Double Bay newcomer bibo is a dark, moody wine bar offering a fine-dining menu in a relaxed, semi-suburban atmosphere.
Sweet Belem owner and former Guillaume chef Jose Silva is at the helm in the kitchen, producing “Iberian food for the Australian palate”. An example is the plate of house-salted and house-dried fish, including salmon and kingfish, each spiced with punchy combinations of herbs and served alongside a pile of pickles of cauliflower, carrot, brussels sprout and cucumber. The balcalhau croquettes are Silva’s “Portuguse fish cakes”, a delicate, salty parcel of fried salted cod atop piri piri mayonnaise. His Sweet Belem Portuguese tarts, thankfully, feature on the dessert menu.
“Most of the food I do makes you want to be drinking,” says Silva. “You never eat without drinking, and you never drink without eating; they come together as one. That’s how I grew up.”
A former leather-goods store, the space was designed and renovated by the building’s owner, architect Paul Jones. 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 also banquettes across one wall and seating that looks out across Bay Street through open bifold windows.
“[Architect Paul Jones] dreamed about it for a long time, and he’s the one who gave us access to his private cellar; he’s been collecting wine for 60 years,” says manager Jonathan Mallett.
Sommelier Louella Mathews curated the wine list, focusing on the vitality of “classic Australian” selections. The leather-bound wine menu offers flavour descriptions – think “complex, mineral, brioche” or “bold, not so daring, pepper” – the result of Mathews’ scribbling during preliminary tastings. There’s also a blackboard for Wine of The Day.
“It explains the wine in three words; it’s not intimidating,” she says. “If somebody doesn’t want to ask for help, [the list] guides them.”
There are 150 options on the main list and 50 on the “museum” list (selections from the private cellar). Mathews says she plans to extend the list to 400 options over the next fortnight, adding 200 more options to the museum list.
bibo wine bar
7 Bay Street, Double Bay
Wed & Thu 5.30pm–midnight
Fri & Sat 12pm–midnight