My Bonny Lies Over In Fitzroy

March 12, 2020, by Will Ziebell

My Bonny Lies Over In Fitzroy

Brunswick Street’s reputation as a nightlife hub is well established but when it comes to wide and varied beer lists it's sat a fair way behind Smith Street in recent times.

However, over a period of just a few months, Fitzroy's main strip has welcomed two new bars that put long walls of taps and a keen focus on pouring a diverse mix of beers at the heart of what they do. Near & Far opened just before Christmas last year and has been joined by Bonny – a bar with 27 taps that opened its doors at the end of last month just a stroll along Brunswick Street back towards the city.

The bar is run by faces well known to many beer fans and inner north locals, with Shayne Dixon from Beermash and Edge Brewing Project’s Adam Betts (who also imports beer under the Northdown banner with partner Michelle Vanspall) leading the charge. 

“I’ve been managing bars since I was 19," Adam says. "It has long been a dream to open my own venue. An opportunity came late last year for me to join a lease of a ramen restaurant with a great bunch of operators [so] I quickly pounced on the opportunity and began designing up the plans for Bonny.”

 

Adam Betts (right) with fellow Bonny fellas Mike Baker and Josh Crawford.

 

Considering Edge beers have found homes in spots normally reserved for fine wine and cocktails – including collab beers for dining establishments like Noma and Brae – Bonny’s multifaceted focus on beer, wine, cocktails and food makes a lot of sense. On launching, the kitchen is run by Mike Baker from Carlton restaurant and wine bar Henry Sugar but new chefs will take over every three to four months so the the food menu can change nearly as often as the drinks.

“Bonny is all about great food and drink,” Adam says. “We don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves into one specific category, so we have pulled an amazing team together”

The 60-seat bar is an intimate space of dark walls that’s softly lift, minimalist and filled with reclaimed timber – it feels as much like being inside an art gallery as a bar. And, while the 27 taps pour plenty of craft beer from here and overseas, they're also used to offer natural Australian wines, cocktails and cold brew coffee. Running the bar is Josh Crawford, who you might previously have found at Vue de monde, Mjølner, Boilermaker House and Rum Diary Bar.

 


Bonny's location in Brunswick Street; anyone for crickets? Photos by Paul Kristoff.

 

An ethos of sustainability runs through Bonny too, from the use of recycled wood in the fitout to the reduced need for packaging due to the number of drinks on tap; down the line, there's a plan for a garden to grow ingredients for their cocktails and cooking. On the food side, you'll find crickets – one of the least energy-intensive proteins out there – served with Australian bush spices, peanuts and lime among the menu items.

Shayne, who’s been running Beermash for the last five years and oversaw its transformation from bottleshop and growler filling store into what it is today, is looking after a part of the bar many Beermash regulars might not expect: the wine. But, like Adam, for Shayne, his role within Bonny shows his career coming full circle: when he was 16, Shayne began working at a winery in South Gippsland before landing a job at South Melbourne’s Prince Wine Store. 

He says their approach to the wine list is one with a strong focus on natural wines, including those from Jamsheed, Garage Project, and Site Wines, the wine brand started by winemakers-turned-brewers-turned-winemakers Sam Hambour and Duncan Gibson at Hop Nation.

“I find that even though they aren’t matching the structure of traditional style guidelines they can be incredibly well balanced and well made,” Shayne says.

 

Bonny's launch party night. Photo by DS Images.

 

“Finding wine on tap has proved to be quite a bit more of a challenge than we first envisaged although there are quite a number of wineries packaging into kegs now compared to ten years ago. I’m really looking forward to seeing the progression of this element of the bar.” 

As for what Shayne, Adam and the rest of the team are hoping people will find in Brunswick Street’s newest craft spot, Shayne says: “It would ideally be welcoming, intimate, friendly, not intimidating, and hopefully a new experience for everyone who walks through the doors.”


You'll find Bonny at 177 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.

Photo at top of article by DS Images.

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