The Bondi bar and restaurant scene has changed a lot in the last 3 years. Yeah it's always had the beach and the beautiful people but when it came to good cocktails and decent eats you had to leave the bubble or spill the cash (hello Icebergs). But it looks like things are changing in the 2026 post code and one place worth adding to your must-try list is Neighbourhood.
Here the emphasis is on excellent cocktails courtesy of head bartender Simon McGoram (formerly of Gardel’s Bar) and southern style comfort food created by Josh Evans (from Panama House). You may remember this space as the old Bondi FM cafe/radio station. Well, the radio part is still there and as you make your way to the back of the long venue you’ll see the DJ box near the open kitchen. There were no announcers there when we hosted Secret Foodies but we’re told live music is guaranteed on the weekend.
If there was a walking encyclopaedia for drinks, cocktails and all things booze it would have a beard and look like Simon McGoram. This booze braggart is a total drinks nerd so when we were coming up with a theme for Secret Foodies it only felt natural to skip the wine match and head straight for the cocktail list.
Thanks to our friends at Diageo we set Simon and Josh the challenge of creating five dishes matched to five cocktails incorporating 5 different spirits. This was the result:
First up we had freshly shucked Merimbula Rock oysters served with a Tanqueray gin and tonic jelly and pickled cucumber on top. This was matched with a Harvest Fizz cocktail made with Tanqueray gin, house-made mandarin and rosemary cordial, hopped grapefruit bitters and soda.
Then it was duck liver pate with Bulleit Rye Sazerac jelly served with sourdough toast and cornichons. McGoram turned into a bit of a trickster making a cocktail that looked like red wine. He made the drink in advance and left it around the room in beautiful vintage decanters. Our guests were completely unaware their matching cocktail we behind them all along. This clever creation was The Kentucky Vintage made with Bulleit Bourbon, sweet vermouth, chai tea, crème de cassis, absinthe and tartaric acid. It was also my favourite drink of the evening and went perfectly with the pate.
The Ruby Tuna Ceviche with salsa criolla, Don Julio Blanco ‘Tommy’s Margarita’ dressing, palm hearts and house mescal hot sauce was light and refreshing. It went really well with the Spaghetti Western a mix of Don Julio Blanco, cucumber and lime juice, honey and ginger syrup, wasabi and soda.
The 14-hour Braised Beef Cheek with sweet potato and ginger puree, chimmichurri and a smoky star-anise jus was popular amongst our guests. This came with sides of Bloody Mary Fries and Southern Style Three Bean Salad. To match this we had a Baby Neighbourhood Mary. This twist on the classic Bloody Mary had Ketel One vodka, beef master-stock-infused house Mary mix, secret sauce, lemon juice and smoked roast garlic salt.
For dessert it was time for Josh to show his creative flair with his special ‘Secret Garden’ dessert. It looked like a small plant you’d keep in your house only this one had edible caramel clay, lemon vanilla cream cheese, biscuit crumb topsoil, salted caramel brittle and micro herbs. It was absolutely delicious- my favourite dish of the night! Simon paired this with an Espresso Doble made with Ron Zacapa Centenario Solera 23, sweet vermouth, salted caramel syrup, xocolatl mole bitters and an espresso zabaglione ‘crema’.
The whole evening was fun, creative and very boozy. Cocktail Degustation was obviously a popular theme- the first night sold out so quickly we released a second date. That was good news for me…I got to go twice!