Disclaimer: TGWATW were invited to sample the menu at Bondi Hardware but all our opinions are purely our own.
Overview: Merry little watering hole with a focus on drinks and share plates. Food was a hit and miss and we did not enjoy either of the seafood dishes we ordered. Get stuck on the Honey Sriracha chicken wings and fill up on a wholesome lamb salad that could feed a family! The rose sangria is also awesomely boozy...hooray!
Vic: Once upon a time, in the land where the city meets the sea (Bondi, of course!), there lived an ex-princess called Rapunzel and a prince-turned-tradesman by the name of Flynn. Having fled to the distant suburb of Bondi Beach after countless wars had torn their mythical fairytale kingdom asunder, they sought to create new lives - Flynn, working at the local hardware store and Rapunzel working as a kitchenhand at the pub. Hardly happily ever after, right? Flynn and Rapunzel grew increasingly homesick and disenchanted, desiring to break free of the rat race they had gotten themselves into. Then one day, it was all too much; both quit their jobs and bought the hardware store turning into a casual dining bar. Adding the final touch, he built a dreamy little turret from mottled brown bricks so that Rapunzel (the introvert!) could hide away in it when she pined for her fairytale home. That my friends, is how Bondi Hardware came to be.
Image source: SmudgeEats
Or not really... but in my heavily romanticised mind, Bondi Hardware feels like their baby, a hardware-store-turned-eatery nursed to full-grown alcohol-chuggin’ maturity in cheerful Bondi. It is a contradiction of austerity and fairytale whimsy; the exposed brick walls, industrial lighting and rusty metallic embellishments (nails in a jar double as decoration, really!) offset by cushions, old waxy candles, hanging plants and my personal favourite, a dreamy little turret. Small tables line the sides, perfect for more intimate meet-ups but the centrepiece is a long communal table where we perch ourselves, right next to the bar. The service was a bit sporadic and our meal was interrupted as produce was wheeled through the front entrance to the kitchen, leaving us to clear our seats to make room as it happened. Minor scuffles aside though, our servers were friendly.
In terms of food, Bondi Hardware has a diverse menu that moves from kimchi to spanakopita in the blink of an eye (unfortunately we did not try either *shakes fist at past self*). We started off with drinks, a lovely Rose Sangria, a unnamed mocktail reminiscent of strawberries and lemon-lime bitters and a flat white.
The glass jug of Rose Sangria does a disappearing act as the resident drunk i.e. Vic downs it with glee. It is a little tart, a little boozy and sweetly floral. The coffee is decent and warming, the mocktail refreshingly fruity.
Sweet potato fries, cinnamon aioli / 12
The sweet potato chips, crunchy and paired with quirky cinnamon aioli, is dangerously addictive. True to form, the term ‘leftovers’ does not exist in relation to kumera fries.
Between three, we also manage to order 5 share plates and a pizza. Yeah we know, we're a little gross like that!
Honey Sriracha chicken wings / 18 (GF)
The honey sriracha chicken wings are a downhill spiral into delicious self-destruction, an addiction that has us licking our lips for that residue flavour even hours after. A little salty for me with a mild spicy burn but Ange and Stace tear through the bucket with ease leaving nothing but bones behind. The black sesame-coated crust adds a lovely texture.
Pan-fried haloumi, faro, roast carrots, rocket dressing / 17 (V)
Rhetorical question time, is anyone as addicted to haloumi as we are? Squeaky , salty and golden browned on both sides, we were given around six slabs of cheesy heaven tumbled on a bed of fragrant faro and caramelised carrot. A crispy halo of rocket nestled above it, adding a killer textural contrast. (NB: deep-fried will always be a killer textural contrast in my books, both literally and metaphorically).
Free range lamb salad, couscous, cranberries, almonds, tahini, mint yoghurt / 25
Octopus salad, green olives, orange, fennel / 26 (DF,GF)
Now onto the salads! Bondi Hardware must be commended on their lamb salad - think less salad, it was a meal fit for a king/queens like ourselves! It boasted a generous complement of Middle Eastern flavours with pops of sweetness from the cranberries superimposed against the deeper savoury flavours of lamb and spiced couscous. I only wish there were more of that cooling mint yogurt to mop up the generous plumes of grain as it was a bit dry.
We were less enthused about the octopus salad. The combination of orange, fennel, green olives and mixed greens was refreshing and light but the octopus, (the star attraction of the dish really) let it down. Overcooked and under seasoned, I would give this one a miss.
Swordfish carpaccio, pomegranate, basil oil, umami sauce / 21 (GF,DF)
Not to be a Debbie Downer but we did’t enjoy the swordfish carparccio much, and left more than half remaining. There was an overly fishy aroma to it (fresh fish should have a mild scent at most) and did not taste fresh, something I think is important in what is essentially a sashimi salad. The flavours were also surprisingly bland. I think this dish really had the potential to succeed given the thoughtfulness of the flavour combinations but it was let down by execution and quality of produce.
Garlic, jalapeño, goats cheese / 18 (V)
Out of curiosity and for the blog (#justification), we ordered a thin-crust pizza topped with garlic, jalapeño and goats cheese. I liked that they left the cloves of garlic intact, meaning that some bites were extra sweet and pungent. The jalapeños had a real sting to them, countered by velvety goats cheese. It was good but we couldn't finish it.
We love Bondi! It is such a wholesome suburb and the food tends to be so fresh and clean. The seafood dishes were a bit of a letdown in this case but we did really enjoy the atmosphere, drinks and other share dishes for a casual dining experience. Also, we found the service a little distant but I guess, friendly enough. Overall, our visit to Bondi Hardware was relaxed and quite lovely and we fawned over the decor, so achingly cool yet pleasingly classic!