Rocker review

On song: Rocker restaurant and bar in Bondi.
On song: Rocker restaurant and bar in Bondi.  Photo: Anna Kucera

39-53 Campbell Parade North Bondi, NSW 2026

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Opening hours Mon-Tue 7am-2pm; Wed-Sat 7am-11pm; Sun 7am-10pm
Features Accepts bookings, Breakfast-brunch, Bar, Licensed
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Payments eftpos, Cash, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 02 8057 8086

A word on Welsh rarebit – the mistress of all supper foods, and Britain's answer to fondue on toast. Chef Darren Robertson just took the world's greatest savoury, smooshed it, breaded it, deep-fried it, and draped it in lard. And it's very good.

You might recognise the chef as one part of the Three Blue Ducks crew – the chef collective whose Bronte, Rosebery and Byron restaurants epitomise coastal cool, and that "long hair, don't care" mentality. There, the menus tend to have a pretty healthy bent, and the lifestyle is as important as the job.

Food-wise, this Bondi newbie isn't really like that (though Robertson still surfs between shifts). This is a menu that feels a lot more Him, and a lot less Collective.

The Welsh rarebit croquettes.
The Welsh rarebit croquettes.  Photo: Anna Kucera

Case in point – those three cheese heart-attack bombs. See also, a beautifully whipped parfait lazing over a rough hewn rye crumb, wearing a visor of golden chicken skin, the richness cut by pickled plums.

About now is probably time to tell you that while the big sell on the wine front is natural, sommelier Chris Morrison isn't here to grip you, flip you and funk you out. So while much of the list will lean towards minimal intervention and bio-deliciousness, it's not filled with, as one friend likes to call it, "bottles of infected horse piss".

And if that doesn't thrill you, there are negronis on tap, heavy on the vermouth, infused with rosemary. Pursts might spit chips, but the peppery herbaceousness kinda works.

Pumpkin macaroni with pumpkin seeds, shreds of pumpkin and pumpkin chips.
Pumpkin macaroni with pumpkin seeds, shreds of pumpkin and pumpkin chips. Photo: Anna Kucera

Mega purists and wowsers, you may want to look away – because there's also a distilled bottle of electric blue liqueur to make blue margaritas (next time).

There's a lot of fun to be had here, but the cooking's extremely serious. By day, the team make all the pasta for the dinner menu (the kitchen's too small to do it anywhere else) including firm elbows of macaroni getting busy with toasted pumpkin seeds, shreds of pumpkin and pumpkin chips. The whole thing is given a generous dousing of brown butter, lifted with sage. It's a smart update to a vego classic.

Speaking of burnt butter making everything better, let's talk dory. Even if it were served with nothing else on its silken, delicate sweet flesh, it would remain the prince of all fishes. To dress it in burnt butter and capers really lifts the phwoar-factor. I don't know if the surf herb garnish is essential or just on-trend but it certainly doesn't hurt.

Go-to dish: Treacle tart.
Go-to dish: Treacle tart. Photo: Anna Kucera

It's hard to top that whole fish, but Robertson's rye and treacle tart, the dark bitter sweetness overridden by a light anglaise, is reason enough to come back. I'm not sure how it'll go with a blue margarita but, in the spirit of investigative journalism, I'm willing to try.

Bottom Line: John dory ($36), pumpkin macaroni ($26), treacle tart ($13).

Pro Tip: For the love of all that is holy, make a booking.

Go-to Dish: I've been thinking about the treacle tart for weeks now. Order it, or regret it.

http://rockerbondi.com.au/