Australia Meets South Africa at Bondi Grill in Huntington Beach
We dined as a guest of Bondi
Ever since Shelby shared her dining experience at Bondi Grill on OC Mom Dining this past April, I have had this Huntington Beach newcomer on my brain. Her mouth-watering pictures of the massive plate of beautifully caramelized, grilled Brondisaurus pork ribs and the warm sticky date pudding swimming in a pool of salted caramel topped with vanilla ice cream were beckoning me. So I was thrilled when I was invited to participate in a tasting last week with a group of fellow food bloggers.
With Bondi Grill’s Co-founder Peter Hough
This unique Australian concept, brought to North America by co-founder, Peter Hough merges high quality meats including grass-fed lamb, free-range anti-biotic free chicken, premium steaks, and all-natural free range, lean pork ribs and a unique 825° grilling method with flavors reminiscent of his homeland of South Africa for a satisfying culinary romp across the globe.
Upon arriving we were seated at one of Bondi’s urban rustic communal tables on the covered patio and given their menu of wines, beers, and cocktails to start. The menu offers a solid list of beers on tap and wines by the bottle as well as on tap. But what really caught my attention was their list of hand-crafted cocktails. These gorgeous, creative cocktails use wine, Prosecco, vermouth, and sherry to reimagine more traditionally styled drinks, with selections such as:
Sheila’s Cocktail combining Sauvingon Blanc, Lillet Blanc, fresh berries, citrus and ginger
Karora Cocktail with Pinot Noir, Drysack Sherry, Carpano Antiqua, bitters and Luxardo cherries
Sydney “Big Smoke” Fizz, a unique, bold cocktail recommended as an accompaniment with the ribs made with Noilly Prat Vermouth, hickory smoke syrup and egg white
My personal favorite, the Mojito, Mate! with Sauvignon Blanc, Lillet Rose, ginger beer, lime and mint
Strawberry-Basil Smash Sauvignon Blanc, strawberry syrup, fresh strawberries, basil, and soda water
Pomegranate Cooler, a beautiful and refreshing concoction of Carpano Bianco, pomegranate syrup, orange, lemon and soda water
The menu offers a variety of appetizers, salads, burgers, ribs, sandwiches, steaks, poultry and fish, sides, as well as desserts so that there is something for almost any palate. We were introduced to a good cross-section of menu items starting with the warm herbed garlic bread with melted herb butter and several appetizers:
This traditional South African sausage is made fresh every day with a blend of beef and a little pork, stuffed into pork casings, grilled, and served with Monkey Gland Sauce, a sweet, tangy South African barbecue sauce for dipping. Even the folks at our table who aren’t fond of sausage enjoyed this appetizer.
Peri Peri Prawns
These prawns were sautéed with butter and fresh garlic and coated with Peri Peri, a spicy Portuguese sauce made with Birds Eye Chili Pepper popular in South Africa and were served with rice and lemon. This was one of my favorite dishes. The shrimp popped in my mouth when I ate it and the Peri Peri while spicy, was not overwhelming and was just the right amount of heat for me.
Roasted Artichokes with Greek Tzatziki Sauce and Lemon
The appetizers were followed by two refreshing salads:
Arugula, Orange & Beet Salad
This salad had a citrusy, earthy blend of textures and flavors made with organic arugula, beets, orange segments, quinoa and goat cheese and was punctuated by the crunch of sweet and spicy candied almonds. This was a crowd pleaser.
Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
This was my sister Shan’s and my favorite salad. The baby spinach was a gentle background for the sweet strawberries and creamy tangy goats cheese… an irresistible combination that reminds me a little of cheesecake, but without all of the sugar and guilt.
The Lamb Burger
This luscious, juicy lamb burger boasts half a pound of grass-fed local lamb and is served with Greek accompaniments including sun dried tomatoes, feta, red onion, lettuce, tomato, tzatziki and dill pickle. The meat was cooked perfectly and by that I mean when I bit into it, little bits of lamb juice dripped out of it onto my plate. Just writing this is making my mouth water. This was one of my favorite dishes that we sampled.
The Pulled Pork Sandwich
This half a pound of slow cooked barbecue braised pork is topped with house made coleslaw and served on a fresh artisan bun. I am not a fan of mushy, soggy buns and one of the things I liked about this sandwich was the bun was lightly grilled and was substantial enough to stand up to the sauce and the slaw. We also tried the lightly battered, sweet thin onion rings.
As a side note here, although we were only trying a bite or two of each dish, I was already pretty stuffed and we still had two types of ribs to sample!
Bondi’s Signature Bondisaurus Pork Ribs
Bondi’s starts with free range, natural lean pork ribs that are antibiotic, hormone and steroid free and are fed a 100% vegetarian diet and slow cooks them, then dips them into their secret sauce and char grills them at 825° making for a beautifully caramelized but not over sauced rib. We tried a spicy version and a less spicy version of their sauce, both were good, but I think I preferred the spicier of the two. Also available are Baby Back Pork Ribs.
Beef Back Ribs
Prepared in a similar fashion to the Bondisaurus Pork Ribs, they refer to these as their mammoth tender and juicy beef ribs and there is a reason for that. They look like something that The Flintstones would serve you if you were invited to dinner at their house.
Finally as stuffed as we were, we somehow managed to make room for dessert.
Sticky Date Pudding
This traditional Australian favorite is served warm, with vanilla ice cream on top and rests in salted caramel sauce. To.Die.For.
I ate way more than I should have and left in pain, but I look forward to returning and sitting outside on their patio, sipping a craft wine cocktail, and trying a half slab of their Baby Back Pork Ribs, or maybe one of their chargrilled steaks or perhaps the chargrilled Portuguese Chicken with Peri Peri sauce. Decisions. Decisions.
Bondi Grill is located in The Bella Terra Shopping Center at 7821 Edinger Avenue across from The Cheesecake Factory in Huntington Beach. They are open for lunch and dinner and will be adding a lighter lunch menu beginning in August. Happy hour is daily between 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. to midnight with 50% off all beer, wine, cocktails and bottles of wine served and includes smaller plate happy hour options lifted from their regular menu. Cheers!