When I visited Australia way back when, I was too young to think about what it meant to truly experience being in another country. What I do remember is getting so drenched in Movieworld I almost wasn’t able to ride the bus with my wet clothes. Oh, and my first encounter with the autumn season!
Lately I’ve been thinking about going back since I’m now at an age where I appreciate pretty much all things in a different way, and apart from the sights I really want to visit Australia again for the food. (Any restaurant suggestions are welcome!)
Australian cuisine wasn’t something that I found to be easily accessible here, and I always thought I needed to go back to Australia just to give myself a better understanding of what it’s really about. So the recent attention to Australian cuisine here in Manila couldn’t have come at a better time. I get to have my fix without the need to hop on a plane, and my first stop is none other than the posh and very well-regarded Bondi & Bourke.
I know Bondi & Bourke has been open long enough to have a second branch (the one in BGC, where we dined), but this is the first time I’m getting to try it. Despite my love for blogging about food, I don’t actually get to eat out often– once a week is the usual number and twice would be plenty. Living relatively far from the food hubs (both QC and Makati/BGC) doesn’t help things either. So if you’ve ever found yourself wondering why I always seem to be late to the party, that’s your answer. 😀
I’m happy to say that this is one of those instances when the phrase ‘better late than never’ is appropriate, because after just one meal here at Bondi & Bourke I finally have a new entry to my favourite restaurants list. It’s been a while! Thank goodness the hype didn’t get ahead of itself this time.
I love how chic the restaurant is while at the same time it feels inviting enough that you’ll want to stay and chitchat long after your meal. It’s a great place for brunch actually. The staff is also friendly and attentive, and it doesn’t take long after you order until the food is served from the open kitchen.
Spicy Red Thai Curry Mussels (Php 485) 🌟
Fresh mussels cooked in spicy coconut cream, with lime leaf and fresh chili
I left a message on Bondi & Bourke’s Instagram and asked them for some must-orders, and this was one of the dishes they recommended. And no wonder! The sauce was packed full of lovely spicy Asian flavours, with a bit of tang and sweetness that cuts through the heat. And even though you smother them with the sauce, you can still get a taste of the natural sweetness of the fresh mussels.
The Felix Salad (Php 525)
Mixed greens with haas avocado, mango, and asparagus, plus slices of marinated chicken topped with cashew nuts
Compared to the salad I will talk about below, this was a little blander in flavour. Although it was still a fairly good salad dish with generous pieces of chicken and a load of other components, at the same price I’d go with the Beef Salad instead.
Thai-Inspired Beef Salad (Php 525) 🌟
Mixed greens with coriander and generous slices of U.S. prime beef, topped with a chili-lime dressing
Between the two, this was hands-down my favourite salad. It probably had to do with the punchy Asian flavours this salad possessed, but it was also in part because of the tasty, juicy, tender U.S. Prime Beef slices. Such a delightful way to wake up your tastebuds, and simply so good!
Classic Meat Pie (Php 495)
Braised Australian beef with caramelized onions inside a buttery pastry shell
You cannot go to an Australian eatery and not order a meat pie. We decided to go with a classic one this time around. The braised beef filling was sweet, but the pastry provided a crunchy and buttery element to the dish. You can order this with a side of fries, but we opted for a salad.
This pie was good, but I prefer a more savoury profile than sweet, so I can’t say this was the best meat pie I’ve eaten. However I have a feeling I’ll be raving about their other pies once I get the chance to try them.
In terms of size, we shared this one pie among six people and I thought we all managed to have a generous portion each. Maybe it looks small when you first see it, but you’ll be surprised when you slice into the pie. It’s filled to the brim plus it’s quite a tall pie!
There’s an option to add smoked bacon, Swiss brown mushrooms, or mozzarella cheese to the pie for Php 40. Definitely have to try this again with the add-ons in the future.
Truffled Crab Carbonara (Php 680) 🌟
Penne pasta with crab and smoked pancetta in a creamy and garlicky truffle sauce
Normally I shy away from pastas involving white sauce because I find the sauce too rich, however this was a delightful little plate. The truffle taste, which sometimes can be overdone or too understated, was just right.
On al dente penne pasta, where the truffle sauce and the crab have a chance to fall through the pasta’s center, it was perfection! Every bite was a pop of creamy flavour, and I thought there was just enough crab in here to complement the truffle taste rather than outshine it. However I must admit the portion was a little small.
Braised Australian Lamb Shank (Php 925) 🌟
Fall-off-the-bone lamb shank sitting atop a bed of pureed potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions
This was amazing. The lamb was cooked to tender perfection and had some incredible flavour. The portion was also large enough to share. I want to take a moment to talk about the mashed potato bed atop which the lamb shank sits. It was divine! Creamy, buttery, just a pleasure to eat whether alone or with the lamb.
My goodness, I am remembering the experience of eating this dish quite fondly. I cannot wait to try their other lamb and steak dishes, and you’re reading that from someone who always prefers fish over beef or pork or lamb!
I normally keep to water with my meals, but my three brothers decided to order some drinks to go with their lunch so I get the chance to show you some of the things that come out of Bondi & Bourke’s in-house bar.
I’m not going to pretend to be a cocktail connoisseur, but I’ll try my best to describe the drinks as I remember them. 😀
Dark & Stormy (Php 260)
Rum mixed with homemade ginger beer
From the name I was expecting this to look really dark in colour, but I suppose the ginger beer diluted the dark colouring of the rum. I liked this better than the sangria. The rum and the ginger flavour melded together nicely.
Red & White Sangria (Php 280)
House blend sangria with fresh fruit
I’m going to take a guess and say that this drink has a mixture of both red and white wine instead of the usual just red wine, from the name. I had a sip of this very colourful drink and it tasted more of wine rather than of fruit juice. Most of the sangrias I’ve drank tasted more fruit juice like.
Banana Shake (Php 140)
For those who don’t drink cocktails at lunch (or at all), fret not! They have fruit shakes! I didn’t get to taste this so I can’t comment on the flavour, but it looks like a normal shake.
Sticky Date Pudding (Php 365) 🌟
Australian classic date cake with butter caramel and crème anglaise
If I’ve ever had this dessert before I was probably too young to remember, but after having it at Bondi & Bourke I will admit it’s now hard to forget! This cake is served warm with a shiny coating of butterscotch sauce. Looking at it makes me drool…
The moment you cut into the cake, a delicious smelling puff of smoke floats out. I do like dates on their own in the first place, so that might’ve added to my enjoyment of this cake. It’s sweet, but all the other sensations you get by eating the moist warm cake with the butterscotch and creme anglaise make this dessert just divine. SO GOOD.
There’s not much else I can say about Bondi & Bourke that isn’t all rainbows, because I enjoyed every second I spent here and was utterly satisfied with everything I put in my mouth! The Thai-Inspired Beef Salad was fresh and tangy, the spicy mussels a fiery delight; the lamb was scrumptious, and it was a party in the mouth right down to the dessert!
Right after polishing off the last crumb of that Sticky Date Pudding, I already find myself wanting to go back. That hasn’t been happening often enough lately when I eat out, and if that doesn’t make a statement about how much I enjoyed my meal here at Bondi & Bourke, I don’t know what will!
Bondi & Bourke
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