Byrdi comes from Luke Whearty and Aki Nishikura, the couple behind celebrated Singapore bar Operation Dagger – so lauded for its innovative techniques it reached 23 on The World’s 50 Best Bars list in 2018 (it was number 30 in 2019).
Byrdi offers a menu of small plates, including grilled prawns with garlic butter and finger lime cooked on a hibachi grill; flatbread topped with mixed herbs and seeds, smoked yoghurt and fermented chilli oil; tempura salt-and-vinegar green beans; charred asparagus with salted egg yolk; or cheese – maybe Riverine Blue with Yarra Valley honeycomb – selected by fromage-maven Anthony Femia of Maker & Monger. Also on offer is an ever-changing amuse-bouche (“mouth amuser” in French) designed to keep you occupied while you wait to order or for your first drink.
Cocktails are built with care and precision over time, with some components conceived months in advance. Elements of your drink arrive fermented, smoked, reconstituted, centrifuged or a combination of the above. In a drink called Now & Then, last spring’s fermented berries are combined with a sort-of “wine” made from new-season yellow wattle. Guests can pick up Byrdi’s bottled cocktails – a Lamington Negroni or a Bee Pollen Old-Fashioned – at Blackhearts & Sparrows next door.
Byrdi offers brunch, too, such as house-made sourdough crumpets and fermented oat porridge with seasonal fruit, with coffee from a V60 pour-over. Beans are grown near Byron Bay by Nat’s Coffee, and roasted in Melbourne by Genovese’s Ben Toovey.