I have to mentally prepare myself when entering hipster joints. I have to tell myself that they're just hipsters and they mean well enough and that they don't harm anyone really. For good measure I remember the quote from Seinfeld when they referred to Kramer as the "hipster doofus" and realise that being a hipster is not a state of being for most people. And when I was warned by many that The Corner House was hipster central, well I braced myself. Mr NQN and I were on a date night, just the two of us.
Mr NQN and I walk into one entrance of The Corner House in Bondi which takes up residence where the Old Castile pizza joint used to sit. We've dining early at 6pm and we are shown to the empty back room. The maitre'd is brusque and seems as if he has a thousand other important things to do other than seat us. Thankfully the Arctic chill ends there and the waiter and bartender are lovely and everything settles down just nicely. We take a look at the menu (a sheet of paper wooden pegged onto an A4 sized piece of box cardboard) and the waiter gives us some recommendations. Prices are excellent here with most mains hovering around the $30 mark.
This drink is a riot in London $18
The cocktail list has a fun list of names including this one which caught our eye called "This drink is a riot in London" and has Tanquerey, St Germain, Campari, apple and cucumber and is sweet and refreshing and summery. The description reads "All the elements of an English Summer: fresh, floral and a hint of bitter lawlessness." The bartender that conceived the idea was in London during the riots and was inspired to make this cocktail.
The bread, two fresh fat fingers, is drizzled in olive oil and salt with roasted pepitas and sunflower seeds.
Crowded House Pizza $23
The crowded house pizza is really a dream come true for me. I love sampling flavours and this has a quarter of four of their most popular pizzas on the one pizza. It also comes with a pair of old fashioned metal bonsai shears for each of us to cut up the pizza. We start with the mildest flavoured quarter with provolone cheese, torn buffalo mozzarella, basil and olive oil and it's good with a mild milky mozzarella topping and a thin crust all nicely cooked through.
The next quarter we try has sauteed Swiss browns, button mushrooms, thyme , fontina cheese, torn oyster mushrooms and roasted garlic oil. This pizza was divine and the pick of all four quarters the mushrooms perfectly seasoned and singing with a hearty roasted garlic flavour. I was ready to order a whole of this pizza to take away with me.
The third quarter we try is a really interesting one with white anchovies which are milder than brown anchovies, provolone and sour onions and this pizza has an unusual but intriguing sweet, salty and sour element to it. The last quarter is the spicy salami pizza which is made with spicy salami, provolone, kalamata olives and chilli oil and packs flavour and spice with the salami and juicy pitted kalamatas.
Market fish (Mahi Mahi), celeriac and sweetcorn puree, roasted corn and celery salad, smoked tomato sauce $31
The fish came as two crispy skinned pan fried mahi mahi fillets that glisten sitting atop a mound of roasted corn from the cob, celeriac and sweetcorn puree and a smoked tomato sauce. The sauce is chunky with tomatoes which emphasises the sweetness of the tomato and corn. It's a delicate but delicious dish that is ideal for summer dining and the portions are a good size-not too large and not too small.
Roasted beetroot, ricotta and black pepper gnocchi with braised duck and veal shin ragu $29.50
Both our hearts were stolen by the gnocchi though which was light and spongey and shaded pinky purple from the roasted beetroot, ricotta and black pepper. It was paired with a slow cooked braised duck and veal shin ragu which was soft and melting but not overly rich like the wintry braises with lots of red wine-this one was still quite climate appropriate.
Creme Catalana $16
Although we were stuffed and to be honest the four dessert offerings didn't really inspire (tiramisu, crema catalana, chocolate torte and a cheese plate) we went with the crema catalana as that sounded the most unusual. The Spanish version of creme brulee it is flavoured with citrus which lightens it and there is a nice toffee layer which cracks when thwacked with a spoon. The custard underneath is silky smooth and although I'm stuffed, I keep spooning.
So tell me Dear Reader, are you a hipster? And do you ever have to mentally prepare yourself up to go to certain places?
Not a hipster...Mr NQN playing with the new Pentax Q camera.
The Corner House
281 Bondi Rd Bondi NSW 2026 (corner Denham St and Bondi Rd)
Tel: +61 (02) 8020 6698