In Vietnamese, bia hơi refers to both fresh-brewed beer and the roadside restaurants where locals, perched on plastic stools, gather to consume it. The light brew is typically enjoyed with snacks like roasted peanuts and fermented sausage and simple stir-fries of whatever ingredients happen to be on hand.
BackYard Bia Hoi, which opened in March in Hanoi, offers an elegant spin on the concept. Set in a lush vegetable garden in the increasingly trendy Tay Ho District, the restaurant serves local draft beer alongside Vietnamese-style dishes made with organic produce. While the atmosphere is more countryside than sidewalk, the unpretentious fare echoes the spot inspiration.
I wanted to take the core of the bia hoi experience sitting on stools with your mates drinking beer and eating chicken legs from the barbecue and reinvent it, said Pete Wilkes, the Australian-born owner.
That reinvention comes in the form of small plates like marinated pork ribs and sesame crackers heaped with smoky grilled eggplant. Fresh herbs are plucked from pots scattered around the garden and used abundantly. Banh goi, pork-stuffed fritters that Mr. Wilkes described as Vietnamese samosas, come on a bed of crisp shiso leaves; shredded basil garnishes an autumnal pumpkin stir-fry.
Ingredients are grown on site or on the restaurant farm just outside the city, so the menu changes with the seasons. In summer, that means crisp, refreshing salads of lotus root, daikon and pomelo; as the nights turn chilly, these give way to more substantial stir-fries and clay pot stews.
The dcor, too, picks up the bia hoi concept, including handcrafted bamboo furniture and cushions stitched by hand from early-20th-century fabrics.
The ridged beer glasses, however, are identical to those you would find on plastic sidewalk tables. In the past, bia hoi owners would make glasses from the shards of their broken predecessors; today, they simply buy cheap ones from shops in Hanoi Old Quarter. Inspired by the French colonists who brought the brewing tradition to Vietnam, the glasses are the signature item that defines a bia hoi. You don’t see them anywhere else, Mr. Wilkes said.