Bondi, is well, Bondi. Love it or not it boasts one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and is home to some of the best restaurants, cafes and bars in Sydney. Bondi has many sides to her personality, one of our favourite split-personas is the laid-back local bar scene, where everybody knows your name . . .
If you are heading out for a night in Bondi, The Anchor is a must. Run by an awesome crew of down-to-earth locals, you can't go past the lobster rolls, margaritas and old-school rock'n'roll. We caught up with co-owner Georgia Bennett, to find out why it is just so damn good and for The Anchor high-rotation playlist.
TUL: How did you get into the hospitality business? Who makes up the team behind The Anchor?
Georgia Bennett: Getting into hospitality was pretty random for me. Several drinks into a long lunch with a couple of old mates we decided we needed to open a bar. It was just a bit of a lark until one of them ran into our mate Steve 'Wazza' Wasley, who mentioned he might be able to get his hands on the lease for what was then the Hungry Czech restaurant. From what I'm told he grabbed Steve, announced that the three of us wanted in and it all started from there. Once we opened we were really lucky to get hospo legend Andy Penney on board as manager. He ended up buying in and now it's just me, Steve and Andy.
TUL: What is the best part about owning a bar?
Georgia: Everything! I love the familiarity of being able to roll in here at any time and run into someone I know. I've met some hilarious people and had countless good times. It's also nice to be part of the Bondi business community—there's a lot of solidarity between most of us fellow bar and restaurant owners here.
TUL: The Anchor Bar is a really fun place, what's the secret?
Georgia: We're incredibly lucky to be the only small bar in Bondi with a 1am license, so we know we're always going to get a fun late-night crowd. We never wanted it to be just some trendy joint. We'd rather attract an eclectic mix of characters, who appreciate good food, drinks and music. It's really intimate with a ramshackle casualness that makes people comfortable —we wanted it to feel like hanging out in your own lounge room. It's pretty cosy so sometimes you've got no choice but to get acquainted with the person next to you. Our staff are all total pro's but it's definitely a prerequisite that you have to have a sick sense of humour and a firm grasp on the ridiculous to work here.
TUL: Is there a story behind the name?
Georgia: Not really, it was a pretty quick decision. Someone suggested it and the rest of us agreed. It's just a solid name for a beachside bar run by a bunch of pirates. I guess the name then kind of inspired the look and feel of the place.
TUL: There is a lovely seafood bent to your menu—what is the house special?
Georgia: We change our menu up every season but at the moment it's all about the lobster roll. New York is famous for them but I seriously think ours blows them all away.
TUL: Tequila, Mescal and Sotol feature in your cocktails—why the Mexican theme? What's your favourite cocktail?
Georgia: It wasn't so much about heading down the well-trodden Mexican path. It was more that we struggled to find a decent margarita in Bondi, so we wanted to make tequila the focus. We're probably best known for our jalapeño and guava margarita called the Machete, and our Anchor Mary with Clamato juice and a crab claw. If you fancy something sweeter, I'm a fan of the Cokuru, made with 1800 Coconut Tequila.
TUL: As a Bondi local, can you tell us your favourite hangouts and places to shop?
Georgia: I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to work but really just getting sidetracked at Porch and Parlour café, run by my awesome friends and fellow West Australians, Sarah and Sam.
The Stuffed Beaver and the Shop and Wine Bar are reliably good for a drink and I'm still partial to a beer and a (poorly executed) game of pool at The Royal Hotel—it's the last bastion of old-school valley of scum Bondi, and I hope it never changes. And Sunday nights at The Anchor, always.
Gertrude & Alice Café Bookstore is great for interesting books and the Bondi Farmers' Market on Saturdays are great for organic produce. I also love to escape to the Waverley Reservoir perched high above Waverley Oval. It's a beautiful old building with killer views and no one around.
TUL: And The Anchor playlist?
Georgia: Music-wise we have a strict rock 'n' roll only policy. We keep it pretty civilised through dinner but you can expect it to get harder and louder as the evening progresses. If you drop in after midnight this is a taste of what you can expect to hear.