In Australia, a “White Christmas” often refers to the white sands and blinding sunlight at Christmas time, as most Aussies would spend their Christmas holidays on the beach, soaking up the sun.
One of the most popular places to be when in Sydney has to be Bondi Beach, probably one of the most iconic beaches in the world. We were there last Friday, at the beginning of our long Christmas break.
Despite being a mecca for thousands of sun-worshippers and surfers the whole year round, Bondi is, surprisingly, not exactly known for its culinary offerings. Most eating places resembled casual beach-side bars and cafes.
But amongst these, you will find Andy Ruwald’s photogenic The Bucket List, located at one end of the historic Bondi Pavilion. The Bucket List was initially conceptualised as a pop-up in 2012 as it didn’t have a lease to the site (formerly occupied by Nick’s Seafood) yet, so one basically sat on milk crates whilst enjoying a beer and some fish-and-chips whilst facing the beach. However, all that changed when they finally got the lease in Dec 2012 and, in the past 7 years, have kept on drawing in the crowds.
Today, The Bucket List has around 110 staff, its kitchen headed by head chef Tom Walton, ex-Bistro Moncur, a mini-celebrity of sorts with his own Instagram following. With its wide, expansive windows affording a panoramic view over Bondi Beach, Bucket List seemed made for the place, and had been a fixture there forever.
I’m beginning to understand why you don’t really need “good” food to survive as an eatery at Bondi - with the warm December sunshine lighting up the whole place, the cool ocean breezes wafting in, and the beautiful views of the azure blue sea & golden beaches, it’s an immense pleasure just to be there, no matter what they feed you.
We started off with some fresh Cos lettuce salad with cherry tomatoes, shaved radish, crabmeat and dill
Buttermilk fried chicken with smoked chili mayo, pickles and lemon
Fish ‘n’ chips - batter-fried hake fillets with chips, tartare sauce, pickles and lemon
Classic fish burger - hake fillet, with pickles, lettuce, coleslaw, tartare and chips
Cali fish taco - crisp-fried hake fillet, pico de gallo, smoked chili mayo, shaved cabbage, soft wheat tortilla
As mentioned, the food was not what one would come here for. The whole place just seemed to exude a relaxed atmosphere, with sun-bronzed surfers, picnicking families, sun-hatted vacationers, city folks coming out for a swim or a tan. It’s a beautiful place. One thing to note: The Bucket List has not closed a single day ever since it started operating back in 2012!
The Bucket List
Bondi Pavilion, Shop 1
1 Queen Elizabeth Drive
Bondi Beach, NSW 2026, Australia
Tel: +61 2 9365 4122
Opening hours: 11am to 12 midnight daily