It seems all good things come in threes – at least in Coogee. First Justin Hemmes opened the middle floor of Coogee Pavilion after six years, revealing three venues in one. And next Friday, March 13, a brand-new three-restaurant venue will open at the other end of the beach, at the recently refurbished Crowne Plaza Coogee Beach.
The man behind the plan is creative director Matthew Butcher, a chef who has worked with Shannon Bennett (Vue de Monde, Melbourne) and Gordon Ramsay, among others. He’s spent the past three years planning the Coogee venue, along with other similar concepts in Melbourne, Canberra and Washington, DC.
Opening at the new venue are Terrace (an open-air casual diner); Kitchen (a formal restaurant); and Taqueria (an eatery and Margarita bar). There’s also a private karaoke bar, Confessional, that punters can hire to bash out a few tunes while downing jugs of cocktails. All three venues are themed around what Butcher calls “sunny America” – think the Mexican-influenced cuisine of the south-west of the US, upstate New York in the summer, and Central America.
At Terrace, beer, wine, cocktails and bar snacks (such as lobster rolls and prawn cocktails) will be served from an Airstream trailer. Two-tiered bleachers will have views of the beach, while guests can also kick back in beanbags and watch Elvis Presley in old-school beach-themed movies that’ll be projected onto a hotel wall.
At Taqueria, there’s a Mexican theme. Soft-shell tacos will be stuffed with grilled fish, chorizo, crisp tofu or pork belly, and washed down with Margaritas. Butcher is also serving nachos made with corn chips, cheddar, salsa and lime cream.
The food also leans Central American at the most refined of the three eateries, Kitchen, but it’ll focus on what’s come out of the ocean – a nod to Coogee Beach right across the road. That means dishes such as sweet corn tamales served with sea urchin; albacore belly with kaffir lime; Blackmore Wagyu rump-eye; and chocolate-cherry bombe alaska. “We’re trying to bring the city to the beach,” Butcher tells Broadsheet.
He’s staffed the venue with some top-tier talent, including executive chef Scott Eddington (an alumnus of A1 Canteen); drinks whiz Joe Jones, who co-founded one of Melbourne’s most popular bars, Romeo Lane; and chef Michael Tran from Randwick bistro Clove Lane.
While Sydneysiders often steer clear of hotel diners, Butcher reckons he’s got a winning formula: top-notch staff, a cost-friendly concept and a chef-driven business.
“I bring it back to the offering and the people,” he says. “We’re independent – we’re not [associated] with the hotel and we have our own entrance; we don’t consider ourselves part of the hotel. We’re bringing good people from good restaurants and bars. If you get those things right, you’ve got the recipe for success. Once people see what we’re doing, they’ll see we’re going in the right direction … plus we offer $15 valet parking, which is rare in Sydney.”
Estate will open on Friday March 13 at 242 Arden Street, Coogee.