It's a glorious sunny day in Bondi, made even better with the promise of a lox bagel at a newly opened deli diner. Expectations are high, not least because our destination is full and we have to queue for a table.
Brother-and-sister duo Lianne and Neil Gottheiner - also owners of Brown Sugar bistro around the corner - opened Lox Stock and Barrel last month. Slow-cooked, home-style food from the heart is the focus, Neil says, with dishes inspired by meals their grandmother made for them as children, such as chicken soup, cabbage salad and peppered mackerel. Former Baroque chef Kurt Mengetti helms the kitchen.
On two separate weekend lunch visits, the cafe is completely packed, but the wait isn't long for a table, with a choice of inside or out. Inside, it's noisy, bustling and at times hard to have a conversation without straining to hear. But attentive staff keep things moving smoothly.
The decor is light and bright. Baked goods sit on trays in a large, portable rack. Except for the rye, all the bread, including the bagels and braided challah, is made in-house. A glassed-in meat counter completes the deli look. Cocktails and wines are spruiked on a blackboard, but the Gypsy espresso coffee and milkshakes are in high demand. The espresso milkshake is sweet and creamy with a kick from the coffee. The salted dulce de leche shake is a real treat, too.
Food options steer from the homey - hearty chicken soup and filling sandwiches - to healthy, with salads also starring on the lunch menu. The tomato-based panzanella salad is dressed with a light hand and packed full of vegetables, such as fennel, zucchini and capsicum. The pumpkin salad is a veritable vegie patch, too, served with kale, carrot, cucumber, spinach and red cabbage. Quinoa and sesame seeds add texture but the lovely, sweet miso dressing is the dominant flavour.
The brisket pastrami on rye is a popular sandwich choice. The South Australian pasture-fed beef is brined, smoked and steamed for 10 hours, then thinly sliced for the sandwich. The meat is salty and smoky but milder than expected, paired with red cabbage coleslaw and sliced pickles. Still, it's a mighty fine sandwich.
Judging by the queues, Lox Stock and Barrel has struck a chord with the Bondi crowd.
A deli diner must have bagels; the ones here are made each morning, boiled in water with a touch of honey. They're a little chewy but not overly dense, which Neil says is intentional. "We want them to be something you can eat each day."
I opt for the lox - Tasmanian smoked salmon - but other choices include chicken liver and corned wagyu beef.
Judging by the queues, Lox Stock and Barrel has struck a chord with the Bondi crowd, while still ironing out some teething problems. On a less successful first visit, after a decent wait for food, we are served something we didn't order. The reason? The kitchen ran out of tuna panini so decided to serve us chicken instead. Shame they didn't give us a choice. We score a tuna sandwich on our second visit and it is great - the fish beautifully cooked, still pink in the middle, with jalapenos delivering a heat hit.
It's early days for Lox, but it seems to be hitting its stride. So much so, we'd be tempted to return for third deli-diner meal - this time for all the right reasons.
New York-esque deli-diner.
Good. Sandwiches $13, soup $12, salads $17, milkshakes $5.50, breads and bagels $4.50-$14.
Lox bagel, brisket pastrami sandwich, tuna panini, pumpkin salad, panzanella salad.
LOX STOCK AND BARREL
140 Glenayr Avenue, Bondi
Daily 7am-4pm, (dinner service starts in May, Wed-Sat)