TYPE: Seafood shack
VIBE: Surfer chic
OCCASION: Endless summer
GO WITH: Friends or make a couple at the bar
DON’T MISS DISH: Rock shrimp cocktail & Tasmanian ocean trout
DON’T BOTHER DISH: Lobster lettuce wraps
PRICE: $30 (the current tasting menu)
HOURS: Dinner, Monday-Thursday, 6 PM-2 AM, Friday-Sunday, 6 PM-4 AM.
QUICK CHEAT SHEET:
Drink – John Boag’s beer or a Tamaramaglamma cocktail (it’s a mouthful)
Start with – Rock shrimp cocktail or crab lettuce wraps
Eat – Tasmanian ocean trout or grilled barramundi (Snatch up the John Dory when it’s in the house)
Side with – Chips, green papaya & tomato, or sweet chili relish
Finish with – Pavlova – Australian for meringues with mango & creme fraiche
Bondi Road has curiously washed ashore in the Lower East Side, bringing this famed Australian surf beach and its supreme fish to American waters. Though the giant movie screen with a rolling surfer video & wallpaper fashioned from photo beach images seem theatrically staged for such a no frills fish-and-chips joint, Bondi’s fresh-off-the-plane seafood & Aussie staff are the real deal.
Grab a stool, kick off your flip flops and dip into a delicately sweet “Tamaramaglamma” (raspberry-infused vodka with muddled lemon & strawberries, topped off with champagne) or a more manly James Boag’s (Australian for beer). Unless you’re a glutton for a sugar hangover, I’d shy away from the “Sunburnt”, an overly saccharine mix of passionfruit tequila, orange juice, and strawberry puree.
While Bondi Road’s gas still remains fatefully off, owner Heathe St. Clair & chef John McGrath seems to have turned this potential curse into a downright blessing in disguise – giving birth to the first seafood shack seven-course sampling menu ($30). I dabbled in this orgy of fish delights, exclusively from down under and all cooked to order, starting with the oyster shooter, a peppery Bloody Mary shot with a succulent oyster buoy. While I thought the lobster was salt-heavy, I was tempted to sneak into the kitchen & steal the recipe for a zippy rock shrimp cocktail, tender shrimp bites mingled with an addictive mango & chili aoili.
But Bondi Road’s greatest accomplishment – the skin-roasted Tasmanian Ocean trout – seared rare, a silky & luscious fish, dressed in a glossy crisp-skinned coat atop a sweet chili relish. The barramundi, grilled whole with a touch of lemon, was simply sacrificed over an oddly pleasing green papaya and bush tomato salad. And if you’re not the sea-faring type, there’s always the hearty Rolled Roo Fillet, an Australian kangaroo classic.
Linger at the bar and let the bartender get nostalgic about his mum’s recipe for Lamington’s – a lemon sponge cake rolled in shredded coconut & chocolate. At the risk of making the natives restless, I sided with the Pavlova, a fluffly baked meringue, laced with mango & a creamy dollop of creme fraiche. Forget the gas, take the road to Bondi Beach and feast away.
Until we eat again,
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