There’s no doubt the Hamra family have breathed culinary life into the often-overlooked Kensington Rd precinct, with the opening of Uxbridge Kitchen and Hula Hoop. The two spaces bookend The Regent Theatre, but the Hamras have decided to bring them together as one, joining forces under the Hula Hoop banner.
“It just made sense to have everything under one banner,” says owner and operator Steph Hamra who, along with husband Jon, brings a new and improved Hula Hoop to the eastern suburbs.
With a background in furniture manufacturing and design, Jon was able to convert the old Uxbridge Kitchen into a striking extension of Hula Hoop, featuring dark wood furnishings, wicker light fixtures and black and white photographs that draw away from the suburban location, and give the space a European feel. While an eclectic mix of trinkets creates an intimate setting, perfect for everything from a Friday night dinner to a lazy Sunday brunch.
“We start off winter dining in here (the old Uxbridge Kitchen), and spill over into the other bar,” says Steph. While the outdoor area is the perfect family friendly addition, giving the kids a place to chalk-up the pavement, play a game of bocce or even try their hand at hula hooping (go figure).
Steph is the brains behind the “Days” menu, which features all-day breakfast and a range of Brioche and Bruschettas that give consideration to South Australian produce. While Sam Langley (formerly of Andre’s Cucina & Polenta Bar) heads up the “Nights” menu.
Drawing on Mediterranean influences, the “Nights” menu is geared towards sharing and features a selection of grazing and stand-alone dishes that won’t break the bank.
We begin with the Hula squid, pan-fried squid dusted in fennel and paprika with harissa aioli. It’s perfectly crunchy and the aioli packs just the right amount of punch.
Moving onto the handmade Gnocchi gorgonzola, we get a feel for just how Italian comfort food should be served. While the Cavatelli salsiccia, handmade pasta with Italian sausage and caramelised leek, is without doubt their star pasta dish.
But the Hula hot pot wins the winter warmer award, with fennel quarters and pan-fried chicken braised in white wine, served up with onions, black olives, pine nuts and chorizo. The mishmash of Mediterranean flavours makes this dish a must-try.
Being fully licenced, the team at Hula Hoop are more than happy to help you kick off your morning with a celebratory Champagne breakfast or even a hair of the dog Bloody Mary. And while there’s no shortage of usual suspects in the way of cocktails, the Kensington Colonel with vodka, lime and mint is their signature.
Their well thought out wine list brings together Australian drops with international varieties from Italy and France. “But we like to mix up the wines,” says Steph, “and the cheeses,” so keep an eye on their chalkboard for the day’s cheesy offerings.
It’s not often you come across a city-style restaurant and bar with the added suburban convenience, so drop in for a taste of Steph and Jon’s brand of hospitality and cosy up with a glass of red this winter.