Bill Granger's new venture in the fashionable Hall Street precinct of Bondi showcases his characteristically fresh and simple fare, in a location that boasts a laidback beachy vibe with touches of urban glamour. Granger has taken some time from opening successful restaurants in London, Japan and Hawaii (next stop Seoul) to cater to those in his own backyard, and bills trademark style couldn't be more at home than in Bondi. How does a lazy brekkie after a dip in the ocean sound? Fancy a healthy brunch after an energising Bondi to Bronte walk?
Since the original bills in Darlinghurst was opened over 20 years ago, Granger has pioneered a menu that perfectly complements a relaxed, extended breakfast ethos. The king of scrambled eggs was a trailblazer of Sydney's evolving brunch scene of the 1980s, with his classic ricotta hotcakes, eggs with sides of avocado and salmon, and sweet corn fritters which are now staples on cafe menus across Sydney.
In Bondi, bills has struck the right balance between a menu that offers 'classics' (hey, if it ain't broke don't fix it) and novel dishes that still have that healthy simplicity which aligns effortlessly with urban beachside life. The menu bursts with fresh flavours and pops of colourful ingredients. His newer offerings have an eclectic mix of influences from his recent world travels — particularly noticeable are hints of Japanese and Mexican. It's worth mentioning that there are enticing lunch and dinner menus, but bills is synonymous with breakfast, so we found ourselves drawn to brunch in a distinctly Bondi setting.
From the 'fruits, grains, cereals' you'll find wholesome options such as the almond milk chia seed pots ($8.50), layered with coconut yoghurt and a vibrant scattering of fresh berries and pomegranate ($8.50). An unusual highlight was the brown rice and sweet miso porridge ($14.50). The nuttiness and warmth from the nourishing rice make it an ideal breakfast option, served with a creamy coconut yoghurt and fragrant, fleshy mango. Make sure you generously squeeze lime on top of the fruit; the result will taste like a holiday in Mexico.
For a calming start to the day, the ginger, lemongrass and lemon myrtle tea ($4) goes down a treat with the porridge. A more exotic alternative is the mango, avocado, cucumber, almond milk and aloe smoothie ($10), both creamy and refreshing.
From the 'toasts and spreads' we were tempted by bills signature coconut bread, but the delicate gravlax with shaved pickled radish, dill, cream cheese and sourdough crostini ($17.50) took our fancy. This twist on the rustic appetiser is beautifully nuanced in both texture and flavour.
From the 'classics' it's hard to resist Bill's much-loved ricotta hotcakes, banana and honeycomb butter (19.50) — a three-layered stack of epic proportions. Order it, or prepare for an extreme bout of food envy. Granger hasn't messed with perfection; these hotcakes are fluffy yet dense, with pockets of savoury ricotta that works in simpatico with the sweet maple syrup and the gently melting honeycomb butter.
We could have opted for the world-renowned scrambled eggs, but instead we were curious to see what the latest surprises bills is bringing to the table. The broken eggs ($19.50) are nicely served still cooking in a bright green iron pan with a stack of that crusty sourdough crostini. Wait for about 30 seconds, and then stir in the ricotta, spinach and pine nuts — you're guaranteed the freshest scrambled eggs in town. Get creative by adding sides of avocado ($4) and miso mushrooms ($4.50).
bills is a Sydney institution, so it's a relief to see the classics still making a show on the menu despite the new location — longevity in a city of food fads attests to their excellence. We also welcome the innovative options exclusive to Bondi that are well worth a visit to the beachside suburb. Bring your swimmers, but remember to wait at least 30 minutes after eating those hearty hotcakes.
Images: Anson Smart