The opening of Ode adds further confusion to the conversation around what the difference between a restaurant and wine bar is. The recently opened Poly, by the team behind one of the city’s best eateries, Ester, had us pondering the question, as did (not recent openings) Wyno and Love, Tilly Devine, among a long list of other Sydney ventures. And now at Ode both the wine and food are worth your attention.
Heading up the kitchen is one of the owners, Ben Abiad. He trained at Sydney dining institute Sean’s Panaroma; was one of the guys that set up Brickfields; and before moving to Ode was working the pans at Potts Point’s Dear Sainte Eloise, another wine bar-diner hybrid.
The food he does here is European in style, and he uses a charcoal robata grill to add depth. Scallops are served with rosemary sauce; perfectly smoked, plump mussels are heaped on toast spread with a garlic aioli; and pillows of spinach and ricotta gnocchi come in a parmesan broth with shiitake mushrooms and gorgonzola (all pasta is handmade).
On the weekend Ode opens at 9am, but this isn’t a straight-up egg-and-bacon place. There’s smoked eggplant and pickled onion added to the avocado toast (Ode uses Iggy’s bread), and at brunch there are dishes such as chicken broth with cavolo nero, faro and a soft-boiled egg. (Coffee is by Mecca). There’s confidence in the kitchen that makes a solid case for defining this place as a restaurant.
But also vying for your consideration is a sophisticated wine list pulled together by managers Jeremy Moyle and Jerome Wallcroft. It sits within the minimal-intervention space that Sydney is currently riding, and traverses the mineral-heavy soils of Mount Etna in Sicily to the foothills of the Pyrenees in France and the warm, salty shores of Margaret River. “We’re looking for interesting, sometimes lost native grape varieties that are being revived by passionate wine makers,” says Wallcroft. “We hope, through selecting and offering these wines, we can share a feeling for the earth where they are grown.”
Industrial designer and artist (and co-owner) Benedict Mauricea didn’t mess too much with the structure of the old Panama House space, but has added a handful of objects and tables built by the team using recycled materials. The bar, for example, was made using blue gum sleepers salvaged from La Perouse wharf, in Sydney’s south. “We all got our hands dirty over three months to revamp the space and breathe new life into a setting that had great bones to begin with,” says Wallcroft. “The whole focus for us is to offer an experience for guests to feel welcome at our place; it is a home away from home.”
And with lighting that is warm, tables that nuzzle close and food you want to eat often, the team has created an intimate bar-slash-restaurant. Or maybe that’s a restaurant-slash-bar.
251 Bondi Road, Bondi
(02) 9130 2894
Tue to Thu 3pm–11pm
Sat & Sun 9am–11pm
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This article first appeared on Broadsheet on September 6, 2018. Menu items may have changed since publication.