Thursday, 12 January 2012

Bondi Curmudgeon's review of the Rum Diaries

I was really excited about going to the Rum Diaries on Bondi Road tonight and I was even going to write a review.

However, Bondi Curmudgeon changed our plans at the last minute and said since we've been there hundreds of times, he would write the review.

And here it is: 

Rum Diaries Review

The Rum Diaries is a great place to drink many different types of rum, have a hearty stew and generally pretend you’re a pirate.

The Rum Diaries is not a great place if you need to answer your phone because you’ve locked your husband out of the house and he can’t find you.

The End.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

From Bondi to Broadbeach with a side trip to Bazaar at QT in Surfers

A few hours after seeing in the bonny New Year, we flew to the Gold Coast for a four day mini-break at Broadbeach (978 km from Bondi Pavilion). “Why aren’t you going to Byron Bay?” asked a friend from the UK. “Schoolies Week is over,” quipped another friend.
Don’t they know the Gold Coast is the hot new destination? Besides, there were a group of us going, and they have kids, which provided a good excuse to go to Wet ‘n’ Wild. And thanks to our trusty Accor card, we got a free night at the Sofitel Broadbeach with an upgrade and 50% off our meals! What’s not to like about that?
The Sofitel was in walking distance to the beach, surf clubs, restaurants and bars of Broadbeach and the beds were so comfortable it was like sleeping on clouds, making it the perfect place to wind down after the hectic lead up to Christmas. On our first afternoon we headed to the very chilled-out Kurrawa Surf Club, which has beautiful views overlooking the beach and were entertained by a local singer who played four of my favourite songs in the first set. The biggest surprise was that Curmudgeon got into the spirit of the place so much that he even changed out of his summer uniform of jeans and long shirt for shorts and t’shirt and agreed to walk on the beach.

News that the restaurant, Bazaar, at the revamped Gold Coast QT in Surfers, had upped the ante on the local dining scene had travelled from Broadbeach to Bondi and I was keen to try it out. So, on Tuesday, while I was busy testing my boundaries at Wet n’ Wild, taking guidance from a 12-year-old on what rides were too scary (the Black Hole is awesome!!) and dodging the kids in the wave pool, Bondi Curmudgeon managed to get us the very last booking they were taking. It was our fifth wedding anniversary so we needed a special destination for ourselves and two friends.
Curmudgeon made us get there half an hour early (at 6pm) to show them we were serious and this is when we met Sam the bartender, who looked after us all night, first at the bar and then at our table. Our cocktails were made to order depending on the flavours we prefer: throughout the night I had a mango Bellini with sorbet, a Cosmopolitan with a twist, and passionate Mojitos. At one stage I noticed Bondi Curmudgeon drinking a glass of ginger flavoured rum with a chaser of Absinthe. When I warned Sam that it would send him crazy, I was assured the evil green stuff was well-diluted.

Although Bazaar is strictly speaking a hotel buffet, it’s not exactly your standard buffet offering, but more like a gourmet extravaganza. Apparently they were going to offer a la carte as well, but the buffet proved such a hit they kept it. At $65 per person (or $21 for kids under 12), it was great value and easy to see why the place was buzzing with every seat taken. Modeled on the traditional marketplaces of Asia, the cooking action is all out in the open and the food is part of the décor with a mix of ready-made meals interspersed with cooking stations where chefs cooks to order. There’s a cool room with hams, salamis, garlic and sun dried tomatoes dangling from the ceiling, glass doored refrigerators, bowls of pumpkins and an Asian wok station dishing up fresh stir frys. Click here for a gallery of images.
Executive chef is American George Francisco, who headed to Australia after marrying an Australian girl. He started out in Sydney, opening Wildfire at Circular Quay, Dish on the Northern Beaches, The Chelsea Tea House before becoming head chef at Jonah’s at Whale Beach. (His favourite Sydney cheap eats is Pompeii’s pizza in Bondi, so he’s clearly got good taste.)
He believes in fresh seasonal ingredients sourced locally and creates the menu each day around the available produce. Some of the things I ate included fresh seafood – crab, mussels, scallops, prawns – a mix of stir frys, figs with Persian feta, lamb ribs on creamy mashed potato, pieces of prosciutto and cheese, a mix of salads. Other dishes that made their way to our table: oysters, pork belly, rabbit, osso bucco and soft shell crab.
Luckily, most of the desserts are bite-sized, from white chocolate and cranberry macaroons to Francisco’s signature Vanilla Panna Cotta of fresh pomegranate and lavender honey and chocolate covered strawberries.
We left after four hours full and happy. From the design of the hotel, to the quality of the food and the exceptional service, it’s worth flying to the Gold Coast just to eat here again.

Bondi is sejuiced by The Bucket List

The weather was so crap during most of December I barely made it to Bondi all month. So, when the sun finally came out on December 30, I convinced Bondi Curmudgeon to go to the Trat for lunch before the sky swallowed the sun again.

We were working our way through tapas – chorizo, meatballs, and a salad of figs, prosciutto and Buffalo milk mozzarella  – when we got the call for an impromptu afternoon drink with a group of Bondi’ites (half of whom now live in Rose Bay) to celebrate pre-New Year’s Eve before Snoop Dogg took over the beach. 

We were to meet at 4pm a pop-up bar called The Bucket List, which had replaced Nick’s Seafood. With a few hours to kill, I headed to the Icebergs to do laps and Bondi Curmudgeon headed home to drop off the car and sit in a dark room for a while.

Last time I was at Nick’s they’d mentioned it had been quiet, but I didn’t realise it had been so quiet they were on the verge of packing it in after what must have been a ten year run.  (I googled Nick’s Bondi for an explanation, but as far as the Internet is concerned it still exists and is a good place for a wedding.)

The Bucket List opened just before Christmas after well-known local, Andy Ruwald, founder of the neighbouring juice bar, Sejuiced, took over the lease. Advertised as a ‘pop-up bar’, Andy originally wanted to call it ‘The Pavilion’ but thinks he’ll keep ‘The Bucket List’. It makes sense considering the bar looks like it has become an instant hit. Dressed in a pink striped shirt and oversized sunnies, he was manning the floor, greeting half the people who came in the door by name, and trying to keep everyone happy. 

We managed to get a prime position outside and asked him a few questions. The first was why we had to stay seated, despite the risk of splinters from the wooden crates that doubled as seats. Licensing laws, apparently. Why The Bucket List? Well, most of the food including the prawns and oysters, and some of the drinks are served in cute yellow buckets. 

The drinks err on the expensive ($120 for a bottle of the cheapest champagne at a time when French champagne is selling like hotcakes for $50 in most bottle shops), which could explain the popularity of the bucket of four Asian beers selling for $20. They were served in ice to make them cold as the demand was so high it almost went from a pop-up bar to the pub with no beer.

If the décor looks temporary that's because it is. Wooden crates, ink drawings on walls, buckets hanging from the ceiling, and French-style deck chairs, will be replaced with the furniture that has been made to order but wasn't ready in time for the holiday rush. They’ll even be palm trees. 

While Nick’s often drew the tourist crowd, the Bucket List has been well and truly embraced by the locals. On the night we were there Bondi royalty included Sneaky Sound System’s Angus McDonald and Channel Nine’s David Gyngell. 

There’s something about The Bucket List that makes it seem like it has always been there. Or maybe it was a case of Bondi had been desperately waiting for someone like Andy to take over the space, and turn it into a funky bar with summer tunes. It reminds me of Potato Head in Bali (without the pool) but don’t ask me to explain why.

It’s in a prime position smack bang in the middle of the beach, which means it can get both the die-hard South Bondi and North Bondi crowds without all the usual posturing that ‘my end of Bondi is better/bigger/more glamorous than your end’. 

Now we can meet in the middle and all have a good time for the rest of summer. Or at least until the furniture and the 'attitude' arrives.

<a href=""><img alt="The Bucket List on Urbanspoon" src="" style="border:none;width:104px;height:34px" /></a>