Sean’s Panorama at Bondi Beach has been on my list of restaurants to visit for years, but the Siren call of more glamorous, or newer restaurants always got in the way. After all why travel out to distant Bondi for just another suburban diner? With no plans to head out of town for the long weekend we decided on a long lazy Sunday lunch with a water view, and after running through the usual suspects decided we needed to try something new, new to us that is, so Sean’s it was.
It is a scruffy place when compared to the slick fit-outs of other places, it all feels a bit home-made. The specials are on little blackboards above the kitchen, a few interesting dishes but at prices that make me nervous: $29 for a starter, getting close to $50 for a main, and a wine list that matches. Big night out prices in a basic café - is this another Sydney “institution” maximising profits based on a past reputation?
At least the staff a friendly and the table has an ocean view. Our waiter runs though the specials board, and I realise this IS the menu, only three or four choices per course and a few that sound quite ordinary. We ask for a recommendation for a bottle of Chardonnay and the waiter works through the whole list, but suggests we try the house wine and sample a glass: it is very good. We order the bread, despite a $4 supplement, it comes with butter and oil: things are looking up, the bread is very good, two types both home-made, the oil is wonderfully aromatic and the butter is amazing.
Maybe time for a reassessment.
The three starters arrive, first some calamari with home-made Harissa, then some asparagus with broad beans and a chunky almond sauce. And finally some amazing pate with toasted chunks from the inside of a sour-dough loaf and onion relish. All three dishes are suburb: the Harissa is zingy and vibrantly fresh; the asparagus is chunky, very fresh, and packed full of flavour; and the pate is possibly the best I have had for years. Good sized portions of ingredient led food very much worth the price.
Onto the mains, cod with a fennel sauce, pasta with sheep’s feta and spinach served with some wonderfully flavourful chunky vegetables. All as good as the starters. We pass on the desserts as we have no room for more food and order coffee. It comes with home made nougat. No room for dessert? We could have eaten buckets of the nougat it was so good.
Sean’s deserves it’s place as a Sydney icon. It is a place that is full of character with the wonderful patina of a old time beach-side restaurant. The food is very good, and for this quality, good value. Often people ask for recommendations for restaurants that offer Australian cooking, or are classic Sydney icons. I think Sean’s is the perfect example for both: fantastic simply cooked ingredients; a menu that spans cuisines and takes influences from many continents; a lovely casual space; and really good friendly service.
I won’t leave it long before I return. Highly recommended.