Rhonda’s Bar Terrigal
Images by Tim Brand
If you’ve seen the flashy, fluoro sign and the late night lineups and thought “that’s not for me”, you might be missing out on experiencing one of the Coast’s most unique venues.
Let’s go meet Rhonda. She welcomes everyone …
Who IS Rhonda? While not flesh and blood Rhonda permeates every corner of this unique venue in Terrigal. She’s the personification of co-owner Ty Van Emden and Scott Bayly’s joint vision. In their words Rhonda is “an eclectic woman of the world, cultivated by a life of travel and glamour in the 80s. She surrounds herself with good people and good vibes, great food, amazing wine and exquisite cocktails.” She also has an amazing pad!
Rhonda’s is all style. Opulent and lavish style. Definitely the sort of venue you can call ‘funky’ and ‘groovy’ without feeling selfconscious, because it absolutely is. Although given its nod to the 80s, perhaps that should be ‘choice’ and ‘tops’.
The bar is glowing copper, there’s purple flouro wall displays, giant indoor plants, dark timber and red leather. Ty and Scott have done an amazing job bringing their vision to life, with touches like stunning retro wallpaper from Kravitz Design (as in Lenny) sourced and flown over directly from Brooklyn, New York. Two patterns have been used. The bold black and white design in the main area downstairs and an incredible tomato orange and black print in the upstairs bar. Gorgeous copper pandants hang at the bar, with more muted, but equally stylish, black and gold ones hanging above the booths.
I could go on and on about the décor. Ty says that in bringing some glamour to Terrigal he wanted it to feel like you were walking in to Rhonda’s living room. She has fantastic taste! She also has an amazing chef …
Richard Wagemaker is in charge of the kitchen. Originally from Brazil, Richard peddled cuisine all over the world before landing in Australia in ‘98. He was previously with Cara o Cruz and while his menu at Rhonda’s still ostensibly features tapas and share dishes he makes wonderful use of the coal fired Brazillian barbecue to create food that is inventive and interesting while being a little heartier.
All the meals are designed to be shared if that’s what you want to do. Rhonda encourages it – she likes a happy social vibe at her pad. The great thing too is that with Rhonda’s long kitchen hours you can order a few dishes over a few hours. The full menu is available from 5pm (4pm on Friday and the weekend) until 10.30, with a smaller, late night menu available until the kitchen closes, sometime after midnight. Rhonda’s has the latest opening licence in Terrigal so it’s a great place to pop in for a nightcap, quick snack or dessert if you can’t do the full Rhonda’s dinner experience.
The menu has an interesting fusion of Australian, Japanese and Spanish influences. We sampled the Kingfish Yakitori, Wagyu Cheese Burger Sliders and Rhonda’s bestseller, Saganaki. All meals were beautifully but simply presented and delivered a subtlety of flavour well beyond the descriptions
on the menu.
The Saganaki in particular was both delicious and novel. It’s basically a Greek version of classic tapas dish gambas al ajilo, garlic prawns. The ouzo flambé king prawns have an amazing flavour – the ouzo adding a subtle sweetness to the flesh. They’re served in a mild chilli tomato sauce with feta crumbled over the top. The creamy feta is perfect with the slightly sour tomato. So simple and so effective. You also get plenty of charred tortilla to scoop up that delicious sauce and feta.
We also ordered the Caprese Salad as a side to our shared plates. Fresh buffalo mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, basil and watercress are dressed up with the addition of stylish little balsamic pearls. It’s a simple, tasty dish at its very best.
Rhonda’s has a small but decadent dessert menu and we chose the chocolate brownie served with Persian fairy floss and vanilla ice cream (pictured below). This was chocolatey rather than oversweet, crispy on the outside and gooey inside. Exquisite!
The bar at Rhonda’s is in the very safe hands of world champion mixologist Mike Tomasic (would you expect anything less of her?). Mike swapped Bondi for Wamberal mid last year and has definitely brought some excitement to the Coast’s bar scene. Mike’s signature award winning cocktails have proven popular with his new audience. D’Vine, conceived for the G’Vine Gin Connoisseur Program, features G’Vine gin combined with apricot brandy, peach, lemon and velvety soft whipped egg white. The menu says it tastes like lemon meringue pie and it really does, but not overly sweet or cloying.
The cocktail that won Mike his title in the Global Angostura Cocktail Challenge is the Spiced Banana Old Fashioned, mixing Angostura rum with banana, honey and cinnamon. It’s pretty much as delicious as it sounds and a must-try for any rum fan.
The cocktail menu is arranged into three categories – light, medium and heavy. It’s a much more intuitive way to order, especially to accompany food, and allows you to choose something new with a little more confidence.
The wine list is arranged the same way, in white and red, from light to heavy. It’s an interesting way to think of wine rather than varietal, and quite educational. It’s a top quality wine list with an impressive selection of Old and New World wines. The whites have more of a lean towards Europe than the reds, with German rieslings, a Burgundy and Sancerre. The reds are mostly Australian and there’s some big hitters among them. The sparkling selection is impressive with super premium choices on offer – Rhonda’s is the place to head if your numbers come up!
Rhonda’s offers so much – casual dining from early, a world class bar, classic vinyl on a friday evening, the chance to get your boogie on upstairs on Saturdays after 9pm … Rhonda’s also hosts a regular roster of specials throughout the week. $8 Tapas Tuesday, Mussel Night on Wednesday, Thursday Night Paella and Wood Fired Friday give you a reason to visit regularly and try something different.
The space is also designed to work perfectly for private functions, with separate areas that can host the perfect 80s VIP party. Or the entire venue can accommodate around 200 for a larger event.
Rhonda’s is a fabulous addition to the Coast’s social scene, offering a class of venue not often found outside of major cities. In imagining the sort of place he’d like to hang out in, Ty has given his home town a true gift.
My parting advice? Go to the bathroom. Rhonda has imported Dolce & Gabbana snakeskin basins. How ‘rad’ is that??