Blanca’s Bar & Dining’s Tomi Björck and Samuel Cole, both co-owners and chefs, describe their food as simple and honest. If the menu says octopus and Romesco, that’s exactly what you’ll see on the plate. Although their style is not delicate or pared back.
“When we first started speaking about it [the two friends started planning the restaurant years ago], I was like, ‘Fuck, Sam, whatever we do it has to be full-on flavours’,” says Björck. The "pastrami bonito" is the perfect example. The bonito is soft and punchy from an overnight cure; rich and tart from a yuzu, soy and brown butter dressing; sour from kombu pickles; and sweet from two flakes of candied kombu. The Bondi Sands is textural, with chocolate, caramel, praline, nuts, coconut and pannacotta ice-cream; on the plate it looks like a bowl of extra-coarse sand. The dishes are seemingly disparate but immaculately finessed combinations that pay no real attention to cuisine or tradition, particularly that of Björck’s homeland.
“A lot of people asked me if I was going to make Scandinavian food. It’s so boring.” Björck and Cole’s vibe is more irreverent and inventive. “Blanca is a blank canvas, where all our ideas come together.” That’s something you hear a lot from the duo, particularly about the fit-out. It’s the reason the walls are pure white but sporadically textured like torn paper; why some people are eating with chopsticks and others with forks; and why there’s a long share table, a more formal raised section and a bar under the front window with beachy stools. “We wanted it to be really modern but comfortable and relaxing. It's too tense in other places. It shouldn't be intimidating,” says Cole.
So, depending what you want and where you sit, you could either get a midday manchego brioche sandwich and a coffee, or a several-hour dinner involving a Szechuan lamb sausage; wakame-sprinkled burrata; dashi-flavoured raw scallops; and one of Björck’s eight different gin and tonics. “They're all made with the same idea; everything from scratch that morning.”
Blanca Bar & Dining
75 Hall Street, Bondi
(02) 9365 2998
Mon to Thu 4pm–11pm
Fri to Sun 11am–10pm