Brace yourself – I’m about to confess something that will shock all Sydney natives. I am not a fan of the beach. There, I said it. I find sand gritty and messy, and it always finds its way into areas of my body where sand should not be. I also burn very easily, and will find myself as red as a lobster at the end of any beach day, no matter how much sunscreen I’ve slathered on.
With that in mind, I rarely find myself making the trek out to Bondi. Last week though, an invitation to try the menu at the newly opened Spring Street Social was tempting enough to get K and I out to Bondi Junction.
Located practically next door to the Westfield, Spring Street Social is a charming underground space, lit with mood lighting and rocking some retro tunes and naturalist decor. It’s very easy to miss the discrete entrance into the bar, so keep your eye out for the stylish lettered hanging sign at street level.
As a hip ‘small bar’ in Bondi Junction, it’s well patronised no matter what day of the week you go – we went on a Wednesday and if we had been any later than 8.30pm, we would have found it hard to find a table. If you want to sit and grab some food, make sure to arrive early – otherwise, join the other groups standing around the bar sampling from the cocktail list.
While the bar is quite small for the large space, the bartenders are incredibly efficient, creating cocktail after cocktail and steadily keeping up with demand. The drinks list is extensive with a wide range of wines and beers available, not to mention a good dozen or so custom cocktails that have been created by the in-house team specifically for the bar.
Many of the cocktails are finished off with a special theatrical touch – in this case, smoking the cocktail as a finishing touch to complement the other flavours in the mix. I love it when bartenders go to lengths to create cocktails that are a little special, and a little different. After all, anyone can mix up a tequila sunrise, but it takes a professional to create a truly unique cocktail.
The smoky concoction in the previous photo was this “Chase the Dragon” drink, an enticing mix of smokey apple and cinnamon, like a mature hot apple pie. Served in a simple spice bottle, you take the cap off and inhale the amazing smokey flavours as you take a sip of the strong yet sweet apple cocktail. It hits both your sense of smell and taste at the same time, adding an extra dimension to the enjoyment of this cocktail.
James, our host for the evening, brings over a jug of water for us as he explains the food menu which is designed around seasonal ingredients, and are designed for sharing between two or more. It’s little touches like this which I really like – taking something as simple as a jug of water to the next level with an interesting beaker style jug and a sprig of mint for a touch of freshness.
A lot of the small bars are featuring sliders on their menus, and I am loving it. The brioche buns of these sliders were particularly soft and squishy rather than toasted and crispy, which actually worked in its favour as it made it easier to hold, handle, and take a bite from these bad boys. The fillings were also fantastic and tasty, with the BBQ pork being my favourite – soft and tender pulled pork with a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. Just heavenly!
I had a laugh about this when I saw it on the menu – bacon, jalapenos, cheese and ranch sauce? The tongue-in-cheek naming of this dish is hilarious, and definitely catches the eye. And I have to say when it came out, it was everything I had hoped for and more – with a light dusting of spices in addition to the cheese, peppers and bacon, the fries were deliciously crunchy, tasty and sinful. A perfect snack to have with a sneaky Sunday afternoon drink – either to share or (naughtily) on your own.
Not going to lie – this dish is not what I was expecting! I’m used to the larger, de-shelled salt and pepper king prawns that you find at many restaurants. Having these smaller prawns delivered out to us with the expectation that you eat it whole – shell, head, tail and all was fairly intimidating. I was about five prawns in before I was finally convinced that this was actually the best dish of the night – the crispy and crunchy prawns with the salty and spicy batter dipped in tangy aioli were extremely more-ish and I’m fairly certain that I actually ate the whole bowl myself.
We ordered the kingfish on recommendation from James – it is reportedly new on the menu, a recent addition to take advantage of the new seasonal produce that’s on the market and reflects the warmer summer days to come. This was a really nice way to finish the meal as it provided a fresher and lighter alternative to the heavier fried foods of the rest of the menu. I’d recommend ordering this dish in conjunction with one of their many sweet white wines or light beers on the menu.
Overall, I rate Spring Street Social an 8.5 out of 10. As a quirky underground small bar in Bondi Junction it’s bound to attract crowds for that fact alone. After that though, the strength of the menu and uniqueness of its cocktails is what will keep people coming back for more.
Gourmanda dined as a guest of Spring Street Social. All words and images are my own.