Come mid- May, Three Blue Ducks co-owner and chef Darren Robertson will open a new neighbourhood restaurant called Rocker at Bondi Beach.
Robertson describes the menu as "more European" than what he does at Three Blue Ducks (which now has sites in Rosebery and Byron Bay, along with the Bronte original). "I want people to go to Rocker three times a week," he says. "If you're straight off the beach, that's cool. We don't want it to be too fussy."
Taking over The Hill Eatery site on the corner of Campbell and Hastings parades, the new 100-seater will be part-coffee bar, part-restaurant. It'll open daily, so beach-goers can stop in for a lazy brunch on the weekend, a quick Single Origin coffee and breakfast toastie post-swim, or Negronis on tap and bar-style snacks late afternoon. Lunch and dinner will be served Wednesday to Sunday.
The lunch and dinner menu is divided into smalls, bigs, sides and dessert. Snacks include oysters with sea fennel, sea urchin toast, and house-made coppa with pickles, while smalls run to the likes of burrata with pickled beets and fermented watermelon rind, and "shaved occy" with crème fraîche and nasturtium. "I love the drop it in the middle, get some drinks and share everything style," says Robertson. "Home-style stuff."
There'll also be daily specials on a butcher's paper roll: sticky lamb ribs with blood orange and radicchio one day, pappardelle with lamb ragù the next. On the sweet side, expect lime-yoghurt semifreddo with cinnamon and macadamia, a honey pie, and cheese with burnt-stone-fruit jam.
Robertson's partners in the new venture are Cam Northway and Ian Clark from events company Sweet & Chilli Australia. They've recruited Stuart Toon as head chef - he's a former butcher from the UK who has spent almost a decade working with Jamie Oliver.
Former Guillaume sommelier Chris Morrison will be in charge of the wine list, which features smaller Australian producers and natural wines alongside "more conventional" drops, says Robertson. "It's not Rockpool Bar & Grill, but it's very drinkable."
The name comes from the term for the curve on the underside of a surfboard, and the interiors of Rocker will have a fittingly Bondi vibe, with navy blue tabletops, lots of recycled wood, and a feature wall made of pallets strewn with lights and plants. Development at the site is well under way, but when it comes to the menu, Robertson is keen to discover what the locals want before setting too much in stone. "We'll see how it goes," he says. "I get bored with stuff quite quickly so the menu will change. You have to be responsive to your customers."
Rocker, 39-53 Campbell Pde, North Bondi, NSW, (02) 8057 8086, rockerbondi.com.au; coffee bar and bar open daily from 7am, restaurant open lunch Wed-Fri 12pm-3pm, dinner Wed-Sun 5.30pm-11pm, brunch Sat-Sun 9.30am-2.30pm