Friday, November 11, 2005

Icebergs Dining Room & Bar, Notts Ave, Bondi Beach

Icebergs Dining Room & Bar, Bondi
Friday 11 November, 2005

Having dined there late last year for dinner I was keen to try it for lunch and give them the benefit of the doubt. Sadly, they are way too cool for school...

My experience last year was awful. I arrived at the swanky entrance after watching the valet parking attendants almost crash a car as they watched a group of very attractive women (models?) enter the restaurant. I was ignored as the reception staff fawned over and ogled the models, even though I had arrived before them. Standing there for 5 minutes I decided to find my group within the restaurant and was accosted by a very pretentious waiter who beckoned me back to the entrance. I explained the situation & assured him that I did not need an escort to my friends/ table. Things continued to go down hill as the menu is not an easy read and the list of specials is almost another menu itself. The waiter spilt wine at the table, forgot to bring one of my friends dishes & then the bill was incorrect. OK, enough with the rant, the food was above average but hardly justifies the ridiculous prices attached. What an overrated experience.

Anyway, almost a year has passed and after reading several flattering reviews, including the SMH & LA Times article I agreed to lunch.

This time the experience was marginally better. It was a beautiful day - bonus - but the staff still think way too highly of themselves. Seriously, isn't the key to service - to serve??? Again I was ignored at the reception. I wandered into the restaurant to see if my friend had arrived and was again beckoned back to reception where I was informed I could wait in the bar while the table was being prepared. Come on, at 12pm on a week day in an almost empty restaurant why make guests go to the bar first when you have another booking on the table for 1.30pm? This just makes the lunch rushed, the waiter embarrassed when they have to ask you to vacate the table mid dessert and is just another ploy to get you to spend money. So, I go to the bar and have to endure the 2 staff behind the bar talking about their escapades during the week - a little service people.....

However, the table service improved but the menu specials are still as long as the menu itself. This time I indulged in the fish stew - 'Cacciucco alla Livornese' which was lovely - think bisque in a huge round dish filled with scallops, mussels, prawns etc with a lovely moderately spicy sauce with 2 pieces of bread soaking up the sauce underneath the seafood. Thumbs up and also for dessert - tiramisu (one of their specials) that is served at the table out of a big bowl from the kitchen fridge - in a local Italian I would find this endearing but at Icebergs I found this embarrassing - some of the bowl contents had already been served to other guests, so it looked like mash that was plopped onto my plate with no style whatsoever. It really did taste good though...and I do appreciate the vast wines by the glass list.

At 1.30pm we were quietly asked to vacate the table even though several (at least 10 tables were still completely empty) and moved to the bar to finish up. By this time the bar was a little busy and it took ages to secure anyone's attention to get the bill - yes, we did consider walking out. Overall, the food was good, the venue on a beautiful day is stunning but the service just lets the whole experience down.

Total cost $145 for two people.

Icebergs Dining Room & Bar - 1 Notts Ave, Bondi Beach - (02)93659000


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