The Birdhouse is in what was, for 24 years, known as La Bimba. Gavan and Nicola Rix, who took over in 2021, are dedicated to continuing their predecessor’s legacy of honest fare shaped by local produce and seafood.
The restaurant opens at breakfast to plate up local bacon and eggs, but lunch and dinner are the best times to experience the kitchen’s Mediterranean leanings. Graze on jamon, salami, manchego, white anchovies, pickles and local Irrewarra organic sourdough to start, and chase it with steamed Portarlington mussels in a tomato and saffron broth.
Local fishers bring in whole fish and lobsters daily, which become dishes such as Portuguese-inspired cataplana, kingfish ceviche, chargrilled octopus and salted cod croquettes. Side plates of heirloom tomatoes and grilled vegetables put the spotlight on seasonal harvests.
The room’s former bentwood chairs and curved ceiling remain – as do the ocean views and the occasional koala sighting in the gumtrees out front. The windows fold away in good weather to let in the salty breezes. If you’re looking for a landmark to place the Birdhouse, it’s upstairs from expert scallop-pie maker Apollo Bay Bakery.
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