One block from Bondi Beach (two minute walk). 25 minutes drive from Sydney CBD. PROFILED BY DE GROOTS MEDIA
It’s a bleak, wintry night at Bondi Beach and all I can think about is my couch and a piping hot mug of hot chocolate. But that was before the twinkly lights of Blue Orange (and the blazing overhead heaters) lure my friend and I inside. Whilst the outside dining area is predictably empty, like much of Bondi in winter, we’re happy to find ourselves nestled at the front window, where we catch glimpses of a handful of over-eager surfers, barefoot and with board in hand, and are bemused by groups of teenagers carelessly chatting and laughing at the frozen yoghurt joint across the road. It was just the right amount of entertainment we needed after a long week at work.
Blue Orange has been running for over ten years and while maître d’ Tasia Doukakis says “we’ve always had a Modern Australian focus,” the menu has shifted in recent years from fine dining to a more casual, relaxed dining experience. The menu features all your classic mod-Oz fare with everything from beef burgers to seafood linguini, however it is the daily specials which catch my eye and it’s not just because it is written on a chalkboard. There is something endearing about specials being scribbled on a chalkboard – it gives the impression that each dish is inspired “in the moment” and not planned weeks ahead. Well, that or the restaurant managers are computer illiterate. Given that Blue Orange has facebook and twitter accounts, we can assume the best.
The weekly specials always feature a seafood and meat dish. Tasia explains that with limited kitchen storage, their seafood is bought daily from Sydney Fish Markets and meat is bought twice weekly from Victor Churchill in Woollahra. I knowingly glance at my partner; there won’t be any frozen prawns consumed here. I am drawn towards the King George Whiting with roast fennel, confit garlic and thyme – the perfect balance of a light ‘girly’ meal but with enough confit’ed fatty goodness to ensure I won’t feel deprived. My dining partner opts for the prosciutto wrapped spatchcock with warm beetroot, mushroom and ricotta salad. While the whiting is seasoned well, it is a little overdone – only a nanosecond too long on the pan – but being matched with soft, buttery fennel and confit garlic oozing with flavour, I quickly forget this minor gaffe. My partner’s spatchcock arrives as four friendly mounds of succulent white flesh – snugly encased in a crispy thin prosciutto layer. A warm salad of sorts is arranged around the plate and a light, tasty jus ties the entire dish together.
Not a lot is going for Bondi Beach on a frosty June night, all except this cosy restaurant on Hall Street. I’ll be back mid-summer, cocktail in hand, with thoughts of my couch far from my mind.