they’ve been working with me for three to four years, they’ve stayed with me, so because of them, I took the opportunity in Highton. They’re like a backbone and this is a new opportunity for me and I want to take it and I want to do the best I can over there.”

For fans of Bean & Base, there’s no need for alarm, it will continue its reign as a crowd favourite for decades to come, having already notched up a vibrant eight years in business. 

Lucky opened Bean & Base, previously known as Rippleside Café, back in 2014. Following years of delivering quality service, delicious eats and building a loyal customer base, Lucky expanded the café in 2018, taking over the space next door and rebranding as Bean & Base. While providing a visual treat with exposed brick, black walls, and an open dining area, the expansion allowed the business to offer full kitchen service and a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, including wood-fired pizzas in a large pizza oven. 

Open every day, the cafe is warm and inviting and you’ll probably end up ordering a second coffee, just so you can hang around. As for the menu, here it’s always fun and seasonal and focused on new and exciting flavour combinations that customers will love. 

The all-day breaky menu plays tried-and-true favourites against inventive dishes, with dishes like maple buttermilk pancakes, signature smashed Avo, the pulled pork benedict and the mammoth Bean and Base big breakfast. Perfect for your lunch break, other items across the menu include lemon pepper calamari, Southern battered crispy chicken burger, a vegan bowl, fish and chips and soup of the day. You’ll also find generously topped wood-fired pizzas and a succinct dinner menu boasting tapas, Korean Pork ribs, Moroccan Lamb Meatballs and more, as well as a local-heavy drinks list to enjoy in the afternoon.

Coffee is by Coburg roaster Genovese and a warm and friendly team rounds out the experience.

With Bean & Base being a long-time fixture in the local foodie scene and Queens Bar and Kitchen only just arriving to shake up the Highton scene, there’s an experience for just about every taste and they’re both well and truly worth celebrating.

Queens Bar and Kitchen is located at 150 Queens Park Rd, Highton and is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am, open until 9pm Thursday through to Saturday (for dinner) 

Bean & Base Café is located at 159 Melbourne Rd, Rippleside and is open every day, with dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.