Update October 17, 2018: Spring in Sydney's eastern suburbs means two things: spritzes are the order of the day (almost everywhere) and the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition has returned. And Three Blue Ducks' Bronte outpost is combining both, launching a new happy hour for the duration of the installation (until November 4) so you can reward yourself with a drink (or two) post-hike. From 4–6pm, Wednesday–Saturday, the seaside eatery will be serving up $10 Aperol spritzes and spicy margaritas, alongside a lineup of snack-friendly eats — including cheese plates with Iggy's bread ($19), cannellini bean dip ($14) and more.
While Bronte could be dubbed Bondi's shy kid sister, Three Blue Ducks borrows little from the quiet beach suburb's gene pool. It may be the vision born of a pair of local surfers (a mere mile from the sandy coast), but the restaurant captures an air that's more street chic than shore shack and everyone — from beanie-capped twenty-somethings to suit and tie execs — seems to be digging it.
Nab a table along the peaceful, sunny street side window panel or cozy up in the back nook where you'll be in on the action amongst the five young chefs bobbing to funky background beats, pounding coffee grinders and exchanging jovial backslaps over searing flames. It's clear people have embraced this funky slice of paradise and take their time in doing so, graduating from cappuccinos to glasses of white wine at noon and sipping straw stuffed coconut concoctions in between courses.
There's no notion of highbrow formality, no white-linen worries. It's small and noisy. But that's not to say there isn't a sense of contemporary sophistication. The tables are set with clipboard menus and miniature mason jars of chunky sea salt and brown sugar crystals ripe for the pinching. This little pocket of urban sprawl is a modest mix of natural and manmade decor, incorporating the warmth of wood and cool concrete for an authentic rustic country-meets-downtown feel. But rather than earth tones, the walls showcase a surreal pop art mural of purple octopuses and black figures swinging from shadowy fig trees and parachuting from a clouded sky. It's safe to say everything about the joint will keep you on your toes, including the unique range of Asian infused Aussie dishes.
My waitress recommended the crispy skin ocean trout with wakame, cucumber salad and wasabi mayo, but I opt for the chef's twist on an old classic: a tender steak sandwich ($16) on straight-from-the-oven French bread with tangy onion marmalade, heirloom tomato, rocket salad and red pepper mayo. My mouth watered up until the very last bite. Even so, I couldn't help but marvel at the other plates boasting mounds of vibrant vegetables and wonder if the pesto chicken quinoa salad might be the one that got away.
There's always next time and there's no doubt I'll be back for more. Duck, duck, game on.