Upper East Side… Start Spreading The News
Bondi’s restaurant scene continues to reach new heights as numerous acclaimed chefs set up shop and jostle for patronage in this highly competitive market. And it seems another top venue has joined the contenders, with the recent opening of Upper East Side on O’Brien Street.
Wandering past the modern exterior over the past few months, a couple of thoughts have crossed my mind; it’s great to see a fresh and original venue take over from the old favourite, Café Bondi, and what does the name ‘Upper East Side’ actually refer to?
As a New Yorker, it didn’t appear to reflect a ritzy neighborhood in Manhattan – far from it, in fact. The look is more Pacific island chic, complete with decorative palm trees, bamboo furniture and a cool indoor night-sky ceiling consisting of about 50,000 tiny brights lights.
The menu has been crafted by star chef Jason Dean, emphasising fresh, high quality ingredients with a modern twist on comfort food – and a Polynesian vibe, of course.
The affable manager explained that ‘Upper East Side’ refers to Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs and is all about “awesome sharing plates, good drinks, good music and good times”. My companion and I began proceedings with a frosty Seabass Lager – brewed in Surry Hills, apparently – and a Voodoo Punch cocktail served in a classic tiki cup with a delicious mix of Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum, Bacardi Oro Rum, Gosling’s 151 Rum (that’s a lot of rum), apricot brandy, cherry liqueur, grapefruit, lime, and Falernum – you won’t need too many of these to blow over the limit, I can assure you.
Keen to sample a bit of everything, we dived head first into the four-course sharing menu. The dishes were bursting with flavour and the presentation was spot on. We sampled the grilled large tiger prawns with spiced caper and parsley butter; Wagyu beef skewers with fennel and black pepper; chicken liver parfait with burnt fig, freeze-dried raspberry and soldiers; and salt and pepper cauliflower with white soy and tamarind. The cauliflower was the standout with its dusty flavour and moist texture.
Our mains included grilled cuttlefish with crispy potato, pomegranate, fennel and black olive; and a mouth-watering lamb rump with soy braised mushrooms, cauliflower and tarragon – an impressive pairing, with squid ink lifting the cuttlefish, and a heavenly cauliflower puree elevating the tender, juicy slices of lamb. A side of light cos salad with cucumber, radish, mint, pecorino and pine nuts balanced the dishes.
After a moment to enjoy the music and the refreshing light onshore breeze, we opted for a strawberry sorbet with toffee apple and roasted white choc meringue, and a coconut and raspberry parfait with lemon curd and chocolate crumble. The parfait, with its attractive red, yellow and white colour scheme and intricate meshing of cold parfait and creamy curd, topped off with that crunchy chocolate crumble, really made our mouths dance.
Upper East Side is a very worthy addition to Bondi’s burgeoning food scene. With the friendly local vibe and reasonable price point, it may just outlast them all.
Upper East Side Bondi
Address 14-16 O’Brien Street, Bondi
Phone 0411 591 234
Open Mon: closed (at this stage);
Prices Starters: $14-18; Mains: $24-36; Four-course menu: $70pp
Cards Accepted Yes