Bondi Hardware has the established air of a long-time local. Exposed bricks, low lighting, rustic bits and bobs, unfinished plastering and well-worn timber tables, shelves and bar area carry a well-worn but loved feel.
There are hanging pot plants, low-slung industrial lighting, piles of candles and native flora in jars. A mix of gabled ceiling and a lower jigsaw-like roof section of recycled wood makes it relaxed and warm.
Until recently, however, Bondi Hardware's site was a Thrifty-Link Hardware store.
Opened in December, the restaurant and bar is owned by Hamish Watts and Ben Carroll, who have retained the hardware vibe with a hand-tool mosaic of rusted hacksaws, chisels, pliers and wrenches fixed to a back wall. The theme extends to the loos, where basic brass taps are installed at wonky angles over ceramic basins.
Service is a standout. We're met at the door by staff, given menus and water pronto and, despite a packed space all night (walk-ins are encouraged but booking is best), never left waiting.
Seated on tall stools, our dinner conversation is plagued by a wall speaker playing … it's too loud to tell.
The music volume doesn't affect those at the cushion-strewn banquettes opposite, the central bar or a candle-adorned communal table nearby. Everyone else is chatting loudly. Up on stools at a high table, we're bellowing like sailors in a storm. It rams home that Bondi Hardware at night may be more bar with food than restaurant with drinks.
The food, however, is no afterthought. The menu is tapas-like but skips between nations - Moroccan, Indian, Italian, American, Mexican and Greek dishes are available to share. Six to eight dishes shared between four people is fine.
I would come back for the beer-battered chips alone - served on a wood platter with garlic aioli, the chunky morsels are crisp outside and creamy inside.
A tomato, basil and bocconcini pizza from the tall wood-fire oven at the end of the room is a winner, as is the richly spiced Jamaican curried goat with rice.
We could eat another round of sliders - four mini cheeseburgers with fat beef patties, pickled red onion, gherkins and tomato - but are less impressed by overly fried salt-and-pepper squid that verges on dry.
Much better are fried haloumi wedges piled on excellent fattoush, and smoky stuffed capsicums filled with vegetables. Desserts change frequently. Tonight's option, a banana and Nutella pizza sprinkled with crushed walnuts and fresh mint, is nicely sweet and savoury.
The central bar does a roaring trade with a small list of boutique beers, ciders (two on tap) and wines from Australia, New Zealand, France and Argentina. Cocktails are more abundant, ranging from The Geisha's summery gin, strawberry and cucumber mix to the exotic Loco Coco - a whole coconut filled with Pampero Blanco and coconut syrup. Sangria, rum punch and elderflower liqueur icy pops are also available. The tanned, cocktail-sipping crowd love it here.
We're happily sated but hoarse and discombobulated after a night of shouting. We'll come back, but for lunch or weekend breakfast, with bonus tranquil chatting.
Menu A mix of Moroccan, Italian, Indian, American, Mexican and Greek flavours on sharing plates.
Value Good. About $80 for two, including drinks.
Recommended dishes Jamaican curried goat; haloumi.
39 Hall Street, Bondi Beach, 9365 7176
Mon-Wed, noon-10pm; Thurs and Fri, noon-midnight; Sat, 9am-midnight; Sun, 9am-10pm
- Cuisine - Middle Eastern, Indian, Italian, American (US), Mexican, Greek
- Features - Licensed
- Opening Hours - Mon-Wed, noon-10pm, Thurs and Fri, noon-midnight, Sat, 9am-midnight, Sun, 9am-10pm
- Author - Lenny Ann Low