The neglected, grimy, outdoor service alley that ran down the side of the Paddock Restaurant was originally used by motel employees for sneaky cigarette breaks and waste disposal. When Ron brought me on board in late 2015 he showed me the space and explained his vision to transform it into a garden laneway with relaxed atmosphere and a more casual approach to food (compared to The Paddock). The first thing I said was "It sounds like the kind of place I’d find myself getting liquored, hanging out with mates and talking to women" to which Ron eagerly agreed. So, we did it!

We painted walls, planted gardens, rolled out turf, built furniture and Sarah created the food. We didn’t know for certain how this type of venue would be received in Cairns or if it was going to be economical in Westcourt. So we dipped our toes in and opened as a pop-up in Mid-2016. The response we received from Cairns locals that flocked to discover the city’s first laneway bar was phenomenal! After a few months of solid trade, we began hypothetical discussions of what we’d do if we were to do it again. Now, I’m here to announce to you that we’re diving in and Harvest is here to stay! However, we are making some adjustments to elevate Harvest.

Firstly, from next week (Mon 23rd Jan) we'll be opening Monday - Saturday from 5pm til late. These trading hours will also apply to The Paddock.

Secondly, we started with disposable cutlery and drinkware (as a lot of pop-ups do) so that if when we shut up shop we wouldn’t be left with boxes of used glasses and crockery that would go into storage to collect dust until our next endeavour. Now that we’ll be remaining open we’re getting rid of the disposables and upgrading to standard glassware for all of our spirits, beer and cocktails. The booze will taste better and you’ll feel like you’re at a bar drinking booze instead of feeling like you’re getting your morning takeaway coffee. While we’re on the subject of coffee; go check out Blackbird’s new wholesale warehouse at 205 Newell Street! Furthermore, duck across the road to Tattooed Sailor Coffee Roasters at 176 Newell Street! Thank us later. Now where was I? In addition to the glassware; I’ve sourced new spirits from distilleries from all corners of the country. The team will be mixing my new menu of boozy vintage and classic cocktails!

Thirdly, the wet season is here. While it’s great for all of the plants in our vertical garden, it’s bad for the majority of people who want to join us to wet their whistle and eat our mouth-watering food. To counter this issue we are refurbishing the foyer in The Paddock Bar. Harvest patrons will be able to access the currently underutilised and air-conditioned small bar space as well as the sheltered veranda along the front of the restaurant. Fresh coats of paint will be applied, small plants scattered throughout, lighting adjusted and furnished with high bars & stools. The atmosphere of the room will be similar to an intimate and cosy small bar. For the laneway, industrial fans will be in place to counter the evening humidity.

Finally, while we think we’ve made some pretty delicious burgers that are easy to make, we’ve also come to the realisation that we just don’t get a lot of joy out of making them. So, we’re going to leave them up to the dedicated burger joints around town. Ron and Sarah decided that they wanted to move our food in a different direction with a new style of cuisine that still utilises our sustainable and ethical Australian produce with a focus on quality meat. Mexican food has fresh flavours, citrus, spice and textures. It’s wholesome, hearty and tasty finger food that you can enjoy with family, friends and beers. Sarah and her team will be cooking up her interpretation of tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas and more with smaller accompaniments. This food menu will also be available to take away! You’ll be able to place an order, collect it from the laneway and head on home to Netflix and chill.

There you have it! The pop-up is settling in as a Mexican eatery with sustainable and ethical Australian produce. Craft beer, wine and liquor will be served in glassware. Boozy and vintage cocktails will be mixed up. Rain can’t shut us down. Come on down and enjoy the Harvest Barbeque this final weekend until we change to the new Harvest Mexican on Monday. Keep an eye out on our Facebook page for further details on food & drink menus and much more!

Happy days,
Matthew Bonasia

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