Abacus Bar and Kitchen puts a modern twist on local Aussie cuisine

Strolling down Chapel Street, you’re often overrun with restaurants and cafes. However, one stands out, offering a friendly and comfortable upmarket atmosphere unlike the regular dining room eateries in the area.

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Amy Weavell

Abacus Bar and Kitchen has been open two years now and has created a unique dining experience for its customers. “On Chapel Street you have a lot of restaurants and cafes, so we tried to make ourselves stand out by creating a space you’d be happy to sit in for a few hours,” owner Dylan Whitmore explains. “The whole idea was to make it almost like your own living room, so it feels approachable and accessible for everyone.”

It’s a giant space that has been utilised brilliantly, with a gorgeous centerpiece garden. Wood, marble and masonry are the key here, blending the industrial space with a homey atmosphere. Repurposed 40 gallon drums act as decorative stands while tubes bracketed to the wall give the appearance of downpipes, perfectly matching the vines growing above the front windows, ensuring the whole place feels like you’re dining at home with friends.

An open lounge-style seating area lines the back wall, creating an ideal spot for after-work cocktails, of which Abacus offers an impressive array, made using all-Australian spirits. All drinks are served from a well-stocked bar, offering an extensive wine list and a variety of local beers on tap.

Small marble tables line the exterior of the centerpiece garden, with compact and comfy wicker chairs, while tiled bench tables [reminiscent of an older style Australian kitchen] and larger tables fill the main front section of the restaurant.

It’s not just the cocktails and bar menu that’s local – the whole menu has a distinctly Australian feel, with each dish containing locally sourced and fresh ingredients. “We try to do everything ourselves,” Whitmore explains. “One of our chefs has a farm, so a lot of our produce comes directly from there. We also have bees on the roof, so we get our honey from them, and we have herb gardens out the back. Pretty much everything we could do ourselves, we do.”

This dedication to fresh produce shines through in the food. Starting your dining experience off with a smaller plate, the flame-cooked chicken livers are a hearty option, tossed with a medley of seasoned potatoes and topped high with a fennel salad generously garnished with dill and paprika. The paprika really packs a punch here, while the potatoes compliment it beautifully with their flavour almost counteracting the spice to create a delicious medley that’s both light and satisfying. 

The BBQ prawn offers a unique twist on an Aussie classic, with a large Mooloolaba prawn butterflied and grilled with chilli and coriander. It’s a tender, almost sweet meat, that slowly lets the chilli sweep in almost as an aftertaste.

The modern twists on Australian standards continue through with the mains. The braised octopus is served with dry aged chorizo, torn sourdough, goat’s feta and topped with a fried egg. One would expect it to be tough but instead it’s tender, with a rich earthy flavour. Diced chorizo adds a saltiness while the sourdough helps to fill out the meal with a buttery finish. It’s a marvel to look at and delight to eat. 

Less adventurous eaters may turn to the steak sandwich, served with fermented lentils and fried greens. The meat explodes with its own distinctive flavour, while the lentils and greens add a healthy kick that only works to bolster the steak. It’s easily one of the best steaks you’ll find on Chapel Street. The menu isn’t just for carnivores however, with vegetarian meals available alongside the many meat options.

Abacus has created a unique dining experience and comfortable atmosphere with their “living room” decor, friendly staff and delicious food and drink. Utilising local produce, they’re reinventing many Australian classics in exciting new ways, making for a one of a kind dining experience.

Check out Abacus Bar and Kitchen's website.