We take a first look at the yet-to-launch Chimmi’s Rum Cantina in Bondi Junction, part of the redevelopment of The Eastern which will soon have four destinations within one venue with The Publican, Anatoli, and El Topo Mexican.
Step up a long staircase to Chimmi’s and you may think someone has set up a rum bar in the middle of a 1970s South American house. Orange and brown retro furniture, laminated dining tables and kitsch décor may evoke nostalgia for a time long gone but the painted murals of badass semi-clad women tell you this isn’t your grandma’s house.
Food, rum and cigars are set to be the house rules at Chimmi’s. The rum bar has an outdoor area where BBQs on Sundays will be held and a humidor will be set up.
The venue has a South American vibe yet it somehow retains a Bondi feel. There is a distinct Caribbean cocktail element but this isn’t a Tiki bar.
The bar is well stocked with rum, with an 80 strong list soon to be more than 100, inviting you to Meet Chimmi’s Rum Family with hand-selected expressions from each brand. The list is divided into styles of rum rather than brands showcasing the diversity of the spirit.
You’ll find a diverse selection that includes Ron de Jeremy rum (Panama), Sailor Jerry (a Caribbean blend), Cubaney Rum (Dominican Republic) along with some of the more unusual expressions such as Appleton’s White (Jamaica), RL Seale (Colonial) and La Hechicera rum (Colombia).
There’s also a range of other spirits, Chilean and Argentinian wines, digestives and cervezas.
Coca Cola Fridge
The 12-strong cocktails list is very approachable even if you’re not very knowledgeable about the various styles of rum. The cocktails currently have a winter focus with the use of toasted walnut crème and a honey cream which is house made with honey butter and sugar with cardamom and spice.
The signature drink, Salty Donkey ($14) is made with Flor de Cana Nicaraguan rum, fresh pressed pineapple with a salt rim. A savoury drink, it has a clean and fresh flavour which is enhanced by licking the salt off the edge of the glass.
The Banana Colada ($19) is the must-have cocktail. It’s made with fresh bananas, Koko Kanu Jamaican Coconut rum, Pampero rum from Venezuela and the coveted Coco Lopez, a Puerto Rican coconut cream with an unusual texture that has a glutinous feel and high glucose content. The cocktail is served in a pineapple and has a delicious fresh flavour that is rich in coconut but not overly sweet.
At the rear of the venue, a small cantina prepares South American street food. Place your order and the food comes served on a Coca Cola crate.
There are empanadas and arepas, traditional Columbian street food made daily from masa flour, with various fillings ($6-$8), jalapeno poppers ($3) and Peruvian ceviche ($10).
The empanadas are baked instead of being fried and have a lighter and bread-like texture that is moreish. The slow-cooked lamb filling with goats’ cheese sauce and olives is delicious and a few drops of chipotle sauce bring out the flavour.
Equally tasty is the arepa with pulled pork, onion, cabbage so be prepared to order more than one.
Chimmi’s is a South American fun house and rum cantina set in the heart of Bondi Junction. Although it is yet to launch, the venue ticks all the right boxes. With an accessible location by public transport, a homely 70s South American décor with authentic music, and top quality rums and cocktails with street food to match, Chimmi’s is set to fill a large void in the Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs bar scene.
Chimmi’s officially launches in the second half of July 2013.
Chimmi’s Rum Cantina
Level 2, 500 Oxford Street,
Bondi Junction NSW 2022
Ph: (02) 9387 7828
Hours: Tue to Sunday from 5pm
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