Sydney Shops and Restaurants: A Tour of Bondi Beach
Quintessentially Sydney, Bondi Beach is known for its sunny surf scene that’s by turns louche and creative. But what do locals do when it’s overcast? I spent a cool spring Monday morning with Sydney interiors stylist, author and neighbourhood insider Jason Grant, who took me on a tour of his favourite neighbourhood hot spots, which prove there’s more to this hood than bods and beach. Here are his five favourites:
Porch and Parlour, 100–102 Brighton Boulevard
Sydney locals take their coffee seriously. Strong brews in a laid-back setting make this morning go-to on a side street hideaway in North Bondi (mockingly called NoBo by locals) an ideal spot to refuel and catch up with neighbours. “I love the relaxed vibe of the space and the owners,” says Grant. “Smashed eggs, magic juice and a flat white is my standard order.”
Aquabumps Gallery, 151 Curlewis Street
Iconic photographs of Sydney always include the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, but this gallery offers a more local take on things. The aerial images of Bondi Beach strewn with pumped and polished bodies elicit scrutinising glances from locals trying to ID themselves. “They always try to find themselves in the photos,” says Grant. Local photographer Eugene Tan goes on early morning walks every day hoping to capture Bondi (we even saw him on our walk), and his gorgeous, crisp photographs catch the distinct colours and attitudes of this neighbourhood.
Tuchuzy Mens, 90 Gould Street
“Icebergs” is the name of Bondi’s infamous local seafront pool. It’s also the degree of warmth you’ll get at this slightly snooty boutique just around the corner. But as long as you don’t come expecting the sort of warm service you get at most Aussie establishments, you’ll enjoy the broad selection of wares from excellent local designers. Says Grant, “I can find some of my favourite labels here, including Vanishing Elephant, Jac+Jack and Spring Court.” Besides, what would an arty neighbourhood be without its requisite uppity boutique?
Misschu, 178 Campbell Pde
Tucked away on a hidden alley, Misschu is a tuck shop (street food café) paradise of affordable, high-quality Vietnamese street fare. Beyond the dangling noodle bowls, which serve as lamps, the restaurant specialises in jewel-like cuts of sashimi tuna swathed in translucent rice paper, crispy Peking duck pancakes, DIY banh cuon wraps, and nutty slices of banh xeo stuffed with wood ear mushrooms. “Easily my favourite place to stop for a quick bite before or after the beach,” says Grant.
The Sailors Club, 594 New South Head Road
“A view and desserts to die for,” says Grant of this newcomer in posh, leafy Rose Bay, just on the edge of Bondi. Here, locals in a bright, mod waterside dining room nibble on tuna burgers and oysters, but are especially fond of the creative desserts: a blood orange float has a buttermilk curd; sweet strawberries and crème fraîche are tempered with beetroot coulis; and a volcano-like tiramisù looks like something from an eighth-grade science project, but tastes like heaven.
Jason Grant is an interiors stylist. His work has appeared in Elle Decoration UK, Inside Out, Real Living, and House and Garden. His forthcoming book about Bondi’s design scene will be released in March 2013.