Facing Bondi Beach on the south end of Campbell Parade sits a bright new meze-style bar called Ikaria. Opened earlier this year, Ikaria is the project of husband and wife duo Joaquin Saez ( ex-general manager at Cho Cho San) and fashion photographer Emily Abay, who were inspired to bring something fresh and revitalising to their community. Inside its textured, white-washed walls, Ikaria serves Mediterranean meze alongside a creative cocktail menu and an extensive wine list. The vibe is relaxed, coastal elegance – as is the food.
We paid a visit to Ikaria and spoke with Joaquin about bringing a taste of the Greek Islands to Bondi and he kindly showed us how to make Ikaria’s luscious Saganaki dish.
A.L. How was the idea for Ikaria conceived?
Ikaria is one of the islands in the blue zones, where it’s said people live the longest and happiest due to the sense of community and support. We wanted to bring this concept to Bondi and given that we haven’t been able to travel to the Mediterranean for so long, so we thought, let’s bring that spirit into Bondi.
A.L. What is it about Greek cuisine that feels right for Bondi?
We are not traditionally Greek, but more Mediterranean with a Greek twist. It is a type of cuisine that was not present in the area and we wanted to offer it to the neighbourhood. Our chefs have a fine dining background (our Head Chef Robbie is ex Bennelong) but they have managed to make a fun menu that’s not too formal, just simple and delicious.
A.L. What can you share with us about Ikaria’s interior design? What was your design intent for the space?
In order to transport people to the Mediterranean, we really needed to nail the fit out. Emily came up with the initial concept and mood board. She was very particular about the aesthetics of the venue. Our designer Lisa Wright was able to take Emily’s concept to a whole other level. She knew exactly what we were after and took our dream beyond what we knew was possible. Everything she sourced is original and unique, such as antique vases from Turkey and our 150-year-old door from Morocco. This venue is rich in history and texture.
A.L. What drew you to choose pieces from the Assembly Label core collection for the Ikaria Uniform?
I personally believe that besides being the most comfortable uniform, the raw textures reflect the aesthetic of our venue and Assembly label linen fits perfectly with our concept. We know that Assembly Label is inspired by the coastal landscape and that’s exactly what Ikaria is all about too. So it was only natural that we joined forces and we’re proud to be wearing it.
A.L. Tell us about some of your favourite dishes on the menu. How should they be best enjoyed?
Saganaki is a must. It’s an explosion of flavour; savoury, sweet, aromatic, and people love the presentation. We always recommend it to be eaten whilst it is really hot and with a side of cabbage and apple salad, which acts like a palate cleanser.