On the one hand, you have restaurants that afford you, the diner with magnificent views of the one and only Sydney Harbour, and such a view is a beautiful sight. But over at Bondi, you have the iconic Bondi Beach, which is beautiful in its own way – rare do you find a strip of sand so incredible. The restaurant that has the absolute best view over Bondi is no doubt the Bondi Icebergs Dining Room and Bar. Oh and it also happens to be two-hatted, so the food ain’t too bad either. A pretty good double whammy, no?
Date Visited: 16/12/2012
Address: 1 Notts Ave Bondi Beach, NSW 2026
Go-to dish: market fish of the day I chose this place for a dear friend’s 21st dinner (because she’s lazy and doesn’t want to organise a party…oh you). Main reason being that I’ve actually been to the function area below and took notice of the restaurant that was above. Looking it up later and finding out it has a 2-hatted rating…but then also finding a swathe of negative reviews about it well…I was interested to see whether my experience would be up to scratch. Definitely no objections with the interior though…
Well actually, except one. The tables are spaced far too closely. I could legitimately take out a half-metre ruler and poke the person sitting next to me from my side. This is a bit too close for comfort – you know it’s true when you can hear their conversation rather…audibly. The same must be true for them too. That’s not cool, I’d expect a bit more space out of a 2-hatter, for which service is an important criteria.
Before I start on the food, I feel compelled to tell you that if you go on a Sunday, there is a Sunday surcharge of 10% on everything. You have been warned.
And yeah, we went on a Sunday
$$$$ + $!
By this point, I think I’m not even going to bother describing the bread unless it’s either really good or really bad. These were run of the mill. Despite their different shapes it’s the same kind of white bread. Though carby, it’s a relieving departure from the constant stream of rye/sourdough.
For a starter, the Queensland spanner crab was quite fulfilling. The polenta meal is full of creamy tang and is an excellent partner to the soft, tender and slightly juicy shreds of crap. It’s all about the spice and tang here, and it hits in pleasurable fashion.
It is so good that I wanted to lick up ever last bit of sauce.
So I did (Y)
Icebergs continues to impress with its starters with the carpaccio of petuna ocean trout. The trout itself is amazing – its like salmon belly but with a bit more firmness. The flesh gives to your bite but doesn’t fall apart when forked. Overall the dish was seasoned in such a way as to allow the trout’s natural aroma to come out, but there is a nuttiness to the whole dish which I am fully happy about. As for the texture, there’s a bit of everything really. The herbs really see to that.
For my main, I chose the market fish of the day, which happily turned out to be yellow fin tuna. Now you know I almost always eat tuna in raw form – sushi/sashimi etc. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the occasional cooked tuna, but when most people know of cooked tuna in canned form well…it’s not terribly exciting is it.
Of course, it’s a different story at Icebergs – the tuna here is buttery smooth and a pleasure to eat. It just feels good to eat it. There’s not much flavour in the fish itself, but the butter glaze just screams for the umami. Never enough umami. It’s a great cut of fish that’s cooked excellently.
It definitely needs that glaze to survive though.
Le friend ended up getting the chicken paillarde (escalope). This method of cooking chicken simply involves cutting them down to thinner slices, kind of like a thin steak, followed by flash cooking in the pan. The result is an well-realised Maillard reaction, with excellent browning.
The chicken tasted good, but there was nothing particularly wow about it. I refuse to believe that just because chicken is a ‘standard’ or ‘common’ meat that it can’t be made into something awesome. The paillarde here tasted good and was cooked technically well (it wasn’t dry!), but it didn’t have any particular flavour sensations.
Be more adventurous when the classics get boring
Well, clearly that’s what we did when it came to the dessert. I love Italian Trifles, these desserts have a bit of everything. They pack all kinds of textures – crunch (nuts), creamy (cream), spongy (cake), juicy (fruit), and so on. If you want a do-it all dessert, a trifle is your ticket.
I liked this trifle all the way down to the bottom, where the inclusion of vodka was a bit of a turn-off. I’m used to it in tiramisu, but for some reason it just didn’t work here. It also soaked up the sponge cake to almost gooey consistency, and I didn’t really like that either.
Perhaps back in the day when I used to be a lot more tolerant of alcohol, I would’ve found this to be less of a problem.
Best part of the trifle? The first two layers – the almond/pistachio layer, follwoed by the immediate layer of raspberry jelly. Raspberries work for me this time!!
One thing trifle doesn’t really try to get across is the richness of chocolate or the milky creaminess of ice cream. As long as you’re not looking for one or the other, you’ll be set with a trifle.
Two things to comment on before I wrap up.
1. Price – even without the Sunday surcharge, the prices for this place are very, very high. We paid pretty much a “cheapish” degustation price for these 5 courses. It’s a LOT. I would not recommend going casually. But most importantly, I question the value of the place. (Remember, this comment is made in context with other fine dining places – I think Icebergs is even pricier than those for what it offers).
2. Service – our dessert took nearly an hour to come out. That cannot have been deliberate. Keep an eye out for time, 5 non-degustation courses took nearly 3 hours. That doesn’t seem normal either, but that could simply be the way Icebergs works.
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three
The Good: excellent views, excellent starter courses, decent mains
What could be improved: lower pricing, space the tables out, speed up service
I give Bondi Icebergs a grand total of seven Caesars out of ten – 7/10