Raising eyebrows: the menu at Neighbourhood Bar includes a mix of playful concoctions and serious classics. Photo: Lidia Nikonova
This new Bondi small bar has Bondi written all over it: sexy house music on the speakers, bronzed and beautiful drinkers, super fashionable cocktails and a chef who's hot-footed it down the hill from the perennial hotspots Corner House and Panama House.
Not surprisingly, Neighbourhood's owners are two locals, Keith Hodgson and Eddie De Souza, who've joined up with entertainer Anthony Hughes to breathe new life into the old Bondi FM bar.
The radio studio is still nestled in the middle of the venue (which unfortunately cuts off the back half of the bar) but they've spruced up the shop front with some exposed brick walls, vintage art, dim lights, tall bar tables and good lookin' bartenders. Totes Bondi.
Drink of choice: Caramel-Corn Old Fashioned at Neighbourhood Bar. Photo: Lidia Nikonova
A skinny menu lists a dozen elegant cocktails, a miniature wine list and a very varied mix of nibbles, jaffles, burgers, mod-Oz dishes and salads. Bar man-about-town Simon McGoram has put together a playful cocktail list with some colourful, fruity things, some more serious American-influenced creations and some eyebrow-raising takes on the classics (Caramel-Corn Old Fashioned or BBQ Margarita anyone?)
If you like your cocktails dark and hard, the Bulleit Rye ones may disappoint you. Instead, go for Blood, Sweat & Tears (Johnnie Walker Double Black scotch, cherry liqueur, blood orange juice, Dolin rouge vermouth, $17).
Likewise, if you're a fruity fan, the Rhubarb and Peach Bellini (Ketel One Citroen, rhubarb and cinnamon puree, lemon juice, sparkling wine, $16) is a little drab flavour-wise but the Breakfast Gimlet (Tanqueray gin, Rose's lime marmalade, lime juice, hopped grapefruit bitters, $17) is superb and the house Neighbourhood Hooch (house-blended rum with fresh pineapple juice, $10) is a bit of fun when the cash starts to thin.
The wine list is tiny but has broad appeal with Italian, Australian and American drops from some interesting wineries.
A Holly's Garden pinot gris grown at 750 metres altitude in the deep volcanic soils of the Whitlands area of the King Valley goes down beautifully with the warm weather approaching.
Same goes for the St Ronan's Pear Cider ($11), a Yarra Valley product made the traditional way that champagne is and served in a similar bottle.
The highlight of Barhop's visit, however, is the food.
Josh Evans has given American East Coast food an Australian, produce-driven twist. A little dish of Mac & Cheese is done with blue swimmer crab and smoky speck ($14) and washed down perfectly with a San Franciscan Anchor Steam Liberty Ale ($9.50).
The signature dish is the Philly Cheesesteak Jaffle with braised beef cheek, mustard pickles and tasty cheese ($10) but the beef cheek also comes on its glorious own with pumpkin and ginger puree ($24).
It's a recipe as foolproof as this bar's. Just add quality food, smart cocktails, beautiful people and stir.
Plenty of other places are doing the same thing in Bondi. Speakeasy, Shop & Wine Bar, Deli Bottega, Bondi Hardware and Porch and Parlour all come to mind, so if you like them, add Neighbourhood to your go-to list.
You'll love it if … you love the Bondi brand of small bar
You'll hate it if … you're looking for something adventurous or quirky
Go for … Blood, Sweat & Tears, Philly Cheesesteak Jaffle, braised beef cheek
- 02 9365 2872
- Cuisine - American (US)
- Prices - Cocktails $10-$18, nibbles $7-$19, wine by the glass $10-$14, bottled beer $7.50-$9.50
- Features - Bar
- Owners - Keith Hodgson, Eddie De Souza
- Opening Hours - Monday-Friday 5pm-11pm, Saturday 9am-11pm, Sunday 9am-10pm
- Author - Rachel Olding