Life in Byron seems to be agreeing with Matt Stone.
Since moving from Melbourne to the Northern Rivers in November, the former Future Food System housemate and Oakridge co-head chef has made a home in the town of Nashua; gotten engaged; swotted up on local produce and producers; and, perhaps of most interest to eaters, teamed up with local hospitality operators Matt Rabbidge and Luke Sullivan of the Mosey On Inn group. Together, the trio oversee two of the region’s most likeable eating and drinking options: high-energy pizzeria Ciao, Mate!; and the glorious Eltham Hotel, a 130-year-old landmark that’s been rebooted as a community-minded pub and live music venue. At midday today, the group begins serving guests at venue number three, You Beauty.
Like the name suggests, You Beauty is awash with Australiana. Located on the main drag of Bangalow and a few doors down from Ciao, this 70-person bar and dining room looks like it’s been around forever: its exterior is clad in chocolatey tiles from yesteryear. Bowling club coasters, postcards, sew-on patches and other ephemera are pinned to a community notice board. Blues and rock albums show off the pub’s analogue sound system. You Beauty, according to management, is a place designed to comfort rather than challenge.
“That pub mentality brings a sense of community and humble, approachable and honest service,” says Rabbidge who worked alongside Sullivan in the beer and (of course) kombucha game. “Those words are what we’ve tried to emulate in all of our businesses.”
There’s certainly a pub-like familiarity to the space. Seating options span from banquettes and high tables to stools at the Peroni-red resin bar. Small glasses of beer and wine goblets are a visual nod to the past, although the offer of house Dunkel, sharp cocktails and European natural wines is contemporary as. An all-day bar menu features oysters, local olives and house charcuterie made from a Berkshire pig raised by Greg and Alison Cromwell of Cromwell Farms.
“It’s been epic getting into tropical fruits,” says Stone. “The diversity here is insane. After cooking for nearly 20 years, you think you know the produce of Australia, but it’s blowing my mind. I’m constantly finding new things and ingredients I might have only read about before or seen online.”
While they might not be as prevalent as they were at Future Food System, waste-minimisation and green-thinking are cornerstones of the You Beauty kitchen. Veg and food scraps are collected in a 70-litre bin and composted; leftover flatbread from Ciao is inoculated with koji and turned into a shoyu; and swappable containers feature prominently in the bar’s farmer-direct supply chain. Seems like Matt Stone is agreeing with life (and work) in Byron, too.