There’s a new kid on the block excitingly redefining the club experience. Opened in April this year, The Bower Tree is a daring and sophisticated departure from the typical Aussie club. Instead, The Bower Tree offers patrons privacy, safety and the comfort of an elegant environment.
A bower tree symbolically is a meeting place, and that’s exactly what this multi-venue within a venue gathering place at Sippy Downs is.
CEO Suzanne Long says management company The Boldbridge Group (Nambour RSL Club and The Bower Tree) wanted to create a space that is as vital as the emerging, young Sippy Downs community.
The venue boasts four discrete food and beverage spaces: a pizzeria, Café Rubia, Arrows Bistro and Vine Wine Bar plus a separate gaming room.
“Clubs are no different to any other business and need to think about where they’re headed into the future,” says Suzanne.
“We didn’t use the name ‘community club’ as we wanted it to be a hospitality venue in a young and emerging town that caters for all demographics but still has the benefits of membership.
“The wine bar was unique and different for clubs and we see it as the future. Not everyone likes to go to a club so the wine bar was about somewhere where you could go that was a small, intimate space. You don’t have to sign in or be a member. There are minimal dress requirements that you often have to meet in a club.”
Suzanne says people go to clubs for various reasons: for the food and beverage, to attend functions, to watch live sports or to gamble. Some people go to enjoy an air-conditioned space where they feel safe and welcome.
“It was designed to achieve all that with indoor and outdoor spaces that can be used in all seasons.”
This new-age community club’s whole ethos, even down to its external and interior design, is ‘less is more’; quality over quantity.
Kon Panagopoulos of Brisbane’s KP Architects has subtly imparted his Greek heritage on this sleek and thoroughly modern space. The impressive rust-coloured façade, which reflects the surrounding pockets of bushland, was functionally about creating shade, protection and a breezeway for fresh airflow into the building.
If you look around, you can see the European design influences from the exposed brickwork in the bistro to the travertine tiles and the vast use of natural stone.
“It was about choosing natural products that would last a lifetime, timeless elegance – and a lot of Greek properties do that, they don’t renovate extensively,” says Suzanne.
On entering the premises, my husband and I were warmly greeted by staff and immediately it felt like we belonged.
Signing up for a membership seemed like a great idea, which we did online – just $5.50 for a one-year membership (or pay $20 for five years). The Your Club Rewards program allows you to accumulate points by using your membership card throughout the venue. You can use your points to purchase meals and beverages, get cash rewards, buy event tickets, pay your membership fees and access other club privileges.
Our epicurean day got off to a great start with breakfast at Café Rubia freshly prepared by head chef Matthew Smyth. We had the moreish Italian breakfast skillet – chorizo, roasted kipfler potatoes, baked capsicum, onion, roasted tomatoes, poached egg, mozzarella and herb garnish with a side of sourdough.
As the day progressed, we grazed on several dishes from Arrows Bistro – each one hands-down delicious.
We whetted our appetite with a Greek-inspired appetiser: crispy zucchini flowers with three-cheese filling (parmesan, feta and ricotta with onion and nutmeg) on top of a pumpkin puree. The filling is the same savoury deliciousness found in your traditional spanakopita. Yum!
We then moved on to one of the bistro’s signature dishes: duck leg curry with fresh cherry tomatoes, green beans, steamed rice, pineapple pickle, coriander and cucumber yoghurt. Traditional Thai cuisine should be the perfect marriage of five flavours: salty, sour, sweet, spicy and creamy – and this dish certainly delivered on this vow.
Executive chef Peter Brown says he only puts dishes on the menu that he personally loves to cook and eat. Peter’s 33-year career started with an apprenticeship in Sydney at seafood restaurant Jordan’s and the French favourite, Bistro Papillon. He then honed his trade at five-star hotels where he says he: “learnt a lot from some really good chefs and won some awards”.
“They taught me so much about what people expect when they come to a nice, high-quality venue and I’ve kept that philosophy no matter where I’ve worked, and I’ve worked in cafes, bistros, pubs and clubs. I always try to serve the best quality I can. This philosophy continues with Head Chef of Arrows Bistro, James Westbrook too.”
Next, we dived right into the Mediterranean (culinarily speaking) and feasted on a funghi pizza, which had a nicely balanced topping of forest mushrooms, basil pesto, goats cheese, mozzarella, zucchini, sticky onion and chilli. The highlight of this yummy woodfired pizza was the balsamic onions and the piquant heat from the chilli.
Peter says when he eats out he always tries to order something he wouldn’t make at home.
So, I took a leaf out of Peter’s foodie philosophy book and did the same. I ordered the squid ink pasta, which was my personal favourite – the perfectly seasoned pan-seared king prawns were nicely offset by the buttery deliciousness of the squid ink pasta and just a slight hint of chilli.
Got a wedding, private party or boardroom function coming up? The Bower Tree’s 220-bay basement car park has a lift that goes straight to the function room on level two.
The décor is neutral, which is a great backdrop to any bride’s decorating palette, and the function space can cater for up to 220 guests banquette style or 350 guests cocktail style.
There are also two separate meeting rooms, which can accommodate either 12 people or 24 with the dividing wall removed. The function space also has a terraced breakout area.
Peter has a state-of-the-art kitchen directly behind the function area. He encourages you to talk to events manager Jack about creating bespoke functions.
“We had a wedding here recently and I redesigned the whole menu. The bride wanted food served family style down the middle of the table – so we’re really flexible – can do anything within reason.” This venue sure is impressive and worth a visit.