Think of Neighbourhood, the Bondi bar offering excellent cocktails in fairly modest surrounds, as the late, great Bayswater Brasserie in board shorts. It’s quite a team knocking around in the 100 capacity space. Panama and the Corner House’s Josh Evans is behind the snacks menu and Simon McGoram (last seen at Gardel’s Bar) is on the cans.
While you might be dosing yourself with a spicy barbecue Margarita (that hombre’s got some kick), the person next to you might just suck down a beer or a cider, or a vodka lime and soda. Want to see the bar team flex a little muscle? Order a Staten Island. A riff on an old Bayswater drink, it’s a balanced shake-up of bitterness and funk mixing rye, house-smoked maple syrup (over apple wood, no less), egg white and bitters.
They definitely sweat the little things here – they juice pomegranates for their own house-made grenadine, they make their own boozy falernum (basically a spiced syrup that likes to party in tiki drinks, here punched up with a rum base) for the Corn’n’Oil: a harmless-tasting glass of deadly. That falernum is stirred with Pampero anejo especial rum and a squeeze of lime, served short with good ice.
It’s funny. Despite the room being kinda huge (Neighbourhood can seat 100), it never feels empty – even when the only four people present are all propped up out the front. Built on the old Bondi FM site (soon to ride the airwaves again soon – watch this space), it stretches out to a decent sized backyard. There’s a real local edge to the bar.
The team (which also includes Eddie de Souza, Anthony Hughes and Keith Hodgson) pretty much put the place together single-handed. Big floor lamps and industrial style lampshades light upcycled wood surfaces and vintage armchairs. An old school Gordon’s gin stirring glass sits on the bar alongside a bundle of striped wax straws like an invitation to order a Neighbourhood Bloody Mary (the smoked garlic salt is so good we want to eat it by the spoonful).
The place might be DIY, but there’s plenty of heart here. McGoram dips in and out of making drinks, working the floor and running toasties. He’s gone coastal, losing the shirt stays from his days at Bayswater Brasserie and Gardel’s Bar, opting for a Gunners Tee and an All Blacks cap.
And those toasties are worth an order. We love a sneaky cheeseburger-flavoured anything. And this guy is the sneakiest of all. It doesn’t even have any meat in it, getting its cheeseburgerosity from a mixture of tomato ketchup, melted cheese, pickles and French fries, all stuffed between two slices of white bread, toasted. Sticky hot wings, ‘slaw and Bloody Mary fries join this toasted marvel on the menu, along with a tempeh burger for the veggos. There's brekky on the weekends too. Stay long enough, you can do the turn and have cocktails for lunch.