Review - Bondi Road (153 Rivington St, 212 253 5311)
We had a Saturday night dinner here with some friends over the weekend, braving the throngs of 20 something Gen-Xers all out to drink and puke all over the core of the LES party zone. We got there on time but the place filled up quickly. Surprisingly, we were seated before our whole party was there, which was nice. Our server was a charmingly accented Australian blonde who was pretty attentive all dinner.
First we started with some drinks. Their wine list is way overpriced for commericial dreck (lots of $7 Aus wines marked up to $35 by the bottle) Take a pass on that and get wine by the glass which seems to have massive pours, especially if not all of you want wine anyways. I had a Cooper Pale Ale ($7) while most of the table had fruity mixed drinks for $8 per. They brought out a complimentary round of shots while we mulled the menu.
We started with a mussels hot pot ($8), salt and pepper squid ($8), and bloody oyster shooters ($4). The mussles were great and came with some bread to mop up the tasty broth they were simmered in. The squid were ok, and gobbled up quickly, but most breaded and fried things are popular in groups, and these didn't seem all that unusual. The shooters were basically a bloody mary shot, with a raw oyster in it, which was supposed to be chewed as you polished it off. It was ok, but I wouldn't get it again, instead I'd try the Blue Pt oysters at $2 apiece, which I eyed jealously on another table.
After that our main courses came out. It's mostly a fish place and you have choice of whatever 4-5 selections are and how you want them prepared (grilled/fried/breaded/sauteed etc). I went with the grilled barramundi ($15) which is some kind of Australian local fish flown in here from Down Under. It was quite good grilled, and went well with my beet salad. They had an asparagus grilled vegetable side that was good too. The fries seemed to be coated in something and were good but heavy; our table soaked them in the malt vinegar offered. Afterwards some folks split some sponge cake ($6) but it looked odd to me. I didn't get the fried snapper, but a friend did and I tried a bite of that. It was pretty good, softer than battered cod is, but obviously a grease fest. I'm told snapper is a regular frying fish down under.
The place is very popular and has a nice vibe. It would be good for a first date too. We spent $50 a person, leaving an overly generous tip. One person in our group tried to get some of her leftovers doggy bagged, and the restaurant was totally uncooperative in that respect. Nothing I cared that much about, but I've not seen NYC restaurants ask you to go next door and get a bag from the deli for take home! They'll probaly iron out those service issues with time, because everything else was fine.
I liked the place and will recommend it to my younger friends.
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