BONDI ICEBERGS: BLAH ON THE BEACH
If you were to ask anyone to name a beach, the chances are they would go for Bondi. With the possible exception of Rio, it is the most famous of beaches and synonymous with surf, sea, sand and a bit of how’s your father.
I was not there for any of those things as it is also home to one of the hardest to come by tables in the whole of Australia at Bondi Icebergs restaurant. The Lonely Planet (ever the arbiter of fine dining, ahem!) says “ call way in advance and pray your luck’s in.”
Well, mine was and it actually wasn’t that hard given that I called on Saturday for a lunchtime table on Tuesday.
Being in full “mad dogs and Englishmen” mode, I decided to walk the 10k from Surry Hills to Bondi despite the worried teeth sucking of the good folks at my accommodation who warned me that it was “ a bloody long way”
They were right, but it is also a great walk past Centennial parklands and The Aussie Stadium to Bondi Junction and then on to the beach itself.
After a quick shoeless stroll on the sands to soothe my tootsies and not, I repeat not to perve at the topless hon’s sunning themselves in the late morning rays, I headed for the restaurant
If there is any eatery on the planet with better views, I would like to know about it. Sitting at the top of the hill as you enter Bondi, it has a full view of the beach and the surf in all their glory.
The bar is a magnet for celebs and wannabees and, even on a quiet Tuesday lunchtime was already full when I arrived. The bar is a hotspot too so I took the opportunity to have a drink before lunch. Not a good idea. The Iceberg Punch was a diabetes inducing mix of juices and enough sugar to form an iceberg of its own. Quite nasty, in fact.
I left most of it and headed for my table which was in a quiet part of the room with great views over the surf.
The menu is modern Italian and, as well as the main menu, they offer a range of steaks which, for once, didn’t get the juices going.
Instead, while I tried some nondescript bread, I pondered on the light, seasonal offerings and chose, to begin a dish of blue stone crab cooked in a little oil and chilli served on a soupy plate of soft polenta.
It turned out to be better in the description than the execution with an over enthusiastic use of lemon juice and under use of chilli swamped all the flavour leaving you with nothing more than the grainy ploenta.
Better was a main course of pork chop with a mandalini(?) which involved sautéed yellow peppers, raisins and almonds. The pork was excellent although the concept of cooking to medium seems not to have crossed down under and it was only a touch away from dry. The pepper thing was more interesting than tasty. Very tasty, however was a classic combination of peas, feta and mint that I ordered as a side.
As always, the curse of the solo diner meant that I had to suffer risibly bad wines by the glass and a domestic Riesling and Sangiovese brought little to the party except another $25 on the bill.
With no pudding or coffee and a tip of 15% the bill came to a not insubstantial AU$130 (about £55) which is a lot to pay for decent enough cooking without a shred of flair. Obviously, it is hiked up because of the location but, if that was all that mattered I could have bought a hot pie and sat on a bench by the beach.
I am afraid Icebergs left me stone cold.