Looping into semi-industrial YoYo Bar & Restaurant on Noosaville’s Gympie Terrace is like strolling into a Melbourne laneway — granted, to the soundtrack of crashing waves and salt scented air.
YoYo is the tongue in cheek name dreamed up by owners Marc Romanella and Lara Graham, referencing the up and down nature of their venue’s previous occupants. “It was sort of reminiscent of its failures, and its high and lows,” said Marc, who had been witness to numerous changes from his second venue, IS Tapas, a few doors away.
Graham, sommelier at Wasabi, is taking charge of YoYo’s wine list, and explains how the pair struggled to find a local haunt like that to which they were accustomed in their previous home of Melbourne. “We like to go out, sit at bars and eat and dine, and we couldn’t find a place where we as diners felt comfortable doing that. So, we decided to create it for ourselves.”
Romanella’s resume is extensive. During 35 years in the industry, he has traversed hotels and resorts both domestically and internationally. For Marc, YoYo was about creating a fine sensory experience. “I wanted to create a place that allowed people to enjoy great service, amazing food, a solid wine list and serious cocktails, without the pretence of pompous glamour. And that’s exactly what we created.”
By serious cocktails, Marc is referring to the Tricks List — classic cocktails twisted into time honoured yoyo tricks. From a Wind The String mixing vodka, elderflower gin, lemon, lemongrass and charred pineapple, to a creme de gingembre, vodka, lime and mint incarnation called Hop The Fence.
For Lara, the wine list was her domain. While some restaurants deal with two or three suppliers, she keeps herself busy liaising with 20 to 30. “Wine was really important for us. We wanted to work with more boutique distributors, finding wines that expressed a particular varietal from a particular region.”
The menu is equally as inventive, refusing to be pigeonholed as anything other than locally sourced. Head Chef Ash Warncken, ex Montville’s The Long Apron, retains his high standards, while keeping things ‘simple’. “I find inspiration in a lot of different things. We’ve got doughnuts on our menu, and we do it with a pine cinnamon sugar. The idea came when I was walking with my dogs through the pine trees, and I thought ‘how can we incorporate this into the dish?’ Now we use the pine needles in the dish, and as a garnish on the plate.”
Being semi-rural in Noosaville, Warncken is tasked with twisting common ingredients into interesting dishes. Take the vegetarian option —finely chopped asparagus forms atop crunchy pickled tempura mushroom on a bed of creamy cured yolk, beer onion reduction and salty parmesan custard. A feast for the senses using ingredients most would consider kitchen staples.
A passion for the industry is obvious in the trio; the myriad of experience mirroring the balance of flavours on the plate. Not merely a destination restaurant, YoYo is fostering a community of diners who will always come back — just like the childhood toy bearing the same name.
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