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Coziest hang-outs in the East this winter

By Madeleine Gray on June 17, 2016 in Food

Summer has its charms, for sure. But there is literally nothing cosier and more comforting than being in a warm, snuggly place when it’s cold and raining outside. Maybe it’s a schadenfreude thing: part of it is knowing that there are people outside who are truly wet and chilly, and that you are neither of these things. It’s the same type of smug superiority you feel when you rush to the bathroom after seeing a film at the cinema, and then come out of the cubicle to see that a massive queue has formed. You leave the bathroom elated, making shameless, smirking eye contact with all the moviegoers who are going to have to wait for 15 minutes to pee. Or maybe that’s just me.

Regardless, we can all agree that cosy = good. And while a lot of cafes, bars and restaurants in the East are all about the sleek, modern aesthetic, sometimes in winter you just need some old-fashioned homeliness, and maybe a fireplace. So without further ado, we give you the snuggliest snuggle snugs in the East.


Chapter One Coffee & Wine Room, Bondi

Chapter 1: a secret winter nook

Chapter 1: a secret winter nook

Tucked just off Campbell Pde at the south end of Bondi Beach is this little gem. You might not be able to tell from outside, but inside it’s a rustic cave filled with warm yellow lights, colourful cushions, and Tuscan orange walls. It’s a café by day, and an intimate wine bar by night – and we say that nighttime is where it’s at. There’s an extensive sake selection, various sashimi and sushi varieties to nibble on, and even a Japanese pizza with wagyu beef. What makes the place really appealing in winter is its depth: keep walking towards the back of the space and you’ll feel worlds away from the chaos of Bondi Beach.


Address: Shop 3A 34 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach
Opening hours: Mon – Sun, 6:30am – 3pm; Thurs – Sun, 6pm til late
Phone: 9130 1651

Gertrude & Alice, Bondi

G & A: A winter hideaway Photo: Ms Peacock Escapes

G & A: A winter hideaway
Photo: Ms Peacock Escapes

Straight off the bat, this is the best place to come to escape the world outside. Located on Hall St in Bondi, Gertrude & Alice could be overlooked amongst the multitude of cafes that surround it, were it not for the bargain crates of old books that sit outside the front door, whispering to the eagle-eyed pedestrian that good things lie in wait inside. The space is a booky, tapestried, warm labyrinth. It’s like a combination of Turkish bookroom, Viennese coffee house and what I imagine an Old London opium den would have been like (purely from having read Phillip Pullman’s The Ruby In The Smoke as a kid). There are squishy leather chairs, a big dark wooden table, golden gilt mirrors and little nooks off nooks. The menu is classic Middle Eastern comfort food: think chunky lentil soups, Moroccan lentil stew, and chili con carne. The chai is sweet and smooth, and the fresh mint tea literally warms your soul.


Address: 46 Hall St, Bondi Beach
Opening hours: Mon – Sun, 7:30am – 9:30pm
Phone: 9130 5155

Ampersand, Paddington

Ampersand's downstairs reading room

Ampersand’s downstairs reading room

Yes, we know that Paddington is not technically Eastern Beaches, but Ampersand has to be on this list. Just opposite the Verona on Oxford St, Ampersand is a mecca for book-lovers and anyone who likes to hide away in a big armchair with a coffee and deep thoughts. To get to the best bits, you have to venture up or down the stairs. Downstairs is a gorgeous old-fashioned reading room, with a mahogany oval table and walls lined with old volumes. Upstairs there are two more rooms, each with an assortment of comfortable seating options. Buy yourself a scone with jam and cream, and descend into the season-less abyss of fiction.


Address: 78 Oxford St, Paddington
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat, 7:30am – 5:30pm; Sun, 9am – 5pm
Phone: 9380 6617


Stuffed Beaver, Bondi

Stuffed Beaver: a dive bar with feeling Photo: Stab Mag

Stuffed Beaver: a dive bar with feeling
Photo: Stab Mag

Here we have a different kind of cosy. It’s not the sit in a chair and drink tea kind of cosy: it’s the type of cosy that involves sitting in a wooden booth, safely tucked away from the onslaught of cars on Bondi Rd, drinking beer and eating burgers, as local alcoholics and hipsters unite in yelling at the sport on the television in the front room. It classes itself as a Canadian dive bar, and if we know anything about Canadians, it’s that they know how to do cold weather right. There’s poutine (fries, gravy and cheese), burgers with names like ‘The Donald Drumpf’ (“Eat an American icon. Beef pattie, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo & pickles. The best thing to come out of America since Viagra”), and hot wings. Head on inside, and rest your weary feet.


Address: 271 Bondi Rd, Bondi Beach
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat, 12pm – 12am; Sun, 12 – 10pm
Phone: 9130 3022

Bat Country, Randwick

Bat Country: a winter wonderland acrioss from the Ritz Photo:

Bat Country: a winter wonderland acrioss from the Ritz

It’s a dreary Sunday and you live in the East. What do you do? You go to the Ritz and see whatever’s on. Avengers 72? Sure, why not. But what happens after the film, when you just want to continue the warm, snug vibes of the dark cinema, but now with an alcoholic beverage in hand? This is when you dash across the street, shielding your glasses from the rain, and hop inside the rabbit hole that is Bat Country. Once inside, you’re in another world. A world where sweet cocktail concoctions in coupes reign supreme and exposed brick walls enclose you in a shroud of twinkly winter atmosphere. You might order a Smoking Mary, the cocktail described as “like an open crackling fire in Woody Creel,” involving prosciutto and burning rosemary. You might snack on a head of roasted garlic with see salt and charred sourdough. “Ah,” you’ll say to yourself, “it must have been somewhere this magical that J. R. R. Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings.”


Address: 32 St Pauls St, Randwick
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat, 7am – midnight; Sun, 7am – 10pm
Phone: 9398 6694

Robin Hood Hotel, Charing Cross

The Robin Hood i.e. the chillest pub in the East

The Robin Hood i.e. the chillest pub in the East

Admittedly, it’s the Charo across the road that has gourmet accolades and the fireplace. And yet, there’s something about the Robin Hood that’s just as comfortable as putting on an old mitten. It’s got those old leather couches that your grandpa might have had in his childhood house. It’s not anything fancy. But once inside, you heave a sigh of relief. Perhaps it’s to do with the fact that it’s on a corner, so from both sides of the pub you can see the rain pummeling outside, safe in the knowledge that you are warm and dry. Have a beer, play some pool, think about your responsibilities and then put them aside.


Address: 203 Bronte Rd, Waverley
Opening hours: Mon – Sat, 10am – 3am; Sun, 10am -10pm
Phone: 9389 3477


Osteria Riva, Bondi Junction

Osteria Riva: packed, friendly, delicious

Osteria Riva: packed, friendly, delicious

When you think cosy, chances are you don’t think restaurant off Bronte Rd opposite Pet Barn. And yet, walking into Osteria Riva is the restaurant equivalent of getting in from the cold, putting on a big, knitted jumper, and watching Love Actually. You’ve got dark wood, wine bottles covering the walls, and beautiful Italian staff who, without fail, greet with you a deeply sexy ‘Ciao, bella’. It’s a traditional Italian Osteria, focusing on the regional area of Emilia-Romagna. The pasta is fresh and the sauces are rich and dense. The prawn, chili and garlic ragu is a personal favourite: you can just taste all the hours the sauce has been simmering away, collapsing into its own deliciousness.


Address: 1/96 Bronte Rd, Bondi Junction
Opening Hours: Dinner, Mon – Sun, 6pm til late; Lunch, Fri, Sat, Sun 12 – 3pm
Phone: 93694071

Bondi Hardware, Bondi Beach

Bondi Hardware: a trans-seasonal treasure

Bondi Hardware: a trans-seasonal treasure

I know, I know, it’s a beachside bar and restaurant! How counterintuitive for winter! And yet something about this place is deeply comfy and warm. Maybe it’s the whole ‘rustic’ aesthetic they’ve got going on, so you feel like you could be in a French farmhouse. The tables are wooden, the walls are exposed brick with little nooks cut out to hold candles, and there is gorgeous green shrubbery growing down from the roof. The cocktail list is decadent, just like you would be if you owned a farmhouse in France. Take a sip of your Hardware Sour, with strawberry infused Amaretto, lemon, sugar, Angostura bitters and a dash of egg white. Wordlessly share a slow roast lamb leg pappardelle with your best friend. Muse. Reflect. Be your own little book of calm.


Address: 39 Hall St, Bondi Beach
Opening Hours: Mon – Thurs, 5pm – late; Friday, midday til midnight; Sat 9am – midnight; Sun 9am – 10pm
Phone: 9365 7176

Bellagio @ Night, Waverley

Bellagio at night: a twilight adventure

Bellagio at night: a twilight adventure

If you’ve discounted Waverley stalwart Bellagio as simply the place that you get your morning coffee, you’re really missing out. Come nighttime, the space transforms from a stroller-full caffeine hub into a starry, soft, Mediterranean oasis. The heaters come out, the lights dim and the satisfying sound of a bottle being uncorked heralds you into the evening. The menu is built for sharing; you might start with a charcuterie board and some charred cumin cauliflower. Graze your way through to some brazed oxtail, while sipping on an excellent glass of Australian red. There’s always something exciting and mysterious about being in a place ‘after hours:’ it speaks of hidden conversations and remembered moments, and refuge from the dull drip of winter outside.


Address: 285 Bronte Rd, Waverley
Opening hours: Wed – Sat, 5:30 – 10pm
Phone: 9387 1562

Mamasan, Bondi Beach

Mamasan: winter decadence

Mamasan: winter decadence

While we love the Beach Rd Hotel for a good time, it’s not exactly a cosy zone of winter warmth. Cross the street, and you’ll find cosiness, but with a little edge. Mamasan describes itself as “Moulin Rouge meets 1920s Shanghai meets Bondi Beach.” You’ve got a wooden lattice above you, with autumnal leaves hanging down, like you’re in a scene from Midsummer Night’s Dream. There are ornate tapestries and carpets, candles and a fireplace, and snug wooden booths for groups (or you, alone on a winter’s day, with your favourite book). Delight your tongue with the soft sweetness of umushu (Japanese plum wine), and if the massive sake range doesn’t light your insides aglow, we don’t know what will. Snack on delicious duck pancakes, bimbimbap and gyoza while lost in a Kate Bush daydream. You do you.


Address: 57 – 59 Beach Rd, Bondi Beach
Opening Hours: Mon – Thurs, 5 – 11pm; Fri – Sat, 11:30am – 12am; Sun, 11:30am – 10pm
Phone: 9130 5066


☕ = Not cosy: Bauhaus vibes.

☕☕ = Maybe has a hint of cosy, like a good pillow.

☕☕☕ = Pretty cosy. Could sit here silently contemplating life for a while.

☕☕☕☕ = Cosy AF. Chances are there is a leather couch here that faces away from people.

☕☕☕☕☕ = Cosy perfection. Blankets, soup, dark wood, dim lighting.