Restaurants

REVIEW: Blanca Bar & Dining Opens in Bondi

Blanca Bar & Dining has officially opened in Bondi, an exciting new venture from chefs and creators Tomi Björck and Samuel Cole.

Blanca Bondi
Blanca Bar & Dining – Photo Supplied

Located on ground level of The Hub Hall Street near the old Mr Moustache, the venue takes inspiration from “east meets west” with clean Japanese nuances in harmony with full bodied Mediterranean flavours. The fitout for the 80 seater restaurant combines the best of both worlds with marble and timber finishes, minimalist white tones with dark accents that give the multi level venue with outdoor seating a bright outlook.

Blanca Bondi
L-R: Tomi Björck, Samuel Cole – Photo Supplied

Chef Tomi Björck has worked in Michelin starred restaurants in London, Finland and Spain before working at Quay and Longrain in Sydney. After he returned to Finland, he established a chain in the country including 4 restaurants in Helsinki and one in Sweden which all have been given the Michelin Guide’s BIB Gourmand. He was Head Judge in Finland’s Masterchef and Junior Masterchef with five cookbooks and a sixth on the way.

Chef Samuel Cole’s career has spanned five countries with experience at Quay, Bentley, Glass Brasserie, Farang, Heston Blumenthal London and as head chef on luxury super yachts in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.

Blanca Bar & Dining
East Meets West

Together, they bring Blanca to Bondi, a blank canvas for the chefs to put their unique mark on the Sydney dining scene with a cuisine that is inventive, exciting with flavours, textures and presentation that entice the diner to come back again and again.

The drinks list features a solid wine list that consists of half European and local Australian and New Zealand wines. Sake is also on the menu and makes an ideal accompaniment to some of the lighter dishes. As for spirits, Japanese whisky and gin are predominant, both chosen as pure spirits that complement to the ethos of the restaurant. A modest cocktail selection includes the Herushinki (Helsinki in Japanese), a gin Mojito with Hendricks Gin, cucumber juice, lime, ginger and mint.

The food menu at Blanca Bar & Dining lists an ambitious selection of over 40 dishes but don’t let that be a deterrent. Consider it a list of temptations, be it Snacks, Fresh/Raw/Cured, Fresh & Veg, Seafood, Meat/Poultry and Sides. And if you’re feeling undecided, Blanca offers a Tasting/Seven menu for $69pp and Tasting/Ten menu for $85pp, the latter is shown below.

Blanca Bar & Dining
Sydney Rock Oyster

The Sydney Rock Oysters ($4.50 each) with mandarin-szechuan pepper mignonette and amaranth topped with Avruga caviar pack peppery, fruity and salty notes. The combination pairs well with a glass of sake such as the Chiyo Shuzo Junmai, an aromatic brew with fruity notes and balanced acidity.

Blanca Bar & Dining
Green Shell Mussel

The tender Green Shell Mussels ($4 each) are bathed in kombu soy, lemon jam and topped with marinated trout roe with moreish  citrus-umami flavours.

Blanca Bar & Dining
Croquetas

Spicy and creamy, the Croquetas ($5 each) are crispy and light with “Lap Cheung” Chinese sausage, manchego cream and a spicy harissa dressing.

Blanca Bar & Dining
Raw Beef & Sesame

The standout of the Snacks menu is the Raw Beef & Sesame  ($6 each), aged raw beef served on a sesame leaf with Japanese pickled radish and fresh wasabi mayo.

Blanca Bar & Dining
Bonito Pastrami

From the Fresh/Raw/Cured comes Bonito Pastrami ($24), delicately seared to give a mild char flavour and bursting with flavours and nuttiness from the yuzu-soy and brown butter dressing, kombu and balanced with yuzu cream.

Blanca Bar & Dining
Grilled Fremantle Octopus

Combining Mediterranean flavours with a Japanese influence, the Grilled Fremantle Octopus ($26) is ever so tender to the bite while the combination of romesco with chopped nuts and yuzu brown butter is somewhat reminiscent of mhammara, a hot pepper dip with originates from Aleppo. This dish is all about textures and flavours done right, and one that typifies the concept at Blanca. Pair it with a crisp and chilled glass of Pazo San Mauro Albarini from Spain.

Blanca Bar & Dining
Saikyo Miso Salmon

Another standout dish is the Saikyo Miso Salmon ($27) where the fish is perfectly cooked to the point where the proteins are just set. The sauce is a combination of dashi, white miso, fresh wasabi is good enough to eat by the spoon. The salmon is accompanied by roast cauliflower, Japanese daikon pickles and radishes adding another textural element.

Blanca Bar & Dining
Crispy Blanca Potatoes & Aioli

The humble spud is reborn as Crispy Blanca Potatoes & Aioli ($14), irresistible morsels with garlic, furikake and chili pickle sauce that packs a good measure of heat.

Blanca Bar & Dining
Pork Ribs & Miso Caramel

Save room for the super sweet and stick Pork Ribs & Miso Caramel ($26) with togarashi, pork crackling and sesame seeds. It simply melts in the mouth and makes for some good, uninhibited finger licking should you choose not to use the Japanese mini hand towels. A glass of Blanca Signature Shiraz by Hewitson in the Barossa Valley goes down a treat.

Blanca Bar & Dining
Matcha Tea, Strawberry & Shiso

When it comes to dessert, the Matcha Tea, Strawberry & Shiso ($14) is combination of flavours and textures done well and serves as a palate cleanser for the next dessert. The dish pairs well with Yuzu Sake, served chilled on ice.

Blanca Bar & Dining
Bondi Sands’ Chocolate & Whipped Pannacotta Ice Cream

The aptly-named ‘Bondi Sands’ Chocolate & Whipped Pannacotta Ice Cream ($17) is the grand finale, a combination of flavours and textures that include chocolate ganache, salted caramel, mascarpone-vanilla crème, almond biscuits, whipped pannacotta ice cream, almond praline, toasted coconut and almonds. Pair it with a 10 yo Umeshu, a rich plum wine aged in oak with port-like character and a nuttiness on the back palate.

Blanca Bar & Dining is a welcome addition to Sydney dining and a veritable treat to be embraced by the locals in the east. The inventive and creative food comes without attitude and will bring you back to make your way through this wonderful menu.

Except where indicated, photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.

Blanca Bar & Dining
4 / 75-79 Hall Street, Bondi Beach
(Access off O’Brien Street)
Hours: Monday to Thursday dinner from 4pm; Friday to Sunday 11am to 11pm

Originally published on 25th January 2017. Updated 29 January 2017.

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This article is posted on Gourmantic.com - All rights reserved - Copyright © 2017.

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.