If I’m totally honest, I was going with more than a small sense of trepidation, having been told that the service had slipped, the place had gone downhill and things just weren’t what they used to be. That said, I had picked the restaurant and I was going to stick by it.
Overall verdict for the night: They absolutely nailed it. I don’t where all those naysayers were talking about, but they obviously weren’t at the same place I was.
We got the fantastically beautiful table cocooned in wood just by the door, and while the service can be a touch slow to come to attention I felt it matched the style of its surroundings, Bondi is a laid back sort of a place. I ordered The Planter’s Punch for the table and asked our waiter to order for me on the food. The Punch was great, not oversweet or strong, the lists said serves two but four would probably be more accurate. The passionfruit syrup in it makes the drink.
The food was wonderful, and while this is very much a blog about drinking, it would be remiss of me not to mention the scallops and the special of the day, seared tuna sashimi. Amazing, perfectly cooked, flavourful, delicious. James, the owner joined us for a quick drink and a few words about the spiritual home of his fledging cocktalian empire (re:love also runs white revolver & cream tangerine in Bondi) He obviously loves what he does, and the staff pick up when he is there leading things from the front. The food is a sharing concept, not quite tapas, but very familiar. It lends itself to a boozy, chatty dinner very well.
Mid-meal we sipped on hand shaken daiquiris, tart and strong not over sugared. A touch later Blazers hit the table, overproof rum mixed with freshly grated herbs, spices and peels. The story was spun that the drink is from Prohibition days, which my experience with Dale deGrof tells me is incorrect and about 80 years late for Jerry Thomas’s gizzard shaker. But a less informed or cynical group (like my guests) lapped it up. The tatse is like christmas, rich and deep. Warming to even the coldest soul.
We finished on Ron Collinses, the balanced mix of rum, sugar and citrus, teased long with soda. served in glass tea/punch cups. Again, balanced.
My sum up: If you’re looking for a relaxed place with good drinks, tasty, well prepared food in a room full of well dressed 20-30 somethings, this is your place.
I will be back to try the rest of the list and to sit outside by the phonograph, a smile on my face.
288 Bondi Rd, on google maps here.