Iberian food for the Australian palate. That’s the guiding principle at bibo, a dark, moody wine bar that opened in 2016.

Owner and head chef Jose Silva spent the first 12 years of his life in Portugal. This upbringing – and his seven years as head chef at Guillaume – is evident in plates of house-dried fish, including salmon and kingfish, each spiced with punchy combinations of herbs and served with pickled vegetables.

Likewise for the bacalhau croquettes – delicate parcels of fried, salted cod atop piri-piri mayonnaise. For dessert there are Portuguese tarts from Silva’s bakery, Sweet Belem.

The way Silva grew up, you never ate without drinking, nor drank without eating. It’s a culture worth following at bibo, where a leather-bound menu dreamed up by sommelier Louella Mathews (ex-Rockpool Bar & Grill) offers 150 bottles that mostly celebrate classic Australian varietals, styles and regions.

Flick to the back to find the impressive “museum” list, featuring 50 bottles from architect Paul Jones’ private cellar. He’s been collecting wine for 60 years – hence the selection of Penfolds Grange from the ’70s and ’80s.

Jones owns the former leather goods store, which he redesigned and renovated for Silva. Wine bottles are lined up behind the bar, and sit framed alongside panels of velvet flock wallpaper. Tea candles pepper the communal table, which extends from the bar. There are banquettes across one wall and seating that looks out across Bay Street through bi-fold windows.

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Updated: December 5th, 2017

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