Harry's has had a few incarnations now. It has evolved from convenience store to coffee bar, swallowing the neighbouring laundromat and emerging as a fully fledged cafe involving the designer behind White Rabbit Gallery's dumpling and tea room. But it's not until sunset that Harry's latest mode comes into view — a full-blown restaurant by Chris Karvelas and chef Bryan O'Callaghan.
Together, they've taken the fine-tuned cheffy sensibility of O'Callaghan's former workplace, The Tilbury in Woolloomooloo, and trickled it into the beachy, open surrounds of the eastern suburbs. If the new dinner get-up is anything to go by (we haven't tried the new brekkie menu yet), the combination is working, and though the liquor licence is pending, the BYO vibes right now are working, too.
Each plate is like a small garden — unfussy but utterly beautiful, and perfectly balanced. A salad of heirloom tomatoes and goat's curd ($16) has none of the overly sharp bite of many chevres, and is finely seasoned and dressed. Grilled sourdough alongside the tuna carpaccio with mayo and capers ($18) has just the right touch of garlic. Four to a serve, plump and sweet and creamy, the seared scallops ($18) are among the best we've tried. They appear alongside an even creamier parsnip and turmeric puree and pomegranate dressing, with the parsnips reappearing as crunchy slivered chips.
The house-made gnocchi ($22) is purely, insanely delightful, and a textural marvel — a melting comfort food shiny with porcini butter and blanched kale. The desserts ($12 each) are winners too — interesting spins on chocolate mousse with blueberries and cake crumbs and tiny lemon balm leaves, and a silky coconut panna cotta with delicate raspberries and strawberries bringing the last bites of summer — but really, it's all about the house-made pasta and super-fresh seafood. Everything is done with care, and easily shareable. Harry's is a reminder of how lovely and generous cooking can be; a feat of skill and inventiveness that can brighten a guest's day and night.
Many of the dishes are nominally Paleo, low-sugar, vegetarian and low-carb (it's Bondi, after all), but they don't feel it. The emphasis is just on the best local produce. Karvelas and his team have forged relationships with suppliers of eggs, fruit and veg, dairy, meats and seafoods, and the menu will change depending on what's around and good. After all, beautiful produce needs little done to it, and the food coming out of this kitchen is a testament to that.
Like Harry's, Sydney's dining scene has endured many a permutation. Here's hoping that local and organic food isn't one such trend; it really should be the affordable standard, and Karvelas is slowly aiming to get the whole operation using it within the first year or so. Karvelas is such a kind host and O'Callaghan such a creative and skilful chef, Harry's could become a real Bondi institution.