Sydney’s ultimate Surf & Turf – Icebergs Dining Room & Bar
Icebergs Dining Room & Bar
1 Notts Avenue, Bondi Beach
Chef: Monty Koludrovic
Hats: 2 Hat
Icebergs Dining Room & Bar is an iconic dining destination located aloft the famous Bondi Beach. One hazy Sunday, we finally dined in the Dining Room part (not to be confused with the Terrace). The Dining Room is the fine dining restaurant at the top of the three story cliff-perched building. It’s a breathtaking view with an energy that should be tapped, bottled and sold to tourists thus making us all millionaires. Winding down the narrow Notts Avenue, it is shear dumb luck that we find a park close by (Tip: Get an Uber or use the valet parking across from the restaurant on Notts Ave).
Walking into the restaurant is an optical illusion with two front desks with an endless sea backdrop. We are warmly greeted and seated within 15 seconds at our window-side table (pays to book in advance, clearly!). The expansive 180 degree ocean view is incredible and the chill of an almost winter breeze intermittently sneaks cheekily through the semi-closed doors. On a bright day you could be engulfed by the overwhelming white light reflecting off the white linen-topped tables, aqua pillars and glassware across the dining room. But that, I think, is the point. Fresh, light and bright – perfectly capturing that feeling of sand, ocean and fresh air.
Icebergs Dining Room & Bar’s Sardinian skewed, Italian menu is pretty large. In fact on the day, in addition to the seven category menu of (Ostriche (Oysters), Assaggini (little plates/a selection), Antipasti (appetisers), Primi (entree), Pesce (fish), Carne (meat), Contorni (Sides)); there was also six extra ‘specials’ -so we were definitely spoiled for choice. All of that was also separate to the Tasting Menu ($143pp + 77pp for wine match).
One of my favourite snacks is ‘school of prawns’ which varies in treatments including sichwan pepper, tempura and heads-off – the best at the moment is Annata (Crows Nest). This version was one of the simplest – lightly dusted and with lemon and aoili. The shrimp were crisp, sweet and the dusting softened the shell just enough to preserve the crunch but remove the sharpness. Anyone who has visited Italy knows that a supreme being created Mozzarella Di Bufala (Buffalo Mozzarella). Burrata of the same ilk – fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. The outer skin is a thick layer of set mozzarella, while the inside contains both mozzarella and cream – slice into it and it oozes across the plate in a delectable and mesmerizing way. This dish had the burrata layered generously with thin slices of Bresaola (air-dried aged beef), bay leaf oil and fried capers (yum).
After a brief respite, our mains arrived on hot plates (love that) that were delivered to our place at the table with quick and precise movements, which to be perfectly honest, I haven’t seen in a while (Brae was probably the most recent). Not many know that in another life, I was trained in hospitality where I spent endless hours learning how to set a table, carry multiple plates, then expertly bend and place hot food as discreetly as possible without spilling a drop or interrupting diners. It is hard, and today I appreciated the agility of clearly well-trained staff. The staff were present but not intrusive (and that, my friends takes a lot of practice).
We picked three mains that were all distinctly different – the Squid Ink Pasta with Blue Swimmer Crab was resplendent in its inkiness – strikingly plated on white ceramic. The blue swimmer crab was gentle in flavour and Sorbello tomato & basil sauce was rigid without any separation. The Fish of the Day was Silver Dory, which my foodie partner ordered ‘natural with lemon’. It was firm and so fresh, it really only needed some cracked pepper and squeeze of lemon. I ventured away from the sea (ironic yes, given the location) and ordered ‘Riverina Lamb’ which came with two medallion cuts on cabbage and peas, however the highlight was the anchovy vinaigrette. The lamb was strong but when paired with nasturtium (peppery) the cabbage (sour), pea (sweet) and anchovy (salty), it was a brave play that worked perfectly in all portions.
When all the elements come together – the arrival, the seating, the view, the atmosphere, the staff, the food (sometimes cutlery – looking at you Vue de Monde), the company, the departure – it can be a euphoric experience. On this grey Sunday, I left Icebergs feeling happy, sated and thinking about what I would order off that big menu the next time I came back.