Ah, Coogee! You hold so many memories for me. Good memories, and the uh, not-so-good memories ;) I went to high school nearby and weekends during my later teens and young 20’s were frequently spent with messy nights at the Coogee Palace or Coogee Bay Hotel.
Fast forward 5+ years and my besties and I are no longer sloshed and tottering in heels on our way to the Bay, but instead we are catching up over a civilised dinner at the sensible hour of 6pm.
Coogee Cafe operates daily as a breakfast and lunch spot, but come 6pm it transforms into Coogee Cafe After Dark. It is a boutique, laid-back small bar kind of place. With eclectic and funky decor, there is plenty to see to keep your eyes interested if you’re waiting for friends to arrive. The food is well priced and designed for sharing, but also works for non-sharers.
The focus here is boutique, craft beers, and it is heaven for a beer lover. There is a page long list of beers available, with categories like “Have you had your wheaties?’ (wheat beers), and ‘For the beer snobs’ (limited stock beers), and the staff are happy, and knowledgeable, to make suggestions based on your preferences. The beers are more expensive than your usual offerings, ranging from $7.50 to $12 a beer, but they are top quality. If beer isn’t your thing there is a small wine list, as well as midweek ‘BYO wine’.
Happily it’s not just the beer that is quality here. Service throughout the evening is fast, friendly and all-round fantastic.
Unfortunately my photos this night are not so top quality, my basic skills hindered once again by the dim lighting. But don’t let my photos fool you, the food was excellent and better than it looks.
Sourdough w/ extra virgin olive oil & balsamic glaze, $6 | Mixed marinated olives, $4
We start with sourdough bread, served with the always winning combination of fragrant extra virgin olive oil and a sticky balsamic glaze. The mixed marinated olives are delicious with fennel seeds adding a different but welcome flavour.
S&P squid with wasabi mayo & chilli soy dipping sauce, $20 ($12 size also available)
Alexis and Leah each ordered the salt & pepper squid with wasabi mayo and chilli soy dipping sauce. I didn’t know S&P squid could be so wonderful! The squid was incredibly soft and melting. I didn’t detect much wasabi in the mayo but it was still a great, tangy accompaniment, alongside the spicy dipping sauce.
Handmade gnocchi with tomato olive sauce, spinach, parmesan, $18 (special)
Lisa and Pam also copied each other and both ordered the special of handmade gnocchi. Soft little pillows of gnocchi served with a rich tomato sauce, topped with grated parmesan.
Seared sirloin sliced & served with chimichurri, $18
And yes, Noddy and I also ordered the same thing. My seared sirloin was cooked perfect as ordered (medium rare), served sliced on a wooden board with a fresh, packed with flavour chimichurri sauce. The beer recommended to me with this was a dark beer and a perfect match.
Rocket & parmesan salad with toasted pepitas, $8 | Roast potatoes with garlic and bacon
We ordered sides of rocket and parmesan salad tossed through with toasted pepitas, one of my favourite seeds, and roast potatoes with bacon and roast garlic cloves. Squeeze the garlic onto the remaining sourdough and ohhh the deliciousness.
We were too full for a proper dessert (i.e. cake), so we popped across the road for gelato then sensibly retired for the evening, leaving Coogee to the hordes of young ones.
So tell me, what type of beer do you enjoy, or do you prefer to match wine to food?
UPDATE: Coogee Cafe After Dark has now closed.
Coogee Café After Dark