14/20

Lox Stock & Barrel

140 Glenayr Avenue, Bondi Beach, NSW

Review.Bondi.June 12th, 2013.Photo.Sahlan Hayes.SMH Good Living.Lox Stock and Barrel, Deli and Cafe.
What's not to love? Lox Stock and Barrel, Bondi. Photo: Sahlan Hayes

Terry Durack

An elderly woman at the next table is discussing the finer points of matzo ball soup when she pulls something green from her poached chicken sandwich. ''Is this coriander?'' she asks her friend. ''I've never had it. I bet I hate it.'' She puts it in her mouth. ''Yes,'' she says, ''I don't like it.''

It was brave of siblings Neil and Lianne Gottheiner of local restaurant Brown Sugar to open Lox Stock & Barrel and start cooking the food of old Bondi for new Bondi, especially when old Bondi comes to visit. There was always the danger that local diehards would come out of the woodwork telling them that's not how you bake bagels, that's not how you chop liver and that's not how you bake cheesecake. Instead, it seems everyone, old and new, is a little bit in love with their cute new deli-cafe.

And what's not to love? These days, the whole world is having a love affair with New York deli food as a new generation of bakers, picklers and pastrami smokers tackle the food of their forebears. In Brooklyn, Noah and Rae Bernamoff's Mile End Deli breathes new life into traditional Jewish cooking, while at Kutsher's in Tribeca, entrepreneurial restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow takes deli food up market with a dash of Jewish chutzpah. In San Francisco, two former UCLA graduates have opened cultish deli Wise Sons, while in London, Russell Norman's Mishkin's is billed as ''a kind-of Jewish deli with cocktails''. It's taken so long to get to Sydney, it reminds me of the sign that used to hang outside New York's old-school Russ & Daughters Deli: ''For what you have been waiting.''

Review.Bondi.June 12th, 2013.Photo.Sahlan Hayes.SMH Good Living.Lox Stock and Barrel, Deli and Cafe.The Lox Deli Platter.
Go-to dish: Lox deli platter. Photo: Sahlan Hayes

Chicken soup is for what I have been waiting, made fresh every day in an eight-litre pot. Chicken soup that starts with a good Holmbrae chicken; that concerns itself with the persistence of the flavour of the broth and the light golden shimmer of chicken fat; with meat that's cooked, but not overcooked, fine egg noodles, and a non-traditional, but perfectly acceptable, abundance of sweet root vegetables and flecks of fresh tomato. Chicken soup that's on all day every day for $12.

By day, Lox is more of a cafe, with good coffee, hearty salads and deli-style sandwiches. Its pastrami on rye ($13) is the real deal, made from scratch with grass-fed beef brisket that has been slowly brined, rubbed, smoked and steamed. Finely sliced and piled - still warm - ludicrously high between grilled sourdough, with crisp red cabbage slaw and pickled cucumber, it makes a sandwich that requires a serious mouth span.

At night, the simple little dining room becomes candle lit, the music goes all Gene Pitney-ish, and there's a strong focus on aperitifs and cocktails. The short but sweet blackboard wine list runs to a terrific 2010 Paco & Lola Albarino ($11/$50), from Rias Baixas, that's all citrus and tropical fruit, with a nice, minerally finish.

Neil Gottheiner and former Baroque chef Kurt Menghetti share the kitchen, stretching the repertoire to include wild kingfish cutlets in a spicy Libyan hraymi sauce, pearl barley risotto with pumpkin, and a terrific salad of roasted beetroot with crisped cauliflower, avocado and tahini.

Night-time also showcases a deli platter ($20/$30) that would actually be brilliant at lunch - a wooden board loaded with egg-mayo salad, chopped chicken liver, furls of house-made corned wagyu, cured herring, smoked mackerel, raw and (lightly) pickled vegetables, and a dill pickle they call ''Polish style'' but seems to be more the salted Israeli style than the sweet-and-sour Polski ogorki. There's a deep, dark and lovely goulash of fall-apart wagyu beef shin ($25) tossed with loads of root vegetables and topped with parsnip crisps.

Desserts are, well, desserts: nicely made contemporary renditions of rich, creamy cheesecakes and sweet parfaits ($9).

In the same way that we've taken the many good things about Thai street food, English pub food, Argentinian steakhouses and Japanese sushi and made them our own, it's now the turn of the New York deli. This cosy cottage of a cafe in Bondi Beach has done it with a small-batch, hands-on sense of authenticity, with charm, and with chicken soup. That's for what I have been waiting.

The low-down

Best bit

Breads, bagels, pickles etc, all made from scratch on the premises.

Worst bit

Flimsy paper napkins.

Go-to dish

Lox deli platter, $20/$30.

Terry Durack is chief restaurant critic for The Sydney Morning Herald and senior reviewer for the Good Food Guide. This rating is based on the Good Food Guide scoring system.

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140 Glenayr Avenue, Bondi Beach, NSW

  • Cuisine - American (US)
  • Prices - Lunch, about $30 for two; dinner, about $70 for two, plus drinks.
  • Features - Licensed
  • Chef(s) - Neil Gottheiner, Kurt Menghetti
  • Owners - Neil Gottheiner, Lianne Gottheiner
  • Opening Hours - Breakfast, lunch daily, 7am-3pm; dinner, Wed to Sat, 6pm-late
  • Author - Terry Durack
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Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (11)

12 comments so far

  • Sounds a bit too gourmet for real NY deli-style food.

    Commenter
    DC
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    June 18, 2013, 10:09AM
    • Yes, but that is a good thing. Lived in NYC for seven years and we do food sooooo much better here. This is a fantastic cafe. Totally loved the food and experience.

      Commenter
      gavlar
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      June 18, 2013, 11:15AM
  • The deli may be American but the prices are totally Australian!

    Commenter
    gc95014
    Location
    Date and time
    June 18, 2013, 12:22PM
  • Any knishes? I'd kill for a knish.

    Commenter
    Katherine
    Location
    NSW
    Date and time
    June 18, 2013, 12:43PM
  • I hate to pooh pooh anything, as i do love a good ruben sandwich and whatnot, but i've noticed something about Sydney food. we're always following! mexican trends, brooklyn trends, Chinese soup dumpling or hotpot trends blah blah blah blah!

    where are Sydney's f-ing trends??? why are we so unoriginal that we can't have our own unique cuisines??? everything's gotta be "brooklyn-esque", or Parisian or SanFran hipster.

    but what about our foods??? seriously, that kind of food in NYC is delicious, but it’s a food that's born out of the people and their climate. pickles and corned beef to make it through the long winter, soup to warm you up when you're outside in the cold. i'm not saying it’s not nice that Sydney has a lot of options, but just for once i'd like to read an article about a truly innovative Sydney eatery doing something original and not just copying something else.

    and by original, i don't mean hugely expensive! the beauty of those hipster joints in SF and NYC is that they use local ingredients and they serve them simply in a place that's not so flash. So you get an awesome feed without having to miss a mortgage payment.

    Sydney has so much to offer, we’re smack bang between the countryside and the ocean. Give me roast spring Aussie lamb on a roll, with mint sauce and mash potato like mum used to make! Give me hamburgers with beetroot and some sweet potato fries and a nice Sydney boutique beer (without it costing my bank account). Whatever it is, make it Sydney. Make it original. And make it so that next time I’m in NYC there’s some Williamsburg hipster-dufus copying us for a change, and i'll be a customer for life.

    Commenter
    Dannygolucky
    Location
    Date and time
    June 18, 2013, 1:27PM
    • Couldn't agree more Dannygolucky. In fact, it's why my family and I are going to live overseas, I think. I don't want to be somewhere that imitates. I want to be somewhere that IS! PS For what it's worth, the food at this place IS delicious but also very expensive!

      Commenter
      Former Dweller
      Location
      Date and time
      June 18, 2013, 3:22PM
    • The more I think about your comment, the more sense it makes and the more I like it.

      Commenter
      Former Dweller
      Location
      Date and time
      June 18, 2013, 3:29PM
    • Mate, i have to agree. Sydney siders are so fickel and always chasing the next in thing. It would be nice if we could build a food identity of our own.

      Commenter
      Dan
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 18, 2013, 4:25PM
    • I do sort of agree with you about mimicking overseas innovations in food and bars, but it sounds like for these guys, this IS original food for them. Just because you never grew up with bagels and herring and pickles and liver and chicken soup (with kneidlach, pipiks, eyelach and of course kreplach) doesn't mean they didn't, or the people of Bondi. Best food ever and I'm lucky my bubba still makes them for free!

      Commenter
      Actually
      Location
      Date and time
      June 25, 2013, 12:33PM
  • Why is the cost so much? Rents and wages, thats why. your paying staff in the USA a couple of bucks an hour plus tips, here they get 20+ bucks an hour. Then lets not get into the cost of rents here - completely outrageous. This is why nothing is cheap in this country.
    Hopefully this joint will do well and someone will open up one of these deli's in Brisbane.

    Commenter
    Kathyinoz
    Location
    Brisbane
    Date and time
    June 18, 2013, 5:16PM

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