What do you do when your favourite bar is about to close?
You buy it!
That’s exactly what Dave Rane and Gavin White, new owners of the Backbone Bar did. With both men working in the construction industry, they took the opportunity to keep the bar alive by purchasing it from former owners Chris Wormald and Ben France.
Retaining Megumi, the Japanese cook who has been with the establishment from its beginnings, Backbone is still the place to celebrate good Japanese-inspired izakaya food, all made on site from top-quality local ingredients. The menu is broken into four section: Bites, Dumplings, Bao and Large Plates, ranging in price from $5 for a bowl of taro chips to $20 for katsu curry or okonomiyaki.
It’s unpretentious, tasty food, made special by unique touches of homemade pickles, chutneys and Asian spices, perfect to eat washed down with a beer or glass of wine on any night. About a third of the two-page menu is vegetarian, from agedashi eggplant or tofu and crispy skin dim sum to vegetarian fried rice and okonomiyaki. There’s also a vegan and gluten-free menu available on request.
With 12 taps on rotation and 18 cans, you’ll find local brews to enjoy with your dumplings and bao. Crispy duck spring rolls and chicken karaage are still the bestsellers, according to Gavin, but all the dishes we tried were delicious!
“Our goal is to be loyal and local,” Gavin tells us, emphasizing that it’s a bar that locals can call their own, as well as a place intent on supporting the local community.
Selling Tugun Gold beer with the original 1930s Tugun surf club logo on the can, $1 for each beer off the tap goes to the Tugun Nippers, the bar being one of their major sponsors.
There’s a tie-in with Fonzie Abbott, Albion as well, selling not only their coffee but also their silver medal winning Wishbone gin and vodka at the bar. Again, there’s an emphasis on local and regional while still providing something different to the norm.
In an effort to bring locals out during the colder winter evenings, there are some great value Backbone specials: $5 bao, $5 cans, $15 burger and beer on Tuesdays, $1 chicken wings on Wednesdays and $1 dumplings on Sundays, when there is live acoustic music.
Music, bao, dumplings and beer. What more do we need in life?
Open: Tues – Thurs 4pm – 12 midnight; Fri – Sun 12 noon – 12 midnight