A thoroughly un-Bondi wine bar is bringing Italian romance and natural wine to the beach
Close quarters are helpful when you’re on a date, and sexy Italian wine bars don’t get much cosier than Ode. All that low, flattering light is like a real-world Instagram filter; the little round tables are so small you can interlock knees; and given they quite literally have wine on tap, a night here is a reliable recipe for romance.
We’re so used to the all-white coastal colour scheme of Bondi that the rustic raw brick and solid timber fitout of Ode is almost disorienting, but on a winter’s night it’s actually the perfect antidote to a bone-chilling coastal breeze. And for anyone who says you can’t sell carbs in Bondi, this bar presents a full house doing swift demolition work on an excellent cacio e pepe that is rich but stops short of heart-busting territory. It’s probably all that black pepper giving the dish a flinty, sparky spiciness that keeps the cheese in check, but tender oily pieces of sardine also give this cheesy pasta a surprising sophistication.
Gnocchi with Napoletana and cheese is straight-shooting comfort food that lands a bullseye on the nostalgia button; a salad of orange slices claims a firm foothold in savoury territory with fennel, olives, salt and good olive oil; and everyone loves an orb of burrata – but if you are in fact on a date, tread carefully when it comes to the toast that conceals a lethal dose of garlic.
Do those bouncy smoked mussels with a micro dice of pickled carrot on toast taste familiar? It’s because you’ve had something similar at Dear Sainte Eloise, the Potts Point Wine Bar that Ben Abiad helped set up before heading even further east to open Ode with Benedict Maurice, Jerome Wallcroft and Jeremy Moyle.
A carafe of wine is very good if you’re not sure that this date is going to make it all the way through a bottle. They have two wines on tap – on our visit it’s a smashable Adelaide Hills sauv blanc from Sparrow and Wine, and a likeable Italian barbera. By the glass a Yarra Valley rose from Xavier Goodridge is all soft berries and blushing freshness, but it’s worth scanning the cocktail list because they mix the heck out of Bloody Mary – the tomato juice here is no sweet imposter but thick, vegetal and profoundly umami. Or order the Tobacco Road if you like the sound of a cocktail that tastes like a campfire on the beach, pairing mezcal’s smokiness with Cynar bitterness and a touch of sherry.
There are few suburbs in Sydney as sure of their identity as Bondi, but that’s what makes this thoroughly un-Bondi bar so appealing. There’s no poke bowls, no carb-free alternative and the look ignores the 2026 dress code entirely. It’s just a proper good wine bar with strong European roots that knows that deep down, we all want cheesy pasta for dinner.
251 Bondi Rd
|Opening hours:||Tue-Thu 3pm-11pm; Fri noon-11pm; Sat-Sun 9am-11pm|