Since most of Australia is currently off limits to Sydneysiders, The Thirsty Travellers have been on holidays in our home city, spending a memorable weekend in Coogee.
We’re normally based on the Northern Beaches, so it was fun to explore a different seascape. The suburb has come a long way since we stood ankle deep in beer watching gigs at the Coogee Bay Hotel in our twenties. It’s full of stylish restaurants and bars these days and the beach is picture perfect.
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Coogee, where we were lucky enough to be upgraded to an ocean-view suite. The rain bucketed down during most of our visit, but that didn’t detract from the incredible views the hotel offers.
After settling into our room, we wandered down to Coogee Wine Room on Coogee Bay Road for a pre-dinner drink. It’s a stylish venue and the dinner menu looked amazing, but our experience was slightly marred by an overly officious Millennial maitre de, who looked like she was about to have an aneurysm when we tried to take a seat at the bar.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Coogee Wine Room is only doing two socially-distanced dinner sittings on Saturday nights and we weren’t on the reservation list. Totally understandable, but there are better ways to let people know that don’t immediately make them feel so unwelcome.
We were about to walk out when were grudgingly allowed to sit for 15 minutes and order a glass of wine. Fortunately the bar staff were wonderful and helped us choose two lovely drops. When we return to the neighbourhood we’d be inclined to take a deep breath and visit the bar again.
Our dinner booking was at Mimi’s at the Coogee Pavilion, where the door staff were far more pleased to see us. We arrived a few minutes early and they immediately found us a seat at the bar adjoining the restaurant, Will’s, for a pre-dinner drink.
It was my second experience at Will’s – I enjoyed a cocktail tasting there pre-COVID-19 shutdown. My glass of French rose was very moreish … but time was against us and it was time to join our friends at the table.
The food at Mimi’s is pricey but very delicious. We ordered various dishes to share including grilled pork belly rib with native pepper, juniper, sour quince and currants; salt baked butternut squash with fig leaf oil, yoghurt, cumin and pepitas (an eye-watering $42); and roasted hapuka with sea lettuce butter, finger lime, chives and fennel.
The side dish of shaved brussel sprouts, parsley and ossau iraty also deserves a special mention for making an often-maligned vegetable taste fabulous.
The next morning we headed to Barzura on the recommendation of one of our dining companions. It was an excellent tip as it boasts a superb location across the road from the beach (which looks like the snapshot above when there’s sunshine) and a great menu. I had the nasi goreng with free range chicken, vegetables, bacon, chili, coriander and a fried egg; while DJ enjoyed the corn fritter with smashed avocado and crispy bacon, served with tomato chutney. Both were YUM.
After breakfast it was time to check out from the hotel and make our way back to the north side. Such a happy escape for us both!