In a neat little hub on Bondi Road that includes the Rum Diaries and Flying Squirrel, just before the big descent down to Campbell Parade’s beach front, a new small bar is poised to open the door to all-day southern fare.
The handiwork of Anthony Kaplan (The Shop & Wine Bar, North Bondi) and Brent Mills (Sweetwater Tavern, NY), Panama House is an exercise in travel influence. Just a few doors along from the pair’s other spot, The Corner House and taking up where Cafe Max left off, the space has been gutted and revamped in the boys’ unique style. Chairs are bespoke (and the designer is secret), lighting works on a sensor system that adjusts to the current conditions and locals have been eagerly peering in the windows in wait for opening day.
Steaming out coffee and lunch from today, it’s all systems go for breakfast through to small bar hours from Thursday.
With plenty of hot-spot experience behind them, it’s little surprise that Kaplan and Mills’ latest venture hits all the right notes. The long narrow space begins with the blush of copper-framed doors and cafe accoutrements by the large front windows, before giving way to a long, high bar with a white tile splashback. The raw brick walls and polished concrete floors add a touch of warehouse to the revamped space and there’s a courtyard out the back that will soon have a herb garden on the roof (watch this space) and promises to be a cool shady spot for a drink.
But it’s the food that has people talking. Mills is the force in the kitchen, with dishes including jerk chicken tacos, popcorn shrimp po’ boys, and tequila-spiced gravlax salmon. A collection of influences from travel experiences, there’s a heavy bent towards the American south.
And the high point for the local Bondi boys? “Finally opening is the most exciting part for us right now, and serving great breakfasts in Bondi,” says Kaplan.