Food Review – The Italian Kitchen & Bar
Following a hectic afternoon of retail indulgence in the shopping Mecca that is Bondi Junction, we decided to have a glass of wine and relax at the new Italian Kitchen & Bar at Easts Leagues on Spring Street. We signed in as guests and headed past a mass of poker machines and up the stairs to a very smart looking bar, which offered a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle outside. We ordered a couple of James Squire’s and some crisp prosecco and sat out on the balcony to look through the bags upon bags of goodies we’d picked up in the Westfield.
The Italian Kitchen & Bar is a very sleek establishment and it appears that no expense was spared on the refurb. There is a attractive mix of varnished wood and vibrant colours, and some quirky ‘Italian’ features like a Vespa on the staircase and oversized pictures of women eating spaghetti. Its slick design is far classier than what I’ve come to expect from the average RSL restaurant. But then again, this is no average RSL restaurant.
After a couple of drinks on the balcony we were feeling peckish, so we headed through to the restaurant. There is plenty to like on the menu. We began with Sicilian olives, grissini and parmesan, a good start to get the taste buds firing. The pick of the starters though was a delicate plate of raw kingfish, expertly prepared and served with blood orange, a drizzle of olive oil, slivers of fennel and a hint of dill – a really accomplished dish. Another starter we enjoyed was the roast quail with braised radicchio and sage. The bitter radicchio was a perfect balance to the quail and the sticky jus – even the vegetarian in our party enjoyed a taste!
For main course I opted for a braised piece of lamb shoulder, served with parsnip puree, lardons and sauteed sprouts, an impressive dish that really made the most of the simple ingredients. By contrast, the breaded pork chop was rather plain, served with spinach and lemon, while the squid ink pasta boasted the fresh flavours of prawns, cherry tomatoes and basil – a simple classic, done well.
For dessert, the classic tiramisu was served out of the dish at the table, and the affogato was lifted by the addition of some tasty homemade cantuccini. The wine list was fairly extensive, with wines from $28 to $120, and we opted for the Primitive di Puglia, which at $30 was so good we ordered a second bottle.
The Italian is the venue Bondi Junction has been waiting for. It is better than I expected in every way. The kitchen is producing some really elegant food, the service is professional and attentive, and the bar is a cool and sophisticated place to have a drink. What a find!
Phone: (02) 9386 3217
Address: Level 1, 93-97 Spring Street, Bondi Junction
Prices: Entree: $6-$21; Mains: $17-$29; Dessert: $12-$15
Open: Tues-Sat 12.00-2.30pm, 6.00-9.30pm; Sun 12.00-5pm
Cards: MasterCard, Visa, Diners Club and American Express
Licensed/BYO: Licensed with bar