Many would think that the headquarters for Surf Life Saving Australia would be well within cooee of a sandy beach. Quite the contrary, really, as the only thing surging past its doors is the Botany Road traffic, not a south-easterly swell.
Here we are at SLSA’s signature Clubhouse in downtown Rosebery: a touch of contemporary beachside in Sydney’s southeast. People may gravitate to the eating hub one block away on nearby Dunning Avenue, but there’s just as much kitchen talent going on at the Clubhouse. Definitely worth checking out.
The Clubhouse design takes its cues from a mood board inspired by a Bondi Beach sunset. Cool blues, greys and white with soft spots of yellow that mimic the warm glow of sun hitting building façades on the Bondi skyline.
Settling into the venue comes with ease thanks to a decent offering of tapped or bottled ales and ciders, an international list of vino and creative cocktails to boot. Afternoon sun on the open-air deck, a bunch of mates and refreshing tipples make for a perfect scene.
Head chef Raf Tonon – ex Hugo’s, Fei Jei and Barrio Chino – takes the reigns in the kitchen, and along with his team (Allen and Ícaro), they smash out some good, clean and honest grub with an international-meets-Aussie flavour.
From breakfast on the weekends to lunch and dinner on Wednesday through Sunday, there’s a lot to be had from the very approachable menu. Even the little tackers are covered with their own menu that features ham & cheese quesadillas, chicken wings and minute steak. No chicken nuggets here, folks.
Those that prefer their own plate of food can dive into one of the burgers, pastas or meaty dishes. But sharing means you can taste more, which is why we jumped onto a bunch of bites and sides to get a little more interactive with the edibles.
The pickled beet salad (20) looks like sunshine on a plate – a nourishing garden of quinoa, smoked goat curd, spiced seeds and sorrel leaves. A tasty combo that’s bound to make your body smile.
It’s all hands on lettuce cups with the crispy pork san choi bao (18), a rendition that celebrates the pork belly in all of its fat-spiked glory. A rich gingery sauce clings to crisp-yet-soft nubs of fried pork, and once piled into a lettuce leaf with cucumber and spring onion, its a delicious crunch-fest we never wanted to see the end of.
More Asian flavours shine through in the sashimi and seaweed salad (18), dressed in creamy miso with black and white sesame adding a smoky crunch. The hero, of course, is that delicate kingfish that literally melts on the tongue. Would have loved to see a bit more of that seaweed.
There may not have been a great deal of truffle in the polenta chips (8), but the golden little nuggets are still a worthy contender for booze snackage. A generous dusting of parmesan and aïoli on the side – yes please.
Two seafood tacos grace the menu – one hard-shelled, the other with soft tortillas. We went for the latter: two flathead tacos (12) with shredded lettuce, a tiny bit of coriander, onion and tomato. Dabs of habañero mayo tingle the tastebuds whilst that hot fried flathead steals the show.
Of the handful of desserts on offer, the lemongrass & ginger panna cotta (12) stood out foremost. Served parfait-style, the silky custard is crowned with crumbled ginger shortbread, thin slices of crystallised ginger, herbs and lime zest.
That’s one refreshing end to a tasty Clubhouse lunch.
hnf & co. dined courtesy of the Clubhouse