PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
Replacing the well-loved Ash's Café, Bay 88 is everything Rushcutters Bay residents want, but what they didn't even know they needed. This is the kind of restaurant you'd visit to get that I'm-such-a-local feeling; where you take a date for a seemingly casual rendezvous, your best friend for breakfast to laugh about the night before, or to simply while away the afternoon indulging in a good book and a glass of wine. The wood-lined bar, exposed brick wall and navy blue accents create calm amidst the buzz of the city, with Bayswater Road nearby.
Wide outdoor armchairs lined with blue and white striped cushions welcome long lazy chats and explorations through the patriotic wine list. Inside, two local mums sit by the wide open window that invites in a breeze from the nearby park as they nibble on a cheese platter and sip on chilled glasses of rosé.
Our tangled pile of thick grilled octopus pieces sitting on baby fennel are stained red with chilli and harissa, and scattered with roasted almonds and fluffy Israeli cous cous. The integrity of simple flavours shine through pillows of glossy buffalo mozzarella, a seductively soft and subtle contrast to sweet grilled red peppers, chunks of heirloom tomato and crunchy deep-fried basil leaves. Three plump, glistening spatchcock quarters balance atop one another on a bed of parsnip purée, the combination of rustic and earthy flavours set off by the meal's wooden platter. A quick eye-off of fellow dining tables shows a standout favourite dish. Hotly anticipated, delightfully deformed donuts arrive to our table crisp, golden and sparkling with crystalline sugar. Each spongy substance is dipped into an indulgent accompaniment of warm crème anglaise to soak up subtle vanilla accents - the last one, a coveted sweet tooth's treasure.
The casual cool of this café-restaurant, injected with surrounding greenery, makes Bay 88 the urban hangout every local longs for.