While Evan James and Laura Webb-James were planning and designing their very first cafe, they would often look after their nephew and read him a book called ‘Round Bird Can’t Fly’. When the cafe was ready to open, Evan and Laura still had the quirky title stuck in their heads.
Round Bird is the couple’s first business, however, both have years of experience at fine-dining establishments across the state. In fact, they first met, and fell in love, working at The Brasserie by Philippe Mouchel. Evan has extensive experience working in front of house roles at cellar doors and restaurants, while Laura has more than two decades of experience as a chef. Laura’s impressive resume boasts stints at large catering companies and popular restaurants, including Yering Station and The Brasserie.
The two are conscientious and dedicated business owners with a passion for making good food and providing exceptional service to all. Their commitment and attention to detail extends from the decor to the menu, which is executed to a consistently high standard under Laura’s watchful eye.
As Head Chef, Laura makes sure a range of local produce is incorporated into the fresh, seasonal menu. Evan and Laura maintain close relationships with all of their suppliers – they visit each one and chat about what is in season and what is generally good produce.
Meat is sourced from Yarra Valley Game Meats and the local butcher, fruit and vegetables come from All About Fruit and Veg, the chocolate is from Kennedy & Wilson and coffee is by local roaster Chum Creek Coffee. Round Bird also offers a special deal for local providores and regulars whereby they will swap coffee for fresh fruit and veggies. Laura and Evan’s passion and dedication has started somewhat of a foodie revolution in Lilydale, with a number of inspired locals since opening their own cafes, helping to put Lilydale’s food scene on the map.
The menu here changes weekly but customers can expect all-day breakfast dishes such as butterscotch apple crepes with gingernut biscuit ice cream, and buck rarebit, braised leeks and autumn greens with hazelnut dressing and fried eggs. For those who like a little adventure in the mornings, opt for the Vegan Surprise and wait keenly for your unexpected delight.
The all-day lunch menu is just as exciting – try the soba noodles with Asian mushrooms, spring onion and soy miso sauce; or the beef burger with green tomato pickle, Pyengana cheddar, bacon, tomato, aioli and beer-battered steak fries for something a little more filling. Round Bird also features a cabinet packed full of sandwiches, croissants and cakes for eating in or take away.
The design of Round Bird is simple, yet exciting. The space is mostly white and features a plant wall and a vintage coffee machine. A set of copper shelves are home to a range of jams, preserves and chai masala, all handmade by Laura, that customers can peruse and purchase.
Round Bird is a busy place and at any hour of the day it is home to the kind of happy buzz that comes from good conversation and subtle background music. Evan and Laura are friendly and hard working, and encourage anyone and everyone to join them in celebrating good food.