Named for the fish & chips shops found just beside Bondi Beach in Australia, the Lower East Side's six month old Bondi Road assures you don't have to travel all the way around the world for flaky fried fish and real Aussie chips. Heathe St. Clair, also owner of the Australian hangout on Avenue C, The Sunburnt Cow, has brought surfer chic to a neighborhood hungry for fresh fish, a comfortable atmosphere, and a few pints of Aussie beer.

Photomontages of Bondi Beach line the walls of the narrow space packed with high tables along the east side, barstools for singles, and a half-dozen tables for two in the main dining space. Waitresses are eager to share specials, offer recommendations, and describe the menu--a printout with checkboxes so you can decide and mark your selections at leisure with a pencil.


For starters, battered, fried rock shrimp with a soy ginger sauce was flavorful with a light crisp, while moist and tender baby scallops happily swam in a buttery sauce. Salt n' pepper squid, garlic prawns (king prawns with heads and tails still on) are also popular "hot pot" options--small pots of seafood perfect for sharing with the table. A raw bar offers rock shrimp cocktail and blue point oysters ($2 apiece), but more interesting are the bloody oyster shooters, shots of pepper infused vodka and a raw oyster: smooth, briney, and full of bite.


Gothamist's waitress informed us that fish arrives twice a week from the land down under --whatever is in season and the freshest for serving. Fried barramundi -- a flat and mild fish, like trout -- and an order of the house chips is the "classic" fish for fish n' chips, but for those with a hankerin', sea bass, crimson snapper, and mahi mahi are also regularly on the menu and can be ordered grilled, breaded, or fried with one side for $15. Two additional specials, Gothamist's picks for the evening, showcased Bondi Road's oceanic options: a whole baby barramundi stuffed and grilled with lime, ginger, garlic, and cilantro, and a fillet of shark encrusted with crushed macadamia nuts.

The barramundi was incredibly tender and flaky, light but stuffed with citrus and herbs offering a fragrant compliment to each bite. The shark fillet was rich and meaty, its heaviness offset by the toasted nutty crust of sweet-and-salty macadamia nuts. Although Bondi Road offers a half-dozen other "classic" entrees including Aussie lamb chops and their hamburger with "the lot" (a burger topped with an egg, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and grilled pineapple), the real treasures are found in the sea -- the fish, the oysters, the hot pots.


For dessert, a select number of Australian specialties are highlighted by the ladylike pavlova, a meringue dessert--light, crisp, and perfectly sweet, topped with whipped cream, passion fruit, and kiwis. Lamingtons, another traditional Aussie dessert, are cake squares rolled in chocolate ganache and coated with coconut -- a bit too sweet for Gothamist's tastes.

With a menu more expansive than it first appears, Gothamist recommends taking a few friends to try the full scope of underwater gems. Make sure you ask for the nightly specials--fresh fish is always on the way.

Bondi Road is located at 153 Rivington Street and open for dinner and weekend brunch. 212-529-0005.