Reviewed by Cynthia Ning
The recent rain cooled the Sydney air and patches of blue made way for small rays of sunlight to hit the freshly manicured Waverley Greens.
Luckily, the newly renovated space had plenty of undercover parking, ensuring there was less stress and more time to relax while dining with family and friends. As we went up to The Ambry Bar & Restaurant, we were drawn to the floor-to-ceiling windows that showcased the cleanest and greenest lawn bowling area in Sydney.
The wait staff greeted us with refreshing sweet pink cherry cocktails followed by delicate canapes served on silver platters and spoons bursting with tangy flavours. The eggplant cubes were by far the crowd-pleaser and whetted our appetites.
We seated ourselves along the white and grey marbled dinner table adorned with fresh white dragon snaps and roses as the centrepiece, comfortably seating around 10 people. Jesper Hansen cheerfully introduced himself as both host and well-seasoned chef hailing from Denmark. He gave a brief history of his work and vision for The Ambry’s revitalisation, together with Head Chef Carlo Della Sala's Italian-inspired menu.
The hosts were an absolute delight and excited to feed us with their carefully selected menu of modest yet familiar ingredients.
The array of entrées included fresh Sydney Rock Oysters, Focaccia, Vitello Tonnato and Cauliflower Salad with burnt grapes which was a surprise showstopper. The focaccia served with olive oil and vinegar was gone within a blink of an eye, and Jesper graciously gave us a second helping and we licked our lips anticipating what would come next.
The relaxed ambience allowed us to naturally strike up a conversation with the other guests, complimenting the food and diving into some interesting topics. Co-hosts Julie and Fiona mingled with everyone, and we all quickly became friends. I guess this is the magic of good food and company.
My dear friend Phil reminisced when his grandparents would take them for lunch at the old Ambry, taking turns at lawn bowling with his siblings almost 20 years ago. The exposed beams, neutral tones and double brick walls exuded cool chic, but still retained its charm to loyal patrons.
Moments of silence came once the mains were served. Both Phil and I selected the Seafood Stew served in deep white bowls. The eye-catching pop of red and rich scent filled the air as we savoured the sweetness of the tomatoes and the salty flavour of the sea.
The portions were just right. Enough to share a sample with your friend, but most importantly a good amount to have for yourself. The wait staff were attentive and friendly, refilling our glasses once emptied and checking to see if the night breeze from the open windows became too much to bear.
We saw all walks of life entering the venue. Families with school-aged children, mothers with their prams, couples and groups ranging from their early 20s and over, come to enjoy a night out. Spacious yet cosy, this is a place for locals and visitors alike.
Conversations filled the room with well-timed breaks between each course to digest. Simple décor and presentation seemed best, matching the buzzing atmosphere of modern casual dining.
Dessert was served in generous slices. The alternate serving of Tiramisu and Zuppetta Napoletana had people curious and eager to share, making for messy plates and plenty of dirty spoons. The espresso-soaked sponge melted in my mouth and was my favourite dish of the night.
What better place to go than The Ambry Bar & Restaurant to have a leisurely meal before taking a stroll along the famous Bondi Beach? Wonderfully delicious, and we look forward to visiting them again very soon.