For anyone that doesn’t know Bondi Junction, it can easily be regarded as several things. A bus interchange, a place to see yet another Westfield shopping centre, a rather uninspiring Oxford Street pedestrian mall and the end of the line for train travellers. And then there’s the notion that the area exists in the shadow of its beach counterpart.
Venturing west on Oxford reveals a part of town that doesn’t appear to have changed a great deal over the last few decades. A mish-mash of small businesses and services that, at a very quick glance, seem to blend into the uninspiring streetscape. As a local, you probably already know what’s good and what’s not. As a visitor, you have to scratch the surface and see what it’s all about.
Located beneath the relatively new Forum apartment building is somewhere that seems to have added a little sparkle to this end of Oxford Street. Cafe by day and at night, a wine and tapas bar with a South American inflection. Rustic wood and industrial fittings set the scene, complete with cigar boxes that store the cutlery and those ubiquitous souvenir teaspoons we’re all too familiar with these days.
The beans come supplied by Gabriel Coffee, and Brasserie Bread fans will be chuffed to see their beloved loaves and rolls appear on plates and wooden boards.
I was half expecting a small glass of granita when I ordered the frozen ristretto – made with a Kenyan single origin called kianyangi. What’s delivered is an espresso cup that’s steaming. Frozen? It looked just like a regular ristretto. It’s when you touch the cup that you understand where the “frozen” enters the equation. The cup comes from the freezer and the hot ristretto is extracted straight into it. The flavour is intensified and kind of plays with your senses. Great stuff.
Food-wise, the brekkie menu covers just about all the expected options. Muesli, toast, pastries, eggs and fruit. A couple of breakfast bruschetta’s are on offer as well. Our pick is the asparagus bruschetta (15) – a simple chunk of toasted ciabatta with poached eggs, semi-crisp prosciutto and fried sage leaves.
Along the same lines is the toast with avocado (8), ricotta and tomatoes. Fresh basil adds a nice touch and side of bacon (4.5) completes the picture.
And then there’s the chorizo stack (16). Piled high on two slices of toasted sourdough is spinach, baby rocket, mushrooms, chorizo, tomato and two wobbly poached eggs. A light incision spills those golden innards that streak through the hollandaise sauce. My requested side of haloumi never quite made it from the waitress to the ordering system, but no great loss as the plate had more than enough food on it anyway.
My favourite? The huevos rancheros (18.5); a dish I tried on a separate visit. These guys step away from the traditional method of plating and serve it up in a shallow skillet, with whole cannelloni beans in place of the gloopy refried variety. There’s a subtle smoky spice in this hefty portion, with golden flecks of corn and spring onion melded with bubbling Cheddar. A couple of eggs and corn tortillas make for a solid breakfast.