The Sydney Restaurant Group (SRG) has a penchant for venues with million-dollar water views. It already operates waterfront favourites such as Ormeggio at the Spit, Lumi Bar & Dining and Aqua Dining at Milsons Point – so it was only a matter of time before it turned its attention to Sydney’s most globally recognised waterfront destination: Bondi Beach. When the opportunity came for director Daniel Drakopoulos to snare the iconic corner of Campbell Parade and Brighton Boulevard – formerly The Depot – it was a no-brainer.
“SRG really encompasses that waterfront venue vibe, so it was a good fit,” Drakopoulos, who also operates Caffeine Cartel in the CBD, tells Broadsheet.
“It’s our first venture in Bondi,” he says as he casts his eyes around the (extremely full) cafe. “And so far the response has been overwhelming.”
Drakopoulos brought both head chef Lorenzo Pintor and sous chef Alberto Musio across from another SRG venue, Ripples Milsons Point. Together they have crafted a menu loaded with fresh, light dishes worthy of their seaside location. On the all-day breakfast menu is a vibrantly coloured turmeric-tofu scramble, and corn fritters that have been dubbed by one patron as “better than Bills’s”. There’s also a bacon-and-egg roll that comes with a hard-hitting daikon remoulade.
For lunch, a fried soft-shell crab burger with black-garlic aioli is set to become a go-to, and the salmon poke bowl – a virtuous conglomerate of brown rice, edamame, radish, pickled onion and avocado – is Bondi in a dish.
The cocktail menu (which has several breakfast options) is designed to please the crowds with classics (including a Tommy’s Margarita and Negronis); spritzes; and three different types of Bloody Mary – including the Rusty Maria (tequila, tomato juice, tabasco, lemon juice and jalapeño) – which will clear even the dustiest of heads. If you come in a group, opt for one of three cocktail jugs: Pimms, Rose Sangria or Aperol Spritz.
The group worked with long-time collaborator BJB Architects to create a fresh, beachy aesthetic. “The design brief was Miami,” says Drakopoulos, pointing to the pastel colours (which also coat the exterior of the art deco building), stucco wall and brass. “The finishing touch is the music.” Clearly they like it loud in Miami (and Bondi). There’s a takeaway window for coffee pickup out the front, and plenty of outdoor seating.
While the cafe is currently open for breakfast and lunch the group plans to start serving dinner by mid February. Also on the horizon is a resident DJ for Sunday-afternoon sunset sessions.