Bondi Bowling Club

Bars Bondi North
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The new generation bowlo comes with cocktails on tap and monster pies

The appeal of your local bowling club used to lie in cheap lager, big schnitzels and something to do between pours. But 2015 is looking set to be the year that the bowlo got its groove back. Petersham Bowling Club has been quietly pouring excellent craft beers, hosting local gigs and even a spot of backyard cricket. North Sydney Bowling Club was transformed by former Grounds of Alexandria chefs, and now the Bondi Bowling Club has received the fairy godmother treatment from the team behind Panama House and Corner House.

Bondi’s popularity means getting a big crew seated is no small undertaking, but there’s still plenty of space here. Outside, picnic tables shaded by crimson G.H Mumm umbrellas line the competition green. And the terrace behind the social green will be packed on a sunny afternoon, but inside it opens right up. The whole interior has been given a vintage spruce up – there are clusters of wicker chairs with banana frond-print cushions, and a short-statured forest's worth of potted houseplants. The lights are kept low, the fans are on high and the gold-lettered leader boards are still mounted on the walls.

If you’re ordering the pie of the day, you’re going to need that extra elbow room – they are bloody enormous. Some pack the weighty nourishment required to make it through a British winter, and others manage to be a pastry pocket for all seasons. The mixed seafood pie here is the latter. An enamel dish arrives crowned with a sheet of golden pastry the size of an atlas, and underneath you’ll find all the bounty of the big blue. There are no fewer than six scallops, plus rosy striped prawns and tender pieces of blue eye cod in a gentle clear broth with capsicum, asparagus, broccoli and beans creating a flavour profile reminiscent of spring. On average they have it on the menu once a week, so time your visit wisely.

Prefer turf to surf? They do a very good steak here. Our sirloin is medium rare on the button and we’re pleased as punch to find somewhere still offering Diane sauce with the side of mash and steamed greens. Make sure you check out the specials board before you order, too – on our visit they have a 400g T-bone for a mere 50c more.

Like most things, cocktails do not taste good in bulk. They have two on tap: an Aperol Spritz and a BB Summer Cup – a mix of rum, elderflower, Montenegro and ginger beer. We give the Cup a whirl but what sounds refreshing ends up a super sweet glass of alcoholic post-mix. Most tables are stacked with jugs of beer and we follow suit. There’s Carlton Draught and Reschs for the old-timers, Sydney Brewery’s Glamarama summer ale for locavores and Young Henrys, Batch, 4 Pines and Nomad for craft beer enthusiasts.

When you’re not up for rolling on the greens, head inside where there’s a pool table, AC/DC pinball, an original Big Buck Hunter Pro console and Street Fighter. They also host DJs on the terrace, and there’s a stage inside for live gigs – this club is more than a fair-weather friend.

The beach may be the jewel in Bondi’s sandy crown but some of its best features are far enough from the shoreline that you’re expected to wear shoes, even pants. So don those loafers and bring your license (it’s a club, so you'll need to sign in or join) and treat yourself to a monster pie at this bowlo redux that’s making everything old new again.

By: Emily Lloyd-Tait


Venue name: Bondi Bowling Club
Address: 1 Warners Ave
Opening hours: Mon-Wed 3-11pm; Thu, Fri noon-late; Sat 11am-late; Sun 11am-11pm

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