Step through the entrance to the Anchor Bar & Restaurant in South Bondi, past the outdoor seating and you could be on board a pirate ship.
The Anchor, South Bondi
The nautical theme runs throughout, with dark wood fit out made almost entirely from recycled materials that one of the four owners has built himself. Ropes behind the door, a Popeye painting and a fluffy parrot can bring out your inner pirate.
Dark interior made from recycled material
Don’t be fooled by the intimate bar as you are shown to your table. Bar Manager, Hugh Payten Smith runs an efficient the ship and makes creative cocktails with love and “a little malice”, the latter represented in the range of flavours and spirits.
Hugh Payten Smith, Bar Manager
The cocktail menu is divided into Agave, Sugarcane, Grain and Grapes. Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum dominates the Sugarcane section with house cocktails like the Ozzy Rockerbilly Juice served with a comb and the Smith.
(L to R) Spiced Mojito, Classic Sailor Jerry Daiquiri; Ozzy Rockabilly Juice; Smith
The wine list has a Western Australian focus with many wines available by the glass. Beer includes 4 Pines microbrewery and Pacifico, a Mexican pilsner-style brew.
The food is tapas-style with share plates and a specials board. French-trained Chef Zac Pauling, who started his apprenticeship at Terroir with Darren Ho heads up the kitchen. His experience has taken him to Hamilton island, and Melbourne where he finished his apprenticeship at Vue de Monde before returning to Sydney in 2010 at the Rugby Club in Coogee, an 8 month stint at Porteno, then head chef at Pink Salt in Double bay for 1 year before joining the Anchor late last year.
The emphasis here is on sustainable seafood, working closely with JOTO Fresh Fish food supplier and serving up mainly fish and seafood dishes with creative flair. Think mahi mahi with achiote, mackerel with star anise and barramundi with coconut curry, papaya coconut and coriander salad. The broad choice is deliberate, often matching with the cocktail selection of Mexican and South American inspired flavours.
Going with the chef’s recommendations, the Kingfish Wings is one of the more adventurous dish he discovered while travelling in Japan. It makes use of the fin section of the fish which is char-grilled with the head attached. The aromas from the harissa, orange, coriander and fennel are a delight and the fish is very meaty with a gelatinous texture.
The kingfish is paired with El Capitan, a cocktail made with smoked capsicum purée, lime, pineapple and anejo tequila – a perfect complement to the dish.
Mackarel, plum, sake and anise
The plum, sake and anise in the Mackerel dish provide a combination of delicate flavours with a wow factor. The natural oiliness of the fish which gives it a rich taste is offset with the anise, the star flavour in this dish.
El Capitan (L) and Hombre Penicillin (R)
This dish is well-paired with the Hombre Penicillin, made with Don Julio Anejo Tequila, ginger, lemon, agave and an illegal float of smoky mezcal. Brilliant.
In keeping with the theme, the dessert menu includes fried pineapple with cinnamon vanilla ice cream and rum syrup as well as a cheese board.
(Top) – The Kitchen with Chef Zac Pauling; (Bottom) – Pirate paraphernalia
With its pirate-themed décor, Sailor Jerry rum paraphernalia, “The Loos” behind a door that leads to an eerie red-lit corridor and a motto of “F*ck Everything and Become a Pirate“, the Anchor Bar & Restaurant remains unpretentious. The Crew on board the ship have succeeded in creating a welcoming and friendly place with a casual vibe that attracts a trendy crowd as well people of all age groups.
The 1 am license is a bonus, and on a Tuesday night, with the vibrant venue packed at capacity, it is easy to see why so many have become anchored in South Bondi.
The Anchor Bar & Restaurant
8 Campbell Parade
South Bondi, NSW 2026
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