A shared love of the sea brought Bar Elvina owners Andy Emerson and Jesse McTavish together. Emerson, a fisherman who studied marine science before moving into hospitality, has co-owned revered Sydney venues, including The Passage, Acme, Bar Brosé and Prince of York. McTavish, the son of surfing legend Bob McTavish, is a keen surfer and fisherman, and was co-founder of Melbourne venues Top Paddock and The Kettle Black. He also headed up the kitchen at North Bondi Fish.
Their Avalon wine bar’s whitewashed walls, sun-drenched terrace and Spanish-style archways bring to mind a coastal taverna on the Mediterranean. The interiors, by Caswell Group, have pale timber beams and hand-printed Walter G textiles lining the window seats that overlook Avalon’s main street. Ex-Mambo artist Paul McNeil drew the logo, menu illustrations and murals both inside and on the facade. Horticulturist Greg Bush (The Grounds of Alexandria) designed a 140-square-metre kitchen garden for the back terrace, where the team hope leafy greens, fruit and native ingredients will grow in abundance.
The menu focuses on locally caught seafood, including oysters grown for Bar Elvina at Wapengo and Nelsons Lagoon. The mix of raw, small and larger dishes to share have salty, savoury and big umami flavours. Vegetables play a starring role, too.
Bar manager Angus Thomson (ex-Barrenjoey House) has created a cocktail menu to reflect his passion for native Australian ingredients and botanicals, while Emerson has pulled together a wine list inspired by maritime influences, with grapes grown close to the sea, or in interesting island locations.