I first remember stumbling across the Royal Croquet Club pop-up festival two years ago back in Melbourne. It seemed to me like the ultimate concept, amazing food stalls, cocktails and bars aplenty, cool music performers and DJs each night, all themed to the elegant white summer vibes of leisurely playing croquet on faux grass lawns, and having a laugh with friends whilst doing so.
Finally, it has been transported to Sydney by The Social Creative, running over 11 days from 24th November to Sunday 4th December. Anchored at the most perfect location if I say so myself, RCC is situated on the grass next to the Bondi Surf Life Saving Club, literally sitting right next to the iconic Bondi Beach! It radiates a heartbeat of great atmosphere, with the light salty ocean breeze, crystal blue waters and gorgeous sunshine, beginning daily at 12pm until late.
The daily music line-up includes Aussie artists such as Bag Raiders, Hayden James, Kilter & Klue, Jarryd James, Flight Facilities’ Hugo Gruzman, Angus Stone’s Dope Lemon, Tom Tilley, San Cisco and more.
On a gorgeous warm Saturday, a group of us settled for a brunch to sample each of the amazing food outlets, which are truly an attraction and reason to visit in themselves. The list includes Bondi burger local Milky Lane, Sydney’s king of fried chicken Butter, Bao Stop, Middle Eastern Old City Kitchen & Bar, beloved Malaysian eatery Mamak, the new Pilipino favourite Hoy Pinnoy, a Pol Roger Champagne garden, Heineken, Pimms Garden Shed and many more.Old City Kitchen & Bar
This new Middle Eastern eatery hails from Newtown, as the new eatery with a scrumptious menu of traditional cuisine. Middle Eastern is my favourite type of cuisine, so it’s wonderful to finally see someone bringing out some tasty cuisine and street food besides the stereotypical kebab everyone generally associates.
Their menu includes The Duo Wraps ($12) choosing any two skewers of chicken, lamb kofte or falafel which are cooked over a charcoal grill and served in Lebanese bread wraps. The meats were amazing, abundant in flavour, the chicken had that distinguishing chargrill flavour, whilst the lamb kofte was authentic with its mixture of herbs and spices transporting me back to my Lebanese grandma’s kitchen. The Naked Wrap ($15) is the zero carbs option, with same plating of two skewers of your choice, complemented by hommus, falafel, tabouli and salad.
The winner had to be the Fried fetta balls which one may have mistaken for thinking were arancini balls or even falafels, but instead were a mixture of salty fetta cheese with a blend of herbs and spices, ever so lightly battered and deep fried. The golden crust was perfect, giving way to the warm cheesy filling inside! They were also serving up Potato ($8) as a fusion of pan fried diced potato with coriander, mild chilli paste, lemon, sage and garlic and some Baklava ($2) for a sweet ending! Be sure to check this newcomer out!
Bao Stop has been a favourite stall at the Night Noodle Markets, with the bao craze that took over Sydney in recent times. Each of the fillings is housed in the gorgeous light fluffy bao buns, proving to be the perfect bite sized delight. Coming in three different flavours (3 for $20), they allow you to get a delicious taste of everything or simply just pick your favourite! The Fried Chicken Gua Bao ($7) with Taiwanese fried chicken, yummy sweet red sugar chilli jam, shredded carrot, spring onion, and Bao Stop’s signature creamy chilli mayo sauce was our favourite, followed closely by the Peking Duck Gua Bao ($7) with crispy skin peking duck, a thin cucumber slice, spring onion and finger licking peking sauce, whilst for Pork fans the Braised Pork Belly Gua Bao ($7) was home to braised pork belly, peking sauce, fresh coriander, roasted peanuts, pickled mustard greens & Taiwanese mayonnaise. Delish!The crowd stopper however, has to be the incredible Peking duck fries. Thin French fries are covered with delicious bits of diced duck meat & crispy skin doused with the mouth-watering sweet peking Hoisin sauce. The amazing combination of sweet from the sauce, and salty from the fries, is just glorious, finished with a little zing from fresh green shallots sprinkled on top.
This Surry Hills favourite sent the city into a frenzy when it opened earlier this year, with long lines out the door! Drawing the fried chicken obsessed from all over Sydney, their signature fried chicken is brined before cooking, allowing it to retain all its moisture for the perfect juicy and tender pieces of chicken. The chicken is served in a smaller version 3 Pac (3 pieces for $16) of the signature sneaker shoe boxes that made the all-in-one sneaker, fried chicken and champagne store become famous!The deep fried golden goodness from their generous thick yet light batter, coats the pieces of chicken delivering the most perfect crunchy outer shell money can buy. Served alongside a scattering of homemade pickles, they offset the pressure on your arteries and potential impeding heart attack, with a light finish. For those vegetarians out there, they are also serving up The Biggie Shroom Burger ($16) with a delicious buttery bun housing a mammoth sized fried mushroom within.
This Bondi local has only had to travel down the road from its flagship home, yet its sure to set a new benchmark for your burger expectations. There’s no denying that Sydney loves its burgers, and Milky Lane has been an Eastern Suburbs burger haunt since it opened a few months ago in the beachside suburb. The flavour combinations of the weekly specials have been show-stopping and inventive, plus their crazy dessert creations and alcoholic freak shakes are even more jaw dropping.For those after their burger fix at RCC, Milky Lane has you sorted! With three burgers and a selection of fries, if you haven’t visited their store yet, this will surely make you do so soon. The menu includes the BBQ Weezy ($13) with wagyu beef patty, US Cheddar, pickles, house made smoky BBQ sauce, aioli & tomato relish and the wittily named Frying Nemo with crumbed flounder fillet, tartare slaw, mushy peas and tomato sauce ($19). The crowd pleaser has to be the signature Milky Lane ($17) with wagyu beef, US cheddar, lettuce, tomato, pickles, Milky Lane sauce, tomato relish & onions, this simply was absolutely incredible, like a glorified next level McDonald’s cheese burger, except a further 10x better. The juicy patty, amazing sauce, melted cheese and perfect bun all united together to make this amazingly good!With two fries on the menu the Loaded Fries ($10) are almost a meal in themselves, with beer battered fries, bacon bits, shallots, cheese gravy and the creamy Milk Lane sauce they are jam packed with flavour, protein and also some vegetables! Even just the Beer Battered Fries with tomato sauce ($7) were a favourite for me, the beer batter was delectable, with an amazing crunch that made them utterly addictive, I was going back for more and more!
This Filipino BBQ and Street food joint is renowned for its signature long meaty skewers that have had the masses queueing to get their hands on some meaty deliciousness! You can smell the scent of the amazing skewers cooking in the air as you enter RCC festival, enjoying the tantalizing aroma that instantly gets your tastebuds watering! These are generous sticky ‘n sweet sticks of heaven coming in two flavours, the Inihaw na Manok a chicken skewer in traditional marinade and the Inihaw Na Baboy with juicy pork lathered with a banana ketchup glaze.The Chicken Adobo fries were also nice, with crinkle cut chips doused in a unique Filipino sauce and chunks of chicken crowning the top. Meanwhile the Liempo consisted of a piece of 12 hour slow smoked pork belly, basted with sticky sweet coating, on a bed of boiled rice, with fresh pickled carrot & radish, and a sprinkling of peanuts.
Malaysian restaurant Mamak are bringing their signature paper thin Roti’s to the RCC line up. The Roti Canai ($7) is the original roti, handmade and hand spun to become wafer slim, the light airy pieces of dough are then lightly pan fried to create an amazing texture. Described as ‘crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside’ it is served alongside a curry dip with coconut notes, and a spicy sambal sauce. It would not be Malaysian or Mamak without some authentic Satay skewers. Grilled over a flaming charcoal to produce their signature Mamak flavour, these delicious skewers are accompanied by a sweet and spicy peanut sauce (6 for $12) with some fresh cucumber, red onion just as it should be served.
Last but definitely not least is Gelato Messina and their special range of Messina soup cans ($9 each). You can always trust these gelato connoisseurs to erupt with an innovative new concept or some crazy flavour that leaves you salivating at the end of a meal! Luckily, dessert is always another stomach! Their Messina Soup Kitchen boasts a delicious menu of Campell’s themed soup cans filled with gelato and other goodies, offering the best way to end your gourmet feasting at the RCC!With witty and humorous names for each flavours include Black Forest Bisque, Faux Pho, Zuppa Duppa and American Chow Down, you’ll be pressed for choice on which one to order. The Black Forest Bisque is for serious chocolate lovers, with chocolate fondant gelato, cherry jam, kirsch cream and kirsch-soaked sponge, this is seriously rich and decadent. The Faux Pho was a favourite and great for anyone who loves coconut (like me!). With salted coconut sorbet, an uber light and fluffy kaffir-lime marshmallow, lychee coconut cream and finished with chilli cashew crunch for the perfect textural component to complement it all!
My favourite was the Zuppa Duppa, which was like smooth velvety creamy Nutella in gelato form aka liquid gold! The hazelnut gelato was layered with wild-strawberry preserve, a crumble-esque pistachio crunch and distinctive Amaretti biscotti. This was the winner!
Royal Croquet Club
Thursday 23 November to Sunday 4 December
12pm to late daily
Bondi Park, Bondi Beach