Cook & Mason is proof you can teach an old building new tricks.

After buying Barque in April, business partners Craig Houston and chef Gordon Kahle, together with wives Siobhan and Sarah, set about transforming a former colonial cottage into their idea of a warm neighbourhood diner.

“What we really wanted to do was bring light to the building,” says Houston. “We wanted it to feel welcoming and light and fresh and a little bit more contemporary, but still take into consideration the aesthetic of the old building. Each step told us what we needed to do next with the space.”

Gone is the former’s red-laminated bar, dark-green walls and hefty, immovable church-pew seating. In their place: stained pine flooring and custom-built, mid-century-inspired furniture. The biggest physical change, though, is outdoors following the construction of a roof above the former courtyard.

The kitchen has also had a change in direction. Where Barque took inspiration from Asia, Cook & Mason’s cosmopolitan menu speaks to Kahle’s previous postings at American barbeque favourite Old Faithful and the Euro-centric Cantina 663; think dishes such as braised pork, and lamb tartare paired with pickled mussels and spring onions. Local producers such as Blackwood Valley Beef and Jindong Pork are suppliers. In addition to a-la-carte ordering, a $60 per person chef’s menu is available.

There’s a similar bias to the drinks list. All the wines come from Australian producers, specifically those with a focus on minimal-intervention winemaking. Beers and ciders have been chosen with a similar local focus.

Sunday lunch and weekend breakfasts are next on the restaurant’s agenda, as is the introduction of more seasonally driven cocktails.

Cook & Mason
125 George Street, East Fremantle
(08) 6161 9767

Tue to Thu 5pm–late
Fri & Sat at 12pm–3pm, 5pm–late