Byron Bay – and the surrounding towns of the Northern Rivers region – has been resplendent with exciting openings for a few years now. And Bar Heather, a new natural wine bar in the thick of town, is set to continue that streak when it opens in October.
It's by local wine importers James Audas and Tom Sheer, who also run the much-loved Luna Wine Store a few steps down the road. The two wanted to open a bar inspired by Paris, tied together with Byron Bay's relaxed atmosphere, all framed by the two ex-sommeliers' diverse cellar of rare, characterful wines.
"Over the years we've collected some very special bottles and always thought that if we ever opened a drink-in venue, this is where they would go," says Sheer. "We only plan to do this once, so we figure we better do it right."
Charismatic chef and doyen of all things delicious Ollie Wong-Hee is heading up the kitchen. His impressive resume includes time in the kitchens at Sixpenny and Ester – two Sydney institutions. Expect a snack-heavy menu designed to bolster and enhance the wines on hand.
"What informs us in the kitchen is firstly what is in the glass – and then we work back from there rather than the other way around," Wong-Hee says. "[We have] some of the world's most precious natural wines swirling in the glasses of Bar Heather, [so] that really opens up the decision of what to cook."
After a chance encounter in Hobart last year, the trio more recently have spent time on the ground in France; parleying with winemakers and researching flavour matches to ensure their collective vision for Bar Heather is as informed as it is creative. The menu will feature small dishes and much larger share-style plates, where you can expect dishes such as potato chip, Comté, shiitake; and duck confit, betel leaf and kohlrabi.
Amalia Oxley (ex-Agrarian Kitchen) will lead the floor of this ambient, fun, dark, and sophisticated 60-seater, where aged green banquettes, wooden flooring and a mortadella-coloured marble horseshoe bar will keep the mood light and the glasses clinking.
Bar Heather will open in early October.