David Coomer, ladies and gentlemen, is back.
The journeyman Perth chef behind the legendary Star Anise and the recently closed Fuyu will be working with the Kailis Hospitality Group and overseeing the food at the group’s various venues. The first item on Coomer’s to-do list: the transformation of Kailis Trigg Beach to Island Market later this month.
“The idea of Island Market is that it’s a neighbourhood joint,” says Kailis Hospitality Group managing director George Kailis. “Generous portions, reasonable prices, a venue that’s not so formal and restaurant-y. The goal was to create a lot of movement through the area so it’s not so formal and stagnant.”
Mata Design Studio is behind the look of Island Market and early signs indicate a fondness for pastel pink, from the tone of the marble to a 15-metre-long neon that swoops through the roof cavity and hovers about the restaurant’s various spaces. Guests can choose from casual standing counter areas as well as a more traditional seated dining room. In the kitchen, a locally built Zesti wood-fired oven hasn’t just been chosen for its theatrical value, but also to help Kailis realise an ambitious goal.
“We want to bang out some of the best filled pita in the country,” he says.
For Coomer, the project is an opportunity to revisit the Spanish and North African flavours of one of his former restaurants.
“It’s going to be a very similar format to Pata Negra with a lot of meats and vegetables in the wood oven,” says Coomer of the restaurant he opened in 2009 with Greg Malouf protégé Kurt Sampson – now at Propeller – and a young pre-Greenhouse Matt Stone. “There’ll be lots of interesting dry and wet rubs and lots of big, bold favours. The food’s going to be really simple but very honest.”
Among the dishes on the opening menu: an Arabic tuna tartare, grilled quail with jewelled rice, eggplant fritters with garlic sauce and the fabled Spanish doughnuts with Pedro Ximenez ice-cream made famous at Pata Negra. Also on the cards: sardines canned in-house and the offer of seafood-inspired specials in the vein of crisp pita with sea urchin.
While Coomer is driving the menu, the day-to-day running of the kitchen will fall on the shoulders of Sunny de Ocampo, a longtime collaborator who last worked with his mentor at The Apple Daily during Coomer’s time as Print Hall food director.
“I’m excited about that family-style of dining,” says de Ocampo. “We’re not reinventing the wheel. It’s going to be food that’s been passed around Mediterranean and Levantine tables for centuries. I’m married to a Spanish wife so Spanish culture is close to me.”
The drinks side of things will be similarly breezy. Expect local beers on tap, a wine list big on West Australian juice and a tinny menu – with or without custom-designed Island Market stubby holder.
Kailis Trigg Beach (364 West Coast Drive, Trigg) closes on August 28 and reopens mid-September as Island Market Trigg.