Venue: Bondi Picnic
Date: 4 February 2014
Location: Bondi by chance?
Price: Saving money is for other suburbs
Monday is the start of le weekend for Paige, being one of the exploited many in Sydney’s cut-throat and behind the times retail fashion scene. The inner-west has been smothering us of late, thus a bronchial-cleansing venture to the body-beautiful tannery of Bondi was in order. A short drive in our pigeon-poo covered hatchback and in no time we were ready to get our kits off. Except it was raining like London and looked like Melbourne people sound. We’d previously narrowed down brunch options to Bondi Picnic and Porch & Parlour , however I’m well rehearsed in the joynt-venture styles of the latter, so the picnic it was.
When you’re in Bondi, it’s hard to forget you’re in Bondi. Everything is named Bondi This or Bondi That: Bondi Picnic, Bondi Hardware, Bondi Doctors. It’s that way because of all the 457 Visa holders stuffed into apartments like socks in a drawer. And…due to the pink narcissist scene. In fact this shameless self-reference (leading to all sorts of Russellian paradoxes) slithers all the way to Bondi Junction. Quite a few people I know live in Bondi or its surrounds, lawyers, design-creative types and a whole bunch of people from blue-collar trade unions funnily enough and I can see the appeal. Workers’ paradise. Of course when you’re looking for a free park, it’s very easy to remember you’re in Bondi. So easy that in fact the local council reminds you with “pay or die” notices when you park in the wrong place, like a mate’s driveway.
Bondi Picnic is located in a corner store, so has that open-arms feel about it. The interior is pleasant and unobtrusive – which is good for a relaxing time: deconstructing statement pieces can be exhausting and so it’s good to be somewhere that takes Orwell’s (or Hemmingway’s) advice about brevity in design (or no design…). There’s a librarian’s delight of magazines and introspective devil-may-care publications on offer. We perused the sticky pages of Sneaky, a shit-stirring magazine whose specialities include going undercover (then un-covered) at a d$*k-grabbing gay bath house, musing on life as a stripper and some other amusing guff. Some nice bottle-work impressed me enough to photograph it.
A muscled/toned beardy Bondi type, I’d say 4/5 surfer, 1/5 beefcake hippie jovially sat us down at a comfortable table. The waitstaff seem quite good-looking here, Moscow-levels of face control seem to apply all over this suburb. We mused over the menu and let Monday morning glide by.
Though not a pinch on Byron Bay, Bondi is a well-known herding ground for stray cats – vague-rants in search of the ‘spiritual’ – which us mere mortals would recognise by its patchouli-ant stink/watering eyeballs. Now, Monday brunchtime isn’t the time you’d expect to encounter one of Gaia’s children at a pay-for-service establishment. They’re usually just waking up, or rubbing opals for good luck upstairs after yoga class (I do love yoga, for the record). On this sullen morning, however, one of them had stumbled into pecuniary fortune and was ready to splash out.
On first observing him entering his line of sight, I had a slight detente in attitude towards the intellectual-laziness of new age spiritualism. He resembled a Robert Dessaix character whom I, for some reason, have a soft-spot – possibly from years listening to Radio National and having read his memoir about a turbulent upbringing (back when Australia was even more homophobic than it is now). The empathy had a half-life of about a minute.
While staring at the word “bacon” on the menu, a sentence involving the phrase “…and you can see the rebirthing is…” pricked my ears. What appeared from a distance to be a gentle morning reunion between mother and son was actually a spiritual Amway moment: this guy was trying to persuade a lady, who specialises in looking like someone’s parent, about the benefits of rebirth. From the sound of him, I wasn’t convinced that any of his births had gone particularly well. His proselytisations made you want to curl up in the foetal position, but not leave the womb. I was hoping Dave Chappelle would wander in and yell “thaz boolsheet”. My desire to tell him that he was using his inside voice in the wrong way almost got me out of my chair. Thankfully the gravity of the menu held me in check.
A note to anyone dishing out advice on rebirth: if you want to sound credible, make sure you’re covered in blue body paint on the set of Avatar II. Having grown up all around ashrams, kiatins and with an ever-present kundalini snake on the bookshelf, I feel overqualified to pontificate on these sorts.
Back to the digestible part of the morning. We ordered.
Breakfast roll with bacon, spinach, eggs, chorizo etc
I went for the manly option because the spiritual guy across from me was depleting the manliness quota of the room. To this end, the medusa of the menu, the breakfast roll, captured me in its stare. The breakfast roll usually comes prepared for those who hang out in abattoirs for fun, I mean love
black blood pudding. As an Amnesty and Greenpeace supporter, I had to protest, so swapped this for the more ethically-brutalised sausage, chorizo. The roll was served on one of those wooden cutting boards with paper underneath – I generally dislike this as the paper gets mashed up with the food and you end up consuming a fair chunk of woodchip. In all tasty, though could’ve done with more salt.
Eggs florentine with a side of ocean trout
Paige indulged in the eggs florentine, supplemented by a side of ocean trout. She reported back “nice, but average”. At least the ocean trout was ocean trout and not rubbish-shaped-like-trout as we’ll all be eating in 50 years. The bagel and trout were nice, the eggs were ok and the Francois Hollandaise was too vinegary – possibly from the leaky poached eggs. The whole dish could’ve done with a cuddle – there was room for improvement.
I’d heard superlative-laden things about the coffee at Bondi Picnic. They were correct: the coffee was delicious though could’ve been a tad warmer. Paige like hers but said it tasted like dish water after leaving it too long. I personally think coffee consumption constitutes a non-divisible interval: drink it all then eat or do something else. Interruption is death for coffee quality.
Rating: GOOD PLACE TO PICNIC IN THE RAIN
Quote: “How much is a new placenta going to cost me if I do this rebirth thing?”
Not bad for a winter-weathered February morning. Bondi Picnic wasn’t out of this world fantastic. It was somewhere you can go when you’re looking to simply eat and have coffee.