From the ashes of much loved Geelong fine diner Igni has risen something quite different: a phoenix named Songbird, a casual successor of northern Thai extraction with a focus on fire, flavour and fun times.

If you like your pork ribs fermented in garlic and tossed in smoked hot sauce then you might just be due a journey down Bellarine way; here’s chef Aaron Turner with the goss on what’s good.

What’s Songbird all about? It’s a fun venue, with a focus on northern Thai using the barbecue we used at Igni. It’s a fun, loud and a colourful space. 

What are we eating? Pork ribs fermented in garlic and rice, tossed in a smoked hot sauce. House-made sai oua sausages smoked above the fire, duck laap, yum kai dao, Skull Island prawns with naam jim talay and Murray cod aeb pla, just to name a few dishes.

How does the menu work – is it à la carte now? Yep, à la carte now, and there’s a “leave it to us” menu, too. 

What’s the absolute must-not-miss dish? We make the sai oua in-house, then grill them over red gum, smoking them above the fire, and serving them with pork crackle and nam prik noom; it’s been a crowd favourite 

Do you do anything for vegetarian or vegan diners? Vegetarian yes, vegan no, sorry – too hard. 

And what about drinks? We have a killer wine and cocktail list from Joanna Smith that has non-alcoholic and low-alcohol options. 

From Igni to Songbird seems like quite a step – how did you get here? Honestly, I was a little burnt out after the last few years. Nathan Lancaster had been working for me across other venues for a while and we would always talk about his passion for Thai food. I could sense his devotion to it and it just made sense for him to step into the kitchen.

What are the things that are consistent across the two concepts? The quality, service and overall hospitality are all of the same standard we set at Igni.  

How does the vibe compare to Igni? Igni was never a stuffy place to eat: it had personality and we always had fun. Nothing has changed in that respect, but there’s more colour, there’s beer on tap, and we crank the music a little louder.

A year from now, once you’ve settled in, how do you want people to think of Songbird and use it? As a place to go for good food and service, which is what I want for all of my venues.

Have you and Neil Perry talked about the fact that you’re both opening Asian-focused restaurants called Songbird? I have, I’m sure he will kill it. 

Can we look forward to a Songbird x Songbird collab in the future? Bring it on!

Songbird, 2 Ryan Pl South, rear of 205/207 Moorabool St, Geelong, open 5pm-10pm Wed-Sat, (03) 5222 2266,, @songbirdthaibbq