Category Archives: Bondi Beach

Sshhhhh… T.H.E. is one of Bondi’s best kept secrets

From Sarah Hendriks and Michael Benson (of Porch and Parlour) and head chef Sam Smith (ex L’Etoile), this treasure-box-of-a-restaurant is constantly swarmed with appreciative locals.

The rustically-refined space is where you want to linger. Glass jars of fresh flowers sit on every table and vintage light fixtures hang from the restaurant’s ceiling. Menus come printed on mini clipboards, exposed ducts run along the ceiling and the wooden floor is unpolished.  It’s cool and fashion-conscious, without doing it in that ‘alienating-anyone-over-30’ kind of way.

The breakfast grazing board

The breakfast grazing board

Behold, there are no panoramic views of Bondi Beach (unless you consider street-side glimpses) and before you turn up your nose, take note; this also means there aren’t hordes of tourists. Instead, the restaurant is filled with groups of friends meeting for a late brunch and couples willing-away the afternoon with a few glasses of wine.

King george whiting, fried eggs, beurre blanc  and fresh lemon

King george whiting, fried eggs, beurre blanc and fresh lemon

The restaurant prides itself on sourcing local produce. Kate and Craig, from Old Man’s Gully Farm in Scone provide the restaurant’s organic meat, and their seafood is sourced from Chef Sam Smith’s dad in Port Lincoln. In the kitchen, the dishes are fussed over but not in a fine-dining fashion. The breakfast grazing board, served all day on weekends, is a generous feast for all the senses. Perfectly poached eggs, marinated feta, tomato and basil salsa and smoked salmon come with preserves and toast, perfect for dunking and dipping. A bowl of grilled whole prawns (yes, that’s head and shell) are served with a punchy harissa and the pork belly sandwich with an apple ‘slaw is serious hangover food. For drinking food, the locals come here for duck fat potatoes served with aiola, salted roasted almonds and pickled prawns served in a pretty glass jar.

Now open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week, every suburb needs a version of The Hill. 

Anna Lisle

Read more about The Hill Eatery here
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Serious soul food at Sean’s Panaroma

Is this the most unpretentious hatted restaurant in Sydney? Sean’s Panaroma (note: say and spell, ‘pan aroma’) is a Sydney institution which opened on Bondi’s Campbell Parade, way back in 1993. A man before his time, Sean Moran was one of the first chefs to implement a paddock-to-plate eating philosophy. He’s against genetically modified foods and he, together with partner Michael Robertson, have designed their Bondi restaurant with a closed loop system that involves composting and recycling. Aside from the ethical eating to be done there, one of the big draw-cards of this restaurant is view. Stunning vistas of Bondi’s coastline can be observed from the dining room and it’s a landscape that doesn’t disappoint, regardless of the weather.

The humble dining room at Sean's

The humble dining room at Sean’s

The menu at Sean’s is simple. Four entrees, four mains and four desserts are scribbled on swinging chalkboards and dishes change daily. Rather than an over-descriptive explanation of each dish, Sean simply lists a couple of ingredients. We opt for the “mulloway, tarragon, pippies” and “hogget, eggplant, rosemary”. Steamed in a bag, the mulloway is served on a bed of lemon, olive oil, tarragon and snow peas, all of which are generously topped with pippies. The lemon is slightly overpowering but the olive oil broth is so well developed that any of the bitterness is lost. The hogget (mature lamb) is served as a rack and roasted. The meat is slightly overcooked however, coupled with an eggplant mash and snow peas, the dish is wholesome and tasty. This is the type of food that you would eat at home, sitting at your mum’s kitchen table. The food may not be perfect but it’s made with a bucketful of love. Sean offers serious soul food.

Mulloway, tarragon, pippies

Mulloway, tarragon, pippies

The wine list offers a selection of boutique Australian varietals, vintage and non-vintage French champagnes, and a range of digestives. You can also BYO for $20 per bottle. Sean’s may not be cheap and you certainly aren’t paying for the décor but each dish is absolutely delicious and also generously portioned. Plus, how can you put a price on love?

Anna Lisle

Read more about Sean’s Panaroma here

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Bondi’s PaperPlanes is a high-flier

Ever seen a ceiling made of 500 individually-painted, brightly coloured Japanese skateboards? Or walked through a tin fleet of origami cranes that hang in limbo? Chuck in a purple, 10-metre neon-lit bar and you have Bondi’s PaperPlanes. Hidden away from the tourist-driven chaos of Campbell Parade, PaperPlanes is the brainchild of brothers Matt, Chris and Tim Barge (of Barge8), who also own LL Wine and Dine in Potts Point, together with business partner Phil Capaldi.

PaperPlanes Functions & Events

The ceiling features 500 individually-painted Japanese skateboards

The restaurant design features a quirky mix of kitsch Tokyo pop culture (think Manga comics) and Bondi sass. When we walk in the doors, it’s like we’ve been transported to downtown Tokyo, but the crowd, mostly made up of Bondi’s beautiful people in all their golden-skinned, Tsubi-wearing glory, reminds us that we’re still firmly planted on Australian soil.

An origami-folded menu reveals an array of modern Asian cuisine that has a clear Japanese bent. It’s been created by former LL Wine and Dine head chef, Jin Kung. For starters, the edamame is served with a seriously hot chilli sea salt and provides the perfect excuse for throwing back one of their signature cocktails – the ginger and lychee martini. A sesame seed-crusted yellow fin tuna is seared and sliced in rectangular mouthfuls, topped with a pinch of fried garlic and macro herbs.

Kingfish belly carpaccio with chili oil and a sweet ginger and mirin sauce, topped with tempura jalapeno

Kingfish carpaccio with a sweet ginger, chilli oil and mirin sauce, topped with tempura jalapeno

The special of the day, a pretty ceviche dish of salmon, watermelon and avocado is testament to how well Asian flavours and Australian ingredients work hand-in-hand. After our cold appetisers, the kushiyaki (grilled skewers) become the perfect ‘transition dish’ from entrée to main. The shiitake mushroom stuffed with a truffle and prawn butter has a curious flavour that is beguiling but it is the red miso eggplant that is truly impressive. The cubes of eggplant ooze with a salty-yet-sweet sauce and the only problem with the dish is that there just isn’t enough of it. The sake-flamed teriyaki chicken is served with sautéed white wild mushrooms, giving the dish an interesting edge that makes you wonder, why don’t more Japanese restaurants serve this?

Char-grilled sea scallops with kushiyaki glaze

Char-grilled sea scallops with kushiyaki glaze

There are nine different sakes in 60-millilitre, 240-millilitre and 720-millilitre sizes, and an international wine list that spans European and South American varietals as well as Australian drops. The cocktails, however, are what you’re here for – with a range of standard concoctions, served with Asian twists like fresh yuzu, shochu and wasabi infused vodka.

Anna Lisle

Read more about PaperPlanes here

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Location, location, location… The Bucket List

Sydney living doesn’t get much sweeter than this. Sprawling out onto Bondi’s promenade, within the Bondi Pavilion, is The Bucket List. It may be touted as the ‘playground of the Pacific’ by The Bucket Lists’ owners but to me it feels more like the ‘playground of Bondi’s beautiful people.’ Loose white singlets, Tsubi shorts and Ray Bans are the order of the day, as are ice buckets of lime wedge-topped Coronas and jugs of sangria or Pimms.

Not interested in beach views? The Bucket List is perfect for people-watching

Not interested in beach views? The Bucket List is perfect for people-watching

Snag a table outside and you’ll be blessed with panoramic views, not only of Bondi Beach but also of the Eastern Suburbs hipsters who wander along the promenade out front. The best bit though? Whatever day of the week, night or day, the atmosphere is abuzz. It feels like nobody has a worry in the world – no work deadlines, no houses to clean or mortgages to pay. Everything here is happy and carefree.

Roast chook with quinoa tabouli

Roast chook with quinoa tabouli

Despite its location, the prices are reasonable and the food offers a range of nibbling options, as well as more substantial delights. Looking to impress an out-of-towner? The Bucket List is your answer.

Anna Lisle

Read more about The Bucket List here

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A tough reservation: Bondi Hardware

Rather than doing the whole “we’re too busy to need reservations”-thing, the owners of Bondi Hardware have made a compromise. Half the restaurant is for bookings, while the other half is reserved for walk-ins. What a great idea, or so I thought.

A week before my desired dining night, I rang to book a table for three. Politely, I was told that there were no reservations available but walk-ins were welcome. “But I don’t welcome walk-ins”, I wanted to respond. Instead, I decided to live life on the edge and simply rock up on an extra-chilly Friday (and hope that the Gods would be on my side.)

The rustic and edgy aesthetic of Bondi Hardware

As we approach Bondi Hardware, a happy clamour of noise leaks out the door into the street. A small crowd are gathered in a small huddle trying to escape the gusty coastal winds, clearly waiting for a table. There was no way we would get straight in. The waitress politely warns us that there would be atleast an hour wait. Feigning optimism, we add our name to the list and traipse down Hall Street in search for a drinking spot. Three vodkas down and my phone trills into life. We rush to the restaurant to secure our seat. Perched on high stools, we watch as two vivacious bar staff pour, shake and sip on an array of serious-looking cocktails. The lights are fairly low and the music is playing so loudly that we can hardly hear a word that the waiter says as she rattles off drink suggestions. But it doesn’t really matter – our conversation is somewhat exhausted after we have just spent the last hour in idle chit chat at Ravesis, waiting for the call.

The calculatedly rustic setting feels like a cross between Shady Pines Saloon and Grasshopper, but more elegant. Exposed bricks, low slung industrial lights and worn timber tables dominate the restaurant while bits and bobs are placed around the space in a measured and conservative manner. The crowd is a dizzyingly weird mix of middle-aged suits, leggy blondes and some chilled-out surfer bros. And despite the unusual clientele, the room has a happy and excited buzz.

Head Chef Justin Walshe has created a diverse menu of share plates, wood fire pizza, snacks and cheese boards. The food arrives quickly, thank goodness. Pan-fried ocean trout with a rocket, goats cheese and pickled red onion salad is robust and flavoursome while the salt and pepper squid is as it should be – crispy and tasty. The prawn, roasted garlic and chilli pizza is simple but pleasant however it is the chargrilled zucchini, olive and anchovy pizza that really lets the side down.  Service is as crisp and professional as a hatted restaurant but the food is mostly mediocre.

We must remember though, Bondi Hardware is not a fine diner – it is all about having fun, enjoying a cocktail and letting your hair down with some fine tunes. And Bondi Hardware certainly achieves this, better than most.

Anna Lisle

Read more about Bondi Hardware here

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Yum cha and Asian tapas at Bondi’s Mamasan

It’s a Sunday night, but Mamasan is buzzing and it’s easy to see why. This Bondi favourite is reeling in local crowds with its modern Asian tapas menu and a stellar drinks list featuring Asahi and Sapporo on tap.

Sprawled over two shop fronts, Mamasan is surprisingly roomy, with space for up to 90 people. There are also secret nooks that have been well conceived for intimate group dining. The moody lighting adds to the comfortable ambiance, while quirky design features, such as lucky cats, Astro Boy characters, toy soldiers and Godzilla figurines give the restaurant its charm.

The quirky interior suits the hip Bondi crowd

There are only three of us dining, but everything on the menu sounds so appealing that we order enough for five. Despite the fact that the restaurant is busy, the service is friendly and efficient (a surprise for Bondi). Each dish is presented as a tapas-style meal, with enough for four people in each serving. Duck pancakes are underwhelming, but the prawn sesame rolls are deliciously crunchy and the soft shell crab is lightly-battered and tender, with the yuzu aioli and Nepalese spicy tomato ‘Achar’ sauce providing additional bite.

In a rushed decision, we order the pork sliders off the special menu (one each at $14 a pop), without really knowing what to expect. It was as if a Momofuku-like pork bun met a Rockpool burger and had a baby. It’s a messy dish, but memorable. Let’s hope it becomes more than just a special.

It’s at this point we should have stopped (did I mentioned we also demolished one-bite-beef and BBQ chicken wings?) but us greedy Eastern Suburb folk always want more. We converse with the group at the table next to us and they recommend the ‘fish on fire’.  The dish involves miso-marinated Salmon that has been cooked between cedar wood papers and then smoked. The final product arrives at the diners’ table with the cedar embers still glowing and served with a side of marmalade, which is an unusual but brilliant combination of flavours.

Sami-Jo Adelman

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Restaurant Review: North Bondi Italian

Perched on the edge of North Bondi, overlooking the esplanade and iconic Bondi Beach, North Bondi Italian is the brainchild of restaurateurs’ Maurice Terzini and Robert Marchetti. While the duo may have gone their separate ways in business, this Eastern Suburbs institution continues as a favourite in the Sydney dining scene.

Arriving just before 8pm, our party of four expected to wait for a table. With a no-bookings policy, guests are encouraged to arrive early and be ready to enjoy a drink at the bar before their meal. But, as we walked in the restaurant’s entrance, a few of the tables were actually empty. Enquiring as to why this might be the case (or perhaps noticing the look , the maître d quickly informed us: “It’s fashion week – it’s literally the only week in the year when we aren’t crazy busy”. Despite not asking for a window seat, the convivial maître d suggested we perch at the bar until a window seat became available. After a Campari cocktail and a handful of shelled peanuts, we were taken to one of the most beautiful tables in the room.

The interior at North Bondi Italian is anything but minimalistic. Exuding with character and life, the roof is scribbled with jumbled phrases and words and the bare timber tables contain help-yourself sunken cutlery tins. Energetic waiters bounce around wearing denim Tsubi overalls and white t-shirts and the music is lively and hip. But despite the fun and jovial atmosphere, the menu screams: “I’m Serious About Food.” Divided into classic Italian categories such as verdure and dolci, there is also one section of the menu titled, “for those in training” – listing a handful of low GI, low carb and gluten-free options. North Bondi Italian clearly knows its target audience. In saying that, the “no variations to the menu” policy might cause a few hiccups.

Even with high expectations, the food doesn’t disappoint. The spinach arancini balls reinforce why Italian food can be so superior while the parmesan-crumbed lamb brains don’t have that chewy, stringy texture that could turn you off offal for life. The white fish carpaccio with roasted fennel seeds and dried chilli is a contrast of flavours and textures and simple sides such as garlic steamed broccoli and rosemary crispy potatoes refuse to play second fiddle, becoming standouts in the dish.

It’s the view, the rustic home-style menu and the contemporary design – North Bondi Italian embraces everything we know and love about Sydney dining.

Anna Lisle

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Blue Orange

It’s a bleak, wintry night at Bondi Beach and all I can think about is my couch and a piping hot mug of hot chocolate. But that was before the twinkly lights of Blue Orange (and the blazing overhead heaters) lure my friend and I inside. Whilst the outside dining area is predictably empty, like much of Bondi in winter, we’re happy to find ourselves nestled at the front window, where we catch glimpses of a handful of over-eager surfers, barefoot and with board in hand, and are bemused by groups of teenagers carelessly chatting and laughing at the frozen yoghurt joint across the road. It was just the right amount of entertainment we needed after a long week at work.

Cosy Winter warmers

Blue Orange has been running for over ten years and while maître d’ Tasia Doukakis says “we’ve always had a modern Australian focus,” the menu has shifted in recent years from fine dining to a more casual, relaxed dining experience. The menu features all your classic mod-Oz fare with everything from beef burgers to seafood linguini, however it is the daily specials which catch my eye and it’s not just because it is written on a chalkboard. There is something endearing about specials being scribbled on a chalkboard – it gives the impression that each dish is inspired “in the moment” and not planned weeks ahead. Well, that or the restaurant managers are computer illiterate. Given that Blue Orange has facebook and twitter accounts, we can assume the best.

Blue Orange’s famous fresh seafood

The weekly specials always feature a seafood and meat dish. Tasia explains that with limited kitchen storage, their seafood is bought daily from Sydney Fish Markets and meat is bought twice weekly from Victor Churchill in Woollahra. I knowingly glance at my partner; there won’t be any frozen prawns consumed here. I am drawn towards the King George Whiting with roast fennel, confit garlic and thyme – the perfect balance of a light ‘girly’ meal but with enough confit’ed fatty goodness to ensure I won’t feel deprived. My dining partner opts for the prosciutto wrapped spatchcock with warm beetroot, mushroom and ricotta salad. While the whiting is seasoned well, I have to say it is a little overdone – only a nanosecond too long on the pan – but being matched with soft, buttery fennel and confit garlic oozing with flavour, I quickly forget this minor gaffe. My partner’s spatchcock arrives as four friendly mounds of succulent white flesh – snugly encased in a crispy thin prosciutto layer. A warm salad of sorts is arranged around the plate and a light, tasty jus ties the entire dish together.

Classic seafood with a modern twist

Not a lot is going for Bondi Beach on a frosty June night, all except this cosy restaurant on Hall Street. I’ll be back mid-summer, cocktail in hand, with thoughts of my couch far from my mind.

Anna Lisle

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