Like A Duck To Water
Ian Oakes has opened Drake, a cool but unpretentious eatery in the heart of Bondi.
Bondi local and award-winning chef Ian Oakes has opened his first restaurant on the corner of Curlewis and Gould Streets. Drake is next door to some of the suburb’s most-loved boutiques and small bars and is a place where you could perch at the bar with a wine, snacking on smoked bresaola and Woodside Charleston Jersey brie, or sit down to a three-course meal. It’s an ideal fit for Bondi’s go-with-the flow vibe.
“I really wanted to open a place I would want to go to on my days off,” Oakes says. “Approachable, casual dining where you get a really good meal.”
Small plates include pan-seared gnocchi with mushrooms, hazelnuts, golden raisins and blue cheese. “The Pecorah Dairy blue and the potatoes are both from Robertson in the Southern Highlands,” says Oakes. “We try and keep things as local as possible.”
Sides are generously portioned, such as a bowl of roast pumpkin, brussels, pumpkin seeds and breakable pieces of bacon, or spiced grain salad dotted with labne and fresh pomegranate. Duck is a signature dish, being Oakes’ favourite game to cook with. At the moment, it’s roasted and served atop a sweet carrot puree, gingerbread crumbs and soft cipollini onions. Duck is a motif, inspiring the name and the logo, a feather hand drawn in charcoal by a friend.
Drake Avenue in Caringbah, where Oakes’ grandmother lived, was equally influential. “She taught me how to cook, mostly desserts – grandma things like apple sponge puddings. That might’ve sparked a bit of an interest in cooking,” says Oakes. There’s no apple pudding on the menu, but there are ricotta doughnuts with toffee-apple jam and lemon curd, and honeycomb-coated white-chocolate parfait with almonds and salted caramel.
Acme & Co. took care of the interiors; they are friends of Oakes’. “They’ve been eating my food for a long time and they wanted to design the space around it,” he says. “It’s an organic, comfortable feel, with good technique,” he says. “There’s recycled timber, like tallowwood; the pass is from an old wharf somewhere, there’s tide marks on it. The shelves are oak.”
Drake is only open for lunch and dinner, though breakfast is on the cards down the track. “Our aim is to become an all-day eatery,” says Oakes. “However, we’ll be a restaurant open for breakfast, not a cafe open for dinner.”
Originally published on Broadsheet