North Bondi Fish (NBF) is gone. Well, at least for the next few months. The buzzy Bondi venue has become North Bondi Kepos for the colder months, teaming up with Redfern’s Kepos Street Kitchen, and its founder and chef Michael Rantissi to bring the flavours of the Middle East beachside. While the menu is completely rejigged, Rantissi has “embraced” NBF’s devotion to the catch of the day, with plenty of seafood appearing alongside dishes heaving with spices, a range of mezze, and cocktails inspired by the flavours of the Middle East.
A big selling point is the warm hummus, pounded tableside. It was a favourite at Kepos Street Kitchen’s now-closed sister restaurant Kepos & Co, and is best enjoyed with a helping of pita bread for swiping. Other mezze includes chargrilled zucchini with preserved lemon and mint, and crispy school prawns with a lively harissa mayo.
That NBF pastime of throwing back oysters can continue – but under the eye of Rantissi, the bivalves come with a Middle Eastern-style chimichurri. A raft of similarly light dishes, including a kingfish ceviche and yellowfin tuna tartare with baba ganoush, completes the “raw” menu. On the heavier side, there’s a zesty spanakopita, a coriander-crusted slow-roasted lamb shoulder and pan-roasted barramundi with calamari. Finish off with stretchy knafeh or a milk chocolate mousse topped with halva.
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Rantissi and NBF’s restaurateur Matt Moran want the takeover to be a celebration of Middle Eastern culture, not just its cuisine. There’ll be live music and DJs in the evenings, and the cocktail menu incorporates Middle Eastern spices and fruits. The Figorita is a take on NBF’s most popular cocktail, the Margarita. It’s created with fig puree and house-made grenadine, while the Negroni also gets a winter makeover: served hot, it’s made with both Bombay Sapphire and Four Pillars navy-strength gin, Amaro Montenegro, vermouth, fig, hibiscus and pomegranate.
The takeover will also give punters the rare opportunity to visit NBF for breakfast and brunch. There are familiar Middle Eastern favourites such as shakshuka, as well as warm hummus piled on sourdough; Kepos Street Kitchen’s popular “Mum’s Breaky”, with falafel, pickles, hummus and a soft-boiled egg; and Crumpets by Merna’s crumpets with tahini and date molasses. Naturally, a series of cocktails has been created specifically for breakfast, including the Bloody Miriam – a take on the Bloody Mary, with a spike of harissa, a dash of soy and an assortment of spices.
NBF itself has also been refashioned for winter. The walls have been hung with Rantissi’s childhood and family photos, feature walls are emblazoned with black-and-white zigzags, and metallic silver curtains have a touch of “Andy Warhol’s Factory” to them.
“I’ve always loved Michael’s food, and to have those incredible Middle Eastern flavours colliding with cocktails and live music, [and] incredible views over Bondi Beach, is something we’re particularly excited about,” said Moran in a statement.
North Bondi Kepos will run all winter, and reopen as North Bondi Fish in the summer.