Light and bright new meze bar Ikaria is a bringing a piece of the Greek Islands to Bondi Beach.
Named after a tiny island (where locals are known for their long life expectancy) in the Aegean Sea, Ikaria is the love child of husband and wife team Joaquin Saez (former La Palma co-owner, ex-operations manager at hospo group Milpa Collective, and ex-general manager at Cho Cho San) and fashion photographer Emily Abay. The pair even tied the knot at the venue recently. They explain that the concept is meant to celebrate Bondi’s community vibe.
“I’ve been working in Bondi for a few years now, and for me being able to host people in my own home, not in a restaurant, is the most important thing. We really want to see familiar faces come back here all the time,” Saez tells Broadsheet.
Helming the kitchen is Robert Young (Bennelong, Born by Tapavino and Edinburgh’s Restaurant Martin Wishart). He’s joined by well-regarded Italian-born chef Enrico Tomelleri (ex-Alberto’s Lounge, 10 William St and Fratelli Paradiso). By pooling their considerable talents, they’ve come up with a seasonal meze menu ideal for grazing.
Dishes include saganaki cheese drizzled with chestnut honey and a squeeze of lemon; zucchini chips with tzatziki; taramasalata with grilled pita; and lamb meatballs with eggplant and burnt spring onions. Order them à la carte or opt for the set menu (which includes most dishes on the à la carte menu) for $69 per person.
A creative and fun cocktail list has been put together to match the food. Options include a Greek twist on a classic Martini, with olive gin, rosemary and thyme vermouth, and a feta-stuffed olive; the refreshing gin-based Baklava Ramos, featuring baklava syrup and Greek yoghurt; and the striking Blue Zone, which is made with tequila, blue curaçao, cucumber agave and rosemary smoke.
Ikaria’s wine list may not be extensive, but it’s diverse – with most drops coming from boutique, organic and biodynamic European and Aussie producers. A handful of local beers and Mythos Hellenic lager are also available.
It’s not only the menu at Ikaria that will take you back to a European summer holiday – the design of the venue itself is a tribute to the region. Guided by Abay’s eye for detail, Lisa Wright (founder of African homewares wholesaler African Trading Port) has created a space using furnishings sourced mostly from North Africa and the Mediterranean – everything from the tables and chairs to the tiles and lighting fixtures.
The curved archways and walls have been rendered with organic minerals to mimic the cave houses of Santorini.
“We wanted everything literally from the Mediterranean,” says Abay. “When you touch it, feel it, it’s got history already because it’s travelled a long way to get here.”
Wed & Thu 5pm–midnight
Fri to Sun 12pm–midnight