In the no-man’s land between West End and the city, Paladar Fumior Salon looks like it just doesn’t belong in Brisbane. There’s something piratical about its sail cloths, rooftop deck and red-painted timbers; it’s as though it’s docked in the city but briefly en route from Central America.
The owner of this cigar cafe, Filip Pilioras, has built his life around the finer things. He roasts his own coffee blends (the way he likes them); sources premium Cuban cigars; sets his own hours (weekdays only, thank you!); maintains an opera subscription; and belongs to a local single-malt whiskey society.
Some nights he holds cigar socials in the cafe’s courtyard. He jokes that the Paladar is an extension of his living room. Indeed, its warm interior is brimming with personal curios: humidors, a photograph of Dali’s moustache, a trombone.
Pilioras himself has a knack for remembering faces – and the way you take your coffee.
The Paladar blend is full-bodied, smooth and consistently excellent. At $3.50 for a large (no extra for soy), it’s also very kindly priced. And – at last! – here’s a barista who won’t baulk if you ask for a chilli hot chocolate instead.
Pilioras’ Sangria del Toro – the blood of the bull – is made from real chocolate and freshly ground spices. Glass domes display biscotti, muffins, Danishes and croissants. You can even pick up organic honey from Fil’s dad’s own beehive.
The Salon’s rotating array of handmade Cuban cigars is worth more than a sniff – a puff now and then on the balcony is a very fine thing indeed. (I tried a Juan Lopez, this time around.) But this is no hazy den; the airy courtyard, with potted plants and comfy benches, is just the place to escape from the smoke and mirrors of everyday life.
Cnr Fish La & Merivale St, South Brisbane
0417 075 572
Open Mon–Fri 7am–2pm