Pasta and wine in clean-living Bondi is just crazy enough to work
Bondi is a suburb of two budgetary extremes. There are the backpackers who fill dorm rooms like sardines and know where every happy hour in the 2026 is located; and then there are the people whose names are on the leases, and they are the people that this new North Bondi eatery is aimed at.
Rocker is a little bit fancy. Not Sean’s Panaroma spenno, but you’d wear proper shoes to come here for dinner. It would also make a great date spot because you can just roll up to the bar, perch around the huge communal table and order from their short but compelling list of wines by the glass. There’s a fresh and fruity Canberran fiano from Sassafras that is a smashable pour; the Rieslingfreak is always a good idea; and if you like a little skin with some riper, tropical vibes go the Smokestack Lightning sauv blanc from the Yarra. We’ll be back for more wine and snacks.
The surprising thing about the food here is how rich it is. In a suburb famous for their low carb, smoothie bowl fanatics we’re surprised at the liberal hand on the butter, oil and cream. Even an innocent order of grains and greens provides no reprieve – the kale, black rice, lentils, quinoa, pistachios and currants are sitting in a knuckle’s worth of olive oil.
Given head chef Stuart Toon has clocked a decade in the Jamie Oliver empire it’s hardly surprising that we can’t stop thinking about the al dente orecchiette, dressed to impress in a buttery veil of capers, fresh red chilli, beach bananas and tender, meaty clams. The rich, Italian seaside flavours are almost exactly mirrored in the John Dory dish, so choose one or the other – both is probably too much of a good thing.
Maybe their love of indulgent snacks is a reaction to Bondi’s clean-eating reputation. The Welsh rarebit lives in the crosshairs of an arancini and inside-out toast, with a yeasty ale-infused cheese filling inside a crumbed shell. They’re also frying up chicken skins until they’re firm enough to scoop through the loose chicken liver parfait. The sweet plum in the base of the bowl is a win, but the skins themselves would have been better served warm. Craving crunchy fried textures? The school prawns are all the better for being served simply with a squeeze of lemon instead of aioli.
Service is warm, and if their excitement at people ordering their personal favourite items is anything less than genuine, you can’t tell. It really is a lovely spot for a nicer-than-average mid-week dinner. The room ticks all the modern design boxes: fresh timber, copper planters and indoor plants. And there are outdoor tables with vintage-style beach umbrellas to keep the sun off if you prefer to drop by for coffee and a bacon butty on white bread first thing. But for our money, good wine and a plate of pasta is the winning trick for Rocker.
39-53 Campbell Pde
|Opening hours:||Restaurant Thu-Fri noon-late; Sat, Sun 10am-late. Café Mon-Wed 7am-2pm; Thu-Sun 7am-late|